When Trashy is Trendy: A Quick Guide to Trash the Dress

After the bride and groom, the wedding dress is the undisputed third star of the Big Day. You might have looked for years, spent thousands, trimmed, cropped, and dyed pieces and parts, but some of the best shots I have seem are of the cathartic (and trendy) trashing the very dress whose perfect image swished and swayed through the corridors of your mind since you got engaged.

Trash the Dress--Barak Aharon

Destruction 101: start with materials closest to you

And, after all, why shouldn’t #trashthedress have its own hashtag? The working principles behind the practice have been employed by fashion photographers for years: the art of contrast, the power of incongruity, and the sheer glow of the emotion uncorked by the whole experience has photographers and lovebirds alike looking to squeeze a dose of trashiness into the wedding week timetable.

Hats off to Las Vegas-based wedding photographer, John Michael Cooper, who got fed up with the overly orderly set of wedding pictures he himself was commissioned to take and convinced clients try a different approach—an approach that sometimes involves an ocean, a paintball park, a fully-clothed mud bath in wedding day attire.  “In fashion photography, they often put really pretty people in very ugly places. I’m applying that technique to weddings,” Cooper explained to the New York Times in 2007.

Trash the Dress--Barak Aharon

This is where the magic happens!

Since Cooper spoke to The Times in June 2007, the interest in drowning, burning, and staining wedding dresses went from a flat line to a constant high pitch.

What else has trash the dress got to offer participants?

It’s liberating in contrast to what is most often a tightly scheduled and structured period. Relatives flying in and out, dinners to be shared, contractors to pay, and tiny details to remember. Trash the dress represents everything that your wedding planner isn’t (even if she will probably book the local for this shoot)—unbridled chaos, blessed by the institution.

It relieves stress when there is really no space and little tolerance for undue expressions of annoyance or displeasure. Weddings mean smiles, hugs, and kisses which are fun for a while but can be suffocating when you know that a firm kick in the pants is not a socially sanctioned form of expression during the joyous occasion. Let it out!   

It creates another fun event that doesn’t stand on ceremony, require too much preplanning, rehearsals, or even coordination with too many other human beings besides your most inner circle of wedding VIPs.  Pro tip: if you need a breather after the big day, schedule trash the dress for a few days after the wedding when the fuss has died down.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune especially if you get your wedding photographer to throw it in as part of the package. Lipaz and Gil (featured here) added this session to their list of wedding week coverage, but I will happy to photograph your dress with a layer of Mediterranean sea salt even if I didn’t shoot your wedding. Interested? There’s still time! 

Trash the Dress--Barak Aharon

Getting clean to get dirty

It doesn’t have to actually be your wedding dress. Maybe your dress really is the second object of your affection after your chosen partner, and you are not overly eager to douse it in lighter fluid for the sake of a memorable picture. Never fear—there are more white dresses to be ruined out there! Choose your stand in gown, lock the original safely in dry clean bag with a few moth balls, and get ready to make a mess!

It has so many great potential backdrops in Israel where there is no shortage of sea, sand, swamps, graffiti painted alleys, and both holy and unholy sites to accommodate any combination of dress ruining fantasy that you can cook up. Get the thing run over by a bus, take it for a swim it in the Mediterranean, or milk a cow in work boots to take down that bridal white however you like!

Up for the challenge and ready to get your hands, feet, face, and most importantly your clothes dirty?

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