Hair color judgments: when you’re invited to a wedding, but your hair color isn’t welcome?

Guest post by Catie Osborn
Hair color by Roxie Jane Hunt

Have you ever walked into a room and immediately felt judged? I attended my very dear friends' wedding rehearsal (I'll be performing an original poetry performance piece blessing their marriage) and it was very clear, from the moment I set foot in the ceremony space, that there were a number of people displeased with my particular choice in hair dye jobs.

Sidelong glances, whispers, a bridesmaid who literally refused to talk to me and a groomsman who insisted on treating me like I was going to carry off the silverware at any moment — I had no idea what to do.

Afterward I was informed that my blue hair — the blue hair that I've had for about five years now — is not welcome by the People Paying For The Wedding. It became clear I was dealing with hair color judgments.

My friend apologized profusely. But I get it. I do. I understand that not everyone in the world is going to be excited about a blue-haired hooligan waltzing through the doors on their daughter's wedding day. I accept that, and I respect my friend's parents' right to judge me based on my decisions in hair color. I know that I make a choice every day that I wake up and put a little more blue dye on my hair (and hands). I make the choice to be a little different and to stand out a little from the crowd. My hair color is a way for me to express my individuality.

I have been extraordinarily lucky in my life. I've been able to perform my poetry for past and current presidents, ambassadors from foreign nations, for royalty, for sometimes actual cash money and spoken to thousands of students across the county, on national and international stages — and not a single one of them ever found an issue with my hair. In fact, most of them complimented me on it.

But, at a rehearsal for one of my best friend's most important moments, it was obvious that the People Paying For The Wedding were NOT excited about my hair and were Very Opposed to me “ruining the wedding” with my blatant disregard for common decency.

It fascinates me that my hair became the subject of so much concern — really, I just kind of feel important knowing that I have the power to Ruin The Entire Wedding with my ridiculous hair. How dare I, really? Who am I to come in and be myself when there are relatives (who I don't know and will never see again) to impress?

But is it their right to insist that I cover it up? They are the ones paying, after all, so, technically, I suppose they do “own the rights” to the day, but my friends — the ones getting married, who I am there to support and celebrate — have never seen it as a problem. They love me for who I am, not for my hair color.

Dealing with hair color judgements

This has gotten me thinking. Here I am, being more than a little miffed about this whole experience, but what would I do if someone showed up wearing, oh, I don't know, a skin-tight glitter leotard and bright green hair? Okay, that'd be awesome, but you know what I mean.

I know that I could easily be in the same situation as my friend. I know, already that my mom is in the same Disapproving Boat about some of the more offbeat ideas I have for my wedding, and I know that in the future, I might catch a lot of flak for choosing to wed with blue hair, or pink hair, or in tennis shoes and jeans or… well, who knows, really?

So I did something that I swore I would never, ever, ever ever ever do.

I offered to dye my hair.

I figured well, it's only hair, and it's only for a day — if this is going to help allay some of the drama and allow the day to run more smoothly, why not?

But it got me thinking… How do you determine the line of what is “appropriate” and what is “not welcome” at your wedding, especially when you're not the one paying for it? Who should get the final call when there is a huge financial disparity between the couple being wed and the people paying?

Oh, and if you're wondering, I bought a wig the next morning. I figured there was no sense in wasting a good dye job. Because, seriously, my hair looks so good right now.

Comments on Hair color judgments: when you’re invited to a wedding, but your hair color isn’t welcome?

  1. A reminder BEFORE we start discussing this post: while I recognize that the first thing we all want to do is slam the family members who had concerns about the author’s hair, I think there are way more interesting issues to be discussed:

    1. Who gets control over wedding decisions?

    2. What have you learned about compromising with family?

    3. How have you handled it when a compromise could not be reached? Any copy ‘n’ paste “I love you but this is the end of this discussion” templates you can share?

    4. How do you talk to your family about money and control over wedding issues?

    Any family-slamming comments that do not fit within our comment policy will be edited and/or removed (even if I personally agree with the sentiments).

  2. All I can say is – wow. Displeased is one thing, but refusing to even talk to someone because of their choice of hair colour?

    Like it’s been said on Offbeat Bride many a time, when people are helping you cover costs of a wedding, it’s important to make note whether that means they want to have say in it, or are they just doing it because they want to.
    I know I wouldn’t want my family or friends, telling other guests what’s right and what’s not unless it’s us who told them so in the first place. Money or not.

    I suppose it is important to establish what’s okay to wear and not, when you’re sending out invitations to people. Or even warning some of your friends to maybe tone it down for the day, because of their strict family members etc.

    It’s lovely that you decided to change your colour for the day, just to smooth things out for your friends. Thumbs up for that. I know I wouldn’t have done it (very proud, former owner of long, hot pink hair).

    • One way that we’re approaching it is to make it as well known as possible that we are NOT playing the typical wedding day. My fiance’s parents are small town Catholics and they’re helping us pay for the wedding. From day one I’ve talked with her a great deal about the details for the wedding, but more than that I’ve made a point to explain the motivations behind these decisions and how we feel like those things are important to us. I think that it’s helped prepare more conservative members of our families for a different kind of wedding day.

