Why I’m not into Trash The Dress

Guest post by Jennifer Dockins
TTD from wikipedia
Photo from Wickipedia

Ok, so you've all heard of Trash The Dress, the photography trend of doing a shoot with the bride after the wedding where she destroys her wedding dress.

While I respect the visual kick of trash the dress shots and absolutely understand why photographers and couples could love the concept, for myself, I find the idea wasteful. Indulgently wasteful, actually.

I'm coming from the perspective of someone who specifically built my wedding ensemble to be re-wearable so I suppose I'm biased — but I think given all the options to rewear, recycle/donate, or recraft a wedding dress … it just feels like a tremendous waste. In fact, it feels like demonstrative waste — a way to cackle I spent $X on this dress, now watch me DESTROY IT because I can and because $X don't matter to me!

I suppose I don't really care whether it's a wedding dress, a guitar, or a couch — it seems wasteful to trash something so beautiful that could be reused, recycled, or reworked. I mean, think of Sonya Naumann and the amazing things she's doing with her wedding dress!

There are those that argue that many brides just pack their dresses away in little hermetically sealed boxes and stick them in storage … isn't Trash The Dress a better option? I suppose that's a valid point, but but I don't think those are the only two options available. Tucking the dress into storage forever is wasteful, too.

I will say that really don't like some of the Trash The Dress idealogy that's gotten out there. Photographers have said things like “Show your husband how committed you are by trashing the dress” and “It's a photo session done AFTER the wedding and honeymoon are over to symbolically show your husband that you will NEVER need your wedding dress again.” Ack! It's going to take a lot of soap to wash that ickyness out of my mind.

Obviously, I ain't got nuthin' against photographers or couples who enjoy the spectacle of a trash the dress session. But for me? Meh, I'm really not into the idea… sort of like cake smooshing.

More wedding trends we're not sure about…

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on Why I’m not into Trash The Dress

  1. I totally agree! I can think of twenty three billion things to do with a used wedding dress. TTD feels supremely wasteful and unethical. Also? I’m SO not into the argument that “destroying the dress is freeing after the constraints of the planning process.” Uh…perhaps you should have planned a wedding that didn’t make you want to light an effigy to the process.

  2. But what’s extra hilarious are the photographers that have extra dresses so brides get all the symbolism of the photo shoot without actually having to trash *their* dress….

  3. I always felt wrong about TTD too. Not only is it wasteful, but it also seems selfish to me. If you don’t mind destroying it, why not just give it away to someone who might actually appreciate it. And I love Megans comment about not having to light an effigy! WELL SAID!

  4. Cool blog- and thanks for the link. I’m sure you ladies realize that “trash the dress” is just a buzzword, right. It’s just a way of saying “let’s have a photo shoot where you don’t have to worry about getting your dress a little dirty.” Some brides want to take it further by getting the dress wet or dirty- but that’s their choice. The concept is to get away from the boring stiff wedding pictures where the bride has to worry about getting a spot on her dress. Come on girls- have some fun. And of course we promote donating dresses to Bridesagainstbreastcancer.com whether or not the dress gets a little dirty- the ladies at that great organization tell us that they can clean just about anything, and they welcome any used dresses that come their way. Even if the dresses are are beyond salvation- they can cut them up to create quilts which sale for several hundred dollars.

  5. I agree that the whole “Trash the Dress” concept is just that– I’ve seen a lot of photos where the bride is simply standing next to a wall with graffiti on it or sitting in a grassy field and the dress is fine. But I love your comment, that if we let loose a little bit then we could have those shots at the wedding. I myself may have a “Trash the Dress” shoot that does NOT trash my dress but simply to have another fabulous photo shoot in my gorgeous dress! lol. I’m just kind of a picture whore though… *smiles*

  6. In 99% of the cases, the dresses used for TTD shoots are actually perfectly reusable. As Mark said, it’s rare that the dress can’t be cleaned and donated, and in fact, every bride I know that’s done a TTD shoot has done exactly that, and if the funds allow, I may do it as well, and I fully intend to donate my dress either way. I agree, the gender/relationship implications are kind of icky, but it’s really not as wasteful as it appears.

