Ask the wedding expert: Laura Welch Taylor on live wedding painting and opting for original art

Jenny & Woody Hillyer's wedding in December of 2017. Photo by Lauren Haddow.
Taylor with her two children Willa and Jack. Photo courtesy Laura Welch Taylor.

If pictures are worth a thousand words, how many are paintings worth? Artist Laura Welch Taylor thinks a good bit more, especially when it comes to weddings.

“I think live wedding paintings are so different from any other way that we capture weddings,” explains Taylor, who sets up her acrylics and canvas to paint a couple’s special day in real time. “Photographs and videos are certainly wonderful, but there’s something about a painting that can capture the entire essence and character of a wedding in a single work. It’s a keepsake that will last forever and can be passed down as a family heirloom.”

In recent years, live wedding painting has emerged as almost a staple. Offering not only a gift for the bride and groom, but also an experience for guests, who can look on as Taylor pulls together the night’s most memorable moments. Taylor says the commissions have become her favorite part of her job, allowing her to be an active part in someone’s special day.

For brides struggling with whether to have the ceremony or the reception be the focus of the painting, Taylor says to consider who you want included in the work, as well as where it will ultimately hang. “My advice is to think about what you want in your finished painting,” notes Taylor. “Also, think about where you want to hang your painting, and the aesthetic you’d like to achieve in that space. A ceremony painting will evoke more reverent and romantic feelings, while a reception painting can bring energy to the space.” Painting by Laura Welch Taylor.

“It’s always so much fun to celebrate alongside people and enjoy the festive atmosphere and attitudes,” she says. “I’m a very sentimental person, and I fully believe that tangible objects are one of the best ways to pass those memories on to future generations.”

Taylor explains that when she sets up to start her work, she has certain go-to elements that she loves to include, such as the bride’s dress, ring bearers and flower girls, as well as close family and friends, who she says are easy to detect based on the body language of the bride and groom. According to Taylor, a lot of the time it is these family members and friends who made her presence possible.

“I’d say a little less than half of the weddings I get to paint are a surprise to the bride,” Taylor notes. “It makes it so much more fun knowing the anticipation of that big moment where the bride finds out. I’ve had some great moments with surprises, too. One time, I had to tell a bride I was booked up and unavailable on her wedding date, but it was because her mother had already booked me as a surprise!”

“I think people understand that original art is a luxury, and many people don’t normally budget for it,” says Taylor. “But, when it comes to a wedding, it’s the perfect time to budget a little extra to get something unique.” Painting by Laura Welch Taylor.

And when it comes to booking, Taylor says that sooner is always better than later. Think of an artist in the same way as the rest of the night’s vendors. There is only one of the artist, so they can only be in one location on a given date. Because of that, it’s best to secure your spot early. However, Taylor explains that it never hurts to reach out. She has booked weddings just a week prior.

In addition to larger canvas masterpieces, one new trend has emerged in recent years: painted Champagne bottles. A practical keepsake, the bottles can be adorned with everything from the ceremony church to the couple’s pets to a custom crest. Taylor says the new must-have is a fun way to bring original art into the equation.

“I think the painted Champagne bottles have become popular for the same reason that wedding paintings have. It’s a way to uniquely celebrate a special event and it makes a wonderful keepsake,” she explains. “I love that the bottles provide a more lighthearted and playful medium to bring in elements of the celebration.”

Whether you opt for something big or small, art is just another way to not only preserve the events of the day, but also bring in your personality as a couple.

“Our world is so full of mass-produced items,” says Taylor. “There’s something special about an original work of art–Champagne bottle, wedding painting, pet portrait or other painting–that you know is totally unique. You’ve got the only of a kind, and you can have it detailed or specialized just for you. Your big day is special and unique, so you deserve to remember it in a special and unique way.”

To see more of Taylor’s work and to learn more about the commissioning process, visit her website at laurawtaylor.com or follow her on social media here.

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