      On a practical note I’ve also created a pinterest board entitled “Wedding: What To Wear” that we’ve posted to our wedding website. It’s full of pins that show the more out of the box kind of outfits/hair that we knew our friends would be likely to wear (and that fir with the vibe of our big day). Again, just another subtle message to our conservatives family letting them know “This is going to be different”

      • ooh, I like this day a lot. We want a gothic vicorian theme. And while I understand most people don’t have the clothes for that, most people also don’t know what it is. I can put up sample examples people can take ideas from.

  3. I applaud you for your mature and level-headed response to everything. While I may not agree with the People Paying, I think that you are doing a service to your friends by not rocking the boat and recognizing that the day is not about you. Your friends are lucky to have someone like you… and I’m sure you will look fabulous in that wig!

  4. Blue Hair Superpower – able to ruin an entire wedding just by attending with blue hair! crazy!
    are your friends who are getting married aware of this? it seems to me they might be quite shocked if you show up without your beautiful blue hair – especially because I am sure they love you as you are! it’s a very generous gesture on your part to offer a change to keep the peace, but I know if I were your friends, I would want to speak to my family about treating you so poorly.
    as for pleasing those who are paying, it seems those who are accepting their money have a level of obligation but those outside of that arrangement do not.
    I hope the wedding is wonderful for you and your friends! maybe you can get everyone to don blue wigs at the reception!

    • This. If the bride and groom have decided that the financier’s contributions have bought the right of aesthetic overrule, then that is an arrangement that extends to them, no one else. Applied to anyone else, it is simply an attempt to dictate the choices of your guests. And that’s always rude.

  5. I was so heartbroken when you offered to dye it! I was like NOOOOO! Don’t you know that wigs exist and can look like normal hair nowadays? And then I saw that you DID know about the awesome hair-saving powers of wigs, and I felt much better. Hooray for wigs!

    • lol I was thinking the same thing when you said you would dye it. Blue is such a hard color to master. T_T

    • I thought the same thing. One of my coworkers has blue hair, and wears a wig to work on a daily basis to meet the dress code. 😛

    • I love wigs! Sometimes, I like to just dress up one and wear it, be it my perky strawberry red wig or my long straight purple one just to feel fancy. And I cosplay pretty regularly too, so I have a nice collection to play with. Once I wore the red one and got a ton of complements on my new hair color, I’m pretty sure people were a little confused the next day when all I had was my simple brown hair.

  6. Right? Shopping for matching dressed is one of the great pleasures of blue hair ownership!!

    • ….So I’m a weirdo that accidentally deletes their own comment by mistake, I’m going to assume that was to me and try to type the original comment in the response! huzzah!

      Basically, I JUST went to a wedding a month ago, blue hair and all. The week before, I saw the bride and groom and (because my hair was fading something fierce) made an offhand comment about dyeing my hair before the wedding. The bride’s response was “You aren’t going to dye it brown or something are you? That would be weird.” My answer was “I bought a dress that specifically wasn’t going to clash with my hair, are you kidding?!”
      BONUS: The bride’s father made a comment that my hair was TARDIS blue, so…good times!

  7. This something my fiancee and I have talked about in the past. At his brother’s wedding the soon-to-be-bride wanted my fiancee to get an eyebrow waxing. At first I was like “Oh your part of the groom’s party, so you should if they ask”

    But the more we talked about it, the more I realized it IS silly to demand things of your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Sure they should buy the right dress or suit, but uh.. how silly is to say to your bridesmaids “I need you all to cut your hair?”

    I don’t think the Bride OR MOTB have any say about changing appearances existing before being asked to be part of the wedding. I think the Wedding Media has made us believe that the bride is so important, and this is the mother-fing-day so everyone must bow to you. Your bridesmaids are adults. They don’t have to do anything for you. They don’t need to plan a party, they don’t NEED to buy a dress, and they don’t NEED wax their eyebrows.

    But that is just me XD

    • I agree. It’s one thing to make the argument that The People Paying have the right to make certain decisions (I disagree, I still think it should be all up to the couple), but asking someone to change their personal appearance that was existing when they were asked to be in the party is crossing a line. If you don’t like their appearance, don’t ask them to be in the party. If you don’t like the couple’s choice of wedding party, either don’t offer to pay or just grow up and suck it up.

      Since my fiance and I are paying for our own wedding, and because most of our family is awesome anyway, we haven’t run into this problem. We DID have a problem with his father throwing a temper tantrum at who we aren’t inviting and holding the $2K “gift” he gave us over our heads. My fiance held his ground on our choice of invitees, went to the bank, took out $2k, put it in an envelope, and shoved it in his father’s hands. Rock on! That’s how we would deal with it. (Though I’m sure easier said than done in many situations.)

    • A friend of mine was in a wedding where the bride was quite insistent that he shave his beard and cut his hair. He did shave his hair, the morning of the wedding, into a tonsure (monk-style). Do I approve of this response? No (or maybe yes). Moral of my little story: Be careful what you ask for.

