Live Wedding Painting - The Story
It all began when Suzie contacted me in July inquiring about hiring me as a Live Wedding Painter at her wedding vow renewal in September. Suzie shared with me that this will be a surprise gift for her husband Dave. The couple was married one year ago and due to the pandemic, they opted for a micro wedding. The ceremony was in their church, St Augustine’s in Weston. A year later they planned a second celebration - a vow renewal and a festive reception party at the beautiful Waveny House in New Canaan, CT.
This was exciting for me because I grew up in New Canaan and Waveny was a big part of my life growing up. As kids, my brother and I spent many hours playing and exploring the grounds and looked forward to the annual 4th of July Celebration. A few of our high school proms and post-prom parties were held at Waveny and the list goes on of all the fond memories.
The house was build for the Lapman family in 1912, and purchased by the Town of New Canaan in 1967. With no details left unturned, the elegant, vintage estate offers beautiful wood paneling, tutor style leaded glass windows, marble fireplaces, hand-stenciled muraled walls, a beautiful sun-light staircase to make a grand entrance, and a backyard terrace overlooking the expansive grounds.
Suzie and I met on a Wednesday afternoon in August at Waveny to view the grounds and decide on the scene to capture and where the best vantage point was. There were two different plans, one inside in the main hall and the second one would be out on the back terrace. It was a wonderful afternoon, getting to know each other and it felt like we were good friends catching up after a few years apart. I loved hearing the sweet romantic story of how Dave proposed to Suzie.
A few weeks later I sent Suzie two watercolor sketches of the scenes.
Suzie loved the sketches and offered her feedback, this is one of my favorite parts of the painting process, the beginning stages when the ideas and thoughts go from a simple conversation, words spoken into a concrete idea on paper. This is when we see together the vision starting to take shape. One thing we always have to remember is that things can change the day of the wedding. Nothing is set in stone but creating this preliminary sketch helps us both feel more confident that we are on the same page.
Wedding Day- Finally Here!
I arrived a little earlier than expected since it was Labor Day Weekend and I had no idea what the traffic would be like. When I entered the main hall, there was a lot of activity going on, tables were being set, the musicians and flowers had just arrived. The wedding coordinator was directing folks and I found my spot right between a doorway looking into the main room.
The scene I’m be painting is Suzie and Dave’s first dance. This was so important to them because dancing wasn’t part of their wedding celebration last year, so Suzie wanted this to be a special moment captured on canvas. I set up and went right to work. The canvas size is 24 x 36. My first step is to draw an outline with my pastel stick. Next comes the underpainting or first layers of paint. While working on location I chose to paint in acrylics. Acrylics are water-based paint that dries quickly and are easy to clean up. There is little to no odor compared to oil paints.
About 45 minutes before the ceremony started, Daniel the photographer approached me to ask if I could move my easel back into the side room, close the doors and hide. Suzie’s plan was to unveil the surprise to Dave after the ceremony and before their first dance.
Tucked away in a side room, I continued to work on the painting based on my memory and photos from my camera.
I worked up until the 4pm ceremony on the side Portico, option B in case of rain. The caterers did an amazing job redirecting and setting up all the chairs on the Portico. Father John, a dear friend of the couple’s presided over the wedding ceremony making it extra special to hear his personal words spoken over the two of them.
A little damp from the rain but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the misty background scenery, in fact, it just made it more romantic.
Now,time for the Big Surprise Reveal, although the painting was still in the beginning stages, I was able to place the first layer of the background in, enough to see what’s going on. The photographer and his crew were ready for when Suzie and Dave entered the room.
Suzie introduced me and I shared with Dave what I was painting and what the scene will be of. It took just moments for Dave to process and the expression on his face as well as Suzie’s was priceless.
There were tears of joy and happiness and so much love just radiated from the both of them - I think it brought all of us in the room to tears. The only thing I could do is smile and offer each a paper towel. They were so thrilled, we opened the doors and I was able to continue painting while they continued to enjoy their party.
The tables were set with cobalt blue tablecloths, dusty rose napkins, and gold chargers. The tables sparkled with a mix of wine and water glasses, along with candles and flower arrangements. I love the mix of soft pink roses, hydrangeas, little blue flowers, and greens. some tables had low arrangements and others were presented with tall brass stands.
As the evening moved along, guests would visit often taking a peek at the progress of the painting and we would engage in small chit chat. I love meeting the guests and hearing their reactions. Although live wedding painting has been around for over 10 years now in different parts of the country, this is fairly new to New England so there were only one or two other people who attended a wedding with a live wedding painter.
The sweet flower girls, Maria her sister Olivia and their cousin came to visit me often, asking the best questions and wanting to know what I was going to paint in next.
It was about 6:45 when Suzie and Dave came down the grand staircase for their first dance. Everyone gathered around the dance floor to watch as the couple gracefully moved in beautiful motion together. But the best part was when the music stopped and everyone applauded thinking it was over, then Dave say something like “there’s more!”
An upbeat pop song came on and the couple busted out their dance moves - the crowd cheered as they twirled and spun around the dance floor! I snapped a zillion photos hoping to capture just the right move and position.
And I found it! The moment their arms were wrapped around each other and they turned their heads to look into each other’s eyes! Magic! So back to the easel I went, ready to add in the bride and groom.
The progress of the painting moved along. Adding small grouping of guests, and of course the three little girls. I snapped photos of couples as they walked by my easel asking for a quick pose.
Then Suzie and Dave came over to view the progress, I asked them if they would like to paint on the canvas, Suzie painted highlights on her dress, and Dave painted the highlights on his suit! So fun to see the two interact with their painting!
Later in the evening, I offered my two biggest fans, to paint the wine in the wine glasses in the lower left side of the canvas, I showed them once how to mix the paint and fill in the outline of the glass. Then they proceed to follow, carefully and in full concentration - how precious the moment was.
The evening continued with the cake cutting and dancing in the portico - The band was outstanding, playing fantastic dance tunes - so fun to watch everyone enjoying themselves - living life to the fullest and celebrating with friends and family.
I packed up, said my goodbyes, and out the door by about 9:45pm -
The fondest of memories were made that night and to have the honor and pleasure to be a part of their wedding day celebration is truly a blessing for me!
2 weeks later: Back in my studio now, I have time to analyze and make corrections, add the details, and several glazing layers both with acrylics and then with oils. The faces take the most time especially since most of them are under the size of a dime!
I love seeing the progress of the painting develop.
I sent over a proof for Suzie and Dave and they were so happy! they were amazed at the painting! They asked for a few corrections and we discussed framing options.
“The painting looks amazing- Dave and I are very happy with your work. Thank you so much for being there and capturing the night. You were a big hit. And the best part of it, Dave was so extremely surprised and delighted that there was a talented and kind Christian painter at our reception. “
Next Steps: Framing and deliver! My absolute favorite part is the reveal day!
As always, thank you for following my art journey-
For more information on Live Wedding Painting or Post Wedding Portraits go here - Or contact me by phone: 203-444-5705 or email -
Linda S. Marino Art
Branford, CT 06405
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