Wedding Trends: Trash the Dress

A bride trashing her dress at a Holi festival of colors.

Once the vows are exchanged, the toasts have been made, and the dancing ended, only one question remains: “What do I do with my wedding dress?” While men may wear a tuxedo or suit again for a formal occasion, opportunities to wear a wedding dress are a little less likely. Many brides decide that preserving their dress is the best option. This results in a nice memorabilia item, but also keeps the item safe for future generations to look at and wear. This process does, however, require some storage space and can be a little expensive, especially immediately after paying for a wedding.

Preserving your wedding dress isn’t the only option, however. A trend among modern brides is to “trash the dress.” If you’re not a fan of the preservation idea, trashing it may be the perfect solution. Here’s the answers to a few questions you may have about trashing the wedding dress.

What Is Trashing the Dress?

A bride and groom standing in a mud puddle.

Hiring a photographer for your ceremony and reception is nothing new. In fact, it’s likely you’ve already been making big plans for your pre-wedding photo shoot. Trashing your dress will require yet another photo session, however. This trend entails wearing your wedding dress one more time but, instead of walking down the aisle, you’ll take part in a dramatic (and potentially messy) photo shoot with your hubby.

Why are couples taking part in this? For most, it’s a way to finally let loose and relax after months of strenuous planning and organization. It’s akin to a second celebration, commemorating surviving the entire wedding process. Of course, every bride approaches this concept a little differently, but the end result is always the same. You’ll have a huge assortment of fun photos to share and display around your home.

Where Did the Trend Originate?

The trash the dress trend originated in Las Vegas. John Michael Cooper, a professional photographer, is considered the first person to stage a trash the dress photo session. His reason? Well, he’d become a little bored with traditional wedding photos and wanted to spice things up! Cooper’s goal was to capture brides in unusual and less pristine settings, like playing in the mud, falling into the ocean, or jumping into a lake.

What Should I Include in My Shoot?

A bride and groom floating in blue water.

The amazing thing about the trash the dress trend is that you can literally do anything you want. The best place to begin looking for ideas is online. Spend some time researching what other brides have done in the past. Pinterest is a great place to start, but take a look at photographer portfolios or company websites for pictures as well. You can even find some exciting footage of trash the dress sessions created by videographers who are taking part in the trend.

The most important thing is that you have fun with the process. Plan something that you know you’re going to enjoy, as the entire goal is to let loose and have fun! While the options are absolutely endless, here are some photo ideas and activities to help get you in the trash the dress spirit:

  • Kissing underwater
  • Standing in the waves
  • Laying on the beach
  • Relaxing in a hot spring
  • Parasailing
  • Playing in a fountain
  • Standing under a waterfall
  • Jumping into a lake
  • Hiking
  • Participating in a color run
  • Having a mud or food fight
  • Four-wheeling
  • Jumping into a pile of leaves
  • Paddleboarding

Isn’t the Dress Ruined Afterward?

Some brides really dislike the concept of mistreating their beautiful—and often very expensive—wedding gown for a few unique photos. The truth is, though, that a trash the dress photo shoot doesn’t have to ruin the dress. While many women ultimately choose an activity that does indeed “trash” the dress, it isn’t a requirement. If this is something you’re interested in doing, it’s important to realize that you set the boundaries. Your photographer will be happy to create a shoot that suits both you and your dress.

How Expensive Is It?

A bride and groom jumping in a mud puddle.

The cost of a trash the dress photo session varies a lot. As a general rule, however, you can expect the price to increase with the number of scenes you want to shoot. Location and the time dedicated to taking the pictures are also factors. If you’re concerned about your budget, you can always opt to work with a less experienced photographer. Many photographers who are just starting out have the skills necessary to conduct the shoot, but charge less because their goal is expanding their portfolio. Do keep in mind, however, that the cost of the dress itself should also be a factor. Only you can decide how much is too much to spend.

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