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Posted on Aug 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Travel Tips: Taking Trash the Dress Photos

Travel Tips: Taking Trash the Dress Photos

While researching for our destination wedding, I first learned about trashing the dress. Even though women were trashing their wedding dresses, I still thought the pictures were amazing. I wasn’t sure if it was something I would actually do myself with the most expensive dress I would probably ever own, but my interest was peaked.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

One of our favorite trash the dress photos.

What is Trash the Dress?

Trash the dress, also known as rocking the frock or surfing the dress, is when a bride literally trashes her dress after the wedding while having photos taken. Many brides decide to have pictures taken on the beach which makes them very popular with destination brides. Other locations may include city streets, fields of flowers or tall grasses, other bodies of water, abandoned buildings, and pretty much any place a bride is willing to take her wedding dress for a photo shoot.

In many ways it is done to symbolize that the wedding is over. That all the stress leading up to this one perfect day has passed and it is time to move on to the next moment. That the wedding dress must be destroyed as an end to the wedding planning madness.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

Along Maui’s south shore.

Deciding to Trash the Dress

As I moved along in wedding planning, I begun to understand the appeal of symbolizing that the wedding was now over. There came a point where I just wanted to be done with all of it. There came a point where I wanted to throw all caution to the wind and just runaway to elope. There came a point, where I couldn’t wait to trash my wedding dress.

Before I wasn’t sure about doing a trash the dress photo shoot because I was worried about what might happen to my dress. Then came the point that I didn’t give a damn. I realized I’d rather have amazing pictures immortalizing my dress, then have it preserved in a box forever. I’d rather have the memory of another amazingly fun day with Drew doing something we would never forget or get the chance to do again then make sure my dress didn’t get dirty.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

The only damage that happened to my wedding dress while trashing it- a piece of my petticoat ripped off on a lava rock.

Will My Wedding Dress Really Get Trashed?

Yes and No. By the time we were done, my wedding dress was full of sand. It was also cleaner than it was before I got into the water. Our actual wedding day did more damage to my dress than taking trash the dress photos.

After walking over lava rocks, climbing a tree, and getting into the ocean, the most damage that happened to my dress was a tiny bit of tulle was ripped from my petticoat. The sand in my dress came out easily by hanging it in the shower and letting the water wash it out.

Even though I barely had any damage to my dress, it doesn’t mean that your dress will hold up in the same way. Fabric, beading, and lace on your dress will all affect how it will hold up while taking trash the dress photos. So will the location you decide to take your photos and the activities you will be partaking in during the photo shoot.

Can I Only do Trash the Dress Photos for a Destination Wedding?

No matter what kind of wedding you are having, you can still trash your wedding dress. Train tracks, city, mountains, lakes, rivers, fields, or any place with meaning to the two of you can make for the perfect place for a photo shoot. Besides taking photos in the ocean, we also took them in the lava fields of Maui.

Do I Have to Wear My Wedding Dress?

If you don’t want to, you don’t have to wear your wedding dress to still do trash the dress photos. I highly recommend wearing it, but understand that some aren’t going to be comfortable doing so. Instead you can wear any other dress you want, it doesn’t even have to be white. Adding color to your dress will create a playful element that can really pop against the background of a golden field or turquoise ocean.

Get a dress in your favorite color or one of your wedding colors. Dresses in vibrant reds, oranges, and pinks can create a sensational look for truly dramatic photographs. Just be sure the dress is in a fabric that will float beautifully in the water.

Can I Only Take Trash the Dress Photos Right After the Wedding?

Of course, not. If you are unable to take trash the dress photos right after your wedding, you can do the photo shoot at a later date. Consider doing them for your one year anniversary as your paper anniversary gift or any other time that works best for you. Any time you are able to do them will work.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

Take your trash the dress photos in a place that’s unique to the two of you.

Trash the Dress on Maui

We planned the day after our wedding on Maui for taking trash the dress photos. With everything officially being done with the wedding that afternoon, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to trash the dress. It gave us a chance to symbolize the end of all of our planning, prepping, and putting everything into play for our destination wedding before leaving for Hana for our weddingmoon.

Originally, we thought we would do the trash the dress at the same location we were having our wedding. Then something our kahuna (Hawaiian priest) said made us change our minds. He had talked about how it was good we were having a morning wedding ceremony because on the north shore of Maui the water was very blue in the morning and looked black later in the day. He also made a comment about how busy our venue gets at dinner time. We realized that we didn’t want to have our trash the dress photos taken in front of hundreds of strangers and we wanted the water to be the beautiful bright blue it is around Maui. But, where we were going to take them instead?

Since we wanted to take the pictures later in the day to get the amazing before sunset light and also have some during sunset we thought that the west side of the island would be best. Then it struck us exactly where we should have our trash the dress photos taken- where we had our most perfect day on Maui during our wedding planning trip. Where the black lava rock met up with the tropical blue of the ocean. Where we had such an amazing time and there was barely anyone around. Where there was spectacular photo opportunities around every corner. Picking a location that has meaning to both of you for taking trash the dress photos gives even more meaning to your photographs.

