In defense of Trash The Dress

Guest post by Angela from Milestone Images
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You might remember Angela, aka. New York based wedding photographer Milestone Images, from our previous Q&A's. Well, she's back with more awesome wedding porn and a guest post in praise of Trash the Dress sessions. -Megan

TTD02 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

I've had a lot of interest in Trash the Dress sessions from OBB readers, and yes, true confession time… I love doing them!  One of the things I love about Offbeat Bride is that Ariel has created a space where such things can be discussed in a fair, thorough, candid way. I know that the concept of Trash the Dress is not for everyone. In fact, when I first learned about it in 2007, I blogged excitedly about how awesome it was, only to have one of my most loyal readers, an “alumni bride” whose wedding I photographed in 2006, point out in the comments how wasteful and decadent it seemed. She felt very, very strongly about it. I was taken aback at first by the strength of her reaction, but I was so grateful for opportunity to really think through the concept of a trash the dress session beyond my initial “Oh, cool!” reaction.

For me, it's about creation, not destruction…

TTD05 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)I think one of the things that make these images so provocative to the viewer is that it's a complete reversal of the traditional notion of how wedding dresses are depicted. A wedding dress is so much more than a dress. Yes, there's the emotional component. This is the dress in which you publicly honor and celebrate your union. That is so powerful. Just speaking from my own wedding dress shopping experience — from the shame of not fitting into ANY of the sample sizes to the moment my mom and sister saw me try on the dress I eventually wore and realized, “My god, I feel actually feel good about this one!” It was honestly one of the most emotionally charged purchases I've have ever made.

And yet, wedding dresses, particularly traditional, poofy white gowns, have such a powerful symbolism in pop culture. Traditionally, they represent purity, innocence, virginity, wealth and status. In contemporary culture, they've taken on new symbolism as icons of celebration and new beginnings. Photographs created during trash the dress sessions subvert the traditional implications of how a wedding dress should be worn, and how a woman wearing one should be seen and act. And now my degree in academic feminism is showing, isn't it? Semiotics! Subversion! Visual issues in the media! Cultural studies and critiques! Can I get a shout-out from my fellow women's studies majors? 🙂

TTD04 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Deep thoughts about visual depictions of femininity aside for a moment, with the exception of one client who wanted to do underwater photography in her gown, my clients who have booked these sessions haven't ACTUALLY trashed their dresses. It was more of a relaxed, day after the wedding, “don't-worry-so-much about the dress” session.
TTD01 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)Both Heather, the bride sitting on the wall, and Lesley, the bride in the wheelbarrow (Editor's Note: and OBT member southpaw23), are sitting on clear shower curtains. Both of their dresses are completely fine. Lisa, the underwater bride got married in a beach town and took lots of photos with the wedding party down on the sand. Between that and rocking out of the dance floor, the bottom of her dress was in rough shape long before she and her husband booked our session. Their wedding day sounded pretty hectic, as well, and she and her husband didn't get to take as many photos of just the two of them. The TTD session was an opportunity for them to put on their wedding clothes one more time and create memories for the two of them.

Of course, truthfully, there are much nobler destinies for gently used dresses. I get that. As such, I donate a quarter of what I earn from each Trash the Dress sessions to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. By donating a portion of the proceeds from Trash the Dress sessions, I'm honoring my mother-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, AND recognizing that women who want to do something different with their dresses often feel conflicted about donating them.

TTD03 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

The other argument against this kind of session is, of course, what if you daughter wants to wear it someday? I've shot more than fifty weddings. I've only had one bride wear her mother's veil. That's it. On the other hand, my maternal grandmother got married in a chic brown suit in 1944, which is displayed proudly on a dress form in my studio.

That said, the whole pro-TTD argument that says, “Show your man you love him and won't marry anyone else by trashing your dress” thing is bullshit. The end.

If you're like me and Angela, who are of the pro-TTD variety, and you would like to do your very own Trash the Dress session, then you'll be happy to know that Milestone Images is offering 10% off to all Offbeat Brides!!

Or if you're not into Trash the Dress but ARE into having really good wedding photos, you will also be happy to know that Milestone Images is offering 10% off to all Offbeat Brides!!

