Public murals can add a pop of color, unique touch to your big day's photography

This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.

By the time Michael Wenter and Gabrielle (Seeder) Wenter stood before 113 wedding guests and said “I do” in the Hamilton Ballroom of Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph, they had already been married for the better part of an hour.

Michael and Gabrielle actually became man and wife 45 minutes earlier when they signed the ketubah, a traditional Jewish wedding contract, eight floors up in the Presidential Suite. It was an intimate moment, reserved for close friends and family members.

The couple’s photographer, Sarah Williamson of Together We Click, captured the Wenters’ first moments of matrimony. In the striking photo, the beaming couple proudly hold their newly signed ketubah, flanked by a fuchsia-splashed painting by Sarah Fairchild.

“That was the moment we were legally married. The artwork made the moment even more beautiful,” Michael says.

That wasn’t the only artwork featured in their wedding photos, however; the Wenters’ wedding portraits include several shots taken in the lobby of the hotel, where public displays from the private collection of local art enthusiast Ron Pizzuti can be found.

The Wenters are part of the growing number of couples to include public artwork in their wedding photos. From street art to pieces in a hotel or venue, art has become a go-to backdrop for Insta-worthy shots on the big day. Whether you’re looking to add a location-specific dimension or capture your personal aesthetic, we’ve got the insider tips on where to go, what to consider and how to plan your art-inspired wedding photos.

“The more artwork goes in Downtown, the more brides I have asking to include it in their photos,” Williamson says. “It’s like a picture within a picture.”

Williamson, one half of the Together We Click team (the other half being her husband, Jared Williamson) has seen the trend gain momentum both in Columbus and across the U.S.

From the juxtaposition of formal wedding attire against an urban landscape to documenting the exact time and place of the nuptials, vibrant public works (both commissioned and otherwise) inject a healthy dose of personality into any wedding album.

“It brings a sense of local artistry to the place where they tied the knot,” Williamson says. “It captures the moment.”

Bride Lindsey Casher has experienced firsthand how public artwork can make for the most memorable wedding photos. One of Casher’s favorite photos from her Sept. 8, 2017, wedding is the shot of her and her bridesmaids in front of a candy-colored mural installation in the Short North Arts District.

“It’s what was most important for me, to capture our personalities and the essence of the day in our photos,” Casher says. “Most of my pictures were pretty muted, so including [the street art] set off my bridesmaids’ dresses and embodied the soul of the moment.”

But as Williamson will tell you, scouting the perfect locale for an effortlessly beautiful photo is more work than the Pinterest pins would have you believe. With new works popping up all over the city, it’s important to plan ahead to get the absolute best result.

The most important thing to think about when choosing a location is why it’s special to you and your spouse. Neighborhood-centric murals near your home, landmarks around the venue or a piece of art that embodies your personalities make the best shots.

“Great pictures mirror what the subjects in the artwork are doing,” Williamson says. She suggests channeling the theme of the artwork, whether it’s stoic (like the “American Gothic” mural in the Short North) or vibrant and playful (like the “Rolling in Love” mural at Pins Mechanical Co.) into your own photos.

The key to attaining the perfect shot anywhere is to plan ahead, but according to Williamson, shooting outdoors alongside public artwork has its own set of special considerations.

Williamson suggests picking spots that aren’t surrounded by parking meters, construction barrels or anything else that could clutter the frame. Decide beforehand who you want in the photo, and keep the number of extraneous people to a minimum. If a person included in the picture has accessibility issues, make sure the location can accommodate them.

It’s always a good idea to allow for extra parking and walking time when scheduling with your photographer and wedding party. Be mindful of foot traffic, and avoid busy locations or times of day if possible.

“Lighting can be a challenge,” Williamson says. “You don’t want to be in the direct sunlight; you won’t have the best result.” Instead, look for areas that have “open shade”—that is, a wide-open space where the sun will still be blocked by a roof or wall.

Let your photographer know which elements of the artwork you want to highlight. Make sure that the time of day you’re shooting and the location’s natural light correspond with your desired result.

And of course, if your desired spot is in or near a private business or residence, always call ahead.

“It’s always best to be respectful with a public place,” Williamson says. “Luckily we haven’t run into this, but I’ve heard of wedding parties being asked to leave.”

If you want to include a beautiful work of art in your photos but don’t have time (or energy) to scout out locations for the big day, do what both the Cashers and the Wenters did—trust your photographer.

“[Sarah] did an amazing job choosing the shots and backgrounds to capture the wedding and the artwork,” Michael Wenter says. “We wanted pictures that we could look back on and say, ‘That was such an amazing day,’ and that’s what we got.”