Trash the Dress Wedding Trend

trash the dress wedding trend

You’re engaged, you shop for and buy the dress of your dreams! You have your beautiful Big Day and the next day, a photo shoot with a professional photographer capturing moments of you rolling around in the mud/sand/water/whatever to trash the dress. THE DRESS.

trash the dress wedding trend

{Photo: Lynn Michelle Photography}

Yes, “Trash the Dress”, “Rock the Frock” or whatever you wanna call it is apparently a huge growing trend. Forgive me for saying this but, am I the only one who just doesn’t get it?

Why, under any circumstances, would I want to don the Most Beautiful Dress and probably most expensive dress I will wear in my life for what’s likely to be one of the Best Moments in my life ever and then have someone take pictures of me destroying it. I mean, really?

The idea is to wear your dress “one last time” and do something that shows off your personality. That and to get magazine-like editorial photos of you in a stunning dress and an odd locale. Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I have a few issues with this.

It feels a little narcissistic

Look, I’m probably as narcissitic, vain and self-involved as they come. I’m an only child. I have a blog. Really, the list could go on. But even I can recognize that when I actually sit down to think about it, what the heck am I going to do with a bunch of pictures of myself in a pool with a wedding dress on? It isn’t the kind of thing you can really frame 10 photos of and put around your house. You’ll have your actual wedding photos, for one, and eventually family photos which will far supercede these and most any wedding pictures anyway.

It feels kinda greedy

O.K. The odds of you wearing the dress again are nill. And the odds that your daughter or other family member will want to wear it are pretty slim also. That’s fair. Who would want a dress sitting around collecting dust? But ya know, there are other things you could do with it. Really, if you have thousands to drop on a wedding dress and another thousand or so to spare to have a day-after photo shoot, wouldn’t it be a much better deed to donate the dress to someone in need who isn’t as fortunate to be able to have these things? Some places you can donate your wedding dress to:

  • Angel Gowns (these dresses are sewn into gowns for babies who are never brought home from the hospital)
  • Wish Upon a Wedding (a non-profit that donates weddings and vow renewals to couples faced with terminal illness)
  • Brides Across America ( a non-profit that donates to military brides)

It feels kinda disrespectful

Call me old fashioned, but I feel like at least some things should be sacred. Again, you don’t have to box the dress and hide it, but finding a better use for it than tearing it apart may be an idea worth exploring. And speaking of better use…

It feels like you could use it for something else

Like say, your first child’s christening gown. Maybe somehow incorporated into your future daughter’s wedding dress or Prom dress. Even selling the dress on sites like eBay or seem like a much better option.

What do you think? Are you feeling the Trash the Dress/Rock the Frock photography trend?

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  1. I got married last June. Getting my dress professionally cleaned would cost about as much as it cost me to buy the dress (I spent less than $200 on it). I would like to do a TDD photo session on our 1-year anniversary. It looks like a great time. One of my childhood friends is a photographer, and I’m going to try booking the photo shoot through her.

  2. I am just now reading this ( late to the party, I know!)

    I just got married a couple of months ago, and while I can see why people would NOT want to do a trash the dress photo shoot, and completely respect that… I am doing mine next week and couldn’t be more excited?

    You make some good points which I have thought long and hard about before I came to my decision to do this ( and subsequently found this blog post hehe), and this is where I stand:

    I do not have thousands of dollars to just throw away, we scrimped and saved and struggled and compromised to pull our modest wedding together. Yes my dress was one of the most expensive pieces of the wedding, but wedding are expensive. And people spend a lot more money on stuff that isn’t even something you can keep and do what you wish with ( decor, tables, chairs, DJ services, food, flowers, drinks, etc), all stuff that after it’s consumed is gone forever except for memories. I thought long and hard what I wanted to keep as a keepsake of the best day of our lives, and my husband and I agreed that the Bouquet/boutonniere I made, our handfasting cord, and our whiskey glasses were the most practical and special to us.