So get in touch with Milestone Images and feel free to do whatever you want in your wedding dress! -Megan

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Comments on In defense of Trash The Dress

  1. I’m SO with you! Honestly, when the bride was choosing the dress, she probably WAS NOT thinking about how the dress might be used after the wedding. It’s the nature of the wedding! It’s a one-day magical surprise rainbow glitter day. The trash the dress shoot milks a little of that magic and offers the bride a unique vantage point from which to remember her dress and thereby, her nuptials.
    To me, it no more says “I want to waste wealth” than any other component of a wedding. Which is pretty much just an opportunity to, y’know, display wealth. Such is the biz, man.
    There are plenty of opportunities for brides to benefit others through the wedding planning process. And brides SHOULD, in whatever capacity they choose. Whether it’s patronizing small businesses, donating her dress or sending all their gifts to charity, I just think all brides should bear in mind their opportunities to help someone else.
    And if a bride wants to pay for her wedding in pop cans then do a TTD shoot in a pigpen, it’s her property and therefore her prerogative. And I’ll probably fawn over the photos!

    • Yes this! —> “And if a bride wants to pay for her wedding in pop cans then do a TTD shoot in a pigpen, it’s her property and therefore her prerogative. And I’ll probably fawn over the photos!”

  2. I *LOVE* TTD photos! My only issue is that I can’t seem to find anyone in the metro-Detroit area that doesn’t suck ass. I actually met with a photographer that seemed really fun but when we met, instructed me (yeah, instructed) that formal (ie., stuffy) portraits would be done in addition to candids because “when you look back, you’ll realize that’s what you really want.” I was out the door before he could piss me off anymore!

    • Jen! We’re getting married in Detroit in August and although I haven’t had true face time with our photographer yet — we live in Atlanta — I know they shoot “Wear The Dress” sessions, which, it seems can really be TTD. Anyway, their website is Good luck!

  3. Omg, the underwater bride is at Playland! (that’s where I grew up). Very awesome pictures.
    We are spending more than twice as much on photography as we did on the wedding dress (including alterations and accessories). So I would think that our pictures would be more valuable than the dress. Especially since these pictures are AWESOME!! So I’m totally for it! 🙂

  4. I am so there: That said, the whole pro-TTD argument that says, “Show your man you love him and won’t marry anyone else by trashing your dress” thing is bullshit. The end.
    even if I were to marry someone else, or ten someone elses, I wouldn’t wear the same dress!

    even though I still have my wedding dress, I have no daughters to wear it so that’s silly too.

    unless it was borrowed, it’s the bride’s dress and she can enjoy it any way that works for her – it’s the union that’s important not the wedding trappings.

  5. These photos are gorgeous! I love the subversion of them (shout out from the feminist academic type here!) and I also love that they are having fun. My wedding dress is being purchased as something I can wear again, but if it wasn’t I might consider doing this. Yes, some brides wear vintage dresses, but it isn’t part of my family tradition (my mom’s is one I would never, ever wear, even if I could fit into it as it is much shorter than I’d go out in public in). If it’s just going to hang in a closet I’d rather do something fun with it. Depending on what you do, it could still be donated after being cleaned. If it needs a little repair, that’s still cheaper than a whole dress!

    • YES!!! That’s what I’ve always advocated: take the most fun route. I’m taking bits of my mom’s dress and my aunt’s dress (she always wanted a daughter, and I’m the closest she’s got!) and sewing them into my store-bought gown. It’s like the teddy bear you had as a kid. You loved it so much that at the end of the day it looked aweful!

      Also, I know I’ll probably be all jittery on the actual wedding day and we’ll probably get some great candids, but who knows how those stiff pictures will look. I wanna roll around in the desert and jump in a sprinkler and have tons of fun with my new hubby! (and really smooch on him! None of that “okay hows about a little peck on the cheek” bs!)

      All in all, I think that we will enjoy our TTD session more than our actual wedding photos. Plus we’re having friends take photos at the wedding, so we may be able to splurge a little and get a “real” photog for the TTD session! 🙂 -Good luck and have fun!

  6. Nice photos, plus I am really glad you pointed out that the hand-me-down dress is an extreme rarity. I haven’t exactly see a rush toward mom-vintage 70s and 80s dresses among the 20-something brides on here. Besides, even though we’re about the dress size, I am 5″8′ and my mom was 5″2′. Hand me down? Not gonna happen!

