Huppahs / Weddings

How to Determine the Size of Canopy You Need for Your Wedding Chuppah Frame

wedding chuppah with silk canopyCouples planning weddings have lots of options when it comes to their chuppah, and the person supplying the chuppah frame is often not the same person supplying the canopy. How do you make sure the canopy and the frame will be the right size for each other? This blog post explains the dimensions that count as well as some other considerations so that you can determine the canopy size that fits your frame.

The guidelines here apply specifically to the type of canopy that’s attached to the frame by tying the corners of the canopy to the frame. The considerations will be different for other types of canopies, such as a canopy designed to hang down over the edges of the frame.

The big take-home point: For a canopy that ties to a chuppah frame by it’s four corners, the size of the canopy you need is based on the distances between the four upright poles, not the length of poles that make up the top of the frame. Read on for more information about how to refine the canopy size based on some additional considerations, but the distance between the upright poles is the primary measurement you need.

Why this is important: Chuppah frame providers tend to report the dimensions of the frame based on its overall size, including the lengths of the poles that make up the top of the frame. That makes sense, because you want to know how much physical space the frame requires. However, the upright poles may not attach to the ends of those poles that run across the top. In those cases, the dimensions that the vendor provides may not accurately reflect the size of the canopy you’ll need.

Determine the distance between the upright poles on the chuppah frame

To show you what I mean here are examples of two different types of chuppah frames.

Frame Example 1: The first frame example is the type typically made from overlocking beams or branches, such as the popular birch branch and driftwood branch frames.
birch branch chuppah
Notice that the horizontal beams or branches that run across the top of the frame can extend past the upright poles. You won’t be tying the canopy to the ends of the branches, you’ll be tying them to the place where the horizontal branches meet the upright branches, so you want to know the distances between the upright branches.

Frame Example 2: The second example is a frame made from piping, where curved elbow joints are used to connect some of the pipes, including the pipes along the top of the frame. You’ve probably seen this type of construction for chuppah frames made from copper piping.
copper pipe chuppah
In this construction, the elbow joints at the corners cause two pipes along the top of the frame –those running along the front and back sides— to extend beyond the position of the upright pipes. If you were to tie the canopy around the piping at the curved elbow joints, the ties would slip along the piping and end up stopping at the upright poles, so it’s best to tie the canopy to top of the frame at those vertical poles. For that reason, you want to know the distance between the upright poles.

Next, consider where on the frame you plan to tie the canopy ties

Some frames provide options for where you can attach the canopies ties. The birch branch frame above is an example, since the corner of each frame has three overlapping branches. Give some thought to where exactly on the frame you plan on tying the ties that are at the corners of the canopy. Will the ties be tied to the upright poles themselves or will they be tied to a different part of the frame? Do you want the canopy to lay over the top any of the cross-beams at the top of the frame or around any part of the frame?chuppah canopy tied to frame
If you’d like the canopy to pass over or around a part of the frame, adjust the size of the canopy as needed, taking into consideration the circumference of the branches or boards that make up the frame.

And don’t forget the ties. Make a note of how long the ties will need to be given the size of the canopy and the position on the frame where you’ll be attaching the ties.

Finally, consider the amount of drape you’d like in the canopy

The drape of a canopy is the distance that the center of the canopy falls below the canopy’s edges when the canopy is tied to the frame. You might want minimal amount of drape or the drama of a lot of drape.

The amount of drape you’ll get from any combination of canopy and frame can be difficult to predict exactly, and you probably won’t know exactly how much drape there will be until you try them both together. However, there are some guidelines that can help you manage the amount of drape you’ll get fairly well, and they include adjusting the size of the canopy.

Generally, there will be more drape:

  • The heavier the fabric.
  • The more give in the fabric (for example, some open lace fabrics have a lot of give, even though they’re not technically stretch fabrics, and they’ll drape more in the middle as the fabric relaxes on the frame over time).
  • The larger the canopy in relation to the frame.
  • The larger overall size of the canopy and frame.

Examples:

Drape Example 1: You’ll get the least amount of drape with a canopy made from lightweight fabric that is pulled tautly on a small frame. For example, in this photo, the canopy is made from a lightweight silk. The canopy is 66”x66” and it’s tied to a frame for which the distance between the upright poles is slightly larger, 68”x68”, so that the ties and the canopy are pulled taut. There’s some drape in the middle, but it’s minimal.
wedding chuppah with silk canopy
To create more drape with this style of canopy, you can increase the size of the canopy by a couple of inches. Keep in mind that a couple of inches in the size of a canopy can make a large impact on the amount of drape.

Drape Example 2: This next photo shows a canopy made from a heavier fabric, a midweight satin. For the frame, the distance between the upright poles is 6′ along the width and 6′ plus 2″ along the depth. The canopy is 6’x6’. The canopy has more natural drape than the previous example because of both the heavier fabric and the larger overall size of the frame and canopy.
six foot chuppah canopy

Drape Example 3:Here is the same frame as in the second example with a slightly smaller canopy. This canopy is 5.5’x5.5′. You can see that the smaller canopy size means less drape.
five and half foot chuppah canopy

Another way to reduce the amount of drape in the middle of a heavy or large canopy is to add more ties along the edges of the canopy to support the middle. In fact, for canopies made from this midweight fabric that are 6.5’ square or larger, I recommend extra ties on the edges.

This particular frame design has a beam across the middle of the top of the frame, so it provides the option of resting the canopy on top of that beam as to support the middle.
chuppah with middle beam supporting canopy

Take Home Lesson

silk wedding chuppahFrom the perspective of sewing a chuppah canopy or determining what size canopy you’ll need, be sure to coordinate with the person providing the frame so that you know the distance between the upright poles.

If you’re ordering a frame online, take a look at the photos in the listing to see where the upright poles attach to the top of the frame. If they don’t attach at the ends of those top horizontal poles, check with the vendor about the distances between the upright poles.

For information about my custom-made chuppah canopies, feel free to get in touch with me by email at maria.bywater{at}sewjewish.com.

You can see my custom canopies on Etsy: wedding chuppah canopies

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