Work of Art: Hiring a Wedding Painter

Who to hire to create a keepsake of a lifetime
From: Spring/Summer 2014 edition

Prior to her June 2013 wedding at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Stacy Meteer’s parents would stop by the venue to innocently “spy” on other weddings. If they hadn’t, they might never have learned about the small but growing cadre of artists around the nation who are live-painting weddings.

“My parents told me two days before the wedding that they hired a wedding painter,” says Meteer, who has a degree in art history. “I had never heard of it before, but it fit perfectly in the realm of what we were going for with our wedding, and we now have a keepsake forever.”

Meteer’s parents hired Nicole Herzog, who has been live-painting weddings since 2000. While live wedding painting has been popular on the East and West coasts for a number of years, it’s just starting to trickle into the Midwest. Last year, Herzog moved from Minnesota to Alabama, but she travels all over the country to paint weddings.

“It’s becoming more popular,” says Herzog, “in part because couples want to do something that is unique or unusual.”

While Herzog asks clients what’s important to them and if there are certain elements or people to include, anything she observes at the wedding is fair game. “I don’t go into a painting with any preconceived ideas. I get a feel for the environment, follow the bride and groom around, sketch ideas. It’s very much a fluid process throughout the night.” Conversations with guests who stop by her easel also help give the piece direction.

In Meteer’s painting is a large sailboat that went past the window right before she walked down the aisle. “It’s a detail that wouldn’t otherwise have been captured.”

Parents of the couple typically hire Herzog as a wedding gift; her fees range from $2,000 to $4,000. She works with fast-drying acrylics so the couple can take the painting home with them at the end of the night.

“A painting is a piece of fine art, one that evokes memories and feelings,” says Herzog. “My hope is that as the bride and groom look at it through the years, they recall the many different memories that remind them of their special day.”

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