    • My mom had a GREAT short little strapless number with a big ugle lace aplique on the front and lttle sleevelets(?). I tried it on last night and if I lost a good 15 lbs I could rock it, but I wanna be dancing around and not worrying about busting a seem! (a cool way to incorporate it is to incorporate it some other way: make a handkerchief out of it, sew some bits into your dress, etc. That’s what I’m doing and my mom is pumped!)

  7. We’re planning an “after the aisle” shoot which to me, is a much nicer way of saying TTD. And it won’t be so much ‘trashing’ as it will be getting beautiful pics that we won’t have time for that day. Besides, I’m not the most graceful person out there so the dress will probably end up getting trashed just by me wearing it for the day!

  8. I agree the pictures can be fantastic, but I am wearing my fiance’s maternal grandmother’s dress (you can see it on me here: dress!). I absolutely can’t trash that! Plus, I’m having a second non-wedding medieval dress made to change into after the ceremony, which I specifically designed to wear again – it’s green and gold.

    Anyway, some of us ARE planning futures for our dresses. I wonder how common this is.

    • *raises hand* I specifically selected the design for my corset/skirt combo because I thought it would be awesome to wear again.

      That said, if I didn’t have those plans, I think it would be a lot of fun to do an “after the aisle” session. I’d also lean towards possibly donating my dress, if I wasn’t so emotionally attached to it.

      I think the bottom line is simply this: a wedding dress is the property of the bride, and whether she wants to Trash it, donate it, preserve it or wear it out again is completely up to her.

    • Oh, I’m DEFINITELY planning a future for mine! Mine will be a green dress- and, after our wedding, I’m going to get it shortened, and wear it as a cocktail dress. I’m definitely not shelling out big doleros (am getting it made, which can be costly) for a dress I’m never going to wear again!

  9. At the outset, your pictures are *lovely,* so this comment is responding to the interesting intellectual arguments you made surrounding the TTD phenomenon, not at all to your work or your business. So, like Ariel, I’m not a fan of the Trash the Dress phenomenon, and I while I think your arguments about subverting femininity are really interesting, I’m not sure I consider them convincing.

    I think several things. I think first, that we, as a cultural have fetishized images of women in wedding dresses, as a way to limit the roles of women in a traditional way incentivized by, well, the pretty. So I think that as much as we talk about TTD images subverting traditional femininity, I think it’s equally valid to argue that TTD images actually extend the fetishization of women in wedding dresses beyond the wedding day. I think for the images to truly be subverted, we’d need to see something that violently and directly conflicts with our cultural image of a bride – and ideally comments on our cultural image of a bride – i.e., a woman in a wedding dress acting as a prostitute.

    Second, and most important, after the wedding, I view my (non-traditional, not bought through the wedding industry) wedding dress as an important ritual object. It’s something I wore at a important life transition. So, in that sense, I consider it to be a object imbued with some power. Since my dress is beautiful and 60 years old, and I’m personally attached to it, I’m keeping it. God knows if it will ever be worn again (or would even stand up to being worn in 20 or 30 years) but it’s still a heirloom for me. I wouldn’t trash, say, my mothers all lace baptismal gown – that would be beyond a waste – so I’m not going to trash my wedding dress. But even if I were not keeping it, I think a dress worn at such a important moment is something that I would want to give new life to – to give to someone else, for example. Not to trash.

    But I think finally, for me, the issue is our modern disposable hyper-consumer culture. We live in a culture where everything is disposable, where we don’t put worth in objects, and we waste and waste and waste. So for me, the TTD phenomenon is the end result of hyper-consumerism. Now, not even our wedding dresses are things of value that are worth reusing. Now, even they can be trashed and disposed of.

    So those are my thoughts. That said, I’m not against destroying for the sake of creation. I just think the messages we send when we use the words and concept “Trash The Dress” are ones of waste and fetishization. Generally. It’s possible I could be convinced otherwise. But thus far I haven’t been.