  7. Thanks to everyone for their comments.

    I think the biggest issue here may be that for Offeat Brides the TTD concept simply doesn’t resonate because, well, we don’t DO stiff wedding pictures so there’s nothing to contrast with.

    By Mark’s kinder/gentler “When I say ‘trash’ I don’t ACTUALLY mean ‘trash'” TTD standards, supposedly all my wedding photos qualify as TTD because I played on a swing, ran around in the woods, sat on the lawn, played games, etc.

    Or, as Lara from A Softer Image said in an email, “I think that the core issue is brides thinking they have to be pristine, virginal, perfect for their wedding, and need the release afterwards. Would TTD exist if those brides felt free to sit on a lawn during their reception?”

    In other words, while Mark says “The concept is to get away from the boring stiff wedding pictures where the bride has to worry about getting a spot on her dress. Come on girls- have some fun.” ….I think many Offbeat Brides would respond, “Mofo, I ROCKED THE FUCK OUT OF HAVING FUN AT MY WEDDING!”

    • That’s kind of my thought as well. If you don’t want standard stiff wedding photos then don’t do them at all. Or do what most people seem to be doing and do a few traditional shots along with a bunch of fun ones. It seems more efficient too, no need for a second shoot or any major cleaning.

  8. “I think many Offbeat Brides would respond, ‘Mofo, I ROCKED THE FUCK OUT OF HAVING FUN AT MY WEDDING!'”

    Hells yeah, Jennifer! I’m with you — and I agree with everything she has said in this post. I don’t want ANY of my pictures to be boring or stiff or about me worrying about getting the dress dirty. But I’m not wearing white either, so… clearly I don’t care if people think I’m not a virgin. 🙂 It’s funny to me that a lot of the TTD pictures are so “sexy” — I guess to counteract the pure wedding day. So… let me get this straight, I’m either a virgin or a whore? Right, I forgot. That’s what women have been told all along.

    PS: I’m not even sure if I can afford a professional photographer for my actual wedding day, so I can’t even imagine having the money for *two.*

  9. I’ve never heard of anyone rewearing their wedding dress to a second wedding. Way too much baggage comes with it. I’ve thought TTD was a refreshing alternative to hermetically sealing the dress forever.

    But of course, part of the reason I enjoyed the OB book so much is that my thoughts are along the same lines … I’d like to be able to rewear it to other fancy occasions.

  10. Most of the time, the dresses in “trash the dress” sessions aren’t completely trashed. They’re completely re-usable with some washing/dry-cleaning.

    I mean, I sort of get why you don’t like this… if you’ve already taken some fun photos at the wedding, then having a “trash the dress” session would be silly and redundant.

    But I’ve seen a lot of really awesome shots…where the bride jumps in a pool in her dress or plays on the beach/in the ocean/in the mud. Things that you might not do on the actual wedding day. Plus, a lot of the time, the groom/husband tags along to the photo shoot to be in the pictures or help out.

    Also, it doesn’t just have to be about “wedding dresses.” You can do this with any dress. I have a friend of mine that wants me to do a “trash the dress” session with her wearing a hideous bridesmaid dress… it’s something that she’ll never wear again (and something she would never thrust on someone else ’cause it’s just that bad). So why not?

    As a photographer, I love the idea of “trash the dress.” And as a woman that plans to get married someday, I think it’s totally fun. 🙂

    So my point is… I do understand why you don’t like it; but I don’t think I agree with you on this one. And that’s okay. 🙂

  11. Not all the dresses are ruined during the photoshoots. And why does it matter if someone doesn’t want to get their dress dirty on their wedding day? Just like you wanted to be able to reuse your dress other women don’t want to reuse it and do want to keep it because it has sentiment value to it.

  12. Ok, I’ll speak up. Why would you call it “trash the dress” if the object wasn’t to actually trash the dress? If the object was to have fun with the dress, you’d call it something else. You’d call it GoofyBride Playtime or something.

    I agree with the author. Words have power. You use the word “trash.” You are honestly saying, “Engage in activities that will make your dress into garbage, and we’ll photograph it.” It’s also a way of dragging out an already expensive photo session into an even more expensive one. If a photographer develops a good relationship with his or her client, that bride will continue to use their services in the future and recommend her to her friends.

