Rock That Frock

Destroying something beautiful can be heart wrenching and liberating. Whether you smash a favourite vase, shrink a coveted piece of clothing or write-off a beloved car, the accidental damage can weigh on more than just your purse strings. But what if you did it intentionally? What if you took something that you loved and deliberately ruined it?

This is the concept of Trash the Dress. For a decade now, brides have been wantonly destroying their frocks in a series of individual – and often shocking ways. Google the term and an array of images – including a gown on fire with the bride still in it – will afford you a taste of what the trend is about. In short, it comprises the opportunity to wear your dress again after the wedding and photograph anything from a little muddying through to total obliteration. Very few brides actually inflict any lasting damage to their dress – for most, the appeal lies in capturing some relaxed shots in unusual surrounds, be it a farmyard, a skate park or a beach.

Originally masterminded by Las Vegas photographer John Michael Cooper, he has been taking what he deems 'antibridal' pictures since 2000. Gradually gaining notoriety with websites such as, it is fast becoming one of the hottest – not to mention widely debated – wedding trends in recent years.

There's something wild about taking something pure and precious and consciously damaging it. An element of 'what would granny say?' adds a risqué edge and is a definite part of its appeal. Psychologically, the opportunity to roam freely through a gritty urban setting or frolic in the sea in a wedding dress is a welcome release after the laborious pressure and expense of multiple rounds of searching and fitting ventures for the 'perfect' dress. As many will testify, perfection is tiresome, and this freedom following such restrictions is the remedy. The dress is no longer something to obsess about, nor will it become a redundant piece of fashion stored in the attic to gather dust as soon as the nuptials are over.

For some, trashing the dress is a means of prolonging the marital thrill and sense of escapism whilst for others it's a way of saying farewell to what has arguably been the result of a lifetime of dreams and desires from girlhood. Destroying the dress can mark the end of the fantasy and beginning of the reality of married life – the final act of abandon and play before embracing the practicality of matrimony.

Beyond that, it's simply another mode to capture and cherish your gown and to artistically express your relationship to it and each other. The idea is to enlist images from fashion and cinema and mix them with wedding photography for a unique experience and collection of pictures. Without the convention or time restrictions associated with the wedding day itself, there's no need to worry about including every living relative in the shot as it's all about the bride and/or groom. In removing many of the generic poses, locations and people from the shoot, it becomes more individual and personal.

Some traditionalists argue that it is disrespectful to your vows whilst the contravening case assures that it is instead the ultimate symbol of commitment – by destroying your dress you are expressing an intention to never need wear it again and hence, ever get remarried. Therefore, in defying etiquette you are reinforcing the tenants of marriage in an idiosyncratic, modern and stylish way.

So whether you'd prefer to spray paint, shred or simply splash your dress in the shallows, there’s a world of trash that awaits you…