A Fair Bride

It’s been a while since a bee or two has discussed the pros and cons of rocking your natural skin on the Big Day, and since we’re in the midst of winter weddings, I thought I’d share my thoughts on tanning/not tanning.

It’s been a running joke in my family for years that when I was growing up I was desperate to get a real tan by the end of the summer. I say by the end of the summer, because as all fair-skinned girls know, it doesn’t happen for us with one or two days in the sun. IT’S WORK. IT’S A PART-TIME JOB. And frankly, it’s nearly impossible. The comical part is after working so hard all summer, laying out with friends, hitting the pool, and begging my family for some beach time on the annual camping trip, my tan is all but gone by the time end of September rolls around. I would work so hard for months to see it disappear within a few weeks!

I used to fake and bake as well, but that quickly lost it’s luster due to money and the fear of getting skin cancer. It wasn’t until after college that I finally gave up tanning altogether. Enough was enough, and I decided to give up my goal of being a bronze goddess. And let me tell you, it was pretty freeing. I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

Cut to the “year of the wedding,” and people are asking me if I’m going to get a spray tan (which I have done for other weddings and before a trip to LA), use tanning lotions, or fake and bake before the wedding, to which I reply, “I’m marrying a Scottish man. I won’t be the palest person at my wedding.” Nothing against Scottish people, but I’m sure we can all agree they aren’t the darkest group out there.

When I visited Scotland for the first time it was during a week in June, and everyone told me it was the warmest week they were going to get all summer. It was a heat wave. And it was like 65 degrees. I was wearing jackets and shivering!

Then there’s me, blonde-haired and blue-eyed with the fairest skin of anyone in my family. I’m Swedish and Norwegian from Dad Sword’s side and German and Russian from Mom Sword’s side. I like to joke that Mr. Sword and I are going to have translucent children. Lord help us.



I believe in doing whatever makes you feel amazing on your wedding day. But I don’t need to be tan to feel beautiful. It may have taken me a few decades to get to this point, but I’m OK with my skin color.

And word to the wise, if you want to make a lighter-skinned person happy, call them fair instead of pale. Fair also means beautiful, but pale is a negative term meaning “less than” such as when something pales in comparison to something else. Not as nice.

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Are you a fair-skinned bride who is going au naturale on your wedding day or are you trying for that golden glow? What about other skin types (non Caucasian) people? What pressures do you feel from society in regards to beauty?


Mrs. Sword

Wedding Date:
March 2013
Numerical Carvings
Hoppily Ever After: I'm Yours
Add a comment


  1. Member
    texasaggiemom 595 posts, Busy bee @ 6:54 am

    Your fair skin is so beautiful, you are going to be a beautiful bride, and I think you and Mr. Sword look great together. Thanks for making me laugh out loud on a Monday morning with your “translucent” children! Also, LOVE the closeup photo – if that’s an e-pic it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.

  2. Member
    seabeeny 68 posts, Worker bee @ 6:59 am

    I’m fair skinned as well (my family’s from Wales, and much like the Scottish, not known for being tan), so I spray tanned. For me, it was one of the best decisions I made appearance-wise for the wedding, but that’s just because in addition to being fair, my skin tone, when more “naturally pale”, gets really uneven, so it just gave me a better base to work from.

  3. Member
    Darcy212 264 posts, Helper bee @ 7:00 am

    Gorgeous pics, even the non pro one!

    I’m English and a red head. My only experience of tanning was when I was 8 and playing with my mum toiletries and slathered myself with a nice smelling lotion- only to wake up the next morning with skin close to the shade of my hair!

    Before the wedding I’m going to be super careful to cover up and try to avoid the dreaded squaddies tan line that I alwaysget in the summer and these days you can get awesome awesome make up that goes pale enough!

  4. Member
    hma812 368 posts, Helper bee @ 7:09 am

    You have gorgeous skin! I’m debating on tanning for my wedding. I hate being translucent.

  5. Member
    MrsFutureG 1696 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:17 am

    I didn’t even consider the possibility of a tan. I don’t know if my fiance would recognize me with pigment.

    How white am I? On a trip with my fiance’s100% Irish family to Ireland, I managed to be the only one to get a sunburn…IN THE RAIN. I like to call myself a pigmented albino.

  6. Member
    cosmo_gmr 488 posts, Helper bee @ 7:18 am

    your skin is lovely and you both are gorgeous… you’ll have the most beautiful “translucent” kids ever! (I laughed so hard at this everyone stared at me at the office).
    Natural is always the way to go :)

  7. Member
    Choreographer82 136 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:19 am

    I’m naturally fair-skinned as well. I would probably just do a very low level spray tan for my wedding if it weren’t for the fact that our honeymoon is in Mexico. So, I will be doing some fake baking in advance in order to have a bit of a base tan for the wedding. That way I can enjoy the beach in Mexico without being terrified that I’m going to be lobster-red on the first day and miserable the rest of the time.
    But more power to the naturally fair-skinned who are embracing it for the wedding!