Tips for Taking Trash the Dress Photos

Being prepared and knowing what to expect in advance will help you take your best photos while trashing the dress. The time of day, where to take the photos, what to bring, and what to wear all need to be considered before taking your photos. Having this all in order before the day of the shoot will help you take the best photos you can.

Pick the Right Time of Day

There are different times of the day that work best for taking photographs in the water or even underwater. The hour right after sunrise and the hour just before sunset provide the best light for these kinds of photos. Actually, they provide the best light no matter where you plan to take your photos.

As awful as an early morning photo shoot may sound, if the location you want to take your photographs has many visitors throughout the day, an early morning start time may work best. If you have your heart set on the time before sunset, look into renting an area to guarantee your privacy and keeping others out of your photos.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

You can see Drew’s boxers through his pants in this photo since we didn’t think about clothing becoming transparent when wet.

Wear a Swimsuit

We all know what happens to while clothing when it gets wet. It can become see through. Your white wedding dress can also easily become transparent once it gets wet. Instead of wearing your full undergarments under your dress, it can be easier to wear a white swimsuit underneath your wedding dress to avoid any unwanted mishaps.

Same goes for the guys. If your husband will be wearing light colors, like Drew did, be sure to have him wear white underwear and undershirt. We didn’t think of this before we took our pictures and you can see Drew’s boxers with tikis on them through his pants in some of our trash the dress photos.

Be Sober

A shot of tequila to take the edge off and get comfortable in front of the camera may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. There are times when taking trash the dress photos can put you at risk. Wearing a big, heavy wedding dress in the water isn’t easy.

We were barely in the when I could feel the water starting to pull me down and the current of the water pulling me down. Because of this, we didn’t go very deep into the water. Sadly, brides have drowned while taking trash the dress photos. Being careful, aware of what’s going on around you while in the water (or in some cases with fire), and sober are the only ways to be safe while taking these photos.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Trash the dress photos can take a bit of time. Climbing trees in a wedding dress isn’t easy. either is swimming in a wedding dress. Everything will take more time than you are use to. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get the perfect photos.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

Use a little makeup to not look like you just woke up in your photos.

Hair and Makeup for Trashing the Dress

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need any makeup or to not do your hair for trash the dress photos. Most of us don’t absolutely love the way we look just woken up with no make-up or doing anything with our hair. if you do, go for it. If not, don’t do it for these photos.

Wearing your hair down can be an easy way to go or you can opt for an easy updo. I didn’t take my hair down after the wedding and wore the same hairstyle the next day for our trash the dress photos. It was a little messy, but it worked. To dress it all up a little, I wore a bunch of beautiful Hawaiian orchids in it.

For your makeup, you are going to want to try to waterproof your look as much as possible. Use both waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Wear a long lasting lipstick that won’t immediately come off in water or with all of the kissing you will be doing. A touch of makeup to make your best features stand out will go a long way.

Taking Trash the Dress Photos

My seastar cuff bracelet was my favorite accessory for our trash the dress photos.

Don’t Forget Accessories

Accessories are an easy way to be creative and mix things up easily for trash the dress photos. By incorporating dazzling colors through accessories you can achieve many different looks throughout the shoot without changing out your gown. Accessories can also make for great props during your photos.

Bring a Friend

If you have someone you can take with you to help you during the shoot, do it. Our Maid of Honor came with us the next day and we were so glad to have her there. She was able to help me get out of my extremely heavy and soaked wedding dress on the side of the road and everything else we needed help with.

Have Fun!

The most important part of this kind of photo shoot is to just have fun and go with the flow. The best way to get the stunning photos is to be up for anything. Listen to your photographers suggestions and be open to trying things outside of your comfort zone. Enjoying the process will help create photos you will be thrilled with.

Bring a Change of Clothes

Make sure to bring a change to clothes for after the shoot. I was so full of sand and soaked with water when we got out of the ocean, that there was no way I could have gotten in the car without making a huge mess. Luckily, I had extra help to get out of the dress on the side of the road after making a makeshift dressing room with the car doors and towels. It wasn’t easy, but it would have been even harder to get in the car in the dress and ride back to our hotel soaking wet.

Talk with Your Photographer

If you are thinking at all about taking trash the dress photos, talk to your photographer as soon as possible. Your photographer will be able to help you decide if this kind of photo shoot is best for you and if they are the right photographer to take the photos. If they aren’t the right photographer for the job, they should be able to give you some recommendations.

Will you be taking trash the dress photos after your wedding?

All photography by Sara Sanger © 2012.

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About Kimmy Hayes


Kimmy Hayes is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfterGlobe; a site on becoming debt free and traveling the world as a married couple. In 2012, she planned and coordinated her own do-it-yourself destination wedding on the beautiful island of Maui while serving as a moderator for the on-line community, The Knot. She is passionate about traveling to experience new cultures, snorkeling the waters of the world and reading with her toes in the sand.

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