Painting the Big Fat Indian Wedding

Ishita Roy

In India, weddings are more than just ceremonies, they are a big deal. Weddings here are not just about two people getting married, they have become a market, and a competitive one, where the attempt is to try to do something new, something better than the last wedding they attended. They nowadays also attract foreign visitors, who pay to be part of the ‘desi wedding’. Noor, a 24-year-old Delhi-based painter, has cracked this market with her unique service of live wedding paintings that are now trending all over Instagram.

This is, however, not Noor’s first career. Before she became a wedding painter, she was a lawyer. Spending her days sitting in Tees Hazari court, surrounded with piles of case files, she would often take out her diary and start doodling in between work. This seemed more fun than her job. “I started asking myself, ‘Is this what (being a lawyer) I am going to do for the rest of my life?’,” says Noor.

Being a creative person since childhood, Noor had drawn portraits and oil paintings. She did an occasional gig but that did not seem sustainable. But she also knew that court was not where she wanted to spend the rest of her life in. In 2022, she got her first commission as a wedding artist. “One of my school friends whose sister was getting married trusted me with their wedding portrait. At the end of the day, the painting made the couple happy, and me happier, because I was going to quit my job the next day,” she says.

Noor was inspired by American painter Bob Ross and his techniques of painting. In The Joy of Painting (1983), Ross painted his artwork with human stories and would often refer to certain elements in his paintings as “happy little clouds” or “happy little things”. Noor wished to convey the same happiness to other people through her paintings, that too on their special day. Another “Eureka moment” was when she saw another American artist painting for couples during their weddings—she decided to become an Indian wedding painter, capturing couples’ special moments in paintings. “Indians love weddings,” she says, stressing on the word ‘love’. “I knew it would be a hit because everyone wants their wedding to stand out!”


An artist’s struggle

However, she feared that her parents might not accept her decision. “I have a very typical desi family,” she says. Her father is an economics professor, while her mother is a homemaker.

Being good at studies, and pursuing law, she had set out to be a lawyer and to leave it to start an unconventional profession was tricky.

“My mother was my biggest supporter. I remember telling her and then even rehearsing with her on how to tell my father that I will quit my job,” she says with a giggle.

Even after her first gig in 2022, it took her more than a year to establish her business and the time in between was rough. “This was a time of self-doubts. My stress triggers my psoriasis. But even during that time, my family, and my friends were supportive of me,” she says. Noor now is a full-time wedding painter with many viral reels; the most popular one has over 35k views.

Best part of the job

So how does live wedding painting work? “A painting takes around four to six hours to complete. Don’t worry, I do not make couples pose for long hours,” she says.

Noor reaches the venue an hour or two before the guests arrive and paints the venue on her canvas. Then, as the couple arrive, she photographs their most precious moments. For some couples, it is their varmala ceremony, for others it is the pheras.

Using that photo, she paints, making the big reveal at the end of the wedding. “I take a lot of pictures, sometimes, I also add elements as I paint the background,” she says. For her, the best part of her job is to see the couples’ reaction when they get to see the painting.

“The emotional reactions I get from the couples makes me the happiest. Hearing their love stories and then bringing them on a canvas gives me joy. And who would mind dancing to a DJ while painting,” she tells TMS, as she rides a cab at 12.30am from a wedding at ITC Grand Bharat to her home in Janakpuri.