    There are all kinds of reasons for a woman to want a professional photographer’s services, especially in this day and age when so many people need to use the Internet for professional marketing. Maybe she might just love her photographer, be completely over her wedding, but feel good about herself and want to have a super cool, artsy picture of herself in a ballgown floating in water like a lotus (Yes, I think this would be beautiful and fun).

    Using “Trash the dress” as a trendy means to making a few more bucks is pretty sad. It’s completely a pseudo-post-feminist, elitist pose: I have so much money and so much conventional beauty, I’ll take this dress that someone slaved over for a buck a day in a third world country and I’ll treat it like it’s trash.

    My aunt has made my dress with love and care. I wouldn’t dare do this to her hard work. I feel bad for all these anonymous seamstresses and the pseudo-princesses treating their work like it’s garbage.

  13. Whether or not you “trash your dress” for some fun pictures, don’t MOST wedding dresses end up in a closet? Isn’t that as wasteful? I “trashed” my dress AT my wedding as well. Going climbing in it, allowing the darn thing to get dirty as I went downtown dancing, etc. It was part of the fun of my wedding. But I just wouldn’t part with it now. Not even to donate to breast cancer. I’d rather donate money, time, etc. to charity. And I never had any ideas about getting my dress dirty showing my man my committment to him, or the cleanliness representing virginity, ick!
    So I think the real problem here is that some people think wedding dresses are wasteful in general. Which they are, but who are any of us to tell others what they should or shouldn’t do with their dresses…..

  14. trash the dress sessions are a lot less expensive than the actual day, btw. they only cost as much as a regular photo shoot– consider your graduation pictures, for example. you don’t have to bill it as a TTD session– lots of photogs around here don’t know about the trend and will only charge you a regular rate for a sitting. it’s a good way to get good pictures in the event that your wedding photos didn’t turn out well, or you were so stressed out on the day of that you didn’t look how you want to remember looking. as for the wasteful, let’s get real– most people don’t donate their wedding dresses. even those who aren’t totally sentimental would likely not up and decide to part with it. I’ll do TTD for an anniversary gift to my husband, and I think it will be an appropriate amount of money to spend at that time, considering we’d exchange gifts anyway probably. Furthermore, the stains on the dress will be a reminder of ANOTHER happy memory, which will give the dress even that much more meaning. I just don’t see why TTD is all that controversial. It’s the equivalent of criticizing girls who keep their dresses, and don’t donate them, which is preposterous to me– people shouldn’t be criticized for keeping a dress that is imbued with such emotional history.

  15. The weirdness I have with the TTD phenomenon is far more practical… WHAT would I do with a bunch of pictures of ME in MY WEDDING DRESS doing weird things, no matter how cool they are? I’m not going to frame giant photos of myself for my house… I’m not going to send out Christmas cards of myself… and I would find giving them to my groom to be odd. Ok, actually when I think about giving them to my groom, I realize I have deeper “icky, ew, this is post feminist issues” with it.
    But mostly this plays into my weirdness about wedding photography. So often it’s mostly pictures of the two of you, and while I love great pictures, and I’m totally a picture whore, I want a chunk of good pictures of us, I really want a whole bunch of great pictures of my guests, and us having fun with our guests. When else in life do you have a excuse to get tons of people you love together from all over the country/ world (and have a good chance they’ll come) and have a big P-A-R-T-Y? I mean, that’s what I want awesomely documented. Not me, in a dress, in the ocean (as cool as that might be).

  16. So I am a handweaver. I designed my dress and had someone sew it for me. Now years later I am cutting it into shreds and weaving the shreds into a tapestry that has meaning to me, and will have meaning as a work of art. There is much you can do with a dress besides put it into a box or “trash it”. Mine hung in the closet for many years before I knew the final form this dress would take. If this dress is an expression of one moment of time in your life, know that someday you may wish to go back and reinterpret that moment in time.