  8. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:41 am

    I went au naturel for our wedding, and I’m really happy with our photos – I look like the real me, and I liked being a classic (pale) bride. I think unnatural orange-y tans are going to look really dated in 10-15 years, and I just can’t imagine being tan in all of my wedding photos but so pale naturally in real life… I think you’re making the right choice!!

  9. Member
    glasgowbound 3200 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:44 am

    I’m a red head with freckles. I got rid of my convertible because I would burn in the 10 minute drive from my grad school to my house.

    I too am marrying a Scot! Mine was born in Glasgow – how about yours?

    FI and I have always referred to our future children as translucent! so happy to hear someone else in the same situation! Horray for beach days that will consist of tents, hats, long sleeve shirts and MASSIVE amounts of sun screen :)

  10. Member
    EmmaW 14 posts, Newbee @ 7:55 am

    I’m the same pretty pale and was considering fake tan, until someone pointed out that while you would look healthy and tanned etc, your groom would look disproportionally pale beside you which put me right off!

  11. Member
    Jesswiest 116 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:14 am

    I have a fair skin tone as well. However my other half is a darker olive skin tone, our wedding will be smack dab in the middle of summer, and I feel like I’m going to need a little something ( spray tan) to cover up tan lines which I’m sure to have. I have never had a stay tan, but have used self tanners. Can anyone tell me the diffrence?

  12. Member
    debeachgirl 543 posts, Busy bee @ 8:15 am

    I have an olive complexion. I am Italian on my fathers side and Irish on my Mom’s but my Irish side tans. I am a beach kid at heart. I wear sunblock but I also tan incredibly easily. Once as a kid, in the spring, I was outside in a jacket playing. I came in and my mom kept scrubbing and scrubbing my hands b/c she thought they were dirty. Nope I picked up that much color outside. I also tanned through a bathing suit one summer leaving me stripped.

    I still currently have tan lines from this past summer. Very visible ones. That was the reason I decided to tan just a few times to add a touch of color and try to tame the tan lines. I was known to still have tan lines in May for prom from the previous summer. I am not usually a fan of tanning but I made an exception for the wedding and I am only going a few times. If I wasn’t so worried about a spray tan messing up my dress I would have gone that route.

  13. bluewhale Member
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 8:29 am

    Yay for fair skin!! I’ve considered purchasing a parasol (okay, I already bought one, but I’ve considered actually using it) so I don’t get any unwanted tan lines before the wedding. Mr. Whale hasn’t decided if he’ll be seen in public with me if I’m carrying it :)

  14. Member
    Red Poppy 31 posts, Newbee @ 8:59 am

    I think going au naturale is a good choice! I have naturally fair Asian skin and I was a little tan on my wedding day, but nothing too obvious (I had faux-tanned a bit on my arms, shoulders, and back but not my face). My husband had just returned from 2 years in the Caribbean so I didn’t want to look too pale, but I also wanted to look like myself!

  15. bracelet Member
    Mrs. Bracelet 279 posts, Helper bee @ 8:59 am

    When I was younger I, too, agonized over my light skin.. but I’ve come to accept it and rock. People in Japan (where super white skin is considered uber-desirable) envy my skin. And as I generally tend to stay out of the sun, I’ll just look forward to old age with great skin! :p

  16. Member
    ItalianTraveler 57 posts, Worker bee @ 8:59 am

    Au natural all the way!!!! I have fair skin as well, fairer than even a friend of mine from Finland!! I didn’t even consider getting a tan for the wedding. I did go with an ivory dress over straight-up white to where I wouldn’t look washed out in the pictures, but definitely didn’t change my skin’s pigment. You go rock your fair skin!!

  17. Member
    superduperbrit 2466 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:16 am

    I think you look lovely just the way you are. I married an Irishman so I wasn’t worried about looking tan either. With that said, I do tan. I just didn’t put any pressure on myself lol! I was scared to have bizarre tan lines with my strapless dress. So I kinda made myself stay “fairer” than usual 😉

  18. Member
    brooklyn55 743 posts, Busy bee @ 9:45 am

    I am super light skinned as well. I don’t like tanning beds but I will tan outside SOME during the summer (not extreme of anything.. just to get a bit of a glow and I always wear a low SPF sunscreen). I by no means get dark but I like the subtle glow.. However, my wedding is at the end of March and in the mountains of North Carolina there is no way I can get that glow before the wedding. In fact, the weather here is so unpredictable it could be 80 degrees or it could be snowing! I have considered making a few trips (very few) to the tanning bed but like you I am freaked out about skin cancer especially after already having a few moles removed (not cancerous but still scary). I would spray tan but I don’t want to look fake and orange. I may just use jergens natural glow and hope its enough!

