“You’re wearing a dress with sleeves, right?” Choosing to show off your tattoos at your wedding

Guest post by Kate Critchlow

You love your tattoos, your partner loves your tattoos, but your family may not always be so approving.

It wasn't until pretty recently, while discussing “the dress,” that I realized my mother really disliked the idea of me showing my tattoos during the wedding. She made it rather clear with a single comment: “You would have to find a nice long-sleeved dress, to cover those,” she told me casually waving a hand at the half sleeve on my arm.

My partner and I shared a brief look when she said that, both knowing the problem was that I had wanted to show off my tattoos during the wedding.

My mother has, over time, come to accept an awful lot of things that will be different about my wedding; a black dress instead of white, marrying another woman instead of a man, unicorn decorations on the cake… It astounded me that, after accepting all of this with relative ease, she could be so negative about the tattoos.

I'm a hobby artist, I designed all of my tattoos myself, I love them, and I thought everyone around me liked them too. I even have a doodle in my sketchbook of myself in a strapless, back-less, black dress that shows off plenty of my ink. Any plans I had ever had for when my partner and I decided to marry had included designing a tattoo that would mark the occasion, and be shown for the first time in our wedding photos.

It made me wonder what other people's experiences are of tattoos at weddings. I have seen a lot of brides with beautiful tattooed sleeves, and designs dancing their way out of the sides of the dress. It's beautiful, and adds colour to the white bride look. Why would we ever want to hide them?

So here's my advice to anyone else experiencing tattoo wedding shame. (Because everyone would be happier with the support of their loved ones…)

Stand firm

Just because your friends of family don't like the idea of showing off your tattoos, doesn't mean you need to cater to them. This is your wedding, you should feel comfortable. I am certain that if I had given any indication that I would have been willing to hide my tattoos my mother would have held me to it, so stick to your guns.

Get your partner involved

Make sure to ask your partner what they think. In my case, my partner was incredibly quick to point out that we both love tattoos, and like showing them off.

Show off examples of the look you want

Maybe your disapproving family member dislikes the idea of visible tattoos at a wedding because they can't imagine it. I showed my mother the sketch I mentioned, how I imagine I would look on my wedding day, and she liked it. I'm sure she'll come with me to pick a wedding dress and love the look even more. You could even direct your loved ones to Offbeat Bride's “tattooed bride” archive full of beautiful images of brides and grooms showing off their ink.

A note about getting wedding tattoos

If you're like me and are thinking about getting a special tattoo to mark the occasion of your wedding, make sure you get the tattoo three (or more) weeks before the ceremony. This way you can ensure that it has time to heal fully, and look fantastic for the big day.

It doesn't matter whether you want to wear a suit or a dress at your wedding, your fashion choice is your decision, and how much of your ink you want to show is up to you as well.

Hey, tattooed brides and grooms: how are you dealing the wedding day ink backlash? Covering them up? Showing them off? Using them as your wedding theme?

photography: Lakshal Perera

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Comments on “You’re wearing a dress with sleeves, right?” Choosing to show off your tattoos at your wedding

  1. GREAT advice! I’m getting married later this year, and my mother has actually not yet noticed mine. Granted, they’re small-ish, but one’s on my wrist and another’s on my ankle.. so how she DIDN’T see them during dress shopping is a mystery. But I will be getting one on my back before the wedding, which will be large and VERY visible, so I’m anticipating negativity from that one. Especially since my my mom made derogatory comments about a tattooed bride-to-be trying on dresses in one of the stores we were in. (My sister told me about it afterwards – she and I had thought this girl looked awesome). But it’s nice to hear from a fellow future bride with a tattoo-disapproving parent! Good suggestion on directing people to the tattooed bride archive – I’ll be keeping that in mind! πŸ™‚

    • I’m glad you liked it. My mother is warming up to the idea much faster than I thought she would, and my partner is helping to encourage her. It’s best not to spring it on them as a surprise as people have a harder time dealing with their feelings when they’re caught off guard. Your mother will want you to enjoy your big day, and I’m sure you’re large back tattoo will look gorgeous.

