Having a chuppah or wedding canopy is not a Jewish requirement; in other words it is not stipulated in Jewish law. It is, however, a Jewish custom and very lovely. The traditional chuppah has four portable poles and a piece of cloth hanging attached at the four corners to the poles.
You can use a tallit or a lace tablecloth; some people have a friend who makes them a quilt top that is later made into a complete quilt. Most people don’t want to build or buy a chuppah because they don’t have any use for it after their wedding. It’s a good idea to borrow or rent one. In the East Bay you can rent the chuppah poles and choose what cloth you want for the canopy at Afikomen Judaica on Claremont Ave. in Berkeley.
Here’s one example from Afikomen’s stock.
Chaim at Afikomen tells me: “The canopy, poles and bases rent for $180.”
There are other chuppah rental spots but I don’t personally know them. If you can recommend one of them please email me and let me know about your experience. Email me at email@example.com
OK, first reply. My friend Gabrielle recommends Miracle Chuppahs. She says: They are Russian, and do an amazing job. The owner is really nice – she does a fantastic job, very detail oriented! She connects with the bride, caterer, photographer, florist – to help things move smoothly. She also knows a wonderful calligrapher that can do place cards for the reception (I have photos that I can share – gorgeous!). Very professional!
I’ll share her photos when I get them. In the meantime I found this photo from Miracle Chuppahs. The rabbi performing the wedding is Rabbi Bridget Wynne. I’ve referred some of you to her.