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…

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. 🙂

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