Draping a church with fabric

Whenever I see a wedding in the movies or on TV (I’m looking at you, Khloe and Kim Kardashian), they always look like such elaborate affairs. For us folks who live in reality, we know that walking down the aisle probably won’t include angels hanging from the ceiling (Madea’s Family Reunion) or fireworks going off as you say “I do” (Bridesmaids). But there’s gotta be a way to dress up a church to make it prettier for a wedding right? Well, one answer would be flowers, and another would be draping. I like to use a combination of both.

DSC00154Now, please let me be clear about this — most churches won’t let you do all this to their sanctuary. This happened to be the church I grew up in, so my mom had a lot of pull, plus we knew all the rules — no tape on the pews. The front of the church is easy to drape because there are a lot of points where I can hook the fabric, like microphones and corners. But, this does take time — whenever I had to drape this church, I always did it the night before and it almost always took at least two hours.

Here’s a closeup.

DSC00157Here, I used white sequined fabric as the first layer, and its looped just twice. Then I draped a layer of white English netting from one end to the other. Finally, I took white crystal organza and draped that on top of everything else. I made sure to keep a long piece of both the sequined fabric and the organza in the center, for that nice, layering effect there.

Most people I know get married in Catholic churches, however, and they are very strict with their facilities.

DSC03536This is the Cathedral of Our Lady Of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, and it opened in 2002, making it one of the youngest Catholic churches in California, I would bet. So, understandably, they are not too eager to have some florist or wedding decorator attach things to the walls or pews.

So when I did this wedding in 2005, this was the first time there had been any draping in their sanctuary. So, how’d we do it?

DSC03540We did it by not attaching anything to the church. We set up two tall columns and two medium-sized columns, to which the fabric was attached.

IMG_3418“But,” you might be thinking, “how did you drape the pews in this picture?” Yes, this is a Catholic church — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Rowland Heights, if you were wondering — and yes, we were not allowed to tape or pin or staple or nail (oh, please don’t ever nail wedding decorations) anything to the pews. There are always ways!

First way is to use a pew clip. I’ve mostly used the clear pew clips or the smaller, brown or green pew clips — either one will allow you to attach a floral arrangement to it so it can be hung on a traditional pew with an arm rest. But, if you look closely, these pews are arm rest-less — so when I did this draping, I used small, wide rubber bands, the ones you sometimes see used to bunch broccoli. Seriously. Anyway, they don’t leave any marks and are strong enough to hold the fabric, but that’s about it. They’re not easy to drape, but they get the job done.

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