Setting up for the Wedding: Transforming the Gym with a False Ceiling

Wedding Setup: Transforming the Gym with a False Ceiling

After a year of a long-distance relationship, a four-month visit in Mozambique, another seven weeks of separation, ten days in South Africa, and several very long flights, and my son Kaiden was able to bring in his fiancee, Liliana, to America. (You can read about that journey here.) She arrived on October 30, 2018. Six weeks later on December 14, they were finally married! Everything was great and Lily was absolutely beautiful. But before we get to the wedding pictures, here’s what we did for the set up, especially the false ceiling that transformed our church gym.

Deciding on a location

We actually decided on a location for the wedding and reception long before Lily was able to get the fiance visa. There wasn’t much discussion. Because my son had already spent his entire savings, and we would also be spending so much on flights, hotels, and so forth getting Lily here, and because her family wouldn’t be helping with the wedding plans, free use of our church building was the obvious choice. Well, after our own yard, which was completely out of the question because of the cold. We live in Utah, and not only is it cold in December, but everything is pretty much dead. But compared to how so many people celebrate their weddings, a reception at the church is kind of, well, not that fancy. However, Kaiden and Lily didn’t really care where we held it, just as long as they could finally be together, so we scheduled the building and were very grateful for the option.

Transforming the gym with a false ceiling

Unfortunately, the gym where we planned to hold the reception, was, well, a gym. So we tried to fancy it up just a bit. After doing research, I decided transforming the gym with a false ceiling would be our best bet of creating something memorable out of an ordinary space. I opted to use roles of plastic tablecloths for our false ceiling instead of organza because four rolls of plastic tablecloths on Amazon was less expensive than the organza that most people were recommending. Plus, it wasn’t as see-through. So I bought four rolls, clothespins, fishing line, and wire.

TJ setting up the wire

We rented this 14-foot ladder from Home Depot. Here is my husband stringing wire and fishing line to hold the plastic for the ceiling. We had to be creative, though, because our basketball hoops fold up toward the front instead of the back. Fortunately, there are eye bolts along the side we used to string a tight wire, and that allowed us to put wire down the middle on the other side of the hoop too. It was kind of genius.

Be careful about the hoops and remember to take down the wire

We used wire down the middle of the gym, attaching it behind the backdrop. We used fishing line down the sides through the existing eye bolts. We used clothespins to hold the false ceiling to the wire.

Whatever you do, DON’T attach the wire or fishing line to the basketball hoops itself because they will bend. And please remember to take the wire down. Two weeks ago at our church, our someone forgot the wire after their event and the next morning when someone pushed the button to raise one of the hoops (they work independently), it stretched it too tight and started pulling the basket array out of the ceiling instead!

Hanging the plastic

Above is my husband transforming the gym with a false ceiling. I did just the first two rows with Kaiden’s (the groom’s) help, and then my husband and my son Jordan (below) hung the rest of the plastic. What a relief. I was only three weeks out after an appendectomy, so the less ladder climbing for me, the better. In the background of the above picture, you can see two of my daughters and my sister (taking a picture), who came to help.

Jordan helping with the wedding

My son Jordan was growing a beard to see how long he could grow it, lol. He was a huge help in transforming the gym with a false ceiling.

We also used actual white Christmas lights all around the gym. I realized much later they have actual lights made for wedding decoration that have wires so thin you almost can’t see them, but these Christmas lights were good for us because we already had the lights and it fit our very tight budget.

It took over six hours to get it the ceiling up while others were setting up the chairs and the rest of the gym.

What the false ceiling looked like for the wedding

Setup for the wedding

This is what it looked like when we were all set up for the wedding itself. Chairs, tables, and white tablecloths were available for our use at the church. I did buy pink table runners, overlays, and chair sashes to fancy them up a bit. We set up enough chairs for family and close friends and also had banquet tables ready for the luncheon to be served directly after. But see how the plastic looks like material?

For the backdrop, we used PVC pipe for the frame and costume satin for the curtain. I bought four rose garlands and an ivy one from Hobby Lobby to help decorate it. More lights wrapped down the sides.

And a few hours later for the reception

After the wedding, we set up round tables for the reception.

reception setup

It was a lot of work, but we had a lot of compliments, and it made the place just a little bit less gym-like, especially when we turned down the lights.

More pictures coming up next!

Teyla Rachel Branton



Copyright 2019 Teyla Rachel Branton
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12 Responses to “Setting up for the Wedding: Transforming the Gym with a False Ceiling”

  1. Teresa

    This is so pretty! I think I’ve got a good understanding of how you did it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Angie Mora

    Forgot to ask…what wire did you use & how much? Please & Thank you again.

    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Just one heavy wire in the middle. We already had the wire in our garage. It was as long as the floor, and then we pulled it as tight as possible between the backdrops to the baskets. Do NOT attach to the hoops themselves. Our building had metal eyelet hooks in the wall and we used those. You could probably attach to the backdrop. A few weeks later, someone did the same as we did, but forgot and left in the wire that they had attached to the basketball backdrops and when someone tried to play basketball, the whole thing was ripped partially out of the ceiling. Expensive fix! We used the fishing line for the sides, where there were also eyelet hooks! Hope this helps!

    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I got one roll of 80 pound line that was 170 yards.

  3. Caroline

    Plastic rolls. Genius. Thank you for sharing! Scouring the internet for cheap fabric has been a bust. Plastic roll is a gamechanger

  4. Melissa

    Do you mind me asking, “roughly”, what this cost to do? It’s gorgeous and we need to do the same type of thing:)
    Thank you!

    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I got four rolls of this plastic: At the time each roll was about 16 bucks. In 2023 it’s $26. And this fishing line: for about $13. Then add balloons and strings of lights and such (the lights were our Christmas ones). I found a fantastic deal on tablecloths and ribbons at the time, but I haven’t been able to find that deal again. It was a ton of work, though. If you can set up the day before, it would be better. One thing I regret is I wish we’d turned off the big lights and had some spotlights to make it more romantic.

      • Angie Mora

        Love it! About how many rolls of the fishing line did you use? I’m working with about the same setup. ☺️

  5. Kathy Walsh

    It all looks very lovely, Teyla! The Good Lord provided and you expanded on it. I’m sure Lily was quite pleased. Very pretty lady, she is. Kaiden is lucky to have her as his wife.

    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Thank you! It’s been so wonderful. Married over five and half years, and they gave me a wonderful grandson, who is now four!


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