My sister recently got married and I was tasked with making the mandap for their outdoor ceremony. Here is how to make a mandap or chuppah that looks good, is easy to set up and take down and is cheap to make.
10 bamboo poles 1" by 8' (Other sizes will also work)
30' 1/4" manila rope.
4 Umbrella stands
1" PVC pipe
1 1/4" Plastic Tubing
Large cloth for cover.
Step 1: Lashings
The mandap consists of four corner posts with four posts for the roof. The corners of the bamboo are held together with traditional lashings using manila rope. The nice thing about lashings is that you do not need any hardware such as nuts or bolts and you can easily adjust the size of your mandap. I like the lashings because they give the mandap a rustic look and goes well with the outdoor setting.
Lashing is a skill that you should learn and practice because it has so many uses connecting things together using rope. Here is a link to learn more about lashings.
I practiced my lashings on a small scale mock up that was low to the ground so I did not have to work overhead. When you set up the mandap for real, it helps to have a step stool so your arms do not get too tired working over your head.
Step 2: The Cover
The cover for your mandap can be any piece of large cloth. I used a large lace tablecloth. This worked out well because I put ribbon through the holes in the lace to attach the tablecloth to the mandap.
Again, working with a low scale model is helpful especially if you need to make modifications to the cover and need to take it off and put it on to check your work.
To keep the cover from drooping down too much in the middle, I added two additional support poles on the top. This allowed the cover to hang loosely over the front and back without drooping too much over the heads of the wedding party.
Step 3: Supporting the Side Poles:
One of the biggest challenges of the mandap is keeping the side posts straight while you are doing the lashings.
While researching how to make a manap, I got some inspiration from this page. They poured concrete into an empty paint can, inserted rebar into the cement and then stuck the bamboo onto the rebar. In addition to trying to cover up the paint can, I thought that this would make the poles a little wobbly if there was not a good fit between the rebar and the inside of the bamboo.
For my project, I rented for black umbrella stands. These have a flat base and are heavy enough to hold up a patio umbrella so they can easily hold up a bamboo pole. The only problem is the bamboo pole is 1" outside diameter but the hole in the stand is closer to 2". I took my bamboo poles to Home Depot and found some pvc pipe that fit perfectly around the bamboo. Then I made some shims out of 1 1/4" plastic hose cut it into 1/4" lengths. I slid the plastic hose over the PVC pipe and then put everything into the umbrella stand. It all fit perfectly with no wobble. You could also use layers of duct tape for shims.
Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the final product. The picture above shows how I supported the hose while cutting. I put a shim at the top and bottom of the PVC pipe. I also made sure that the pipe is slightly longer then the umbrella stand so I could fish it out if I needed to. You can see the PVC pipe just sticking out of the stands in the picture to the right.
Step 4: Decoration
Once the mandap is up, you can decorate it with flowers, vines or ribbon. We kept it simple by placing two potted vines with white flower pots in front of the posts. This fit in with the outdoor setting as well as covered the umbrella stands.