Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In which Lulu monologues about how tattoos are equal to husbands

I know we said we wouldn't do wedding questions, but today's Dear Abby is maybe also a tattoo question?
I'm a 36-year-old woman who has a 25-year-old friend I love like a little sister. Because of that connection, I felt compelled to ask her to be a bridesmaid in my upcoming wedding. After she agreed, I overheard her mention that she would be getting a large tattoo on her arm. Because she knows how I feel about visible tattoos, I asked her if she'd wait six months until after the wedding. She and the matron of honor are scheduled to wear strapless, knee-length gowns.

She proceeded with the tattoo and now has half an arm of full-color design. I don't want her to ruin my wedding or the photographs. I would feel guilty if I had to force a jacket or sweater on her or my matron of honor, especially if the day is unseasonably hot. What should I do?
Abby is mostly sympathetic.
If your "little sister" cared as much about your feelings as you seem to about hers, she would have postponed getting the tattoo as you requested. Too bad she didn't.

However, weddings are more than the procession and the picture album. They are about loving friends and family and the joining of two people who intend to build a life together. If you're worried about the pictures, pose "Sis" so her "canvas" can't be seen by the camera.

Lulu: I don't understand how a bridesmaid having a tattoo would ruin the wedding pictures. Wedding pictures are a record of who was there, right? She was there, and she has a tattoo.

Ashley: I was at a wedding recently where several bridesmaids had large green tattoos which did not go well with the purple strapless dresses. It was more a color coordination issue, not a tattoo-specific issue.

Lulu: There will always be color coordination issues. What if one of the bridesmaids has the wrong color hair? Or an unsightly rash? Or their body type is wrong for the dress? You can't dictate that people themselves must go perfectly with the wedding d├ęcor. I know the tattoo is optional, but I reject the idea that guests, even wedding party members, have a responsibility to make all their personal appearance choices revolve around the wedding for six months or more. Having a wedding is optional, too. It's a major, life-changing, deeply personal option, but so is getting a tattoo. I don't see why one takes precedence over the other.

Ashley: I mean, I probably wouldn't have gotten the tattoo. If you're close enough to someone that they want you to be in their wedding, presumably you'd do them other favors as well, such as waiting a few months to get a tattoo, even if you think it's an irrational request.

Lulu: That's true. Friends honor friends' irrational requests within reason, but you should also not get bent out of shape about perfect wedding pictures. If the bridesmaid loves the friend, she should do her a favor, but if the friend loves the bridesmaid, she should accept her as she is--which is now a person with a tattoo.

Ashley: That said, I can see several circumstances where the tattoo itself is the problem. If it's a swastika, for example.

Lulu: Point.

Ashley: Especially in a non-coordinating color. Nothing worse than a non-coordinating swastika.

Lulu: How could you get a red swastika when you know my wedding colors are maroon?

Ashley: All of them?

Lulu: Yes. Maroon and pale maroon.

It turns out that after all that discussion, we basically agree with Abby. Huh.


  1. She could also realize that her wedding is already a giant imposition on all of her friends and shut her stupid face.

  2. Well, the real response is: why the crap would you have a wedding??? But we didn't feel that was helpful!

  3. Some people really REALLY want their wedding pictures to look like they are from a magazine of weddings, I think. Like, I'm forced to assume that the measure of a successful wedding for many people is how magazine-appropriate the resulting wedding photos are. I think as a society we have decided that brides have the right to make whatever absurd claims of the bridal party they choose; Abby's solution seems like the best one for everyone.

  4. Yeah, there are two separate distasteful wedding issues here: (1) to what extent is it acceptable to impose upon your friends, (2) to what extent is the measure of success in a wedding magazineworthiness. We ended up discussing mostly the imposition-on-friends theme, but the original thing which struck me about the question was the idea that the friend's slightly nontraditional choice of outward self-expression would RUIN EVERYTHING.

    You choose the people who are in your wedding and those people are who they are, tattoos, warts, and all. (Yes, yes: in this case, she didn't know about the tattoo when she made her choice, but the potential for appearances to change is part of who people are, too.) I understand wanting everyone to get in the spirit of it and dress up, but beyond that, I'm mystified: why would you want your friends to turn off the people that they are? If you are that concerned about your wedding photos being blandly lovely, you might as well hire a cast of blandly lovely extras.

    That's actually probably not a bad idea. I bet a lot of bridesmaids would agree.