I may be showing my Jersey roots here a little, but I’m astonished there isn’t more talk of tanning on wedding blogs. I thought almost every light-skinned bride took on a strict tanning regimen before her day in the white dress, especially if her wedding was in the summer.

But the Internet seems to be quiet about it, which leads me to believe I’ve misunderestimated the appeal of tanning to brides-to-be, or everyone is ashamed of intentionally giving themselves skin cancer.  [Actually, given the advent of spray tanning, it can't be that last thing.]

I am not ashamed: I tan. I have a good excuse, which is that sun exposure dramatically improves my eczema.  But dudes, I also always like the way my skin looks when it is a little tan. I’m not gonna lie. (You can take the girl out of Jersey…)

But this summer I am going to try to avoid getting any more tan than I normally am (I go to the tanning salon about once a month). Usually in the summer I let myself get a deeper tan, feel awesome about how I’m golden and have little to no eczema, but that only lasts about a week.

Because wherever I have eczema, my tan fades faster. So I end up with a speckled look. I don’t usually get dark enough for other people to notice it, but I notice it, and it drives me nuts. So I don’t want it in my wedding photos.

But now I worry that I will look too pale, even though my dress is ivory instead of pure white. I bought my dress in August, when I was a little tan. I don’t know if I will look washed out in it. I guess I’ll find out at my fitting in a couple weeks.

I’m also worried about losing the ability to tan as needed when my eczema acts up (as it tends to when I’m stressed).

So, fess up, folks: I can’t be the only white chick worrying about being too pale in her wedding dress, right? Is anyone else tanning?


  1. Uh, I don’t tan. I avoid the sun like crazy, but I’m from a family with many many different types of cancer, and I grew up in Arizona, where skin cancer reigns supreme. Also, I’m half Irish, and despite my dark hair, I freckle like a mo-fo.

    I solved the problem by not buying a white dress, which isn’t at all helpful, but blue looks great on untanned skin.

  2. I also got my wedding dress in ivory because I tried it on for the first time in January and the white was too stark against my skin. I don’t tan intentionally but I tend to rock a farmer’s tan on my forearms from long car commutes when the sun’s out. I plan to try very hard to use sunscreen on my arms and maybe I’ll worry more about my skin tone as October gets closer?

  3. I’m a redhead, so I think I’m just going to end up getting my Tilda Swinton on and rock the pale look (…as usual). I bet with your complexion and the amount you usually tan, you’ll look beautiful and not washed out at all in ivory.

  4. I’ll fess up – I bought my one and only tanning salon membership for the month before the wedding. We got married early enough in the summer that I wasn’t going to get tanned any other way. I am usually pretty careful about sun exposure, so when I was lying under that lamp I felt like I was frying myself – felt so dirty and wrong. I only went enough to get a glow, and it showed just enough. I don’t regret it one bit, but will probably not do it again.

    I looked into the spray tanning but got scared away by talk of the bronzer they put into the spray rubbing off on your dress when you sweat.

  5. Yup, totally tanned! I probably did six sessions across the entire summer before, so nothing too major. But I did it for the wedding.
    Also, I spent that whole summer in terrible strapless swim suits that wouldn’t let me move more than a slow walk – all for the sake of a beautiful tan with minimal tan lines. Oh the trouble to be beautiful…

  6. I’m pasty white, bought an ivory dress, and avoided the spring sun as best I could in the months leading up to my wedding. I burn so easily I was terrified I was going to get some bizarro farmer’s tan (or a trucker’s tan from my short but sunny commute home). Tanning sort of terrifies me (never tried it) and I’m ok with being pale, so pale I was! It helped that I had a few pasty bridesmaids as well, though my sister, who uses that tinted moisturizer, looked like a golden goddess next to me. It all worked out. I say stick with your everyday routine or else you’ll look back at your photos and be all like, what the hell, why am I red/orange/transparent/splotchy and not my normal sun-kissed self?

  7. I got married in late August and spent a lot of time at the pool during the summer, I’ve always loved the way I look with a little tan and am lucky to tan and not burn. Plus I always wore spf.

    Like Jen, I wore a bathing suit that would work for my dress’s silhouette and was SO SICK of it by the end of the summer that I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it again. I definitely didn’t bring it with me on my Greece honeymoon.

  8. I am pale as hell. I burn and then go back to fair. I bought a tanning membership once… and it barely made a difference. Plus, you know, cancer. So I haven’t bothered since.

    I’m pale as all hell in my photos (dark hair, pale skin, not lucky enough for it to be alabaster-pretty). I wore an ivory strapless dress, which was much more flattering complexion-wise than white. And you know what? I rocked it. I think I looked pretty damn gorgeous. But then again, I don’t think pale is unattractive and I get tired of hearing differently. I look much sillier when I have tan (burn) lines.

    But if you were worried enough about it (because trust me, I had stupid vanity freakouts. Just not about tans/paleness) I’d say just schedule a few tanning booth sessions with the last one right before the wedding. Like three days before. No fading, no problem?

