Live Wedding Painting: How to hire an artist to paint at your wedding!

So, you’re getting married and want to have live wedding paintings? Join the trend and hire a local artist for your wedding! Incorporate art into your wedding with canvas painting, illustration or sketch art. Event artists have been gaining popularity in recent years as soon to be wed couples look for unique and personalised ways to capture wedding memories. This type of art is a unique and intimate form of expression, allowing the artist to capture the emotions and energy of the event in real-time. Your guests are sure to enjoy the experience of watching the creation process of live wedding paintings!

Wedding ceremony canvas painting
Live wedding art by Natalie Lotriet – Aveley, Australia

What is a live wedding painting artist?

A live painting artist can either be hired to create one artwork during the ceremony/reception or smaller portraits and sketches for guests throughout the evening. Live wedding paintings are great alternative to a bomboniere.

Live wedding artists hired to paint the couple will work quickly and efficiently to capture the most important moment of the event on canvas. They often set up their work station and materials in a prominent location, such as near the dance floor or at the head table, allowing guests to watch the painting come to life throughout the evening. The end result is a one-of-a-kind piece of art that serves as a lasting memory of the couple’s special day.

In addition to creating a beautiful and memorable keepsake, wedding artists can also add to the atmosphere of the event. Wedding artists can also be hired to sketch portraits for guests. These are usually less detailed and focus on prominent features or the attire of your guests. Small sketches are an unforgettable gift to your friends and family.

Live wedding paintings by Paula Chmiel – Chicago, United States

What to expect from a live wedding painter?

Depending on the live wedding painter you choose, each artist will have a different process depending on the job and location.

When hiring an artist for a singular canvas painting, some artists may require a site visit or a couples introduction. They may need to start the painting process prior to the wedding and then add details on the day. Many artists will agree that it takes time for a painting to come together so starting the artwork early will prevent odd looks from guests.

Artists hired to entertain guests with custom sketches and illustrations may have a limit on the number of portraits they can do within a certain timeframe. They may prepare by sketching a base figure and adding guests details and outfits during the reception. Alternatively, some artists may choose to take photos of guests and work independently through each guest until the end of the wedding.

Learn more about what you can expect at a live art show!

Live wedding paintings of a couple
Wedding portrait painting by Mary Harris – Los Angeles, United States

Where to hire a live wedding painter?

Bride and groom portrait artists can be hired through a variety of platforms. When hiring a live wedding painter, be sure to review their portfolio and read reviews from previous customers to ensure that their style and approach align with your vision for your special day. 

Whilst there is the option to reach out to artists via Instagram, we recommend connecting with an artist via a marketplace, such as Etsy or Book An Artist. 

Marketplaces such as Book An Artist and Etsy have built a suite of tools that make it easy to commission and hire local artists. For example, Book An Artist protects your payments with Book An Artist Pay, our secure payment escrow process. 

It can also take time to find the right artist on Instagram, while a marketplace offers hundreds of local artists at your fingertips. In addition, Book An Artist has developed tools and services catered specifically for managing your enquiries. We’ve made the process simple and easy to follow for both artists and customers looking for custom artwork.

live wedding paintings
Couple portrait at wedding by Antika – Noida, India

What question to ask your artist?

Here are some questions we recommend asking your artist:

  1. What is your experience with live wedding painting? Can you provide references or examples of your previous work?
  2. What is your painting style? Do you work in a specific medium or style, or can you accommodate different preferences?
  3. What size canvas do you typically use? Is there a maximum/minimum size?
  4. How long will it take to complete the painting? Will you need to take any breaks during the event?
  5. Will you need any special accommodations, such as a specific location to set up or access to electricity?
  6. Do you charge by the hour or by the project, and what is included in your fee?
  7. What is your cancellation or rescheduling policy?

If your artist is painting small illustrations for your guests, be sure to also ask:

  1. How many illustrations are you able to complete during a 4 hour reception?
  2. How do you typically interact with guests during the painting process? Will you be able to paint any specific guests or moments if requested?

