Posted by Talia Sasson

After years of searching, you finally found The One. And I’m not talking about your partner.

I’m talking about the most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought. You spent years lusting over dresses in bridal mags, days dragging your mother to every bridal shop in a 100-km radius and hours stepping into dress after dress, until you finally found it.

You wore it once. Now what?

Customarily, wedding dresses were kept to turn into a christening gown or to pass down to your daughter for her own Big Day. A swift browse on the internet is quick to inform that times have changed. Many brides are choosing to sell their wedding dress, donate it to charity and, my personal favourite, some are even taking part in a new tradition called Trash the Dress.

The concept is pretty self-explanatory. You hire a photographer for a session capturing the eloquent destruction of your dress. Also known as “fearless bridal” or “rock the frock”, this style of wedding photography has recently come into vogue – the resulting shots even compared to luxury fashion magazine spreads. A photo shoot with your new hubby looking like you both stepped off the pages of Vogue? Yes, please.

The aim is to create an intense image that contrasts the beauty of a wedding gown with a jarring background and/or scenario that will evidently ruin the beautiful garment. Some argue that the Trash the Dress photo shoot yields far better results than the actual wedding day photos because the newlyweds are relaxed, making for more genuine images.

The pioneer photographer was Las Vegas-based John Michael Cooper. Sick of predictable poses, in 2001 he opted for basing shoots in unusual environments. ‘In fashion photography they often put really pretty people in very ugly places. I’m applying that technique to weddings,’ he told the New York Times in 2007. The decade-long trend has spread through North America, the United Kingdom and Australia, with locations varying from the beach to the forest to the city dump, and props varying from paint balls to mud… To fire. In July last year, Natasha Samuel stood on a beach in Israel as she had a friend douse her wedding gown in flammable liquid and strike a match. A photographer from Tel Aviv’s White Studio Photography was lucky to capture the split second that the newlywed shot him a smile before bolting towards the ocean to put out the flames. It seems that some brides go to any lengths to find their perfect wedding dress, while others do anything to destroy it.

I’d rather see my dress’ downfall immortalized in a photo sitting in a frame on my desk than let the perfect garment lie hidden away in a box at the back of my wardrobe collecting dust.