    • Have you considered how it will look with the dresses you’re trying on? Like will all the parts show that you would like?

  2. I honestly didn’t give any thought to my tattoo while picking a dress. For that matter, I completely forgot I even had one! (It’s on my shoulder blade, so, I guess, out of sight, out of mind). When I was getting in to my dress and the photographer asked me to look back towards my MOH who was fluffing out my dress, I screamed because I thought it was a giant bug on me. Everyone made fun of me. Made a good story. I figure, wear what makes you happy.

  3. OMG, thank you! I have been debating what kind of dress I should be getting as my family doesn’t currently know that I have a relatively large dove on my shoulder blade. I have been debating how I should tell them, or if I should just try to find a dress that covers it. I love my dove, and my fiancΓ© loves it too! But I know my family disapproves of the handful of tattoos they know I have that won’t show. The thing is, my dove is a memorial piece for my grandmother who I was super close to. I even have her engagement ring as my own now, so I really wanted to show it off, but I was feeling the guilt creep up, even before I officially start my dress shopping. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s awesome knowing that I’m not the only one who has this particular wedding planning issue!!!

    • I hope you do show it off at the wedding, this is the best reason I’ve seen yet to show off a tattoo on your big day and I’m sure your family will be able to appreciate that if you explain it to them. I’m a strong believer of letting something sit in the water for a while. I would recommend talking to your family about your memorial tattoo for a little while before you suggest showing it off on the day.

      Best of luck!

      • Just wanted to follow up and say I finally got the courage to talk to my mom about my tattoo. She was more than understanding, and actually started to tear up when I told her about it. The dress has been chosen, and my dove will indeed show! Thanks for the support and advice Offbeat Empire!

    • I really hope you get a dress that shows off that tattoo.

      I have a memorial tattoo of my Grandfather on my wrist and, while no one has said anything yet, I feel like it’s only because my mother hasn’t thought about it yet. I would be so sad if this tattoo got covered up and wasn’t a part of my wedding photos. I think showing off your tattoo is a great way to include your grandmother who is no longer with you. πŸ™‚

  4. This will definitely be me on my wedding day. I have a shoulder/”quarter sleeve” tattoo and a big tat between my shoulder blades, so there’s no way I could hide them unless I wore a jacket or bolero. I think my mother has gotten past the point of chastising me about my choices (knowing I cannot be tamed), but I’m also a bit older (35) so perhaps I’ve just developed criticism Teflon and don’t even notice it.

    Actually the person I had to convince that it was OK to display my tats in my wedding dress was myself. I was afraid they would look tacky (OBB’s favorite word) and out of place in a formal wedding dress, but then I realized that, hey, this is who I AM, and it’s not the tattoos that need to fit in the wedding, it’s the wedding that needs to fit the tattoos. I love my tattoos any other day of the year, so why not this one too. Same for anyone who actually cares about me. If they don’t like it…. Well who even cares? (one of the perks of being over 30 AND paying for your own wedding)

  5. THIS. I wish all my brides would read this. I’m a wedding photographer, and I love nothing more than the juxtaposition of some great ink to a frilly dress (and I’m not just talking brides, but bridal party and guests can rock some awesome stuff too!). Those tatts are PART of you, so why should you feel you need to cover them up? Stand your ground, wear what makes you feel awesome, and ignore anyone who tells you otherwise!

  6. My hubby and i got semi-matching tattoos 3 weeks before our wedding with the intention of having a kick ass photo taken of them, and i LOVE the photo! then again i had a very un-traditional wedding, which most of my guests,expected! :o) The wedding is about YOU and your PARTNER, not anyone else.

  7. When I got my large chest piece at 19, the first thing my mother said was “But how will it look with your wedding dress?” She’s a lot more accepting of tattoos now (5 years later) and even has a few of her own. She didn’t mind when my chest and back piece were on display at our wedding last year. I could tell my grandmother wasn’t thrilled, and I’m sure some other family members felt the same way, but that’s ok. The wedding was all about my husband and I and the things that we love. Whenever I cover my tattoos, I’m hiding a part of myself. And I wish no one ever had to hide a part of who they are.

  8. I’ve been a tattoo artist for almost 6 years now. Thus far no one’s been brave enough to suggest that I cover up, but if they do the joke will be on them when they show up and find themselves surrounded by people I’ve been drawing on for years. πŸ˜›

  9. I love the look of inked up brides in wedding dresses, but I have a very large tattoo on my arm that I kind of grew out of. I hated the way it looked in the pictures at my first wedding and haven’t done anything about it since. I might design my own dress to cover my arms but show off the work on my back that I absolutely love. Decisions, decisions…

  10. You can tell her you *will* be wearing sleeves…. the ones that are drawn on your body. πŸ˜‰

  11. I have a full sleeve and my FH has two full sleeves. People love them and love us, regardless. Luckily, our family doesn’t care either! It does help though, that my FH is a tattoo artist and did my sleeve πŸ™‚ I will be proud to show my tattoos off and I cannot wait to see how they look in the photos, and as a part of our wedding.

  12. I’ve been wondering about this myself. I’ve been wanting a back piece for years and and really want to get it before my wedding later this year, but my fiance’s family is Mormon and don’t really approve of tattoos.

    • In my opinion, you and your fiance should make the decision, if you’re both happy for you to go ahead and get a beautiful piece on your back for your wedding then go for it and don’t mind what his family think.

    • Not sure if it makes you feel any better but I’m also marrying someone who’s family is Mormon and I have 3 tattoos (one on each forearm and one on my chest) that I plan on showing.

      I’m sure they don’t particularly like it but to be frank, it’s my choice – not theirs.
      As is your choice to get one; if you’d like one, you should definitely do it!

  13. I’m getting a new tattoo as part of bridal preparations– I’ve a lovely trio of peonies wrapped around my lower right arm, and a few other smaller bits of ink. All mark experiences I’ve had, and serve as reminders of where I’ve been and who I want to be. The new ink will be part of processing all the notions I have on commitment, including being “worthy” of love and a good life, despite the nasty autoimmune disease that comes with me. Also, pretty flowers on my upper left arm, to complement the peonies. Going strapless!

  14. My BIL’s wife has tattoos all over her back (and one on her neck and some on her wrists and ankles) and she wore a strapless dress so you could see the ones on her back. Our FIL is very conservative and thought she should have covered them up (that said, some of the content is not “family friendly”). I don’t have any tattoos but my sister, who was my MOH, has a small one on her upper back that you could see in her dress for our wedding (I love the tattoo – it’s in memory of our mother) and my sister has wild hair (she’s a stylist – she had blue chunks for our wedding) – my FIL also commented on my SIL’s MOH’s hair (which was pink). I was a bit worried about him being judgemental about my sister but he didn’t say anything that I heard so I’m pretty happy (I did mention to him about the tattoo and hair beforehand).

    • In the months before my wedding my sister had bright, fire engine red streaks in her hair. My mother asked me if i wanted to tell her to dye it before the wedding. “Yeah, could you tell her to dye it purple to match the color scheme?”

  15. I am so glad I haven’t had to deal with this. My Aunt and my Mom suggested that I bedazzle my sleeve, chest piece and wings that will all be on display. Ya know, jazz em up for the event! My second bridesmaid is heavily and I mean heavily tattooed so even if I covered mine hers would still be there. Why would anyone have to hide who they are on their big day?

    • So much of this! I’m a heavily (and very visibly) tattooed bride-to-be and my dress is strapless. My FH is also tattooed and most of the members of our bridal party have full sleeves too. No one has been a problem to either of us about showing tattoos at our upcoming wedding.. which is nice because goodness knows we’ve had enough wedding planning drama in other areas.

      For smaller tattoos on brides who maybe aren’t so keen to have them show, though, maybe look into a tattoo-coverup makeup. I think there’s one in Kat Von D’s makeup line at Sephora. At least that way you wouldn’t need to feel like you have to wear a long-sleeved wedding gown.

  16. Great article!
    It just so happens that my tattoos will be partially obscured, just because of the dress I want to wear. I’m having an illusion neckline, with lace sleeves. I didn’t do this as a conscious decision to cover my tattoos on my arms, it’s just the dress design I really really wanted.
    But I would’ve said to heck with all the possibly disapproving family members had I wanted a sleeveless dress.

  17. One of my primary requirements of my wedding dress was that my shoulder blade tattoos be visible. One of them is in memory of my mom, and the other was one that my husband and I got together. There was no way those bad boys weren’t going to be visible on my wedding day!

  18. I have a rather unsubtle tattoo all down my leg. It’s bright blue and coincidentally matches a ton of stuff in the wedding (well it is my favourite colour). It’s going to be on show, and I desperately wanted the lower portion finished before the wedding but we couldn’t afford to. There’s only two weeks to go and I have slow healing times so it’ll have to stay as it is. My man’s family don’t even know I have a drop of ink… I’m going to own the shit out of it though! πŸ˜€

    • This may be stupid, but if it’s outlined – could you use body paint to ‘finish’ it – while you wait for the cash to finish it properly? So that it looks the way you want it to on the photos. Sorry if that’s a totally daft suggestion.

      • I didn’t think of that, thanks! It is filled in but it’s just missing the final wispy bits (it’s meant to represent air). If it needed colouring in I’d so be doing that. I’ll leave mine as it is though. Thanks! πŸ™‚

        • As someone who found this out the hard way (which ruined a dress) make sure the paint you use is either something that absolutely won’t rub off, is something like Crayola markers (sounds weird, but has worked for me in the past), or use printable temporary tattoo paper you can find at most craft stores to print out the design and apply it.

  19. I feel like this could also be said for curvier girls. I know I struggle with the size and appearance of my arms, but I wasn’t going to dictate my dress choice based off of whether or not it had sleeves. ARM-LOVE FOR ALL!

    • I definitely agree, be confident about the way you look even if other people don’t agree. Pick a dress you love and own the hell out of it πŸ™‚

  20. Woo hoo!

    I actually wanted sleeves, and I have arm ink. But I wanted my ink to show, so my sleeves are tulle. Best of both worlds.

    I hit the same road block with some of my more older family members. But my tattoos are a part of me, and I chose my dress that really showed off my ink well. (That was a big selling point to me).

    So rock on!

    • I agree, tattoos quickly become a part of who you are when you have them and they are all important to you. I almost always select clothes that show them off.

  21. The photo used for this article… i would really like to see the dress in full… It looks amazing!!!

  22. I am getting married in September in a beautiful RED Wedding Gown with my shoulder blade tattoo in full view. My Mum doesn’t like any of my tattoo’s, she doesn’t see the point of them but when I decided I wanted this particular tattoo visible on my Wedding Day I sat down with my Mum and told her that this is what I wanted and that since the tattoo is in memory of my Grandparents this was my way of having their memory included in my big day, and that really helped her understand how important it was for me for my tattoo to be visible.
    My advice when dealing with traditional mothers is to be upfront and stand your ground. Like when I told my Mum I was wearing a Red dress….she hated the idea and wanted to know why I couldn’t just wear traditional white…..that was until she saw the dress. The idea of a red wedding gown was horrible to my Mum, until she saw exactly what I wanted and then she said “Oh Mel…..it’s you”. And since then I haven’t had to worry about my Mum not agreeing with my ideas and choices, because she knows I am different, she knows my fiancΓ© is different and she knows it’s our day and it’s doing to reflect us……different.

  23. I don’t have any tattoos, but the boy does. He made an appointment to get his sleeve finished and I made a point of telling him that it better be done before the ceremony bc I want him to show them off. And I’m seriously considering dying my hair (or at least doing highlights) to match my dress. What’s the point of getting body art if you’re just going to cover it up all the time?

    • That’s fantastic, thank you. I couldn’t agree more; a lot of time, thought and money goes into each and every tattoo, their meanings are important to us and I have heard a great deal of stories (particularly in these comments) as to why they become such a beautiful part of our wedding day.

      • Seriously. He has spent more on his tattoos than we are for the entirety of this ceremony. They’re a big part of who he is and quite frankly, I find them very sexy.

  24. I actually chose a floral gown to complement my floral sleeve. I love how it looks as though the same flowers are painted on the dress and my skin, and my mother also loved it (but she did ask “Will you take a couple pictures from the other side?”)

  25. Oh I was told this because apparently my arms are too fat/untoned/saggy/ugly/unfit for public display and my cleavage too large. WHATEVER! Seeing as I wasn’t planning to diet maniacally or futilely attempt to self flagellate at the gym to appease people’s delicate sensibilities, every shitty comment made me more determined to wear exactly what I loved and was comfortable in. Both my gowns were sleeveless (**gasp!** Oh the horror!) and I didn’t bother wasting precious energy wrestling myself into torturous (and supposedly mandatory) foundation garments, either. I’m too damn old and too damn cranky to hear any more crap out of ANYONE about my body and what I should “do” about covering my “flaws” especially not on those days. Of all the unwelcome and ignorant opinions we got about our weddings, the shame commentary about my body and ways to make it more acceptable to my guests was my least favorite. Wear what YOU love, do what makes YOU feel fabulous. Be happy in yourself and your choices and rock your wedding day any way you damn well like. There is not one person on the planet whose opinion of your body is more important than your own. And your wedding is far too important a day in your life to have anyone marginalize you from your experience by placing MORE expectations on your about your body and how you present it.

    • Oh and about half way through the reception I took my shoes and stripey wicked witch socks off and wandered around for the rest of the evening guilty of another HUGE wedding dress code faux pas…..I slipped on thongs/flip flops (They felt sooo good!) and unleashed my tattooed feet on the guests. People seemed to cope ok.

      • Haha – Sounds like a very entertaining wedding at the least. I’m glad you did what you wanted and did things your own way. I agree that having a different body type can get you just as much bother from some people as piercings and tattoos can, but the only advice I can ever give is “have confidence in who you are and do what you feel like doing” and I think that’s exactly what you went for. Thanks for your comment.

  26. I’m not inked myself, but my partner is laden with tattoos and has several facial piercings. We’ve been asked several times how he will keep them open while the rings/tunnels are out, and it is assumed he will cover up his tattoos. While he made his body art less noticeable at other peoples weddings, he won’t be hiding them at ours. I fell in love with HIM, his huge heart and his beautiful mind; it had nothing to do with the lip piercings or the rainforest on his arm! His parents are used to his look and to all his tattooed friends. Even though my family are much more reserved, they are in full support of him showing them on the day. Come the reception the jacket will come off, the sleeves rolled up, and his ink will be on proud display! I really don’t understand why you would pay (both in pain and money) for something so permanent and representative of you, only to cover it up on your wedding day. I say be proud of your ink!

    • Thank you, it’s fantastic to hear you’re so supportive of him πŸ™‚ I know I was very happy to have the support of my partner when questions were asked and I’m certain he appreciates having you by his side. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness.

    • I just thought this was really, really beautiful :] … “his huge heart and his beautiful mind”. Good luck on your life together!

  27. My dress showed off the tattoo on my chest, but I made sure to get some pictures of the tattoos on my ankles. I couldn’t imagine trying to hide them.

