17 Wedding Ceremony Altar Alternatives

Put a twist on the traditional ceremony with one of these creative altar ideas.
The Knot
Updated Jul 15, 2020

If you're exchanging vows somewhere other than a church, you might have to craft up an altar space—don't worry, we've got lots of wedding altar decoration ideas. Draw inspiration from your venue and wedding theme to get a few ideas together, then decide on specifics like a color palette or types of flowers to incorporate. Your wedding planner might have some ideas, as would the manager of the ceremony space. To get started, take a look at some of our favorite alternative wedding altar ideas below. From floral and natural to colorful and artsy, the following wedding altar decorations are sure to get you feeling inspired.

24 Amazing Wedding Altar Ideas

1. Art Canvases

Custom painted art canvases for a unique ceremony background
Matthew Moore Photography

From: An Intimate Courtyard Wedding at Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin, Texas

2. Palm Tree Leaves

Beach wedding altar idea with large palm tree leaves
Jillian Mitchelle Photography

From: A Beachfront Fiesta-Inspired Wedding at Las Casitas Bonitas in San Francisco, Mexico

3. Fabric Draped Arbors

Fabric covered arbor with eucalyptus garland

From: A Romantic, Outdoor Wedding in Austin, TX

4. Floral Installation

Giant floral circle installation for an outdoor wedding ceremony altar
Valerie Demo/Honest Portraiture

From: A Romantic Mountainside Wedding at Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, Virginia

5. Ribbon Background

Colorful ribbon background for a fun ceremony idea
Jana Marie Photography

From: A Colorful DIY Wedding at Historic Taylor Barn in Lawrence, Kansas

6. Window Frames and Tassels

Tassel-covered industrial wedding ceremony space

From: An Eclectic Wedding in Reading, PA

7. Tassel-Covered Arbor

Alternative ceremony arch idea with tassels

From: A Villa at Sunstone Vineyards Wedding in Santa Ynez, California

8. Whimsical Chandelier

Whimsical outdoor wedding ceremony with a suspended chandelier
Austin Gros

From: A Formal, DIY Woodland Wedding With a Bohemian Spin at a Private Residence in Sebastopol, California

9. DIY Backdrop

DIY blue and white coffee filter ceremony background
Erin L. Taylor Photography

From: A Colorful DIY Wedding at the Historic Rice Mill in Charleston, South Carolina

10. Natural Scenery

Rustic outdoor wedding ceremony

From: A Romantic Weekend Wedding in Tabernash, CO

11. Vintage Furniture

Charming outdoor wedding setup with a vintage ceremony altar
Wendy Laurel

12. Mismatched Rugs

Vintage outdoor ceremony runner and altar idea with mismatched rugs
JR Magat Photography

From: A Boho-Chic Wedding at Degage Jazz Cafe in Maumee, Ohio

13. Rustic Barn Background

DIY metallic rope and gardland backdrop for an outdoor wedding ceremony
Leslie Gilbert Photography

From: An Elaborate Rustic Wedding at the Farm at Eagles Ridge in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

14. Driftwood Beach Arbor

Beach wedding arbor idea with driftwood and seashells
Riverland Studios

From: A Romantic, DIY Beach Wedding at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

15. Modern Space

Modern wedding ceremony decor with orange flowers in bud vases

From: A Denver Art Museum Wedding in Denver, Colorado

16. Tissue Paper Pom Background

Outdoor wedding ceremony decorations
We Are Diamond Eyes

From: A Modern Wedding With a Southwestern Style at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, California

17. Lots of Lights

Industrial wedding ceremony space with chandeliers and candles
Lucas Botz Photography

From: A Romantic Loft Wedding at Aria in Minneapolis, Minnesota

18. Lovely Lavender

Not only is lavender nice to look at, but it smells wonderful, too. Weave a natural arch with lavender blooms as your wedding altar and the deep purple color will create the ultimate backdrop for when you and your partner say, "I do." Added benefit? Lavender naturally repels flies and mosquitoes.

19. Iron Gate

Something as simple as a wrought iron gate can make the most enchanting wedding altar decoration. Find an interesting gate--the more intricate, the better--to stand in front of on your special day. For extra allure and a pop of color, thread some wildflowers through the rails.

20. Fun with Macrame

Create a macrame display to hang as your wedding altar decoration. It's simple and understated, and the best part is that it won't steal the attention away from the couple.

21. Dream Catcher Chic

Looking to create sweet dreams for your future? Play with the idea of hanging dream catchers around your wedding altar. They're light and whimsical and will look lovely floating in the air when the wind gently blows.

22. Candle Glow

Set a romantic mood with some soft glowing candles. This wedding altar idea incorporates different sized candles for an enchanting setting behind the couple. You can even mix and match candles for an added touch.

23. Pop of Color

For this amazing wedding altar decoration, have fun with different colors. Create a solid-colored banner or mix in different colors for some brightness. The pop of color will really stand out against the couple's black and white attire. To make it even more meaningful, design the banner with your significant other.

24. Vintage Folding Screen

When it comes to your wedding altar decorations, you don't have to go all out with floral arrangements or elaborate decor. Go the simpler route and track down a vintage-inspired folding screen. It's simple and easy, but it'll really bring your altar up a notch.

Up Next
  • matching denim jackets with ride or die written in white patches on the back are placed side by side on chairs at industrial wedding venue
    22 Charming Sweetheart Chair Decor Ideas