Some people express their love in a song or a bouquet of flowers. Some prefer acts of service, quality time, or physical touch. There are, traditionally, five love languages—but for some, there’s a sixth: tattoos.
Matching couples' tattoos are a way to express your love and commitment (a very permanent commitment) to your partner through art. It’s a beautiful daily reminder of one another and can either have deep meaning or be a sweet, lighthearted symbol of your love.
“There is no wrong way to get a matching tattoo,” says New York-based tattoo artist Marissa Monroe. “Whether you want identical pieces or pieces that no one else will understand how they correlate but you—wanting to go through this experience with your partner is reason enough.”
Meet the Expert
- Marissa Monroe is a tattoo artist based in New York.
- Jessica Valentine is a New York-based tattoo artist and owner of Haven Tattoo Studio in Brooklyn.
- Dana Forrester is the owner of Lucky Monkey Tattoo in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Genesis is an NYC-based tattoo artist and the owner of Brujadelbloquee.
- Carmen Figueroa is a New York-based tattoo artist.
- Gabby Pignanelli is a New York-based tattoo artist.
Once you’ve decided you want a couple's tattoo, landing on the actual idea is a whole different ball game. “I think the most important thing when it comes to couples' tattoos is making it personal,” says Jessica Valentine, a New York-based tattoo artist and owner of Haven Tattoo Studio in Brooklyn. “So many people just Google "couples’ tattoos" and pick something someone already has. But what’s so special about copying a tattoo that has meaning to another couple? My advice is not to pick something just for the sake of picking it," she says. "Make it personal, special. Something no one else has. Use your imagination and dig deep." Valentine recommends discussing unique things you share as a couple like shared hobbies, items, or meaningful locations.
Of course, if you plan on getting a couples' tattoo, make sure you plan ahead. “If you are going on a honeymoon that involves water—like an ocean or hot tubs—please wait until you return from your trip,” says Dana Forrester, owner of Lucky Monkey Tattoo in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Your tattoo needs time to heal and you need to stay out of water for two to three weeks while your tattoo heals.”
Ready to get inked? Below, we’ve rounded up 14 ideas for inspiration to get you and your partner brainstorming on your own couples' tattoos.
Good Luck Charms
Symbolism plays a big role in tattoo choices, just as it often does in planning a wedding. Sometimes the suggestion of a feeling or an idea has much more power than (literally) spelling it out. New York-based tattoo artist Carmen Figueroa gave this couple matching Origami paper cranes, a Japanese symbol of loyalty and longevity—all things we hope to start a lifelong partnership with.
A Subtle Match
If you like the idea of something simple that can also stand on its own, consider a concept like this tattoo, which is clearly one plant when the couple puts their arms together, but each can stand on its own—just like two people in a partnership. "I think at least within a relationship, the people involved should be their own person, and yet match the energetic frequency of their partner," explains NYC-based tattoo artist Genesis of Brujadelbloquee. "These designs I did allow these individuals to exist as their own individual—it’s not obvious that it’s a couple tattoo unless they stand next to each other or say it out loud."
If you and your partner are into Zodiac signs, consider inking your star signs—either a constellation or the symbol for your Zodiac. These will look beautiful when photographed together, but can also stand on their own.
If you and your partner have a relationship built on spontaneity and adventure, why not let that translate into your tattoo? “I see people get in their heads about how the piece needs to have layers and layers of meaning,” says Monroe.“These Taco Bell hot sauce packets were some of the first matching tattoos I did, and I think they still may be some of my favorites. It wasn’t until after the tattoos were done that I found out that while they do love Taco Bell, they had never even tried the hot sauce. They just thought the design was too cute to pass on.” Creating the memory of taking a trip to the parlor and picking out something that makes you smile together is worth the permanent ink, trust us.
His and Hers
Landing on perfectly matching tattoos can be tricky, especially if you have different tastes or aesthetics. Don’t let that stop you from finding more creative ways to match. “[This couple] knew they wanted the centerpiece to be a bag because it was a symbol that meant a lot to them and their story together. But to make one more masculine, and one more feminine, we played with the hand holding it,” says Monroe. “The focus of the piece is matching, but the extra detail makes it more personalized to their respective styles.”
You’ve hemmed and hawed, revised, rewritten, and perfected your vows. Why not get a tattoo to immortalize the sentiment? A simple tattoo featuring a passage from your vows, or a meaningful word or phrase is a great couples' tattoo that can be customized based on your style (whether you prefer something daintier or you worship at the altar of Helvetica).
Rings can be stolen or lost down the kitchen sink drain (a great case for ring insurance), but a tattoo ring is indestructible. A simple line around your ring finger is subtle—and does the trick—but we love the idea of creating a ring of your partner's initials, as Figueroa did here.
Think of the moments you’ve cherished the most with your partner. Maybe it's the moment you met, a trip you took, or simply having coffee and croissant in the mornings together. Those moments are great tattoo inspiration. We love how this couple each got something different that can be a stand-alone tattoo—but together, it symbolizes a memory or activity they share.
If you and your partner see yourselves as two characters in a sweeping love story, looking to your favorite books, movies, and tv shows as inspiration for a couples' tattoo is a great way to pay homage to your connection. Have your artist arrange the characters in a way that looks natural when you hold them together as Figueroa did here.
Whether you share a beloved pet, a favorite book, or a special place, using that shared passion to inspire matching tattoos is a beautiful way to celebrate the two of you. We love these whimsical tattoos that aren’t identical but still look like they came from the same illustrated storybook.
Half-and-half tattoos are like BFF necklaces for adults. Anything symmetrical that can be made whole by holding the pieces together is a great way to show how your partner completes you. Butterflies, like this piece by Hannah Blackburn at Lucky Monkey Tattoo, and hearts are easy designs, but your tattoo artist can help you think of more intricate options if you’re looking for something larger.
Wedding Day Elements
If you’re in post-wedding bliss, consider a tattoo to mark the big day. Think of your favorite details of your wedding and work with your tattoo artist to develop a concept. Wedding florals will make for a timeless (and beautiful) tattoo, but other details like your location, wedding date, or even color palette are great jumping-off points for brainstorming.
Similar to a lock-and-key-style tattoo, this couple opted for puzzle pieces. The shading gives this tattoo dramatic dimension, but we think it would be just as nice as small fine-line tattoos if you’re needle-shy.
New York-based tattoo artist Gabby Pignanelli did this simple matching one-word tattoo. “I love tattoos that are simple or minimal, but have a lot of meaning,” she says. We especially love the placement of these tattoos, which look great when the couple holds hands.