Why shouldn't we get our wedding bands tattooed on?
November 30, 2004 1:20 PM   Subscribe

What should a couple of tattoo-virgins hear before they try to have wedding bands tattooed on?

It's a brainstorm at this point rather than The Plan -- we may just get actual, y'know, rings -- but the idea is intriguing.
posted by cortex to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total)
Wow, I've never heard of such a thing. That's a great idea, to do tattoos instead of real bands. I bet the fleshy parts would be painful though.
posted by mathowie at 1:36 PM on November 30, 2004

Best answer: Hand tattoos will likely fade over time and need to be re-inked in order to look their best.

Tattooing hands, faces and the like is illegal in some jurisdictions, and even outside of these places some artists are reluctant to do this kind of work.

Get ready to hear a lot of comparisons to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

And, as with all things body-modification-related, YMMV.
posted by box at 1:37 PM on November 30, 2004

Most people I know that have ring tattoos try to get them removed or covered up later in life.. You have to realize that what may seem like a good idea now has a very good chance of not seeming like a good idea to the you of several years down the road.

That aside, many people aside have a different reaction and perception of body art afterwards, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

My recommendation would be to get a less publicly visible tattoo and see how you feel about it.
posted by jazzkat11 at 1:37 PM on November 30, 2004 [1 favorite]

It's gonna hurt. My experience receiving tattoos is to always expect the worst, that way when the needle finally hits it's not nearly as bad as you expected. (Also, someone will probably tell you, "Man, that's the most painful spot to get one" when you're in the shop. It's happened to me every time.) The usual rule is the fleshier the part being tattoed, the less pain. I would suspect that a finger tattoo would have a very harsh sting to it instead of the fleshy "numb burn" feeling. Also, I would suggest something very simple. Just about everyone I know who has finger/knuckle tattoos have complained about them seeming to blow-out/fade faster than any other tattoo.

Shop around for artists, but don't shop around for price. A tattoo is nothing you want to skimp on. Also, make sure to ask a lot of questions (hygiene, portfolio, process). If you don't know something, ask. Don't be embarrassed, since you're the one getting poked a whole bunch of times.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 1:38 PM on November 30, 2004

A) Everyone you tell about this will compare you to these people.

B) You will have to have them touched up every couple of years.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:39 PM on November 30, 2004

Ditto on the "it will fade/need re-inking" bit. I only have one tattoo (in a very private spot), and the artist - Vyvyn Lazonga, in Seattle - said to NEVER expose any tattoo to sunshine. The ink fades very quickly, and we shed more skin that is exposed.
Also - your fingers have loads of nerves in them, so I think this could be incredibly painful!
posted by dbmcd at 1:44 PM on November 30, 2004

The fading is a good thing. Not that I'm divorced and bitter or anything.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:59 PM on November 30, 2004

A guy at work and his wife had this done. He never mentioned the pain being exceptional (it's the only tattoo either one of them has, I believe) but they did run into two problems:

1. many good tattoo artists don't always like working on "public areas" like the hands and face, so they had to shop around and not use their first choice to do the tattoo.

2. the tattoo quickly faded to near invisible in spots (the palm side, mostly) although the outer side remains pretty visible. Because of the fading, the tattoo looks a little crappy, which leads to many reputable tattoo artists not wanting to do ring tattoos.
posted by cardboard at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2004

this is a recipe for disaster for any relationship.

EVERYONE i know that has gotten some kind of tattoo related to a wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. has ended up regretting it later. and some of these are very heavily tattooed people. don't do it.

note: i am very much pro-tattoo so that's not the the issue.
posted by m@L at 2:08 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: Get ready to hear a lot of comparisons to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

Oh dear god in heaven. That alone is a pretty big negative.

Interesting about the fading -- that's the sort of aesthetic issue that would bother me.

It hurting isn't a big issue. A cavalcade of "omfg i had that done and lost feeling in my finger forever" responses would have been a bigger issue.

