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Picture This: Art, Painted Live at Your Wedding

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Photography isn’t the only way to capture a snapshot of a magical moment at a wedding celebration.

One of the hottest trends is creating a picture, not with a camera, but with a brush. Live wedding art is painted or drawn as an event unfolds and often becomes part of the entertainment at a reception as guests watch the artist at work.

This new tradition is a revival of sorts, harkening back to the days before the camera was invented. Upscale couples often commissioned an artist to render a painting commemorating their weddings.

At the glamorous venues of the Cescaphe Event Group in Philadelphia, live art adds a layer of style and sophistication to a growing number of celebrations. Art painted as the event unfolds reflects the joy of the couples, as well as the grandeur of such settings as the Atrium at Curtis Center, Cescaphe Ballroom, Vie, Tendenza and the Down Town Club.

Artists typically work in oils, acrylic, or pastels. Another option is to commission a watercolorist to paint a series of smaller vignettes that might include the bride getting dressed, the groom and his groomsmen, a rendering of the ceremony and a scene from the reception. Prices vary widely, from $1,000-$5,000.

Before the big day, the artist meets with the couple to discuss the content and spirit of the artwork. Will it be a tender moment at the first dance? The bride and groom celebrating with family and friends? (If the painting is a gift, the giver also will likely have input into the artistic game plan.)

Creating a lasting work of art takes time. Artists set up at the venue three or four hours before the big event in order to paint the backdrop, which might include such details as chandeliers, flowers, table settings and the wedding cake.

After the celebration begins, the artist works continuously throughout the event, adding people and movement. Over the next few weeks or months, the painter will perfect the work before presenting it to the couple to display forever after in their happy home.

The camera doesn’t lie, but painters are free to take artistic license in keeping with the wishes of the commissioning couple. That means nobody has a bad hair day or worries about not looking their best. Artists can add cherished loved ones who have passed away. One painter created fireworks over the dance floor, sparkling plumes that formed the initials and the bride and groom.

And unlike photography and videography, there’s an opportunity for a do-over. One bride felt the painting did not reflect the precise shade of her gown. No worries. The artist made an adjustment.