Ink-Grained Memories: Tattoo Wedding Favors and How to Incorporate the Trend into Your Big Day

Talk about a lasting impression on guests.
Illustration of someone getting a heart tattoo
Illustration: Tiana Crispino
emily rumsey the knot editor
Emily Rumsey
emily rumsey the knot editor
Emily Rumsey
Assistant Commerce Updates Editor
  • Emily helps maintain and update e-commerce content for The Knot
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Emily worked as a website editor and manager for The Paleo Diet®
  • Emily holds two bachelor's degrees in Journalism and International Affairs with a Chinese minor
Updated Dec 29, 2023

You expect certain things at a wedding: flowers, a cake (or another sweet dessert), a couple in love, dancing to "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas and a tattoo artist. Yes, you read that right—tattoo wedding favors, and not the temporary kind, are one of the latest wedding trends we're buzzing about. Newlyweds aren't just getting permanent couple tattoos to commemorate their big day, they're inviting their guests to get inked, too. We talked to professional tattoo artists and real couples to get some insight into why tattoos are the "it" wedding favor of 2024 and how soonlyweds can incorporate the trend into their upcoming nuptials.

In this article:

How do tattoo wedding favors work?

Let's start with the basics: What are tattoo wedding favors? Well, they're exactly what they sound like. Couples hire a tattoo artist to come to their wedding and give willing and interested guests permanent tattoos as a way to commemorate the special day. As a favor, the service is free to the guests, though they can tip the artist.

Typically, the experience is offered after dinner and during the reception revelry. Matthew Renner (@renner_tattoos), Tattoo Artist at White Lodge in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, says: "Once the bar opens and the music starts playing is when the tattoos should happen until the event is over." Jessica Marquez, Tattoo Artist and Owner of Studio M Tattoo, agrees that the reception is a great time for tattoo wedding favors, however, she also offers her service during the getting-ready time and cocktail hour. She says: "It's best to talk to your artist about your wedding day plans and what will be best for you."

As for the designs, both artists recommend a flash sheet. This is a preset selection of small tattoos chosen by the couple, often showcasing themes or symbols that hold personal significance. This way, "the artist is prepared with stencils and can tattoo more people without having to adjust or redraw designs for each person," Renner says. Most people want simple, minimalist and fine-line tattoos for weddings, but you can go back and forth with your artist until you're both happy with the design options.

And that's it! The posttreatment for wedding tattoos mirrors that of any other tattoo: adhering to standard aftercare instructions to ensure optimal healing. Artists will take the time to communicate this to guests, so you don't have to worry.

Tattoo artists giving a wedding guests a tattoo
Tattoo artist Jessica Marquez tattoos guests at a wedding,Photo: Elvin Marcano

Why are permanent favors so buzzy?

At the risk of sounding like your grandparents, why in the world would you have tattoos at your wedding reception? While they probably won't accept "because it's cool" and "everyone is doing it" as answers, it's true! Tattoo wedding favors have slowly but surely been going viral on TikTok, and even celebrity influencers like Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Dean Unglert—now the Bells—incorporated them into their wedding.

Tattoo wedding favors make for a unique and memorable experience.

The main draw for couples is that tattoo wedding favors are a unique wedding reception idea enjoyed by both them and their guests. TikToker Jessica Britvich (@jessbritvich) puts it best: "After attending numerous weddings that, while lovely, followed a very similar structure, we knew we wanted to add elements to our day that made our wedding feel more like an 'experience' for our guests." She enjoyed how tattoo wedding favors broke away from the conventional wedding itinerary. "I loved the juxtaposition of the softer elements of a wedding day, such as lace and flowers, with the edgier experience of tattoos (it made for great photos)! It was by far our favorite element of the day and our guests are still talking about it!"

Renner, who was actually the tattoo artist at Caelynn and Dean's wedding, notes that the experience isn't just fun for individuals getting a tattoo. "It's a new experience for people attending a wedding and can be fun for everyone, even if they don't participate." He continues: "Almost every reaction from guests was positive, even those who weren't getting tattooed, but were watching their friends get tattooed and holding their hands."

Tattoo wedding favors also provide a positive energy that's unlike anything else, because there's nothing more memorable than having dozens of loved ones watching in wonder as you get inked. Marquez says: "​​It's exciting and always better when you have your family and friends cheering you on!" Whereas traditional favors may be forgotten or set aside, tattoo wedding favors offer guests the opportunity to participate in a distinctive and shared experience that creates lasting memories.

