Paper Anniversary Gift Idea: Commission a Wedding Portrait

At some point over the past year, I can’t remember if it was before or after we got married, I showed Adam a portrait by an artist that I follow on Instagram. The painting is of a couple in their black-tie best sitting in royal fashion against a sumptuous emerald green wall. It’s formal, but eccentric and a bit quirky and both of us loved it. Adam started following the artist, Sarah Russell, as well, and brought it up a few times that we should get her to do a wedding portrait for us.


That got me thinking and it occurred to me, wouldn’t that be perfect to commission a wedding portrait for our first anniversary, traditionally the paper anniversary?! Well, if you know me, you know I have approximately zero patience, so that didn’t pan out because I went ahead and commissioned it months before our first anniversary — so much for the paper anniversary gift idea.*

But, a wedding portrait would be a fabulous gift for anyone who has yet to celebrate their first anniversary and is currently racking their brain for creative and original paper anniversary gift ideas (stationary is great, but won’t your spouse just buy that for themselves?!).

*Yes, it’s on canvas, but close enough, right?! If you haven’t made your wedding album yet, that’s another great idea (don’t worry, I’ll have a post on ours soon enough!).


wedding portrait - first anniversary gift - paper anniversary gift idea - sarah russell painter



The artist who did our portrait is a woman our of Philadelphia, Sarah Russell. She and her sisters actually went to the same high school as me, but I believe I actually came across her randomly on Instagram (find her @sarahpollyanna) and was totally lured in by her vibrant colors, liberal nudity, and sometimes dark subjects (y’all this is what I love when it comes to art and design!).

Plus, she has an Italian Greyhound, which has been my dream dog ever since I used to watch an elderly woman walk her two little statuesque hounds around Glover Park.

So, how did the commission process go? Super easy. I emailed Sarah letting her know I’d love to connect with her about commissioning a portrait. I went according to the process that’s spelled out on her website. I included:

  • The size I wanted (8×10) and orientation (portrait)
  • That I wanted it to be acrylic
  • Examples of some of her work that struck a chord with me
  • The vibe I was looking for — my exact words were, ” wintery, moody, funky––dark with bright pops like so much of your work”
  • A wedding photo to base the commissioned portrait off of
  • Other photos of me and Adam since I wanted the portrait to be front-facing, while the example photo was not

Then, Sarah took what I had written to her, the photos I sent, and went to town! I trusted her completely to come up with something that we would love and she delivered 100%. She even did a little Instagram stalking to include pieces that reflect us — the leopard and the gold cowboy boot in the bookshelves.

Now, it’s hanging in a gold frame on our wall with the inspiration photo right below it.*

*P.S. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on framing. I paid $13 for the top frame from Michaels Craft Store and found the bottom frame at an antique store for $15.


wedding portrait - first anniversary gift - paper anniversary gift idea - sarah russell painter



1 Comment

Leave a Reply