Arkansas native and Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields Wolfe has turned to her art as a way to honor brides across the country affected by the coronavirus.
“That season of getting married is so special,” Shields told AY (About You).“I remember when I was a bride; I loved every second of it. I soaked it up, and it makes me so sad that this season – that can be already so stressful – is now even more so for these brides.”
As brides are being forced to make the tough decision between postponing their wedding day or adhering to strict regulations due to coronavirus, Shields realized that she wanted to give back in some way. In 2018, Shields painted a portrait of Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell’s wedding gown. This was the birth of Shield’s business of painting wedding dresses, something inspired by her love for remembering how she felt dressed in white. After painting Cantrell’s dress, Shields discovered there was a market for this – she received more than 300 orders in the last year. Now, Shields is using this bridal campaign to enlighten the wedding seasons of brides who have been stripped of their normal wedding bliss.
“I wanted to help in any way that I could,” Shields says. “I kept trying to figure out what kind of goodies I could get together, what kind of package I could create. And then it just hit me: ‘Duh, Savvy, you paint bridal portraits. What do you mean, what can you do? You yourself can create this.’”
Shields took to Instagram, where she has garnered more than 103 thousand followers, and announced a giveaway. She asked that brides send her their wedding stories amidst the coronavirus pandemic. From those responses, Shields put the names into a generator and chose five at random, each of which received a free bridal portrait to remember their wedding season by. After those five were chosen, Shields opened up her bridal portraits to be 20 percent off for all remaining brides until at least the end of the summer.
“The responses have been really just beautiful,” she says. “The ways that people are getting creative in their weddings is really overwhelming. There is a lot of anxiety and fear in the world right now, and reading these stories was just really beautiful.
“I’ve read of drive-by weddings. Or some have told me they just couldn’t wait – they went to the courthouse. There have been some who don’t want to get married without their family around, so they are waiting until their grandparents are healthy to go ahead.”
Each portrait takes Shields about a week to finish, allowing herself the time and resources to create each painting as a unique piece of art. She uses pearlescent paint that creates a “sparkly and romantic” aura, as long as she gives herself the time to paint in layers.
“I’m able to preserve a moment in time, in a way that I can see all of its sparkly and glittery and romantic glory. A moment in a painting where these brides feel and remember how beautiful and how loved they felt on their wedding day,” Shields says. “In this season, I just want to create as many of these as I can. It brings me so much joy, and it’s my hope that it would bring that to whoever has it, too.”
Shields was a student at the University of Arkansas when she was crowned Miss Arkansas 2016. Just months later, she won the title of Miss America 2017. Shields married longtime boyfriend Nate Wolfe in July 2018 and now resides with him in New York City. Her bridal paintings are available for order here.