My retro-futuristic chuppah

Guest post by Chris Niederer
chuppa shots

My fiancée Tracy and I decided right away that our wedding should be unique, costume-friendly, and out-of-this world. We picked the theme of retro-futurism or “atomic age,” not only because we are sci-fi fans and love the aesthetic, but also because we felt the forward-thinking optimism of that era was right at home at a wedding. (What is a wedding about if not the future?) It resonated with our notions about what our union could become. We turned our backs on the formal rituals of traditional weddings, and in creating our new family, we created ritual that was new and meaningful to us.

As an architect and experience designer, I understand the importance of a cohesive environment. All the aspects of our wedding fit with our theme: Guests were asked to wear futuristic or silvery costumes, and our tent and table linens were boldly striped in a style of '60s modernism. Tracy's bouquet and our flower arrangements had blossoms encased in plastic domes, and springy bamboo canopies. Our place cards named each guest's planet of origin and came with blinking LED party favors. And of course, we created a new take on the Jewish tradition of the chuppah as a centerpiece for our ceremony.

chuppa shots

A chuppah is the structure a Jewish couple stands under during the ceremony. It is normally built of a cloth draped over four poles, and symbolizes the protection and security a new husband offers his wife. Since our wedding had a few Jewish cultural elements but wasn't really religious, I was able to push the look of the chuppah to something no rabbi would recognize. The design was inspired by the Jetsons cartoons, 50s-era “googie” architecture like the Theme Building at LAX, and movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Our chuppah, a circular ring open to the sky, with uprights evocative of hands reaching for each other, symbolizes the hope, optimism and transparency that are a union's true security. The chuppah was created to be a stage, framing the ceremony, and a portal into the future.

chuppa shots

I designed the piece for manufacture on a computer controlled router (CNC). Once it was cut from fir plywood, Tracy and I spent the last few afternoons before our wedding sanding and staining all the pieces. The structure slots together and breaks down to fit in a compact car, and we drove it to the wedding on the roof and trunk of our Honda Fit. My brother and cousins helped assemble it before the rehearsal dinner, and we had it up in about an hour's time.

chuppa shots

I had a lot of fun making the piece and would love to make more personalized chuppahs / canopies / installation pieces for other offbeat brides!


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Comments on My retro-futuristic chuppah

  1. This is incredibly awesome, I love this futuristic theme! Really great work on the chuppah! I wish some more of your guests would have worn the silvery costumes! But I understand the trouble of trying to talk guests into coming in costume. We are having a medieval/renaissance-ish themed wedding, and I doubt many of the guest will come in costume.

    Great job! :- )

  2. Such a unique Chuppah! I make quilted chuppahs for a living and LOVE to see people do something new and exciting with the concept. Really great job!

  3. Actually, your chuppah is 100% kosher. Chuppah laws dictated by the Torah are very very simple; it needs to be a hand-made structure with open sides, and it can’t be made of whole trees or only flowers. And that’s it! Anything goes!

    • Everything I have read, and according to my wife’s Rabbi a Chuppah also needst to have exactly 4 posts, no more, no less. What is your take on this?

  4. Omg wow I love it. This is absolutely awesome. We are currently figuring out what kind of chuppah we want for our wedding, and this just opened so many ideas. My dad is a weaver and we know he is going to weave part of it. Thanks for some inspiration, and if we weren’t super tight on budget I would totally have you make something. This is absolutely beautiful.

  5. Without reading it, I thought it was a little antler-esque, white stags and lace from space… Very cool, and I agree, very startrek

  6. This is pretty cool, and I def. appreciate it as I am currently designing a non-conventional Chuppah for my wife and I. One thing that I have been reading online and has been said by my wife’s Rabbi (as a gentile I don’t have the background to say this for myself) is that one of the only requirements is that a Chuppah have exactly 4 posts. How did you get around that? Is this up for debate or did you just not care for the sake of keeping your design (legitimate reason)? This is not meant to sound critical, I am just genuinely trying to figure out as much as I can for my own project.
    One other question, have you, or have you thought about renting this out to other people? If so how did you go about soliciting for that?

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