Tattoos are a symbol of enduring commitment.

Tattoos, like marriage, are a symbol of commitment, permanence and personal expression. So getting a tattoo at your wedding is very fitting. Wedding guests may choose to participate for similar reasons. Getting tattooed at a wedding can symbolize a sense of unity and camaraderie among the guests, fostering a stronger connection to the couple and the overall event. Even though the tattoo designs are predetermined by the couple, it's still a way for guests to express their individuality, too. Renner says: "I found guests loved the experience of being able to watch their friends get tattooed and finding meaning in parts of my flash that was offered even though it wasn't their wedding or a tattoo they'd walk into a shop to get." Marquez doubles down on this sentiment: "Tattoos are unique to every single person I meet. There's never a time that I hear the same story about why they're getting the tattoo." Ultimately, it becomes a powerful (read: permanent) way to remember the love and happiness shared on a wedding day.

Tattoos are personalized and expressive.

Tattoos enable couples to add a personal and meaningful touch to their wedding festivities by choosing specific designs or themes that hold significance to them. The creation of a flash sheet should reflect the couple's individuality and special shared moments. "Couples should pick a style or theme they want and have the artist make a flash sheet that's approved," Renner says. Britvich recounts that creating a custom selection of tattoos unique to their love story was the most fun part of the process: "We included some things specific to our wedding, like the September flower, a few things specific to Pittsburgh, like the Pirates logo and the bridge, and then we also asked for input from our friends about what they would like to see offered on a flash tattoo sheet."

Bride holding groom's hand as he gets tattooed at their wedding
Tattoo artist, Jason Simonette of Torch and Dagger Tattoo in Pittsburgh, PA, tattoos guests at Jessica Britvich's wedding at The Mansions on Fifth Hotel, Photo: All Heart Photography

Wanna bring this trend to your reception?

Of course, we think your wedding favors should be tattoos, but you should make sure your guests agree before booking a vendor. "I recommend asking your guests if this is a service they would like!" says Marquez. "Not all guests are into tattoos and you want to be sure you're selecting the right package for the number of tattoos that will be done." Britvich's experience further underscores this advice as unexpected interest on the day resulted in her tattoo artists running out of supplies. She says: "So many of our older family members were first in line, which shocked us in the best way! We had a handful of guests that got their first-ever tattoo at our wedding!"

Upon gauging interest, it's time to reach out to local tattoo artists. Renner says: "I think couples should do their research on what type of tattoos they want at their wedding and find a reputable artist who's capable of providing the style and professionalism for these types of events." Marquez also recommends direct communication through a call or video chat, emphasizing the need for comprehensive discussions. It's crucial to ascertain the artist's comfort with large crowds, adherence to safety practices and the validity of their insurance coverage outside the studio. Additionally, couples should inquire about the cost of services, which is typically billed either hourly or per person. According to Renner, couples should expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000, including travel expenses and disposable supplies.

Communication with guests that there'll be a tattoo artist at the wedding is essential. This way "guests can mentally prepare, wear suitable clothing if they have a certain place where they want their tattoo as well as bring cash to tip the artist," Renner says. Marquez advises guests to eat a substantial meal and stay hydrated before getting a tattoo, though enjoying alcohol at the reception is permissible. "My personal rule of thumb is, if the guest is of age and can consent to the tattoo, then it is ok!" Marquez says. Some great spots for the couple to relay all the deets of getting inked to their guests are on an enclosure card included with their wedding invitations and on their wedding website.

At the wedding venue, couples or their planner should find a space for the tattoo artist to work that has plenty of light and enough power sources for all their equipment. Britvich says, in her experience, couples should create a wait-list where guests can leave their names and phone numbers so, instead of waiting in line to get a tattoo, they can enjoy the night and be texted when it's their turn.

Lastly, we know you might be thinking: Do I still need additional wedding favors for guests who aren't so keen on sitting under the gun? The answer is no, couples don't need to come up with alternative wedding favor ideas in addition to tattoos. The inherent fun and memorable nature of the tattoo experience caters to all guests, even those not opting in. If couples do wish to offer alternatives, setting out temporary tattoos or inquiring about the availability of ephemeral ink, which naturally fades within three years, are viable options. Remember though, part of the appeal of tattoo wedding favors lies in their status as lifelong mementos of the special day.

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