Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design


Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Linda Welters


A tattooed bride faces internal and external influences that may affect her choice of dress. She also will face the decision of whether to hide or show her tattoos on her wedding day. A review of literature revealed that the history of tattoos, contemporary tattoos, and history of weddings have been comprehensively researched (Fenske 2007; Koch, Roberts, Armstrong, and Owen 2010; DeMello 2003; Mo 2000; Ehrman 2011). However, the topic [of tattooed brides has not been explored. Discussion threads on several wedding blogs indicate that tattooed brides have faced the issue of whether to hide or show their tattoos and differing opinions were posted. The purpose of this study was to explore wedding dress choices of tattooed brides and the underlying reasons for their decisions. This research can be beneficial to future brides who have tattoos as well as to the bridal dress industry.

This study used a qualitative approach. Snowball sampling was used to find twelve participants who met the requirements of being American citizens, having at least one tattoo, and having been married or engaged within the past eighteen months. The participants were asked to complete a pre-interview questionnaire and partake in an interview. The pre-interview questionnaire included multiple-choice questions that requested demographic information and basic wedding dress information, such as age range, income level, wedding dress style, and budget range for their wedding dress. The interviews had open-ended questions to prompt conversations about their tattoo choices, decision making process of choosing their wedding dress, and if they chose to hide or show their tattoos on their wedding day. Participants were invited to email or bring photographs from their wedding or pictures of their desired wedding dress choice.

After participants granted consent to participate and have their interviews taperecorded, the completed interviews were later transcribed. Fretz and Shaw’s coding and memoing (1995) were used to analyze the transcriptions, and Strauss and Corbin’s grounded theory approach (1998) was used to categorize and synthesize codes. Themes that overlapped were grouped into common categories.

This research found that there were more brides who intentionally showed their tattoos than those who intentionally hid their tattoos. Methods used to show their tattoos included adding straps that accentuated their tattoos, shortening dresses that showed more of their tattoos, and choosing certain dress styles that exposed their tattoos. Brides who preferred to hide their tattoos either wore a bracelet to cover their tattoo or chose specific dresses to hide their tattoos.

Since this research only had twelve participants that were found by snowball sampling, the results are not generalizable to the whole tattooed bride population. Further research should be done, such as using a larger sample collected from different regions of the country. This research aims to benefit future brides in making their wedding dress choices and wedding retailers in selecting their wedding dress stock.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.