    Yes I could donate the dress, but it’s MY dress. The same reason people above say that they don’t want to trash it (they are attached to it), is the reason I don’t want to donate it. I also don’t want to preserve it and keep it in the closet, that just seems disrespectful to it. So why not trash it? It is a dress that we will never wear again, our kids will never wear, and is just gonna sit lonely until we die and THEN it gets donated. 😛

    I had SO MUCH FUN the day of the wedding, but I remember being absolutely paranoid that the dress was gonna get ruined before, during, or after the ceremony with the photographer we paid for snapping shots of us all day. This is my chance to get to wear the dress that reminds me of the best day of my life one last time, and just have a ball with it. I always say “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy”, and some of the best adventures I have gotten into involved me getting ridiculously dirty. I don’t want to do something ridiculous like set it on fire ( that is just dangerous), but I am planning something with paint and just having a blast. When it’s all done, I will likely take parts of it and make something out of it – but the paint will remain, as a symbol of that fun and free spirit. The rest I will find a way to ceremoniously dispose of. When someone you love passes, you celebrate their life and give them a proper burial, so to speak. I look of this in the same way. Letting my dress die a creative and funny death, so to speak, is my way of showing it respect. It is my dress, and I am doing with it something creative and fun, which is very much me. 😀

    Sorry that was a bit scattered, hope it made sense. I by no means mean to offend anybody!

    1. Not offensive at all, when you put it this way it makes sense. My dress, just like you said, is just hanging in the closet. I feel it’s too beautiful to “trash” but, it is just sitting around doing nothing. I won’t ever wear it again and who knows if I have a daughter one day that will. Thanks for reading and have fun trashing it!

  3. M@sstylesizzle you are a bit rude to assume someone would care what you think and how they trash their own dress.

  4. This came off as super pretentious of you. Why would you recycle or give away everything you don’t want to keep? Have you never set a book on fire for kicks?

    Trash it because it’s fun! Because it’s pretty, it’s art!

    Personally, I don’t even intend to get any pictures of the wedding party, or possibly even any of me at the wedding. I just want to party there and for people to fun. I don’t want to be bogged down by posing for photos. (Also, I’m not the type of person who puts pictures of people up in my house. I probably never will be. Never got the point.) But afterwards, hubby and I will get dressed again and take some cute couple poses and then trash our outfits together. 😀 I’m really looking forward to it.

    And I don’t think it’s disrespectful. How can you disrespect cloth? It doesn’t have feelings.

  5. I think the casual post-wedding photos are a great idea; you spend so much time stressing on the wedding day and being posed and pulled in different directions, that you’re not as relaxed and your personality may not shine through in those pictures.

    HOWEVER: I hate, hate, HATE the concept of literally trashing the wedding dress or doing anything that would damage it. I think it’s disrespectful – to me it’s like “ok, I’m wedded, so I’m going to treat this investment the way I’m going to treat my marriage.” It’s like saying that something that was so important yesterday is now a piece of crap that I need to toss away. If it was that important to you to spend all that time shopping for it, fitting it, caring for it, and possibly sacrificing or saving for it (or your parents’ savings!!) why in the world would you do anything that would destroy it? It’s another symptom to me of our ADD consumption driven society.

    Also, a bride in Canada was doing this rock-the-frock/trash-the-dress photo shoot in a river in Quebec; started out fine, taking pictures in shallow water. Then she had a GREAT idea for photos; she decided that going into deep water and SWIMMING in it was a fabulous idea. The photographer didn’t dissuade her. Guess what happens when yards and yards and yards of fabric get water-logged. She drowned. Her husband of 3 months is now planning her funeral.

    Let’s drop the TTD moniker and just call it what it is; a casual photo shoot.

    1. Hi Meg,
      Thanks for the comment. When I originally wrote this post, I felt it was a bit disrespectful to “trash” the dress as well, something so beautiful and meaningful. What’s interesting is the many ways others have interpreted this trend and instead of “trashing” the dress, have made the photo shoot into something meaningful to them. A lot of the commenters here have shared some interesting stories.
      That’s a truly shocking and heartbreaking story about that poor bride in Canada. What a tragic accident! Hopefully we don’t see any more headlines like that in the future but thank you for sharing.

  6. I realize this post was a while ago but had to respond because I just did a photo shoot!

    My husband and I just did “Rock the Dress” photos for our five year wedding anniversary. We had a blast! We did them at the beach and I held my wedding dress as waves came around my ankles. My dress wasn’t ruined and my pictures turned out great. The photos we had taken at our wedding were really traditional. Five years after our wedding, we wanted photos that captured our personalities. We were celebrating our love. I felt nervous and excited, and it brought back memories of our special day. I spent too much on my dress to wear it just once and I am still saving it so that my daughters can shred it and incorporate it into ring bearer pillows, bouquets, etc.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I love how this post has inspired so much conversation and interesting stories from others. When I wrote this, I had never thought of the many other reasons people might do this other than literally trashing their dress. A few commenters have mentioned just wanting something more casual, an anniversary photo shoot is interesting as well!