Regretting it in the long run is also not a consideration -- we're crazy fucking optimists that way.
posted by cortex at 2:10 PM on November 30, 2004

My boss has a heart on her ringfinger, yes fingers hurt like all other tattoos (the bone-bit, not the fleshy bit) and she should touch it up, but she hasn't bothered yet. After six years, the black heart looks a little less black, more like grey, since her hands are quite exposed to the sun year round. It's only on top of the finger, not in the palm-area where skin sheds more.
The only inside hand tattoo I know has been re-touched every three months the first year (to get it really black) and I guess pretty often since then, but the girl who has that works in a tattoparlor so she doesn't have to go far to get her touchups done. ;)
posted by dabitch at 2:12 PM on November 30, 2004

Ditto what a lot of people said - hand tattoos may fade more than others over time, because they are exposed to sunlight, so wearing hand lotion with sunblock is a good idea after it's healed. It's a relatively small tattoo and therefore will not take that long to complete, so if it does hurt a lot it'll only hurt for a little while. If you do go all the way around the finger, as mentioned, the palm side will fade more because that skin sheds faster. Of course, if it fades, you can get it touched up.

Shop around - check out shops beforehand. Ask for recommendations from tattooed friends. Check out BME's (sometimes cover images NSFW) hand tattoo sections to see some examples.
posted by bedhead at 2:22 PM on November 30, 2004

what about something really small like a star or a circle or initials on the top side of the finger that would hide under a ring. so when you werent wearing your rings it would be there to remind you. awwww.
posted by c at 2:28 PM on November 30, 2004

Best answer: friend of mine had this done.

From my experience (have a couple myself) is that anything that is close to bone or other sensitive regions (ie: back of the arm) is going to hurt more than say a bicep. First one I had was painful, when I got my second one it barely hurt at all. Its a bit of mind game really - if you expect it to hurt and be extremely painful it probably will be - but YMMV. And don't go in with alcohol on your breath - the reputable artists will turn you away at the door.

I'm in agreement about some tattoo artists wont do them on hands and faces. I know one guy who wanted a tattoo on his forehead and the artist refused so he painted it on for about 4 years, by that time the artist gave in gave him a permanent one. Guess they're worried about people regretting their decision later.

As for permanence, I think it still holds true (my information is a tad old) but tattoos can be removed at a later date - just so long as red ink isn't used.

And definitely in agreement about checking out different artists and making sure they properly sterilized their equipment and look at past work done by them.
posted by squeak at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2004

My now wife and I were planning on doing the tattoo ring thing as well and ended up scrapping the plan for a variety of reasons. Among them, time, pain, cost and the hassle and pain of re-inking them later.

I understand and applaud the sentiment but do you really want to loop your love through the pain and expense of an expression that needs to be touched every year? If you do it then come back and post a pic of it.
posted by fenriq at 2:32 PM on November 30, 2004

Whereas I had no problem covering a good portion of my limbs and back with ink, I've always had a no name policy, and nothing that obviously represents a person.
posted by adampsyche at 2:36 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: Constant touching-up seems like a big pain in the ass, when you get right down to it.

adampsyche: the no-name policy seems like a wise one, though I've always liked the History Book aspect of obsolete tattoos. "So who is Rosalie?" "Bring my some iced tea, sonny, and I'll tell you all about it."
posted by cortex at 2:49 PM on November 30, 2004

got my wedding-band tattoo done 8 years ago this january. it didn't really hurt. it hasn't really faded. i am glad i had it done. my wife is too, tho she remains untattoo'd; my tattooing was a gesture i wanted to make; it did not require reciprocation. my wife wears a traditional wedding band.

forewarning: the artist did not initially agree to tattoo me. in fact, they intitially asked me politely to leave. they had a no-feet-hands-ears policy for both image stability and gangl-ish reasons (i do not really look all that yakuza, i swear). at that time no one had ever approached them with a request like mine. i talked them into it.

my tat is three hebrew letters that spell out the word 'hesed' which means lovingkindness. my tattoo artist was educated in hebrew school and recognized the letters and the word's meaning. this helped my case a lot.

i find my simple tattoo (my only tattoo) is the subject of much curiosity; i enjoy talking about it, telling people what it and my marriage vows mean to me.
posted by RockyChrysler at 2:59 PM on November 30, 2004

Best answer: You'd only need regular touch-ups on the palm side - the top should be ok for quite a while, especially if it's just linework and not filled in. As long as you put sunblock on it, of course.

Many artists won't do hand, neck, or face work unless you have substantial coverage on the rest of your body and/or can prove to them that you have thought through the consequences. That said, most of my tattoo artist friends will do wedding ring tattoos as an exception to this policy.
posted by bedhead at 3:03 PM on November 30, 2004

ps - the reasons tattoo artists don't like people who smell of alcohol or even people who drank the night before is that you bleed more. Some even ask if you took aspirin (thins the blood). It can messy when you're doing big stuff. ;)
posted by dabitch at 5:45 PM on November 30, 2004

Get ready to hear a lot of comparisons to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

That was my first thought. For that reason alone I'd pass.