    (And I do love the photo of the bride in the pool…)

    • I would say, though, that the idea of buying a dress that you wear once is also a concept (but a societally accepted one) of waste and indulgence. Then again I don’t view my dress as a ritual object – I view it as an article of clothing that I wore when I said a vow and signed a paper (I made the life transition when my FH and I agreed we wanted to build a life together; as the mom said in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” -“It’s done.”)

    • I 100% agree with you Meg; it’s incredibly wasteful. Actually, buying a dress we only intend to wear once is probably wasteful too. Although, having seen your dress…you could totally rock that vintage frock again.

      Like many others, I bought my dress with the specific idea that I could wear it again (in altered form). I just can’t justify spending that much money (in my personal instance) on something to only wear once OR that I would completely destroy.

    • I feel like this image (the first I ever saw of the Trash the Dress phenom) by john michael cooper “violently and directly conflicts with our cultural image of a bride” , but most are just slightly out of the ordinary photo shoots with a snarky name.. AND, if you look at his blog, he who started it all with those photos is quite sick of the idea as he’s shooting families as anti-heroes!

  10. i’d have to say I cant trash my dress, I would give it away to my daughter if she wanted to wear it. I would definitely hand it down. I am all for seeing others do it LOL! Cause it is really fun, i love expression i love photography! MUAH!

  11. Shout out for WOMST!! Great post, and throwing in a little feminist academics never hurts!

  12. Oh my goodness we’re featured again! This was so much fun, seriously. Angie is amazing, but not only that, it was so nice to have the extra time to just relax and take fun pictures without worrying what time it was, who was watching, etc.

    We took a few hours and drove around town and seeing when a place would pop out to us. Then we’d park, take some pictures, and move onto the next scenic spot. I loved this and treasure these photos so much.

    Our wedding day was a bit hurried due to a last-minute change from outside to inside with the weather, so we didn’t really have the chance to take too many pictures outside. The next day, the sun was shining and it was like it was meant to be.

    I’d recommend this to any bride out there. It’s a way to get more use out of your dress (whether you decide to go all out and ‘trash it’ or just possibly get it a little dirty around the edges). I wasn’t worried about grass stains or tears or sand or anything. It was actually really liberating to put on our formal clothes, already married, and jaunt around town feeling carefree. People kept shouting “congratulations!” and we were like “thanks! We got married yesterday!” it was hilarious to see the looks on people’s faces.

    : )

  13. I actually bought a second-hand wedding dress specifically to do a TTD shoot. It looks like fun, which is my primary motivation. I would feel terrible about trashing my actual wedding dress (I tend to hang onto things that are sentimental to me), but I scoured craigslist for a gown that didn’t cost much. When I found one that fit and looked good on me, I checked with the woman I bought it from to make sure she was okay with the idea of someone buying her dress specifically to climb trees or play in the Gulf in it. She gave me the green light, so I forked over my $80 and the dress is now sitting in a garment bag in my closet awaiting the wedding day. Our wedding is early afternoon and we get our photog all day, so we’re going to have the TTD shoot right after:)

  14. Very interesting perspective. I’m super new to the whole wedding thing, so I had actually never even heard of this trend until this post. Although I understand why people might enjoy the visceral pleasure of destroying (or otherwise compromising) their wedding dress, I just wouldn’t be able to justify it personally. Besides the issue of waste, I guess I have a hard time seeing it as subversive. It just looks like another way to fetishize the wedding dress and, by extension, the sanctity of female purity which it traditionally represented. Will the destroyed wedding dress become the new bloody sheet? Life would be so much sunnier if I didn’t overthink everything…

  15. I’m having my dress custom-made by a very good friend. I would feel extremely guilty destroying something that she worked so hard to make perfect specifically for me. That being said, if any plus-size brides out there who wear a size 32 and are looking for a wedding dress after September of 2011, and I miraculously don’t spill anything on it, I’ll be open to bids.
    If my dress were one that I knew wasn’t one-of-a-kind and I had already messed it up on the wedding day, I would be very open to a trash the dress session. It looks like fun and it seems like one of those things that you know you shouldn’t be doing but do anyways (like burning things in your yard or floating paper boats down the street when it rains.)

  16. I have no intention of trashing my dress, because I designed it and it’s not a traditional wedding dress – the pictures would look sad (“She destroyed that gorgeous thing?”) rather than subversive as it looks nothing like a normal wedding dress. I designed it with the intent that it could be worn as a formal gown later, though I’ll be shortening the back sash.