  7. I agree with everything you say. It’s throwing money away. God would not be pleased. This just my opinion. I’m sure others feel differently. Everyone has an opion and they are entitled to it

  8. I have a lot of clients who’s wedding dress either got destroyed on the day of the wedding, who want to make art out of their dress by taking gorgeous photos in it, or because they simply wanted to make an additional memory with that dress. In fact, I have a TTD session coming up in 2 weeks..the couple is doing the session with me on the day of their 10th wedding anniversary. They never had professional (or good) portraits taken of them on their actual wedding day (they were 18 when they got married) and really, what better way to spend their anniversary? We are going to rock it and have SUCH a blast.

    I actually had my own wedding dress “trashed”. I gained weight after my wedding (been married 11 years) and could no longer fit into my dress. I had a gorgeous friend of mine model it for me on an old bridge in the fall…it was a BEAUTIFUL session. I had the dress drycleaned after the shoot, and it’s totally fine. My daughter wears the dress for play sometimes, and eventually, I’ll either trash the dress again with ME in it this time, do another shoot with the dress, or make something out of it…but it’s just way too pretty of a dress to have it sitting in my closet, only to have some grandkid  30 years later find it and throw it out.

    I love TTD sessions and will continue to do them as long as I am in business!

  9. i plan on trashing my dress… from a previous marriage! we’ve been divorced now for 8 years and we are both happily remarried with kids. i just got my hands on the dress this week bc my grandma kept it from me knowing this is what i wanted to do with it. her & my mom are still having a fit trying to get me to sell it or thinking that my daughter might want to wear it. NO THANKS!! i would NEVER EVER want my daughter wearing that dress, it’s tainted, let alone from a past marriage that didn’t work out. besides what girl really wants to wear her momma’s dress these days anyway. that’s so 1940s! i wouldn’t even want her wearing my dress from the marriage with me & her daddy. i’ve already tossed the ex’s wedding ring over a waterfall, burned several of the wedding pictures and shattered the DVD, why not take the final step and trash the dress too? 

  10. I did a Trash the Dress session DURING and AFTER my wedding and both dresses were able to be cleaned and you can’t tell.  The images I have though, they are breathtaking.  By far and away my favorites from the day of the wedding are of my husband and I dancing in the pool for our first dance while my photographer was underwater capturing it. 

    Beyond that, Pinterest is NOT an image source.  If you are going to badmouth the photographer, the least you could do was have the balls to back it up by at least properly crediting them.  It took me two second to find the source of the last two images.  

    1. Hi Corey,
      Thanks for the comment. It’s nice to hear that you love the way your photos turned out. 
      Regarding the photography itself, I’m definitely not badmouthing the photographers at all. The article is about whether or not I would personally take TTD photos. They aren’t for everyone, just like big weddings aren’t for everyone or chocolate isn’t for everyone. It has nothing to do with the photographer and if you read the post, you’ll see they are credited. Lots of bloggers use Pinterest to source photos and I do take care to give proper credit. If anyone spots a photo that they do not want me to use or I have not properly attributed, a simple message my way will result in immediate correction/removal of the image. 

  11. I trashed my wedding dress four years after the wedding – it was ruined by the dry cleaner, I guess they decided to wash a silk dress and it looked like toilet paper when I got it back. I ended up going jet skiing in my dress and then I jumped in the lake afterwards. We did it during a girl’s weekend and we had a blast getting me ready for it and then sharing the experience with my closest friends. Honestly, there was really nothing else I could do with the dress, it was ruined and I hated the idea of throwing it away. Even donating it would have been silly, it looked awful.

