How Live Wedding Paintings Can Create Everlasting Memories

This is one of our favorite wedding keepsakes.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Feb 03, 2023

There are numerous ways to capture memories at your wedding. Besides your photographer and videographer, you can incorporate photo booths, drones, live-streaming and much more. But why not take it back to one of the first ways of preserving a memory? Yes, we're talking about live wedding paintings.

There are professional artists across the country who specialize in painting live events—and where better to do that than a wedding? Give yourself a cherished gift that'll make an awesome conversation starter in your home plus, your guests will love the artistic element added to your reception. And in this crazy digital age, it's fun to have something included in your wedding that you can't see the results of immediately, making it even more special when you and your partner finally see the finished work of art. Read below to learn everything there is to know about live wedding painting from industry experts and how you can incorporate this beautiful trend into your special day.

In this article:

What Is a Live Wedding Painting?

"A live wedding painting is the live creation of professional-grade artwork, usually done with acrylic or oil paints, depicting a specific moment at a wedding celebration in front of a live audience," Leah Seaman, fine art expert and owner of ArtaBella Gallery, says. The first kiss, couple recessional and first dance are the most common wedding moments painted, but couples can ask their live wedding painter to capture whatever moment they choose.

Are Live Wedding Paintings Worth It?

Not sure what makes live wedding paintings so special? Kim-Vi Tran, expert live event painter and owner of KVT Fine Art, explains why live wedding paintings are valuable. "Couples who hire a live painter are looking to capture and immortalize the most important aspects of their wedding in a way most photographers might not. For example, I can easily add pets or dearly departed loved ones into a painting, or vice versa, exclude guests from the composition to capture the true intimacy of the couple during their ceremony or first dance."

Seaman says wedding painters are worth hiring because they offer couples and guests memorable entertainment. "Not only is hiring a live painter an excellent personal investment for couples who value and treasure art created specifically for their love story but bringing in a live artist as entertainment is also one of the most unique opportunities couples could provide to their wedding guests. Guests from all walks of life have the exciting opportunity to observe, interact and engage with the fine arts over many hours––giving them time to truly enjoy the artistic process as it unfolds. [They can] ask questions, observe the artist firsthand and gain a better appreciation for the work that goes into painting a masterpiece."

How Much Is a Live Wedding Painter?

According to Seaman, the live wedding painter cost is typically between $1,500 and $10,000. Some things that factor into this price range are the type of supplies, like brushes, paints, easels and canvases, the painter will use, the artist's experience level, travel costs and if the artist is in high demand.

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Do you tip a live wedding painter?

You're not expected to tip your wedding painter if they own the live wedding painting company. But if the artist is an employee of the company, we suggest tipping between $50 and $200 with a thoughtful thank-you card attached to show your appreciation for their specialty service. (Psst. Check out The Knot's Wedding Vendor Tipping Cheat Sheet for more advice.)

Different Live Wedding Painting Styles

"Like all art forms, live wedding paintings can vary drastically in style, ranging from abstract (very loose and interpretive) to impressionist (loose and painterly, but you can still make out individuals) to realism (smooth and photo-like)," Tran explains. With a variety of painting styles to choose from, you and your partner should take the time to research different live wedding artists to find a painter that best complements your styles.

How to Hire a Live Wedding Painter

If you're interested in getting a live wedding painting as a memento of your wedding, you need to find the perfect live wedding painter for your needs. Search The Knot Marketplace to find the right wedding painter who fits your wedding budget and preferred painting style. To help with your search, we've listed some of our favorite live wedding painters below.

What to Ask Your Live Wedding Painter

If you've found a few live wedding painters you love but don't know what questions to ask them during the consultation, we're here to help. At least ask these four questions below before you book an artist for your wedding.

When should the live wedding painting happen?

During your consultation, you should discuss which wedding moment you want the artist to paint so you can figure out where the painting process will fit in your wedding day timeline. "Artists typically arrive before the ceremony begins to sketch out the composition of the painting. During the ceremony and the reception, they continue to work on the painting, directly engaging with guests, answering questions and providing artistic entertainment throughout the evening until either the painting is completed or the artist retires home for the night to complete the piece soon after," Seaman explains. If you would like the wedding painter to not be a distraction to guests during the ceremony, we suggest you station them in an area where they can visibly see you so they can do their work and aren't in the direct line of sight of your guests.

How long does a live painting take?

It depends on the artist, the size of the painting and the painting's complexity, but it can take between four to ten hours for a live wedding painting to be completed. This question is important because it helps you get an idea of how much the artist's hourly rate will be. Seaman describes her painting process in detail. "The painting goes through four stages: Sketching the composition (about thirty minutes), painting the background (two to four hours), painting in the couple (two to three hours) and final details (one hour). For example, a live painting with the entire wedding party standing in front of a stunning cathedral takes me much longer than a painting of just the couple in front of a beautiful meadow with rolling hills in the background." Keep in mind this time frame doesn't include setup and cleanup.

How do you communicate with your clients about the look they want?

You and your partner should communicate openly and honestly with the wedding painter. The artist needs to know what's important to you, like the wedding moment you want to focus on, what loved ones you want in the painting or what angles you don't want to be highlighted, so you'll end up with a painting you love. "I typically discuss my client's painting vision during a video call prior to locking in their booking. Whether or not they have a specific moment or composition in mind, I'll always help provide recommendations based on their venue, package size and overall wedding theme. Final painting details are usually ironed out and documented via email to ensure everyone is on the same page with expectations," Tran says.

What accommodations do you require during the wedding?

For your wedding ceremony or reception painting to come out perfect, you need to ensure your live wedding painter is set up for success. This is why asking them directly what accommodations they need is vital. Some artists may require a comfortable chair, a certain square footage of space to work and a nearby outlet to plug in lights. And don't forget, the one thing you should always offer is a vendor meal since the artist will be present for the majority of the wedding day.

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