Wedding Trend: The Silhouette

Marta Block


When it comes to wedding entertainment trends, we've been calling 2012 "The Year of Surprises." Couples are looking to do something both personal and attention getting. One of the newest ideas in wedding entertainment has been involving event artists, including silhouette and caricature artists. Silhouette/Caricature artist and GigMasters member Ruth Monsell explains the history of the silhouette, and how it can be included in your wedding day.

Since a wedding is such a romantic occasion, many brides are eager to inject an aura of nostalgia into their big day by planning a “vintage” wedding. One way in which some brides are choosing to carry out the vintage theme is by hiring a silhouette artist or two to cut traditional profiles of the guests.  Their silhouette then becomes their favor, one more likely to be treasured always as an heirloom than to be left behind at the table or discarded. The majority of couples choose to have the silhouettist they’ve hired cut in duplicate so that the second set can be mounted into an album.  Guests can then sign next to their silhouettes, giving the bride and groom a very special, one-of-a-kind keepsake of their wedding day.

Additionally, guests find watching an artist work live immensely entertaining and even educational.  Because relatively few professional silhouettists are at work in America today, many guests have never had their profile cut or watched an artist create one.  Seeing a friend or relative’s likeness start to emerge in just seconds from simple black paper and scissors amazes and delights viewers.

Silhouettes fit in perfectly with most weddings, whether or not the theme is “vintage.”  The art of the silhouette was at its height roughly between the eras of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, with another important resurgence in the post-camera nineteenth century.  But from the middle of the twentieth century, the number of artists acquiring the skill diminished, meaning that today freehand silhouette artists create excitement.

I’ve encountered many a person who had his or her head traced in grade school from a projected shadow, but has never seen a likeness cut freehand.  Most subjects are astonished that a piece of paper approximately 3 x 4 inches can capture so much of a person’s appearance, posture, and sometimes even personality.

A good silhouette professional will offer a number of different options, tailoring their work to exactly what will best satisfy your vision of your wedding.  The mounts and mats used, the method of displaying the finished cuttings, and the number of hours offered are among the choices I help brides (or couples, or parents of the bride) to make.   Most frequently I will cut the bride’s and groom’s silhouettes ahead of time and frame them so they can be admired by the guests as they arrive.

wedding silhouette artist

Then there are couples who want to emphasize FUN at their wedding reception.  The traditional silhouette may not be as appropriate for a funky wedding as hiring a caricature artist.  A good one will make every guest laugh and stress the idea that even though your wedding day may be one of the most important days of your life, it is still a gloriously fun-filled celebration.  Whereas the average silhouette takes about 5 minutes to complete, paste-up included, you should expect a caricaturist to work on each subject for closer to 10 minutes if working in black and white, and a little longer in color.

There are even a few artists available who will bring an easel and turn out a painting of the crowd at your wedding reception!  This makes a great memento for the happy couple and is fun for guests to watch, though it does not result in a gift they can each take home.

Thanks to Ruth Monsell for sharing her expertise. Don't forget you can find silhouette artists, caricaturists and other event artists on GigMasters and learn about more wedding trends on our wedding resource guide.