Asking these questions can help you understand the artist’s approach, style, and process, as well as ensure that you are both on the same page regarding expectations, pricing, and logistics. It can also help you make an informed decision when selecting a live wedding painter.

Wedding sketch art in London
Wedding sketch art by Emily Tytheridge – Templecombe, United Kingdom

What questions will your artist ask you?

Your chosen artist will have their own set of questions depending on the project at hand. Whether they are setting up to paint a couples painting or guest illustrations will likely change their inquiries with you.

We spoke with one of our wonderful artists, Alexandra Peterken to get the inside scoop. Alex is a London-based artist who specialises in custom guest illustrations. 

Alex shared that she likes to get as many details as soon as possible as to best prepare for the live wedding paintings.

“Prior to the big day, I’ll ask for the wedding date, venue, number of guests they are expecting and the amount of hours they would like my illustration services.

Depending on the guest numbers, I will make sure to outline the amount of hand painted illustrations I will be able to create within the timeframe. Also if the bride and groom would like any tweaking to my illustration style – i.e. adding a hint of eyes/eyelashes to the face.

For the illustration paper, I’ll also ask the couple for their newlywed surname, which will be printed at the top of every A5 paper to give each illustration a professional finish and reminder of the special day.”

live wedding paintings
Sketch art wedding portraits by Alex Peterken – London, United Kingdom

How much does a live wedding artist cost?

The cost of a live wedding portrait artist depends on the artist’s experience, location, the size of the canvas, and the amount of time they are required to work. Some artists may charge by the hour or by the size of the canvas painting, while others may have a fixed fee for the entire event.

“I base my pricing on the number of hours they would like my services, with the price including my materials, my time and travel,” Alex told us of her pricing process.

“I have a base fee, but the quote can alter depending on the venue location from London and if I would require overnight accommodation. I am happy to travel throughout the UK and internationally for weddings.”

Alex’s Base Prices*:

  • 4 Hours – £600
  • 5 Hours – £700
  • 6 Hours – £900

*Prices based on a UK wedding, within a 2.5 hour rail travel time of London. 

It’s important to keep in mind that hiring a live wedding artist is often a unique and personalised addition to your wedding day, and can be a memorable experience for you and your guests. Therefore, it’s worth considering the cost as an investment in creating a one-of-a-kind keepsake of your special day.

When considering the cost, be sure to discuss all details with the artist to ensure that you fully understand what is included in the price.

Wedding sketch artist
Group sketch portrait of bridesmaids at wedding by Alex Peterken – London, United Kingdom


How does your artist prepare for your big day?

We asked Alex how she prepares for a big day of painting:

“Preparing for the special day, I will have pre-printed all of the art paper with the newlyweds surname and wedding date.

I like to pack a week before the wedding, so to make sure there are no last minute materials or equipment I need. I’ll pack a small suitcase with all of my art materials including water colours, fine liner pens and pro marker pens. I’ll also pack signage which will be used on the table and other table accessories such as fairy lights. My packaging will also be packed, which is the biodegradable film sleeves that each illustration is gifted in. 

I will always spend time on the run up to the wedding, practicing the illustrations to get myself comfortable with the style and get into a ‘flow’ for creating them within the allotted time. I like to check with the bride and groom to see if they have any remaining questions, so as to make sure everyone is happy with the process on the day.”

Memory collage of recycled pieces from wedding
An alternate option for your special day – Wedding Memory Collages. Alex offers a collage made up of the materials from your wedding day, as well as a hand painted element to tie the piece together!

Hire a live painting artist for a wedding gift!

Get the perfect gift for your favourite couple! Hire a live painting artist to paint the wedding ceremony as a surprise. Live wedding paintings easily stand out amongst the rest and the bride and groom is sure to appreciate the special one-of-a-kind artwork. A bride and groom portrait is perfect to hang in their home and shows the happy couple how much you care.

Communicate with your artist to organise a more subtle approach to their big day. Your artist might be able to stick to the edges of the ceremony before setting up to paint during the reception. Alternatively, you can send a photo to an artist and they’ll be able to paint the portrait for you after the big day!

Need more gift ideas? See 10 more gift ideas on our blog!