    • I do think that with something like waxing or manicures/pedicures or haircuts it’s worth figuring out the motivation. I’ve been asked twice to get a pedicure for being in a wedding party, and pedicures just don’t work for my feet. One of the brides said, a little uncomfortably, “well the shoes are open-toed, can you just make sure your feet look.. more well-groomed than usual, and could you use the polish that everyone else will have on?” The other one said “no prob – is there a different salon treatment you enjoy that you’d like to get instead?”

      Point being, I think even if you are planning on assenting, if it’s not totally clear, it’s worth making your position known. With the hair, some brides who’d made a similar request might say “oh, I had no idea it would be so difficult/expensive/compromising of your identity to dye it and then dye it back – just keep it how it is and i’ll try to calm down the paying people.”

  8. My Maid of Honor had green, blue, and pink hair. I had to have her at my wedding so I changed my wedding colors to match her hair. Weird and sneaky.

    • I was a bridesmaid for a relatively traditional friend back in 2001, when I had fruit-loop colored dreadlocks. Like you, my friend actually built the color scheme around my weird-ass hair! I mean, I made it easy by having a lot of colors to pick from, but she totally picked out the bridesmaid dresses to coordinate.

    • Not quite the same, but my Maid of Honour dyes her hair in bright colours frequently and is dying her hair blue to match our colours! I think it’s going to look awesome.

      • My “man of honor” has dreads and is adding in red ones to match our colors 🙂 I thought it was so nice of him

  9. I had a sorta-similar thing happen with my tattoo. I had agreed to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my elementary school friends. I hadn’t seen her in a few years and possibly she hadn’t actually seen the tattoo before and when I showed up at the wedding shower wearing a fairly low-cut top apparently some of her relatives commented on it. Later, afraid it would be a distraction on the wedding day, she asked me to have it covered it up. I said I’d think about it. Well I thought about it, decided I was really offended and that that would be a bad idea, and when the makeup artist (who had apparently been asked to cover it up) went to start putting makeup on it I refused. I said that if my little tattoo was really enough to distract everyone from the beautiful bride I didn’t think *I* was the one doing something wrong. I guess the bride and her mom decided it wasn’t worth arguing with me and they dropped it. I did let the makeup artist cover up a hickey on my shoulder (oops! Should have told the boy to be careful the night before I was in a wedding!) and by the time we got to the venue that makeup was half worn off so I am really glad I didn’t let her cover the tattoo!! It would have been a lot more distracting to have a blotchy half-covered tattoo and makeup smeared on the edge of my dark colored dress.

    BTW, this my tattoo, which is not even some big or offensive thing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/plymouths/4611289758/in/set-72157611857770095
    (ignore the one on my face – that one’s fake/temporary but the one on my chest is quite real)

    • I was asked to cover up a super tiny tattoo of a sun on my shoulder and the makeup ended up wearing off. I saw a photo of me from the back and noticed that it had been Photoshopped out in addition to my body being Photoshopped to look thinner. Brides and photogs have every right to do this, of course, but it still made me feel kind of crappy.

      • Somehow I find the idea of a photographer photoshopping a bridesmaid to look thinner as downright creepy and extremely disrespectful. If you had specifically asked for that it would make sense, but without that request it seems immensely inappropriate.

          • No, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a directive of the bride, thankfully. So it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

      • Icky icky icky! What’s wrong with remembering a certain day they way it really was? Why bother changing things?

      • I had a bride tell me last year that her sister felt like she looked fat in the wedding photos, so could I please make her look thinner? Um. I don’t do that :/

    • Fun story, at the same wedding this happened at, one of the bridesmaids went from having a horrible skin condition on one shoulder to a beautiful tattoo sometime between the wedding and the reception. We bonded over it– I’m glad I wasn’t singled out for being “distracting”.

    • In planning our wedding one of our potential bridesmaids has two tattoos, one on each shoulder that if my mother saw them she would probably get pretty upset (to explain briefly, we have an alternative relationship with her and her husband, and she had her husband’s name, and my fiance’s name tattooed on each shoulder. Her husband was pretty upset with her for doing it, but that is neither here nor there). So I am looking into those infinity dresses and she’ll just have to wear hers with sleeves. I KNOW she’ll understand, and will just have to be careful about what else she wears. She’s already “strange” enough in my mother’s eyes for all the ear piercings that she has, and I don’t want to cause my mother more stress over the tats on her shoulders (not to mention the guests could probably put two and two together as well). It will be easily fixable, and the most graceful way to handle it, and I know we’ll all have a good time anyway.
      Sometimes you gotta get creative to keep things balanced!

    • My sister was going to be my MoH and she has 5 tattoos. My mom fussed a little over it but in the end I told her that she could pick whatever style dress she liked and if she felt more comfortable showing her tattoos or covering them up, that was her decision. Besides, picking out a style bridesmaid dress just to cover up ALL her tattoos would have been weird.

  10. Its kindof strange to think that people are still so conservative but i guess it still happens.

    As far as compromise with family and the politics of who pays gets the last word i totally get it. Which is half the reason my husband and i decided to elope in Ireland 🙂 i guess instead of the confrontations with family we avoided most of them… lol

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