    I’m also the photographer who shot the paint image you posted above. I initially came to the website because I was upset you were using my image without permission and wanted to take a moment to educate you on two things. The first is that all  of the images above were copyrighted by their respective photographers and not only did you not ask permission to use the images, but you did not credit us for our work. Here is more information about this subject that I implore you to read more about:

    The second thing I want to mention is that I have never ruined a dress during my trash the dress shoots. The paint image above was created using waterproof finger paint and the dress was laundered after the shoot – most dresses can actually be machine washed inside out in a front loading washing machine on the delicate/hand wash cycle. I’m not here to destroy anything, only to allow my clients to express themselves creatively. That’s what it really is all about- expressing yourself, like when you used to wear different colored shoe laces to school. Or maybe you didn’t do that and that still makes you cool – it’s just you leaving your own mark on the world.

      1. Wendy, I responded to the comment within 18 minutes and sent a personal email to her immediately upon receiving it. I apologize for not being able to instantly craft a response within seconds. My fingers just aren’t that fast.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thank you for your comment and letting me know that photograph belongs to you. I’ve sent an email your way and apologize for not doing enough research originally to properly credit the photo. I sourced these images originally through Pinterest and unfortunately, was unable to find the original photographer for several of these photos but in the instances where I did, they have been credited. I would love to link to your site and continue to use this photo but if you prefer, I would be more than happy to remove it immediately. Again, I apologize for not finding you as it was not my intention to steal any of your work and oftentimes when sourcing through Pinterest, the original author gets lost. 

      Also, thanks for sharing that the photo was created using waterproof fingerpainting, that is a good tidbit to know for other brides who may be interested in experimenting with the same thing! 

      1.  I sincerely appreciate your response and I am happy to allow you to use the image with credit to Lynn Michelle Photography. The two images above mine were by John Micheal Cooper of AltF (

        And by waterproof paint, I meant washable 🙂

  12. They are all beautiful photographs.I would take gorgeous ART hanging on my wall over a dress in the closet any day. 

  13.  I am with you on this one….trashing the dress is a stupid idea.  Just a horrible stupid idea.  I am getting married next October and would be devastated if anything happen to my dress.  I too agree with you, what the heck are you going to do with “trash the dress” photos? Not very frame worthy to me.  I think it is disrespectful, if it is your dress or not (aka consignment shop purchase)…It is a symbol and one that should kept sacred and not made a joke of.

    You  know what this reminds me off, when people put one stripe on a
    canvas and call i art. It is just a stupid idea to “trash the dress”
    ..kind of like “Ohh look at me, i am so cool an trendy with my ripped
    and painted dress”

    Stupid idea, for stupid brides.

    1. Thanks for the comment! And congratulations on your October wedding, my wedding is this October, too! I don’t know what I would do with TDD photos either. In fact, although I love my engagement photos and have some printed and hung in my house, even those I haven’t used a ton. Other than gawking at them every once in a while 🙂 

      Good luck with your wedding planning! 

    2. Wow, judgemental much? You can get your view across without I sounding like a condescending, judgemental witch.

  14. I am a victim of my OWN trash the dress photo shoot..  and just for starters. I didnt destroy MY wedding dress. I went to a consignment shop and bought an old poofy, vintage oriented dress for 45 bucks. I would never want to destroy my actual wedding dress. But the ones at consignment shops are old anyway, like anyone would really use them for their big day.  My fiance and I took pictures before our wedding and it’s not only about having the coolest, one-time-thing pictures you can keep forever… it was one of the most fun, random, crazy ordeals he and i could enjoy together. We made memories taking those pictures we’ll never forget, which makes the anticipation of getting married even greater! So even though you may be a little skeptical of it because you “don’t get it,” keep in mind not every person wants to destroy sacred things for nothing. Some of us just like to have fun, and enjoy life. You live once, why not take a bunch of stupid, crazy, absolutely pointless pictures with the one you love that end up looking AWESOME… with the benefit of making wonderful memories!? I think its the perfect combination of “newly engaged/wedded” excitment. And no offense, but it sounds like you could lighten up instead of being such a downer about something completely innocent. Probably shouldn’t sound so cynical about it until you try it. you MIGHT just have the time of your life.

    🙂 have a good day, hope this helps.

    1. Thanks for the comment! 
      And no, I don’t think I’m cynical, what I’m saying I “just don’t get” is people setting their REAL wedding dress on fire. But you and a lot of commenters aren’t actually destroying the dress, you’re just getting more photos done and no, I don’t really see anything wrong with that. You actually went out of your way to buy another dress just for the photos to not destroy yours, which is in itself, good idea. That kind of thing, I may be persuaded to do. Who knows, maybe I will for my upcoming wedding! But destroying my real wedding dress in a fire or rolling around in paint I won’t. It’s too pretty for that kind of thing 🙂 I would love it if you and other posters shared some photos of your non-trashed TTD photos! 

    2. Trashing your dress is stupid and just one more “event” photographers have come up with to take even more of your money. If you fall for it then I have some ocean front property in Arizona I want to talk to you about.

    3. this is exactly what I am thinking of doing. I just got engaged and I thought of going to good will and.buying a cheap dress to “have fun with” I was wondering if you have any ideas you would be willing to share with me?

  15. I really love TTD photos, I think they really show a creative side as well as the personality of the bride and groom. I’m currently engaged and the dress that I have my eye on is worth a little over a thousand dollars. You don’t really have to “Trash” your dress, I’ve read that some people who did trash the dress photo shoots in the water actually had their dress come out much cleaner then when they got it. A lot of times these photo shoots are just to show off your personality in a less serious environment. 

    I am planning on doing a trash the dress photo shoot, while I don’t really want to trash my dress, I want photos that are less serious and more causal that I know I’m not going to have time to take on the day of my wedding. 

    1. Thanks for the comment! It’s interesting to hear that a lot of people are choosing to do these as a more casual photo shoot, rather than literally “trashing” the wedding dress. I can see the value in having photos that are a lot less formal in nature. What hurts me is when I see a beautiful dress literally being trashed. I’m emotionally attached to my wedding dress which I haven’t even worn yet! And like yours, being a little more than 2K I can’t imagine ruining it. But, wearing it again for some photos would be a different story. Appreciate your input! 

  16. I adore the Trash the Dress pictures. Love them. A lot of the trash the dress pictures I have seen are way better than “traditional” wedding pictures and I would more likely display the personality ridden ones than the generic ones. Wouldn’t it be fun to show your kids just how ridiculous and fun you were when you were just starting out? See a little bit of who you were, where they came from… 

    I have a beautiful dress. Princess like, even. 5 years later I am divorced and have the dress preserved in a closet taking up precious real estate. To me, this shoot I am planning on doing with a friend as my photog is exhilarating, a chance to do something beautiful with something that has become nothing but a sour memory. It’s about taking back my story and making it something so completely me. 

    1. Thanks for the comment and for sharing your unique perspective. I hadn’t heard of anyone using “Trash the Dress” photos much later after the wedding but it’s certainly interesting. Personally, I would probably not want anything to do with the dress if it’s connected to a sour memory but I admire your bravery in taking back your story and turning it into something beautiful instead. 

      1. I’m on the fence about actual Trash the Dress pictures. I think it’s a fun idea, but wouldn’t want to ruin my dress and I am not sure what I would really do with the pictures in the end. I do, however, love the idea of doing it with a dress you are totally unattached to, in the case of a divorce. I still have my wedding dress, 6 years after my divorce, hanging up in a closet at my mom’s house. I did however, climb up on my balcony and throw off our champagne toasting glasses and it felt great! Since I would never want to wear that dress again, have my children wear it, or turn it into anything sentimental, it is probably time I either sell it or do some fun photo shoot with it 🙂 

  17. I love seeing all the creative ‘trash the dress’ photographs on the internet, but I could never do that to my wedding dress! I got married almost a year ago and I’ve been thinking about selling it or donating it. Trashing it is NOT an option for me! No thank you! 

    1. Thanks for the comment, Adrian! I agree, some of the photos are cool but I just can’t imagine doing that to my poor dress! I just feel like there are much better uses for it. 

    2. If the dress is polyester (and a lot are these days) in particular nylon netting dresses theres not a lot your can do to really kill them. I’m a dry cleaner who’s worked on hundreds of wedding dresses and honestly your more likely to put pulls in your fabric walking around dragging the train then get stains on a polyester dress. We’ve gotten red wine, red dirt, blood, cow poo, tire black and tar (as in road tar), cake, paint, dyes, salt water ect out of them. I dragged my dress EVERYWHERE and could not stain it ( personal challenge from my boss to give him something to do.)

      Now if your dress is SILK, COTTON OR ANY NATURAL FIBER, or RAYON or VINTAGE these comments do not apply and you may destroy your dress permanently.

      BUT if it’s a polyester dress … TRASH it. Just for fun. Or to celebrate five or ten years together with your kids like I’m doing this year…

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