    I just wanted to say that I do think the art you get from photographing a destroyed dress is worth something, and that may be worth more than the cost of the dress to some. I’d be inclined, if I had a dress I wanted to trash, to first re-use some of it as sachets or whatever, and trash the rest. Heck, photos of cutting out fabric to make the sachets could be part of the session.

    As I said above, as wasteful as a TTD session may be, I think the idea of spending the amount that many spend on a wear-once bridal gown is just as wasteful, even if it could theoretically be sold or donated. And the idea that it “shows your commitment” is ridiculous – even women that divorce and marry again would most likely wear a different dress!

    I also want to join the legions of women who say they won’t be wearing their mom’s dress. My mom’s is actually quite pretty, if you remove the late 70s-tacular sheer chiffon sleeves with button cuffs…but she’d never allow that (but neither I nor my sister would ever wear it with the sleeves). I don’t want a white dress, though, and Mom is a full head shorter than me. My shorter sis could theoretically wear her dress but I never could, even if I wanted to.

  17. While I’m not doing a TTD session (I will wear my dress again and again), I do agree they are visually beautiful. And good for you for doing TTD session that don’t ACTUALLY trash the dress. My best guy friend’s wife is a doing what she calls a not-so-TTD session on her honeymoon. She’s getting photos of her in her dress in Antartica.

  18. I love this idea, and am trying to think of a very unique way of doing it…I like my dress…but i didn’t wear my mom’s…and i’m sure not wearing it again! 🙂

  19. Wow! I saw some TTD photos a friend of mine posted after her divorce was final, so I thought TTD was something you did to find closure after divorce. ha ha. I think it’s a great sign that TTD needs defending at all. It means we have come a long way in our awareness of consumerism, symbolism, etc.
    My FH is a professional photographer and we create images together all the time. TTD does not appeal to me. It might be because I’ve been married before and I’m over the whole white gown thing, but it’s none of my business what pictures other people want to take.

  20. Those water pictures are GORGEOUS! They look so happy and in love! I see TTD sessions as an opportunity for the bride and groom to get dressed up and have fun together without the stress of trying to keep the wedding outfits perfect for the ceremony/reception. And they get awesome pictures in the process. For me it’s a way to say, it’s just a dress. A beautiful, expensive dress, yes, but still just a dress. And I believe that women should be able to have as much fun as they possibly can in clothing that they paid for, regardless of what that means for them.

  21. Personally, I much prefer “subvert the dress” ! Whether you’re doing that by taking pictures spelunking an abandoned building together, wearing a green one dress or a tux isn’t as important-or as fun-as the subversion! Wheeee!

    As for getting good re/use out of the dress, my youngest sister Tjitske wrote me this story recently:

    “One dress, one woman, one world is a book that the second photographer at our wedding is writing about his travels with his bride, one of the guidance counselors I work with (Jen). They got married last year on Easter Island, and needed a wedding dress that could be packed in a backpack. Horrified, the shop assistant told Jen there was only one dress that would do. Jen then wore that very dress throughout last summer, and took pictures all over (including Bejing for the olympics)…”

    She backpacked, climbed trees, rode camels, all in that dress all summer! HIGH 5 YO!

    • I LOVE that idea! If I knew I’d be traveling the world after my wedding, I’d do this in a heartbeat. I’d love to see that couple do a write-up for OBB!

  22. When I first saw TTD pics, I had thought they were not for me because my hypothetical daughter might some day want to wear it.

    And the more I think about it, the more I see that this was really about me, and not about passing along something meaningful to the next generation.

    Something about wanting to continue my special daa-aaaay years and years later seemed important. I get to create something new for myself, and naturally that becomes a tradition for somebody else. And now I’ve gone and put this hypothetical woman in a box – decided that she like beads and lace and low cut bodices and french bustles just as much as I do… And yuck.

    Its more likely that this hypothetical daughter will be her own person, and not some hyper adorable mini-me. And maybe instead of a garden party, she’ll want to do a steam punk thing. Who am I to put a dress up in a closet for years and years, setting some expectation that someday she’s going to get married and when she does, it will be in this thing that I’ve saved in the closet, year after year, move after move, on the chance that some day she too will … blah blah blah.

