Published: June 10, 2007

Is This Any Way to Treat Vera Wang?


FORGET throwing your wedding dress into a plastic bag and storing it in the attic. Enter the Trash the Dress photo session, in which the bride, post-wedding, jumps back into her gown and puts it through its paces — swimming in it, wearing it on horseback, even burning it — all while her photographer clicks away.

Brides have long had an admittedly complicated relationship with their wedding gowns, which they struggle to find, spend a small fortune on, and sweat over making fit properly — all for a fabric confection that is typically worn once.

Christa DiPaulo Becker, 31, said that sitting in 2005 for her post-wedding Trash the Dress shoot with John Michael Cooper, the Las Vegas wedding photographer credited with starting the trend, seemed appropriate because she was feeling pretty “antiwedding” after the whole affair. Besides, she had no plans to wear it ever again despite the $2,500 cost of the gown. So submerging it in a mossy spring in Nevada (above) was no loss, she said.

Her only reservation? “The water was hypothermia cold.”

The photo trend in fact began with a yawn. Mr. Cooper, 41, said he was bored with the same old wedding photos, and so he persuaded several of his clients to pose after their weddings in grungy offbeat settings. “In fashion photography, they often put really pretty people in very ugly places,” he said. “I’m applying that technique to weddings.”

Interest in these photos has even led to the creation of a Web site,, which Mark Eric, a 35-year-old photographer from Alexandria, La., said he started to display his own Trash the Dress images.

So, what of the tradition of saving the dress, possibly to pass on? Ms. Becker said: “I felt a little nostalgic for a second, but then I thought it was so cool to have that photo. I’d rather have that than to look at a dress in a box that is perfectly preserved.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company