And I've seen it quite a bit, so the 'newness' is just about gone.
posted by justgary at 7:34 PM on November 30, 2004

I just can't stop chiming in! Whee!

My friends got something done on their ring fingers that was of their own design - a kind of stylized heart. It's just linework, and it is only on the top of the finger, not on the palm side, so it's holding up quite well. I also really like RockyChrysler's idea - that's very meaningful and personal, just like a marital commitment. Have you considered designing something yourselves? Someone else (the tattoo artist or even someone you know who is artistically inclined) can draw it up, and then you'll have an even more personal tattoo to mark your commitment.

Oh, and by the way - congratulations!
posted by bedhead at 7:46 PM on November 30, 2004

Tattooing hands, faces and the like is illegal in some jurisdictions

Like the Vatican? North Korea? Where?

Talk about a wigged-out sense of need to control people's lives. Sheesh.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:57 PM on November 30, 2004

If you decide against the tats, look into titanium rings. Some incredibly beautiful stuff out there.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:01 PM on November 30, 2004

Skip the tats and go for the gold (although as fff says, titanium is pretty nice too, although it lacks gold's luster).
posted by caddis at 8:09 PM on November 30, 2004

no reason you can't have both a tattoo and a traditional ring. I wouldn't let skanky rich tattees turn you off, either. I'm sure you'd do it quite differently and it would mean something distinct for the two of you.
don't do gold, though. there are much nicer metals out there.

a couple I knew in college (10 or 12 yrs ago) got 'married' in a very 'alternative' way, and scarred each other's upper arms with a ring, to symbolize their committment to one another. At the time I thought it was pretty cool because it seemed to be really taking the whole idea of a giving and receiving a ring so much more viscerally... of course, they didn't last beyond college and I know one of them is now traditionally married with two kids, so... symbolism doesn't always accurately represent things. Still, I agree with the historical aspect - I have a tattoo and never worried about whether I'd still like it later, because no matter what it would always reconnect me to my 21 year old self. Which is just a cool thing to physically do.
posted by mdn at 8:51 PM on November 30, 2004

Never get matching tattoos. That's like the worst cliche in the world. Honestly. You can take the ring off if something bad happens. Nobody wants to be reminded of mistakes (if they become considered mistakes) every time they pick their nose.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 9:00 PM on November 30, 2004

Just wanted to add that if you are prone to skin allergies you may want to reconsider. Friend of mine got a tattoo when she was young and about 4 years later she broke out in rash all over, not all at once, but slowly. Many, many, many creams and tests and many scary possible diagnoses later it was discovered that it was caused by the tattoo. Now my poor friend is allergic to all kinds of cosmetics that never bothered her before and had to shell out major bucks to get the thing taken off. I am sure this is not a common occurrence but just wanted to add it as a consideration.
By the way, her tattoo was using only black ink and only about 1 1/2 in. square.

Anyhow, Congrats on your (forthcoming?) marriage!
posted by tinamonster at 10:22 PM on November 30, 2004

Problem with Titanium rings- if you wear a titanium ring, and you smack your finger and it swells up and can't get the ring off, that's that. No more finger. They (parameds, et al) cannot cut through the ring. and if they can't cut through the ring....

just so you know. (this upset me greatly, and even though the chances are admittedly slim, now I won't get one.)
posted by exlotuseater at 10:59 PM on November 30, 2004

I vote against getting ring tattoos -- get ass tattoos instead. Think about it: everyone can see your fingers. I'm guessing (and I could be wrong here) that under everyday circumstances, only you and your sweetie are going to be seeing each others' asses. Perhaps that way it would be more special?

Also, my parents got divorced a few years ago. Having witnessed that: trust me, on the off-chance you guys don't make it, there'll be enough permanent scarring without getting your poor fingers involved in it. I'm all for optimism (yay love!) but pragmatism and optimism can sometimes live next door to each other, no?

Another idea: why not design your own bands (or each others')? That's what my boyfriend and I are planning to do, one far-off day when I am comfortably ensconced in my early thirties and not so spooked by veils and churches and whatnot.
posted by fricative at 7:32 AM on December 1, 2004

Response by poster: No one ever checks up on these things, but:

The relevant ceremony has forth-come, tattoos were decided against, ordinary bands of metal are the order of the day, and thanks all.
posted by cortex at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2004

« Older Playing Windows Media video under OSX   |   Palm OS 5 MemoPad Alternatives That Allow Editing... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.