    So long nightmare short, I won’t be saving it. I haven’t decided what I’ll actually do with it, but setting my hypothetical daughter free of these expectations and even my concept of what it means to be a woman feels like as good a feminism as anything else.

    • “but setting my hypothetical daughter free of these expectations and even my concept of what it means to be a woman feels like as good a feminism as anything else. ”

      Hell Yeah. 🙂

  23. I’m not a big-puffy-white-dress sort of gal. I wanted something comfortable, made of natural fibers, hopefully machine-washable, that i could wear again. Under these circumstances, it actually becomes difficult to “trash the dress”…take all the raunchy photos you want and throw the dress in the washer…Cool!!! have a great time!!!

    I have “issues” with the idea of a “traditional” wedding dress and the industry that drives demand. I would never dream of begrudging anyone the experience of having the dress of their dreams (assuming they can actually economically afford it). I also have “issues” with rampant consumerism and our disposable culture.

    Weddings are inherently narcissistic….let’s not even attempt to fool ourselves. We get to be the center of attention complete with a photographer to record the events of the day. I see TTD photos as the ultimate extension of a narcissism that’s become commonplace in our society. We burn through resources to perfect our image of ourselves.

    Arguing that there’s some feminist comment in the creation of photos that record our decadence seems a bit thin veiled. I can just as easily argue that it’s part of the enslavement of women to images that are inherently impermanent. Encouraging us to disregard the environmental impact of our decisions and to wastefully cast our work (represented in the price-tag attached to those dresses) aside and encourages our continued economic marginalization.

    Certainly, the photos are interesting and fun to see but, from my perspective, they aren’t something i want to have as part of my wedding narrative…but if i change my mind, my dress is washable 🙂

  24. I had every intention of donating my wedding dress after our wedding. However, during the wedding, my bouquet created a long snag of fabric in the front of the skirt. It’s a rather prominent scar and while I can dry-clean it to remove the regular wear-and-tear grime from the wedding day, it seems that snag damage is there to stay.

    I really wanted to donate it. But I don’t feel I can donate it in the condition it’s in.

    So I’ll keep it. If I have a daughter someday, I trust she’ll want to make her own decisions regarding her wedding dress — if she even wants to get married, and if she even wants to wear a dress!

    So, I’m here with this dress that I love and an impending “Day After” session with my husband and photographer. I could wear the dress and give it a last go-around in some more cute photos and then dry-clean it, or I could dry-clean it right now and put it away for good. I don’t plan on wrecking it because, like Meg, it’s still sort of a talisman to me. But it seems I have two options that both end up with me, at the end of the day, dry-cleaning it and putting it away. Whether I take some more photos in it or not before dry-cleaning it and putting it away seems to be of little consequence.

    However………………..well, how many people looking at those photos of me “trashing” my dress are going to know I really couldn’t donate it in its post-wedding condition anyway? It will still look like I’m being wasteful and trashing a dress. I still don’t like that I’m conforming IN APPEARANCE to a wastefulness that I’m uncomfortable with, even though in reality, I don’t feel I’m wasting anything since I don’t feel I’ll really be doing any worse damage to something that’s already damaged.

    So that’s where I’m at. I’m conflicted. I’m uncomfortable with the appearance of TTD sessions and the cultural messages they send (in my opinion). But ultimately, I don’t think our day-after photos would be any different from the urban photos we took the day of the wedding, so it may be even more of a moot point. Really obvious trash-the-dress images aren’t my style, while I do like more casual stuff that may not be obvious about any damage being done. So again…even my fears of the appearance of a TTD session may be moot as well.

    And I just wanted to echo the situation Lisa, the woman mentioned in the original post, encountered: a dress already being damaged before a TTD session.

  25. First let me start off with I love trash the dress shoots.

    I’m torn on what to do with my dress. I can’t ever see my yet to be conceived daughter wearing it. Part of me is thinking that when I lose the weight I’m currently trying to, I’ll have the dress totally revamped into something short and fun that I’ll wear again. Then do a “Trash the remnants” shoot, simultaneously celebrating the new me and trashing the remnants of the larger dress and symbolically the “old, doormat that gained 70 pounds” me.

