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Trash the Dress

By Manning Lee

Photos By In His Grace Photography -

The wedding was beautiful, yet simple. The bride and groom exchanged nuptials as planned. The guests delighted at the elegance of the night, but now the wedding is over. The question is age-old, “What do I want to do with my dress?”

Traditionally, wedding dresses are considered keepsakes and taken to dry cleaners specializing in dress storage for perfect preservation. Brides often wish to save dresses for future daughters to walk down the aisle. Brides who do not want to go through the hassle of preserving their dresses donate or consign them for reuse.

A different option for brides is a concept called “Trash that Dress.” At first glance, this idea seems wasteful, and perhaps even at a second glance, it does as well. Why would any bride dare to trash her wedding dress? Wedding dresses are supposed to be a keepsake from the best day of her life. Ruining a wedding dress exacts emotional responses from women of any generation.

“Trash that Dress” offers a unique opportunity for brides to wear their gowns again, but this time in a less restrictive atmosphere. Since the pre-wedding and day of photo sessions are about posed shots taken in pristine environments, “Trash that Dress” is a freeing experience, allowing the couples to let their hair down and flex some creative muscle. It can be whimsical, fun, and dirty. The type of photos from this shoot is limited only by their limited imagination.

Yun and her husband, Jeff Matson, chose Laura Olson from In His Grace Photography to shoot their wedding. Olson understood that Yun was looking for beautiful wedding photos, but she also understood that Yun wanted more.

“I wanted something more than just the photos that everyone else had. I found it difficult to describe what it was that I did want,” said Yun. Olson knew that Yun and her husband would love the iconic images she captured at additional photo shoots after weddings. “I was the first one of my friends to do a ‘Trash that Dress’ photo shoot,” said Yun.

Even though the name depicts the destruction of the dress, the photoshoot objective is not to ruin the gowns. To assume that is the goal is missing the point. The idea behind ‘Trash that Dress’, is to extract just a little more from the whole affair, a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is a time for the bride to exert a little Carpe Diem Swag simply by going out and creating the most epic artwork that other brides will not go the extra mile to achieve. Each shoot mirrors the personality of the bride. It just so happens that while seeking these shots, the dress ends up paying the ultimate price.

Olson’s “Trash that Dress” photoshoot brought Yun and her husband Jeff from Laurel to Easton two months after the wedding. Yun put on the dress, and off they went. They were in search of the perfect pictures. Yun was not concerned about the fate of her dress, “Who is going to wear a dress twenty years old unless you drastically alter it. They get outdated from one generation to the next. Once I was in Monaco. I saw Princess Grace’s wedding dress in a museum. I would have loved to have worn that wedding dress as a hand-me-down dress. It was gorgeous, but my dress was from a trendy designer. Why would I worry about passing it down to my children? At the time, I did not even know if I would even have children, much less a daughter. I decided that my dress was for me just for the moment,” said Yun.

“On the day of the shoot, Olson took us to an abandoned railroad track used as an exercise path. Then we found an old, abandoned railroad bridge. I remember Laura climbed up and every which way to get all the right shots. My favorite spot was at a pond in town,” she described.

Olson said of Yun, “What is interesting about So is that she was such a girly girl. She has a natural aversion to touching dirt and bacteria. The water and the slime in the pond disgusted her, but Yun stayed focused on getting the perfect shots. She was heroic as she stayed in that water for about an hour,” said Olson. Yun added, “My favorite shots were as I was stepping into the water.

Olson got a few shots of my face. The water was greener, slimier, and murkier than I thought it should have been. It was so gross, but those candid shots of my face were hilarious and still remind me of how disgusting it was.” She added, “I think that the shots on the tree are beautiful, but the ones in the water are my favorite. They make it look like I was in the jungle of the South Pacific even though we were just in town. I threw that dress away because it was ‘trashed’. I would do it again just to get the photos. I love them.”

John and Tina Parks did the ‘Trash that Dress’ photoshoot on their first wedding anniversary. “Somehow, I ended up with two wedding dresses. Olson suggested that we do a ‘Trash that Dress’ shoot with the dress that I did not use for my ceremony,” said Parks. “We did a shoot at a barn on the Eastern Shore where I keep my horses. John and I thought it was a great idea to incorporate a horse and our dogs into the photoshoot. Everyone thought it was a great idea, but perhaps it was because I had the two dresses. I was not worried about trashing my second dress,” she added.

“My ‘Trash that Dress’ shoot was a lot of fun. Olson’s style of photography is so creative. She captured so many great shots. There is a great series of photos with John and me and our dogs in the barn that I loved. I also loved the more artistic shots where I was on my horse. The only things in that photo are the tulle of my dress and my paddock boots,” Parks remarked. Olson said of the Park’s photoshoot, “I thought the photoshoot turned out great, but I remember how I was not sure the horse would let Tina on its back with that big wedding dress on, but he warmed up to it.”

Maybe a “Trash that Dress” photoshoot is not for everyone, but if the conditions are right, why not? It is the perfect way to illustrate the tale of how brides live ‘happily ever after’ for generations.

Today, So Yun is pregnant with her second baby. She returned with photographer Laura Olson to the original location of her “Trash that Dress” photoshoot to celebrate her ever-growing belly. For her second pregnancy, she intends to return for the third time.

“I hope to take my son with me for the second pregnancy shoot and get a few pictures of us together,” Yun described. “As my children grow, these images will tell the story of how happy we were at this time in our lives.”

Top Spots for Trash the Dress Photo Shoots:

Dance on the beach

Joining wildlife

Go underwater

Express yourself with paints

Climb a favorite tree in the forest

Go swimming in a pool

Dip your feet on the lake off a pier

Walk on the railroad

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