Seriously? Trash the Dress?

Wedding dresses are expensive. They need to fit perfectly, not have a mark on them and stay that way the entire day of the wedding. But let’s face it: You’re only going to wear that dress once. Sure, some brides hope to preserve the post-wedding-day dress and place it in their closets for their daughters to wear on their wedding days (like that will ever happen…). But many brides are diving into river water, climbing trees, riding horses and taking hikes—essentially making a mess of their the little white dress—for the sake of creativity and amazing photography.

Internationally known photographer, John Micahel Cooper, started the “trash the dress” rebellion in the early 2000s, putting a twist on traditional wedding photography and tempting brides nationwide and worldwide into trashing their expensive gowns post-wedding. Some of Cooper’s signature shots include a woman whose dress is on fire, a couple lying in dirt and a bride floating in a lake with her gorgeous Vera Wang gown on. This trend has blossomed everywhere, and Colorado photographers are also having fun with it. With the Rocky Mountain wilderness nearby, how could they resist?

Susan Pacek, a photographer out of Denver (, has hosted many “trash the dress” sessions for Colorado brides.

“Brides have one big day—their wedding—and it’s always said that the dress has to be put away after that,” Pacek said. “(‘Trash the dress’) is just such a wonderful opportunity for a bride to have fun and do something that’s totally different than the wedding day and put your dress back on and kind of be involved in a fashion shoot.”

There are many options when scouting a location in Colorado.

“You can do it downtown Denver—near the art museum. You can do it in little stream beds with trees hanging over it. You can go out to the lakes—the smaller lakes up in the mountains—and really have fun with it up there,” Pacek said. “You can do alleys; I’ve done a lot of alleys. Brides who are getting married here can think about different locations as well for a ‘trash the dress’ session; it doesn’t have to be local.”

In case you’re still afraid of actually trashing the expensive one-time-worn wedding dress, just know that you don’t necessarily have to light the dress on fire and burn it down completely.

“We don’t trash the dress, per say. It’s just getting it a little dirtier than it already is from the reception. So, I have a lot of brides that change their mind,” Pacek said. “All the brides that I’ve contacted, they’ve all been able to be cleaned. It kind of goes in the same box that it would have gone in already, but they got to have some fun with it before.”

So, if you’re contemplating buying your dream dress knowing that you’d only wear it once, think about the beautiful, classic photographs you’ll have from the wedding and the fashion-magazine-worthy photos you take with it after the wedding—totally worth it.

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