    And I think that’s what I like about trashing the dress shoots. The pristine dress IS a huge symbol in the culture of the Western world. Hence the freaking if lipstick touches it, or if the hem gets dingy before the pictures are taken, the expensive garment bags, climate controlled storage, all that garbage is to lift the dress up as “THE dress”, it takes on a life of it’s own. Women punish themselves to fit into the dress, they sacrifice to afford the dress, they talk about the dress like it’s a guest “Oh yeah I’m wearing Vera at the wedding.” I see TTD, as a way for women to say “I own this dress and I will do any damn thing I want to it.” And I think that’s powerful and beautiful.

    As for the wastefulness, I don’t think it’s right for anyone to push what their personal thoughts of wastefulness are on someone else. Many people would say that my driving an SUV is wasteful (even though I have 3 large dogs and live where 4WD is a necessity), or that buying brand name toilet paper is wasteful, or for that matter, using toilet paper at all is wasteful. No matter what your lifestyle is, I’m pretty sure that someone looking hard enough will find a way to point a finger and say you’re wasteful. The point is that we currently live in a Capitalistic society, and what ever we choose to do with our money or our possessions is our choice, so if you want a TTD session for your own personal joy, then do it. JMO of course.

  26. I decided that while I did want the whole wedding gown business, I also wanted to have fun on my wedding day. Worrying about a little smudge or even a little rip doesnt sound like fun!
    What did was wicked awesome fun snowboarding in my dress (I know, I know I need to add the photos to the flickr pool!). Basically I did a TTD session BEFORE the wedding.
    In the interest of wanting to party with my guests immediately after the ceremony, instead of a big delay before the reception I decided to do it first thing that morning… yep, I ripped out the bustle, lost one button (of a trazillion), and got a few dirt smudges in the process. But, man oh man was it a great time! WOOOOOHOOOO!!! And you know what, I still got married… even with a bit of dirt and a teensy tear in the fabric. Funny, no one seemed to notice while I walked down the aisle!!

  27. I’m actually hoping to trash a traditional dress for my wedding invitations. My fiance and I both love to paintball so we’re going to have a paintball match for our bachelor/bachelorette parties and take photos for the invites. I haven’t decided on the actual dress for the ceremony yet.

  28. I actually like the concept of TTD, mainly because I love seeing people have FUN in their “formal” clothes. And isn’t that the point???

    I don’t know if I will do a TTD session whenever I do get married, but if I can in a way that doesn’t actually damage the dress, I might. I already have plans for what to do with the dress after the ceremony – I’m making it into a duvet cover for the marital bed!

    • Nikki, that is an awesome idea!

      Personally I don’t think I could trash my dress mainly for the reasons already mentioned – firstly for sentimental reasons and secondly because I can’t bear to throw away anything that has the merest hint of life left in it.

      That said, I don’t plan to keep my dress for all eternity either. I bought it second hand directly from the previous owner two years after her wedding. I asked her if she was sad to see it go and she said that it was a bit of a shame but practically speaking she would never wear it again and it just took up too much space in her house (it’s a pretty traditional big white poofy effort).

      While my wedding is still four months away and I’m already feeling quite attached to it, I like to think that when the moment has passed and is retreating into the distance and I’ve got some great photos and memories to remember it by, I will be able to sell the dress on a third time or donate it – depending on how neat I manage to keep it on the big day.

      It’s maybe a bit cheesy and sentimental but I really like the idea of meaningful items fulfilling their purpose in one place then carrying on a journey where it comes to be meaninful to someone one else rather than just being suspended in time – no longer useful or even seen and appreciated in the case of a lot of wedding dresses I suspect.

      Hence I love duvet cover idea because the dress remains both meaninful and a useful part of the couples daily life.
      (I have been saving my old band t-shirts which I’ve been accumulating since the age of 10 or 11 to make into a patchwork quilt for my first child – should I ever have one!).

      All that said however, I am really in favour of people doing TTD shoots if they feel so inclined. All the TTD photos I’ve seen are absolutely beautiful and I’m sure people with the resources and inclination have invested equal amounts of money and effort in other artisitc projects so why not use your dress and memories to create something beautiful and sentimental and deeply personal?