  19. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:43 am

    Embrace your skin sweets!
    I am from a tanned-skin culture and the sun shine pretty much every day, so the year of the wedding I was staying away from the sun trying to light my skin and avoiding tan lines…

  20. Member
    Pink Penguin 144 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:52 am

    Haha! I’m a true pale skinned English girl! Mr Penguin is a red head with pale skin and freckles. We’ve always said “we’re so pale, we’re see through!”
    I won’t be tanning as such for the wedding but we do both use a tinted moisturiser in the summer to give a bit more of a healthy glow! x

  21. Member
    macmint83 136 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:49 am

    Scottish bride, getting married outside in Scotland in Early Summer – some people, in fact most people, think i’m mad!
    I would look out of place at our wedding if I had a tan, lotsa red haired fair skinned ones in our families! And then theres all the bare white knees that’ll be on show in the kilts!
    Will there be kilts at your wedding?

  22. Member
    raspberry bride 407 posts, Helper bee @ 12:31 pm

    I have really fair skin and I totally rocked it for the wedding. I also came to the same realization that you did and have embraced my skin tone for a long time now. The most important part is that you feel amazing and like (a more fancy version of) yourself!

  23. Member
    alyssa719 32 posts, Newbee @ 12:39 pm

    I just had this conversation with my fiance last night. I’m English/Irish/German. So like, pasty/translucent. I always have been – I have spent so much time and money trying to get tan and the only benefit I see from it is that maybe it would make my arms look slightly thinner… I just don’t want to be a tall oompa loompa for my wedding! :)

  24. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 12:47 pm

    Your fair skin is beautiful! The only ‘tan’ I had was from being outside over the summer, I actually got sun on our wedding day (and had the tan lines to prove it).

  25. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 1:02 pm

    I’m not a fair-skinned person; I’m actually very thankful that I tan easily and hold a tan pretty well (the Italian heritage totally beat the Irish and Polish for skin color 😉 ). That having been said, during the winter months when I’m not outside and not tan, I look sick, especially in pictures – like, ‘did she just get out of the hospital? Her skin is kind of gray. . .’ sick. Eepies. Being that our wedding is at the end of May – before summer :( – I’ll probably look into fake skin color options, at least to get out of the sickly stage.

    All of that having been said, I totally commend your journey to self-acceptance. 😉 I think it looks GREAT on you, with your coloring, and you will photograph so freaking well on your wedding day – you’ll look so soft and elegant, very princess-y.

  26. Member
    Miss Circe 2968 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:38 pm

    I’m Filipino but a very fair-skinned Filipino and trust me, I work hard to maintain my porcelain complexion. Always covering up, SPF 75+ sunscreen, the works lol! Embrace your fair skin ladies!

  27. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 5:14 pm

    I love that you will be so “you” on your big day. I’d find it kind of strange to look at a winter wedding bride and see her too dark. You’ve got the right mindset anyways!

  28. sword Member
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:27 pm

    @Glasgowbound: So cool! Mr. Sword was born in Glasgow but raised in Airdrie!

    Seriously, i love all of these comments so much! Glad to know there are others rocking the fair skin!

  29. sword Member
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:28 pm

    @macmint83: Yay, welcome to you Scottish bride! Yes, we are having kilts! We designed our own tartan. You can read my old posts to learn more! :)

  30. Member
    ecjohnson 157 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:39 pm

    when my girlfriend got married, her fiance specifically requested that she not tan too much because it would make him look pale! so, i say rock it!!

  31. Member
    saus 42 posts, Newbee @ 8:59 pm

    My FH refuses to marry an ‘oompa loompa’ so no fake tanning for me! I am fair skinned and have decided to rock it at my wedding. I do a lot of cycling, so to ensure I don’t get the tan line from my jersey, FH bought me some sun sleeves to wear. I’d rather be pale all over, than have a tan line!

  32. Member
    Ms_Maple 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:05 am

    I am totally rocking the pale look. I even bought an ivory wedding dress because white would wash me out too much!

  33. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:22 am

    I can totally identify with you on the “being tan is a JOB” thing. I used to spend lots of time outside in the summer to get tan, and mine also would fade really quickly. I found this year that I actually held my color longer into the winter (I still have slight tan lines) by NOT tanning. So I’m pretty much translucent, but that’s okay (you can still tell I’m not as pale as I once was). I got pretty freaked out by the prevalence of melanoma in young people and decided it just wasn’t worth aging my skin and possibly getting cancer just to try to fit in with other people.

    I’m embracing my fair, healthy skin in everyday life, and even though I’ll probably be slightly sad not to be tan for our wedding, that’s just not who I am, and I’d rather be me on our wedding day!

add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors