ShareThis Page

To cover up or show tattoos on wedding day less of a dilemma

| Friday, July 17, 2015, 6:02 p.m.
Inspire Me Equine
Tattoo artist and bridesmaid Laine DeTillo with her sister and bride, Leah Kremer
Hot Metal Studi
Bride Emily Hawthorne
Leeann Marie Wedding Photographer
Bride Brittany Puskar
Hot Metal Studio
Bride Emily Hawthorne

The whimsically vibrant tattoo on Leah Kremer's upper torso took around eight hours to complete.

But it only took a few seconds to decide whether or not she'd hide it on her wedding day.

“The main people that asked me if I were going to cover them up were friends who wanted a warning, like, ‘Am I going to see you without all your tattoos on your wedding day?' Most people thought that would be really, really odd to see me without them,” says Kremer of Shaler. “The tattoos are part of me and who I am. So, it would kind of be a little fake for me to go out without them — almost as if I were ashamed of them. And I'm not.”

Her mother, Dawn DeTillo, agreed.

“It's the way things are these days,” DeTillo says. “It's not the taboo that it used to be. And I don't think people should pass judgment, anyway.”

A bride's decision to fly or conceal her colors is one that usually has more to do with appeasing a skittish parent or grandparent, a fact not surprising considering a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center that found one in three millennials has a tattoo versus only 5 percent of those 65 and older, according to a 2012 Harris Poll.

“When they're looking to cover them up, it has more to do with just being respectful of family,” says Erin Szymanski, owner of Glitter & Grit bridal boutique in Lawrenceville.

Saying yes to the dress

Five years ago, it was hard to find a gown that wasn't strapless, but today's racks are abundant with sleeves and full backs that can come in handy for hiding any multitude of perceived sins. A quick hop onto Pinterest highlights numerous boards that show countless styles and fabrics suited to a variety of tastes.

Having become accustomed to handling cover-ups over her 30-plus years as one of the owners of Clarissa Boutique, South Side, Gretchen Jackowski doesn't hesitate to present a bride with options.

“We've done a lot of things — we've made jackets or added lace to parts of the dresses to cover them up, added pieces. You have to adjust most dresses in some way if you want to cover the tattoo or cover more of it,” she says.

“Often, just having lace over a tattoo versus exposed skin, it's just kind of muting the effect of a tattoo and that can be really helpful, as well,” Szymanski says.

Color corrector

If a bride opts to conceal her colors with makeup, the process can be a long and expensive one. Depending on the size and vibrancy of the ink, she can expect to spend a few hours enduring multiple applications.

“It's all about layering it and letting it dry in between. And that's where the time comes in,” says licensed cosmetologist Julie Marckisotto of Pittsburgh Makeup by Julie Marckisotto.

“The way I like to do it is to do a color completely opposite of the color wheel to cancel it out. Say, if it's a lot of black, most of those inks have a blue overtone, so I do a very orange-based product on that,” she says. “I literally paint it right on top of the tattoo. If there was a green, you'd use a purple.

“So, it's about making that all a neutral first and then going in with your foundation cover.”

Some area makeup artists, including 20-year veteran Patty Bell, enjoy the challenge of a good before and after. In order to combat the makeup meltdowns of a sweaty or sappy bride, she prefers an alcohol-activated makeup such as Skin Illustrator, which resists transfer and is also waterproof.

“It's a lot of work for us but I don't mind it at all, I love covering things,” she says.

As far as the cost of covering tattoos, the going rate is typically around $10 per square inch.

Many makeup artists, however, don't even offer the service, especially when it comes to larger pieces or full sleeve tats.

“I just feel that if you've got it, own it,” says Joy Lager, Pittsburgh-based freelance makeup artist of Beauty by Joy.

Tattoo taboo?

The stigma associated with visible tattoos, even on a wedding day, is one that The Protocol School of Palm Beach founder and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore predicts will be obsolete within 10 years.

“In the old days, tattoos were worn by sailors and military men,” she says. “Today, tattoos are an artistic expression of oneself.”

For newlywed Emily Hawthorne of Observatory Hill, it's all just a matter of personal preference. With 15 or so tattoos that decorate most of her arms, thighs and back, she doesn't see the answer as being one-size-fits-all.

“Maybe it's the venue, or the type of person, or the audience, and their wedding is for everyone else and not them,” she says. “But at the same time, I would have had makeup all over the place or sweating like a pig in long sleeves. And I don't think it's worth it, personally. But other people can do whatever they feel is right,” she says.

Even with all of the technology available today, neither local photographers Tiffany Cooper of Hot Metal Studio nor Leeann Marie Golish of Leeann Marie Wedding Photography have ever been asked to wave the Photoshop wand to make tattoos disappear in post-production.

But if a bride finds herself catching heat from loved ones who aren't exactly hip to body art, Whitmore says, today's etiquette dictates nothing further than a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart.

“(She should) let them know that this is her special day, and she wants to feel comfortable and be herself,” Whitmore says. “Her tattoos are part of her identity, and she should be comfortable wearing whatever she wants on her wedding day.”

Kate Benz is a features writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at kbenz@tribweb.com, 412-380-8515 or via Twitter @KateBenzTRIB.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.