  9. I’m as pale as they come and I didn’t tan for my october wedding. My dress was an antique white lace (a tiny bit of yellow/beige undertones) and I looked good in photos. You’re pretty to begin with and you’ll have your hair and makeup done + an amazing dress. You’ll look hot tanned or pale. I promise. Just don’t overdo it ;)

  10. I used to tan. Then I remembered that I’m a freckly-sometimes-redhead who shouldn’t. Even though it zaps my skin into acne-less shape like nothing else.

    So I wear sunscreen all summer but it will still affect me a teeny bit by June.

  11. I will be hitting the beach starting Memorial Day weekend (since my engagement photos are the following weekend) to help with my Keratosis Pilaris, my acne, and the awful, awful permanent tan lines from 2 summers spent working at an amusement park in men’s polos. I have a strapless bathing suit I am planning to get a lot of mileage out of! Last summer was the first summer I had a desk job all week and never made it to the beach all summer, and I missed having a lil glow about me. So, I’m hoping to stay out of the tanning beds — I’d much rather spend the money to go to the beach and hang out with my dude — but I am hoping to bronze a bit.

  12. I actually was trying really, really hard last summer to not get tan because once I tan (which happens very easily), it tends to stick around for awhile (read: I’m usually still a little tan in March, despite not seeing any sun from about September on). I really wanted to avoid having a weird farmer’s tan for my wedding in early November. But lo and behold, the medicines I was on for acne meant that despite my efforts to wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and not spend too much time in the sun, I still ended up the darkest I’d been in years. The week spent at the shore probably didn’t help, but I SWEAR I tried so hard to not spend excessive amounts of time in the sun! Anyway, it worked out, I miraculously didn’t have weird lines by the wedding, and I rocked my white dress. My wife is much paler than I am though, and she was told by every bridal consultant that she saw that she shouldn’t even consider a white dress. She looked awesome in ivory, and I’m sure you will too!

  13. I specifically wanted to find a dress with straps so that I didn’t have to worry about tan lines (among other reasons), then fell in love with a strapless dress. bah! So now as we head into summer, I need to be careful about all the things I love to do (hiking, backing, walking, etc) that I can’t really do in a strapless bathing suit. I’ve never gone tanning and it kind of scares me a bit.

  14. Now that I think about it, you’re right, there isn’t that much (overt) pressure from the WIC to tan. I’m still getting it through, covertly and from family.

    I ordered an “offwhite” bridesmaid’s dress as my wedding dress (the one I tried on was brown) and it is really really white. I wasn’t planning on worrying too much about tanning but now I am a bit.

    I’m on the hunt for bathing suits and tank tops that follow the lines to wear all summer and am pondering a spray tan. I’m not sure I care enough to take the tanning booth risk.

  15. i used to tan every chance i got until my mom got skin cancer three times and blah blah blah. i still tan before summer usually. this isn’t a judgy story, promise, ha. i think i’d be a little worried to tan in a bed before the wedding because sometimes i wind up with a delightful tint of a-little-bit-of-orange occasionally. i would just splurge on a GREAT bottle of lotion…i used to use this one…if i think of the name, i’ll pass it on, but it had a blue/brown bottle and it kept everything smooth and brown instead of orangey, you know? might help. either way, best of luck!

  16. I’m pretty pale, but something about my coloring means I look better in a cool white-white than a warm off-white. It takes the tiny bit of tan I have and makes me look darker by contrast.

    As for tanning, I’m more afraid of tan lines than not being dark enough. I’m just making sure I wear sleeveless shirts with wide shoulders when I’ll be out in the sun for any sort of extended period. I don’t mind the tan line on the sides of my shoulders, I just can’t handle strap tan lines.

  17. I will be paler than a ghost because I fear the sun (family history of melanoma). But hey, Hubs likes me just the way I am — which is essentially translucent.

  18. Oh my gosh you know what I just saw?!??! Lush has a bar that you rub on that’s like a tinted cocoa butter thing. Maybe could supplement? Not married yet or even officially engaged, but I am a pasty blonde Irish girl. I tanned hardcore ONE summer and if I didn’t do BOTH the tanning salon AND my aunt’s pool each day, it faded like crazy. But I have the cancer in my family and routinely got second-degree sunburns on my nose when I was a kid, so I have sworn off it entirely. I’ve done the spray-tan thing, and worry that I look like LiLo or Trump. BUT if you want to do it at home, there’s one called St. Tropez that comes in a white bottle that uses walnut shells and I have never had it rub off.

  19. I have avoided the sun like the plague for the past 10 years, due to extensive family history of skin cancer. Then I went to an esthetician who told me I needed to spend time in the sun sans SFP, and then a midwife who made me get bloodwork who said my Vitamin D was crazy low, and to go in the sun, also without protection. There’s also a long history of breast cancer on the other side of my family, and Vitamin D has been shown to prevent that. And while skin cancer has largely inconvenienced family members, breast cancer has killed them.

    So this year I’m tanning. It happens to also be the year I’m getting married. Conveniently. Just don’t tell my mom.

  20. no tanning for me! I don’t normally tan and I want to look like “me” on my wedding day. I like being a fair-skinned bride.

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