Will 'Trash the Dress' trend destroy wedding tradition?

Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines –  As one about to be married, are you one of those tired with old traditions and looking for something more memorable to celebrate this important event in your life?

One of the trends catching the world by storm is the ‘trash the dress’ phenomenon, a style of wedding photography generally attributed to Las Vegas wedding photographer John Michael Cooper who started it in 2001. Also called “fearless bridal” or “rock the frock,” it is shot like a fashion pictorial on location where the elegant gown is contrasted by the location. Therefore, we find brides in their gowns taken drenched in the water, rolling in fields of dirt, posing on rooftops or in garbage dumps. The more unlikely, the better. But the most severe types are those who cut out their gowns as in protest to tradition, who even put them on fire.

The idea of destroying a wedding gown was first seen in the NBC soap Sunset Beach about the loves and lives of people living in the coastal city of Sunset Beach in 1998. Actress Meg Cummings discovered her fiancé making out with her maid of honor on her wedding day, and fled to the waters of Sunset Beach in her wedding gown thus destroying her bad memories along with the dress. 

Soon enough notable photographers Steve Garrard and Mark Theisinger from the UK started experimenting with the idea of destroying the wedding gown. But most likely, it was really Cooper who gave it the name Trash the Dress which caught on like wildfire and became so controversial when brides on the Internet started a debate in their blogs. 

Pictorials have ranged from sweet and sentimental to disturbing and macabre. The blogs on the Net have brides for the new trend saying that it helps them lose their wedding anxiety. Others say that the idea of storing the wedding gown in a box is already passé, just as it is passé to practice the “something borrowed, something blue tradition.” Brides against it state that those who are against keeping the dress should just give it away to charity rather than destroy it. One very eloquently states that “Trash the dress photo sessions document the fall of the wedding dress from priceless treasure to sullied gown.”

Popular wedding gown designer Edd Sy is totally against the idea. “It shows disrespect for our tradition,” he declares, noting however that in the 15 years that he has been in the wedding gown business he has yet to experience one of his gowns trashed. “ My brides love their gowns so much. They treasure the workmanship, and the passion that goes into it. They would never think of destroying it,” Edd affirms visibly agitated.

 Edd is currently doubly busy with his participation and sponsorship of The Wedding Library’s bridal fair Major! Major! Weddings & Debuts 2011 at the Megamall Megatrade Halls 1, 2, and 3 on Feb. 18 to 20.

From among the fair’s exhibitors, the most active in number are the photographers/videographers and the hair and make-up artists. Among the dozens of participating lensmen is Lito Genilo, international multi-awarded photographer of Smart Shot Studio who is also one of the fair’s sponsors. He is also known for his forages into the Trash the Dress trend.

Whatever is the future of controversies hounding the Trash the Dress phenomenon, interest in it continues unabated. In a Mass Trash the Dress event, over 150 women in Netherlands participated in their wedding dresses on a beach with art photographer Melanie Rijkers.

In the UK, meantime, Sylvia Broeckx and Niels Puttemans launched their Ever After Video Productions after growing up together as kids, going to college with studies in art history, film studies, musicology, marrying, and finally setting up their studio. After six years and having filmed 150 weddings, the couple entered into their first awards competitions with three entries. They won in all three — the top award and second place from IOV Awards’ Best Wedding Day Film, and runner-up in the MCPS Musical Marriage Award for their Trash the Dress entry.

Only time will tell how the trend will progress in the Philippines. Samples from Lito’s Trash photos show the couple in experimental locations along the ruins, at a farm, on stacks of hay, laying in the middle of railroad tracks, and bathing in the stream. We find nothing disrespectful in the photos, nothing anti-tradition.

(E-mail me at [email protected] for reactions.)       









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