"Trash The Dress": The Choice Of The Rebel Bride

There's a new trend: "trashing the dress." As Today tells us, it's all about destroying your wedding gown in the name of art. And it pisses me off to a totally irrational degree. Here's why:

You know what? At the end of the day, I don't care: trash your dress, paint your pregnant belly, eat your placenta. Choose your choices, however inexplicable, dubious and narcissistic. There's nothing wrong with this "trend", which one photographer describes as "a more creative way to express yourself...in a way you can't on your wedding day" by having yourself photographed covering your virginal, pricey Big Day glad-rags with paint or mud or axel grease. According to another photographer, it plays with the idea that the bride is a "pure" an untouchable creature - this, like the Real Housewives' revelatory "alter ego" portraits, presumably shows the woman in all her two-faceted complexity.


Says one defiant bride, while some people might consider it "destroying something sacred," she regards this as a means of making a work of art. Well, maybe some do consider it a desecration - but it's not the gesture's cutesy, expensive "boldness" that took me aback. It was just bad timing for harmless old "TTD" that I happened, on a long flight yesterday, to run across a piece in British Marie-Claire about a 25-year-old American woman who moved to war-torn Uganda to do relief work in a refugee camp, met and married a young Ugandan minister, and with him set up an organization that helped couples in Pader have a "group wedding" - a seemingly modest goal with big implications. First of all, almost all of the women had been raped by rebels - some held as "wives" - and had thought they'd never marry as a result. Then, having fallen in love, many of the grooms were unable to come up with the traditional dowry, let alone the trappings of a wedding. And planning marriages amidst the chaos and despair of the camp was a challenge that the newly-married Katie Karpik appreciated. They raised the money for a wonderful wedding, and six couples were able to get married - in dresses donated by British women to an organization called Jireh Women. More than 50 gowns and bridesmaids dresses were donated, and Karpik says they'll continue to use the gowns for future weddings.

It's a deeply unfair comparison, and a manipulative one. I admit it. The two have nothing to do with each other. It's also, as I said, pure chance that I should read about this story in a glossy magazine while on vacation, and it takes some cheek to draw such a heavy-handed judgment, especially when during the same flight I cried real tears during Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Because one thing's great doesn't make another bad, and I don't even think it's particularly fair here to bring up the Wedding Industry or Consumerism or, yes, the Economy. It might feel a little icky to see wanton destruction in the name of "art" and it might seem a slightly tone-deaf choice for the show, but hey, they've got hours to fill and "trends" to manufacture and people have the luxury of tuning out the Marmees for a few hours a week. And who wants to give all her presents to the Hummels? Just remember that there are options, and ones that can do much good. But tar and feather your gown in the name of self-expression, and I promise not to judge. Except, maybe, the couple who had their picture taken in the shallow grave. Which I feel confident panning on artistic grounds.

Jireh Women
Donating Wedding Dresses
My Big Fat Ugandan Wedding [Photoma]


I agree that trashing the dress is a pretty extreme approach to making your wedding memorable, but I never understood the tradition of smashing the cake in each other's faces either. It's extremely juvenile to me and a horrible way to start off a marriage, by humiliating one another.

And what a waste of a good piece of cake.