  28. Thanks for all the replies and for reading my article everyone πŸ™‚

    I wish I could reply to all of your comments, and I really did try but sadly time is limited. For those I couldn’t respond to; thanks for sharing your thoughts and your own experiences, I really loved reading them all!

  29. My cousin will be a bridesmaid in my wedding, she has two full sleeves, a huge chest piece, and most of her back done. When I asked her to be apart of my wedding because she is my favorite cousin and I love her, she was slightly reluctant, because she thought I would not be okay with her tats. This made me really sad because I think it should be a non issue.

  30. Any advice for when your partner asks that such tattoos be covered for the wedding (but is generally accepting of them otherwise)?

  31. I don’t have tattoos myself, but at a friends wedding, I was sitting. With so done who kept up a running commentary for the entire ceremony. The thing that pissed me off the most was when the maid of honour walked down the aisle: “Why would the bride let her keep all those piercings and tattoos on display? And why didn’t she ask her to dye her hair back to a normal colour? That’s so selfish!” Because asking someone to change who they are completely for one day isn’t selfish… This article is great, and can be applied to more than just brides.

    • And why didn’t she ask her to dye her hair back to a normal colour? That’s so selfish!” Because asking someone to change who they are completely for one day isn’t selfish…

      Funny, we have a post publishing on MONDAY that’s all about this exact topic.

  32. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE. My mum, grandmother, and much of my extended family assumed I was going to cover up my tattoos (I have two full sleeves and quite a few on my legs and torso) with a floor length dress with long sleeves, and almost hit the roof when I presented my favourite 50’s style knee length dress. Everyone discouraged me from getting it, and I almost caved. However, I decided to think it through a little. First, I talked to my partner, who pointed out that he adored my tattoos, and we met through them (I’m a tattoo artist, and I did one of his sleeves), so they were pretty relevant to our wedding. Then I realized that, as much I love my family, this was MY wedding, and I wanted my tats to show. I am soooo glad I went with my shortie dress. I loved it, my hubby loved it, and my family all thought it looked beautiful. Ladies, don’t forget that this day is about you and your partner(s). Do what makes you happy. Is that not the whole point of a wedding? πŸ™‚

  33. Yay, tattoos! I gave my fiancΓ© two requests for the dress: He said 1. White-ish 2. Show the tats. My mom also has tattoos and when we went shopping kept an eye on how each dress showcased them. Anyone else that has an opinion, I don’t really care. They’re a part of my body, and my body is getting married, so of course they’re invited.
    Stay strong, tatted ladies! If you wanna show ’em, show ’em! It’s your day to be the kind of beautiful you want to be.

  34. So we’re getting married in April. I have half of my half floral sleeve finished. Im worried that it won’t be completed by the wedding. I just think it may look dumb unfinished in my wedding photos. My fiancΓ© is covered in tattoos and he said to flaunt it finished or not. I was thinking about covering it if it doesn’t get finished. What d o you think?

    • I actually read a comment further up that suggested using some body paint of some sort to fill in the tattoo yourself specially for the day. If you have the outline done already it you can just fill it in yourself with some skin friendly paint or ask an artistic friend to help you and it should look more complete for the wedding photos.

      Maybe even your tattoo artist will help you with this? Best of luck with your upcoming wedding, I wish you and your partner a lifetime of happiness.

  35. I’m going to have to get two of my pieces touched up before our celebration. I fully intend on having them visible (upper arm and shoulder blade), but they’re also getting close to being 18 years old, and are starting to look a little faded. It’s time to get them crisp again!

    I’m sure my partner’s family (and some of my extended family) will be scandalized. My family…well, my dad probably won’t be thrilled, but he’ll probably make one remark about it, I’ll snipe back, and then he’ll be sullen because he’s still getting used to the idea that his daughter has a mouth. My mom and sister won’t care; my sister is tattooed herself, and my mom’s only reason for not being tattooed is that she can’t decide on an image/design. My partner is a bit iffy on it, but only because he’s anticipating his mother freaking out about them (she caught a glimpse of my lower back ink once when I bent over and my shirt rode up, and looked like she’d just stepped in dog shit).

