“It took my breath away,” she added. “There was so much depth. He highlighted our cake and flowers, and who was wearing what. He did my friends perfectly. I didn’t remember the seating arrangements, but looking at his painting I could see where everyone was.”
Ms. Hicks knew she wanted an artist, thanks to word of mouth and Pinterest. After investigating a number of professionals and deciding on oil as opposed to watercolor, she chose Mr. Keys.
“Sometimes people cry when they see the finished product or how much I’ve accomplished at the end of their event,” said Mr. Keys, who still gets nervous when making the delivery.
Mr. Keys caps his wedding gigs at 40 a year, and he said he turned down over 100 requests. Inquiries from event planners, anxious brides, even mothers-in-law regarding his availability doubled in 2016 from 2015.
“This has taken off greater than expected,” said Mr. Keys, who has focused solely on weddings for the past five years. Prices can range from $3,500 to $5,000, plus transportation and accommodation expenses for two nights. Each painting can take more than 20 hours to complete and is delivered eight to 10 weeks after the wedding.
Some couples choose other types of live art: sketches by illustrators, paintings by watercolorists, and also work created by an iPad app.
Abigail Smith and Oscar Zamorano hired Ronald Bayens for an oil painting to colorfully celebrate their day. The couple married Nov. 26, 2016, in Auburn, Ala., at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, named after the bride’s grandmother, who died the previous year. Hiring a painter seemed to be in keeping with their passion and theme, and…