  17. A lot of people have a problem with the term “trash the dress” when so many of the pictures are actually more along the lines of getting a bit dirty rather than actually trashing it. Yes, but most standards, the pictures on the swing, with the hoola-hoop, etc ARE trash the dress pictures. I think the best way to approach the idea is that the phrase is short for “don’t be afraid to trash the dress.” I fully plan to have a number of “TTD” photos after my wedding. My plan is to make an entire album representing the first year of my marriage where be and my groom appear at key points in our wedding attire. This may include repainting a room in our new house, or drinking wine at our first Passover sedar, or even having a picnic in our new front lawn. I like the symbolism of having showing that the wedding is just the start of the marriage. Truth is, by the end of the year, my custom made delicate lace dress probably will be pretty trashed, if only from the grime and wear of being worn that often. I don’t consider this disrespectful to the seamstress who is making it for me at all. The dress is going to be far to obviously a wedding dress for me to ever rewear it, but it’s also far too person for me to be okay with giving it away. This way, I get to use the beautiful work of art that someone will be crafting for me, to make another work of art that is also beautiful and meaningful. And I think THAT is what Trash the Dress is about.

  18. I’m a former wedding videographer in the sf bay area. I remember one wedding a couple years ago in San Jose…burningman happened to be doing an art car show in the city center area. The bride and groom were certainly nice and all, but I couldnt’ picture them as ‘burners’. To my great delight, when we spotted a giant Radio Flyer wagon art car, the bride and groom immediately asked the lovely wagon owner/burner freak if they could hop in and take pictures. These were some of the best wedding photos and video I have ever taken. I think those shots certainly would have qualified as “TTD” and the best part is that she had no idea the burningman peeps were in town- it was completely spontaneous!!

  19. Lindsay- great question. The term “trash the dress” is just a fun buzzword. Do you also feel the same way about Offbeat Bride having a section called “wedding porn”?

  20. To respond to comment #3. I am going to create a quilt out of my wedding dress along with my bridesmaid dresses….i will be having a trash the dress session…and i DO NOT think its selfish? Why not have a little fun with it before i am going to cut it up anyways!! And i am sure many people will not be wearing their wedding dress 2x unless they are going to marry the same person again.

  21. I don’t believe the author is saying that it is right or wrong per say. She is just saying that it is not the right choice for her and I so happen to agree. I made sure my wedding party had dresses and suits they will wear again (yay rockabilly wear!) and my main wedding dress is going to be donated and I am keeping my reception dress. I can’t see destroying something I paid good money for when someone else can use it. I know there are a lot of brides out there who can’t afford a nice dress, especially a plus sized one. The cost of my dress may not have been a lot to me, but it may be the world to others. If you want to “trash” your dress and you feel awesome about it, then do what is right for you.

  22. Just to throw 2 more cents into the discussion, I figured I’d speak up as someone who proudly wore her mother’s vintage wedding dress from 1978. So hermetically sealing up the dress isn’t necessarily wasteful – it made for a really meaningful part of my wedding.

    Of course, now I have this family keepsake that I can’t bring myself to give away or “trash” or even cut up and recycle in anyway. So now I have no idea what to do with it…

  23. I think we’re all going to agree to disagree. TTD is another way to be creative in the wedding dress, be it white, cream, grey (as mine was) or purple. It’s photography outside of the box.

  24. Um, that bride is on fire. O.o That in and of itself would be enough to turn me off of TTD.

  25. I read each and every comment here and I have to agree with Zan-do what is right for you. If you are an offbeat bride, there is a place for you. If you are a traditional bride, there is one for you also. The symbolism found in the clean, white dress indicating virginity is simply an aspect that comes from way back in history. It does not mean it has to be adhered to today in the same way. Whichever style of bride you are determines the symbolism of each aspect of your wedding, it is as individual as you are. Therefore, if you bought and paid for a garment, it is yours. Stand still and look pristine for pictures if you want to. Play around and get dirty if you want to. It is up to you. Personally, having been married for more than 8 years, I would welcome some ideas for the dress that has been in my closet all this time. I love the idea of TTD, but I also love the idea of bridesagainstbreastcancer. I am seriously considering a TTD session with my husband to commemmorate our anniversary, and then cleaning the dress and donating it. It’s the best of both worlds, and it works for me. Like Chris said, we are all going to agree to disagree. That’s life – it’s up to you.