  36. Love the side not abut wedding tattoos, my fiance and I were talking about getting them and I hadn’t even had the thought of how soon to get them before our wedding.

    As for showing off tattoos at your wedding, I hope you did/do! I was speaking to my fiance about this since we are both have more tattoos than we can count, we both agree there is no need to hide them, all of our family and friends accept and love us for who we are and not what we look like..and if they don’t they are probably not going to be invited anyways, lol.
    It really is all about feeling comfortable and like yourselves o your big day!
    Plus years later looking back at your wedding photos you want them to look like your kick butt self, or at least I do.
    I will, however, say that there is one tattoos face I will be tastefully having a necklace cover because it is part of a super duper violent painting and at times can be a bit distracting.
    I feel as long as YOU are comfortable and happy, that really is all that matters.

  37. Love this! i have a large memorial piece on my upper back in honor of my father.. it is important to me that it shows..it,s a big piece of me and a lot of thought and effort went in to designing it… i know not everyone will approve or think it,s the right choice, but like many other things.. it,s my wedding..no one is offering to pay for it..so i dont feel i have to get permission from anyone to have the wedding i want..dress included.

  38. Huh, now that I think about it, I’m actually not sure if my FH has any specific feelings about my tattoo (and soon to be tattoos…). What I do know is that he supported my decision to get it, went with me for my appointment, and is supportive of my desire to show it off.

    No one has mentioned covering it up for the wedding, yet. I did show it off for my brother’s wedding, and no one from our family at least seemed to mind. It pretty much covers the back of my neck and extends down onto my back a bit. If I wore my hair down, it would be covered… but I’m not going to do that =) My FMIL doesn’t know that I have it, and she may be likely to have an issue… but meh. She’ll likely have more than just one issue with our choices, so she can deal with it. And also, my (currently singular) tattoo was chosen specifically: a large part of its meaning has to do with finding the right person to share my path in life, with trust, respect, and love. It’s kind of a longer explanation than that, it’s a symbol from one of my favorite books, but the point is that it is completely relevant to my wedding day.

    Now tanning… that has been mentioned, that apparently I will just perish from the Earth from shame of my ghastly white skin if I do not fake-tan for the wedding. I am a redhead. I am pale. I have always been pale. I have never been tan in my life. I have never ever used a fake tanner. I like my skin the way it is. Why would I want to look like someone completely different on my wedding day? Plus, I absolutely love the contrast between my super-pale skin and my vividly bright tattoo ^_^

    • Pale and proud! I am a fellow red-head. No one mentioned tanning or even fake tanning to me. We were married in October and I had an open back dress with cap sleeves, so I spent the whole summer being super vigilant about sunscreen (it was probably the first year I didn’t have one severe burn from accidently forgetting sunscreen because I never went anywhere without it).

  39. thank you for posting this! i was recently thinking about how to get around my dad’s distaste for my choices in body modifications. i have a forearm half-sleeve panel, gaged ears, a shoulder blade tattoo (in memorial of my grandma)…that may be expanded upon to include a memorial of my mom (whom we just lost to pancreatic cancer last week) and i have a lebret…which he normally asks me to “take that thing out of your lip.”

    i want to show my tattoos & my piercings, as i find them beautiful. and the fact that my dad is going to be walking me down the aisle (when before my mom’s terminal diagnosis, he had said he wanted no parts of the wedding)…is huge. so i didn’t want to rock the boat anymore, but all of you are right…these are a part of me & my fiancee, amy, and i both love the body mods. hopefully by then, my dad will loosen up a bit. heck, he still hasn’t seen my half-sleeve in person-only via facebook & have avoided that hurdle bc i own a plethora of cardigans.

