Quilts are an old art form with much meaning to modern people. They are all about the joining of individuals into a whole, telling stories, commemorating special moments in life, and of course, being warm and cozy. It is only natural, then, that quilts can play an important role in weddings, as everything from handmade gifts to ceremony chuppahs to decorations at the reception.
If you are a relative of an engaged man or woman, a wedding quilt is one of the most heartfelt gifts you can give. The quilt will become a treasured heirloom from the wedding, just like a family veil or a piece of pearl bridal jewelry. Not every mom, grandma, or aunt has an antique set of pearl bridal jewelry or a Belgian lace veil handcrafted by nuns to pass down to the bride, but anyone can give the gift of a wedding quilt. It can be a family quilt with a wonderful rich history, it can be one lovingly crafted by the giver, or it can even be a beautiful art quilt picked up at a craft show.
For those talented enough to make a quilt as a wedding gift, a great place to look for ideas is one of the traditional wedding ring quilt patterns. You can make a quilt which is large enough for the newlyweds' bed or one on a smaller scale which is intended as a wall decoration, depending on your time, experience, and ambition. If your hope is that the couple will use the quilt daily or display it prominently in their new home, it is a good idea to get a sense of the color scheme of their house.
The wedding ring pattern is only one idea. Another great option is to make a pictorial album quilt depicting the life history of the bride or groom, from the time she or he was a small child, through meeting their intended, and up to the wedding. This type of quilt can be made by one person or as a group gift from the family, with each person making one of the squares with a story inside it. For inspiration, take a look at the antique Baltimore album quilts.
A fun take on the wedding album quilt idea is to have the guests at the reception each decorate and sign one square which will later be assembled into a keepsake quilt. Set out fabric marks, the squares, and a request that each guest takes some time to make his or her section as beautiful as possible. The assembled quilt will make a really neat alternative to a traditional guest book.
Family quilts can also be incorporated into weddings. One of the most customary ways to do so is by using an heirloom quilt as the chuppah for a Jewish ceremony. If you have a meaningful quilt in your family but will not be using a chuppah, other options would have to hang it behind the altar on the wall or a freestanding frame, use it as an altar cloth (if the officiant permits it), or to display it in a place of honor in the entrance to the ceremony or reception site. It is a really nice idea to write up a brief description of the quilt and its history to include in your wedding programs so that your guests will be able to appreciate why it is such a treasured family heirloom.