  26. I appreciate your opinon but as a bride that has done a TTD shoot I think that you have missed out on some info. Granted the picture you show on your site is a complete trashing — nothing can come back from a fire (and i worried about how they did that without trashing the bride and having her end up in intensive care) BUT my dress looked more trashed after my wedding in Vegas from all the asphalt then anything I did in my TTD session. After my wedding and again after my TTD I just tossed my dress in the washer– YES I said it– The washing machine. It came out fine both times. Right now my dress is balled up in my office on my sewing desk. I plan on saving my aqua colored sash and having my dress altered so I wear it this year at the christmas party. Then I plan on making pillows out of the extra fabric from the train. I didn’t “trash” my dress because I wanted to show committment I wanted to have fun and get some really great pictures out of it. You know what–It was incredibly fun. I would hope that everyone can realize that a TTD session is not always wasteful because many of them do not get dresses that dirty and if they do they CAN be stuck in the washer because they are polyester. But whatever any bride decides to do with her dress is her decision, just make sure the choice is right for you since it is your dress.

  27. Well if you say that TTD is wasteful you’re right in a way but at the same time not, as what I feel. If you look at it from the point of wasted resources then even buying a fancy dress for just one occasion (wedding, prom or something else) is wasteful, regardless of what you do with it afterwards. But isn’t it partially just a way of saying how important that day and that celebration is to you ? In a way every celebration can be seen as a waste. Look at the old days – they were often short of basics like food, yet they splurged on it when they had a celebration.And the dress is often just a small part of the cost of a wedding anyhow. Is it then wasteful to have an expensive reception at all ? A $ 250 k wedding ? A $ 10 k wedding ? A $1 k one ? Any wedding at all ?

    I feel that the TTD is a fun idea and I think it will be great fun to go for something like that. I agree that most dresses probably survive TTD very well (certainly if they’re polyester and you just get them wet, with a silk dress like mine it can be a little tougher but I think it’s usually still ok), but even if it gets totally ruined I can’t see that I’ve sinned somehow. If I look at it from a wastefulness perspective I guess I should maybe not have bought that expensive dress in the first place. But now when I’ve spent the money for it, why not get the most out of it ?

  28. OK so i've been reading for a WHILE and i get why the non love for TTD. But as a TTD joiner i have to say i loved my shoot i got some friends together for a weekend away at a rental house with a great lake and train tracks and i jumped in the water and we got amazing shots. Didnt cost me a dime and now i have an amazing shot of me lying in lake clear that reminds me of friends and fun. my dress survived and is back in its special bag awaiting the daughter, niece, grandaughter that one day MIGHT want it but i tell you now if i loose this baby weight and get back in that bad ass gown i'll grab the tequilla and do it again!

  29. My husband and I have our own way of trashing my wedding dress. Although nothing really bad has happened to the dress except that it got wrinkled in some areas. But anyways we play dress up, I mean I wear my wedding dress in the privacy of our home and my husband takes me down like a rabbit while I'm wearing my wedding dress. It's really hot cause the whole thing kinda re-lives the moment right after our wedding when he finally had our first private time. We only do it when the timing is ideal like when I'm in the mood and my husband is also in the mood. Works great eveyrtime so far. We both love the dress and looking forward to buying a used one to be used by us just for this purpose. Kinda kinky but definitely rewarding. Destryoing the dress is traumatizing for us unless that dress is ugly. But even then, we don't want to.

  30. Never heard of the trend and it seems very wasteful. How about a photo shoot where you donate the dress to Goodwill or sell it online at one of those discount places for women who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on their wedding dress? Reminds me of this commercial I saw for one of those blond bunny types with the “reality show” who was having marriage trouble….in the commercial she said she flushed her diamond down the toilet. Yeah, real mature and absolutely no concept of how much that diamond could have been worth to someone who didn’t have the money for it. She could have sold it online or given it to a needy family or a needy couple. Sheesh. Selfish trends. Sounds like this one was made up by wedding dress designers wanting to drive up prices of their gowns.

  31. Yes this. Completely this! I want to do a photoshoot with my dress afterwards, but not in a trash the dress way. I am a cosplayer and love cosplays and photoshoots so it makes sense when spending so much money on something being designed specifically for me why I wouldn’t. In no way do I want to trash my gown but yes some more adventurous photos in it I would love to do.

Comments are closed.