  40. I am a bride-to-be that also has a half sleeve among many other large tattoos. However I have always felt that I don’t want to show my arm tattoos during my wedding. (Although I have others there’s just no way of hiding.) I feel like they will distract from the rest of the event that I worked so hard to put together and I really think too many of my conservative guests will spend the whole day focusing on my tattoos instead of on everything else. Plus, let’s be honest, my tattoos don’t really go with my color scheme πŸ™‚

    Of course I definitely applaud brides who want to show their ink off but I also wanted to be the voice of the tattooed bride who has made the decision not to show too many tattoos. Bonus: There are lots of lovely 3/4 sleeve wedding dresses out there!!

  41. I am specifically choosing a two piece gown just so that my hip tattoo shows. My groom as tatted as well, and why would we want to hide it?

  42. As a wedding photog too – OMG nothing makes me more giddy than couples that show off all who they are. I have found sometimes when they try too much to please family or please their spouse…they can lose *themselves* a bit. Some of the prettiest brides I’ve seen are just that – those that are beaming and comfy in their DRESS and beaming and comfy in their SKIN. So yea…i’m all for tat-city. <3 Bring on that art yo!

    • oh, and this is just my portfolio so far…i haven’t had brides/grooms in full suits, shorts or kilts with tats yet…ahahahah – i look forward to seeing more and more TATS out there!!!!

  43. I’ve been lucky in that my parents are both inked and don’t really care about my ink showing with my sleeveless dress. The piece is tasteful and is beautiful, designed by myself as part of a sister pair (a sun to my sisters moon, fire and water signs). I only worry about his family and their opinions in whether they will make a fuss on that day. Hopefully adults will be adults and nastiness will be kept minimal.

    Best of luck to those whose parents are less than understanding.

  44. I love my shoulder tattoo but I had to cover it on my wedding day. Coming from a very conservative family I had no choice. I was shopping for a dress with sleeves and no luck finding one I like. So I bought a strapless dress and I wore a mesh bodysuit under. It looked like its part of the dress. So those of you looking to cover the tattoo on your wedding day you might like this option.
    This is where I got mine bodysuit. secondskinbodysuit.com
    Good luck

  45. Wearing dress without sleeves isnt that bad but I’d prefer to wear a dress with sleves, thats make me more comfortable.

  46. Since this conversation is about hiding “controversial” body markings – was anyone else worried about hiding scars? I’ve some bad scars on both my wrists that I’ve been hiding for more than a year (no easy feat in the South African heat!), and I haven’t even told my friends the background story. However, I want to get married in a dress I like – something sweet and short and summery – which means finally popping out those scars into the public eye. I’m not ashamed, just very private; and while I believe in the way of the honeybadger, revealing that much of my internal life makes me feel a bit nervous.

  47. No one has suggested that I cover my tattoos for my wedding, which is good because I’m definitely not covering them. I currently only have two tattoos, a medical alert symbol on the outside of my wrist and “type 1 diabetes” on the inside. My next tattoo will be a Gerbera Daisy and a Tiger Lily on my right shoulder blade. I’m not getting this before my wedding but it would definitely be visible in my strapless dress if I could get it now.

  48. Follow your original plan. This is your special day, yes we always try to make our moms happy, but your day isn’t about her. She’s gotta accept it just like she accept your other untraditional wedding choices. I have a half sleeve myself, the only reason why Im choosing long sleeves is because I want a wedding in the fall or winter and I don’t want to freeze my ass off. Congratulations on getting married!

  49. Is it too late to comment on this one? Too bad, I’m going for it. I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves the idea of showing off her tattoos on her wedding day. We’re currently early in the wedding planning days, so whether or not the shindig we’re having will involve dresses on the brides is TBD. But if I do end up wearing a dress I’m just dreaming of having one with a plunging neckline because 1) they are sexy as hell imo and 2) it would mean I can show off my sternum tattoo, which I’m in love with and consider to be a huge part of who I am. I know I’m going to get a lot of grief over it if this happens but the idea of having it on display when I so rarely get to show it off sounds way too wonderful to me to not at least consider it.

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