Katie Curry wanted a sentimental wedding keepsake that depicted the joyous moments after her ceremony as she and her husband, John, walked back down the aisle on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean .
What she didn’t want was a portrait that included the backs of the guests’ heads. She had a photographer and a videographer, but her ideal came to life in a painting created by a live-event painter, Laura Swytak, who attended the August 4 ceremony in Malibu, California .
The painting, which shows the beaming newlyweds and their immediate family members but none of the seated guests, now hangs above the fireplace in the couple’s home in California .
“It brings us a lot of joy, and it’s very unique,” Curry said. “I know you can commission a painting after the wedding based on a photograph, but that’s why I wanted to do it live. She was there and could get a feel for the event.
Live-event painting at weddings, when an artist paints a scene during the event, is still a small trend, according to Ivy Jacobson, senior digital editor of wedding website The Knot. The site’s 2017 survey of about 13,000 couples found that 1% had an event painter at their weddings.
“We believe it will catch on in years to come, especially in this digital age,” Jacobson said.
Watching the painter at work also becomes a form of live entertainment for the wedding guests. Jacobson notes that today’s couples are looking to delight and surprise their guests with unexpected forms of entertainment.
“The guests did think it was cool,” said Curry, who learned about the trend on Instagram .
Curry’s artist, Swytak, who is based in Laguna Beach, California , paints about 35 weddings a year, and was perhaps a pioneer in the business, starting in 2006.
She works with couples to determine what part of the wedding they want her to paint, usually a scene from the ceremony or first dance, and whether she should focus primarily on the couple or play up the crowd as well.
Unlike a photograph of a single, defined moment like the bouquet toss, she likens her paintings to “a dreamy panorama” in which she paints “the best moments of everybody” and “collages a lot of different moments together”.
The price range for a wedding painting varies, depending on factors as the amount of detail, the hours spent on the piece, and the artist’s level of expertise. Swytak’s work ranges from $2,500 to $5,000.