  29. I love the idea of trashing a wedding dress at a beach setting. Quite carefree and romantic, although some brides do have the option of either selling the dress or keeping it safe in the closet for a glorious memorabilia. Still, you choose whatever you do with your wedding dress, as long as you don’t have any regrets.

  30. I think the pictures look awesome but I don’t know that I could actually trash my hypothetical dress. My mom kept her dress and I later wore it for my first communion. Then, the next year I wore it for Halloween as Dracula’s Bride (it totally rocked)before it was unfortunately lost in a freak closet fire (along with the rest of my clothes). There are many ways in which that gown can be passed to future generations to enjoy. That being said…ScotchGuard that bitch and everyone can have TTD sessions.

  31. Honestly, I think it’s important to remember that, well, it’s MY dress. I can wear it as many times as I like, play dress up in it, twirl around the garden, put it on a dress form, give it away, ritually burn it in sacrifice for a strong marriage, make a collage out of it–it’s a personal choice, and this group of wonderful individual women are usually so brilliant at honouring each other’s own choices. It’s frankly nobody else’s business what I do with my own dress, provided of course I’m not using it to strangle orphans with or something. It’s just as easy to argue that the whole concept of a wedding is wasteful and anti-feminist and we should all just get a legal union over a lunchbreak, but then it wouldn’t be ours anymore, would it?

  32. I did a trash the dress shoot, but for different reasoning. I actually ended up getting divorced and we really trashed the dress but very creativly and I really enjoyed myself! It was a great stress reliever. I am still taken away by some of the pics my photogapher took.

  33. I’m getting married in Sept 2011 and am already planning my TTD session. I work in lighting/rigging for a convention hotel and want to get pictures taken with all the backstage elements of my job in addition to the beautiful setting of the hotel. I don’t know how much actual “trashing” will happen, but if I do end up getting chain motor grease or who knows what on it I’m not going to worry. Of course it helps that this is my second marriage and my first gown is still shoved in the back of a closet…

  34. If it’s okay to wear whatever kind of dress you want on your wedding day: white, pink, red, black, poke-a-dot, etc… Then why wouldn’t it be okay for you & your new husban to ttd it while creating the photographs & memories that you really want to create? If it’s what you really want, then go for it!!!

  35. My dress is glimmering black and since I had Weight Loss Surgery it was bought with the idea that it could be easily taken in and worn again someday as I lose weight, to me it is a pretty dress, why would I want to only wear it once?
    It may start out as a floor length 4x A-line dress with bell sleeves but who knows what size/cut/length it will end up as, but I do know it will never go to waste.
    I am not the white dress type, I am an artist and a goth and so the thought of trying to get through an entire day wearing white scares me to death…LOL I would end up trashing my dress on accident and what a sad thing that would be if I had invested large amounts of money and emotion into it

  36. “The other argument against this kind of session is, of course, what if you daughter wants to wear it someday? I’ve shot more than fifty weddings. I’ve only had one bride wear her mother’s veil. That’s it.”

    I’m altering my mother’s 1977 victorian-style dress into into a halter-style top with a corset back. Now you know two women. And no, I’m not trashing it.

  37. As a bride planning a trash the dress session, I have to say in the beginning I was a bit indifferent as to the point of it all. Some people were buying extra dresses for it, and yes, it seemed like a waste.

    Our photographers included a day after for relaxed photos, and trashing the dress of course came up. They said that changed my mind about the whole subject.

    In their experience, “trash the dress” shoots are really “stop caring about the dress and focus on the amazing things you want to do”. The more I thought about it, the more I really liked that concept of total freedom to hike and swim and do all the things I love, but to just happen to be wearing a wedding dress.

    The dress can be cleaned after, then recycled or upcycled or whatever I plan on doing with it. I am not going to save it for imaginary daughters who will have their own sense of fashion and their own body types. They will have pictures of their mother climbing trees and exploring abandoned buildings. Gorgeous photos that can show them who she was when she was young, even if they move far away.

    And if those daughters never exist, I will have these photos to look back on and remember in all my hopefully long years ahead.

    The dress is just a dress. It is who I was when I wore it that I think really matters.

    No, this concept isn’t for everyone. For me, though, it is important.

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