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TODAYís BRIDE  |  SPECIAL REPORT

TRASH THE DRESS

Itís been called the latest craze.
Itís been called crazy.
Itís been called a lot of things.

So whatís really behind this
post-nupital trend thatís
sweeping the nation? We got the dirt!

Imagine a beautiful glowing bride, adorned delicately in her crushed organza wedding dress; her hair and makeup just perfect;  and a stunning tiara to top it all off.

With her look just right, looking like the day she got married, she sets herself loose in the streets, alleys, wading pools and parks of Northeast Ohio; tramping down some of the city's dirtiest downtown back alleys with her white gown dragging on the ground.

All the while, the shutter clicks away, capturing every carefree moment. Her once-cherished wedding dress -- soaking wet, blackened with city soot -- had seen better days.

This is but one scenario of a growing number of modern brides making new, and some may argue slightly heartbreaking, use of their wedding dresses. And they're taking the iconic image of the pristine wedding whites and, well, getting down and dirty with it.

So why would a bride deliberately destroy or damage her dress?

It's called trashing the dress and it's the latest twist in wedding photography -- or alternatively, anti-wedding tradition, depending on who you talk to.

Days, weeks or even a year after the actual wedding day, brides zip themselves back into their gorgeous dress once more for a final farewell photo to the gown she spent months obsessing over. Only instead of posing in some predictably idyllic setting, the picture is shot in a scroungy back alley, a mossy lake, or even her bathtub!

These so-called Trash the Dress photo sessions see brides in their whites frolicking on beaches, letting the tide sweep over them, climbing trees, taking five on dirty sidewalks or tromping in mud puddles. Sometimes they're solo, sometimes the groom makes an appearance.

The brides say it's liberating, relieves wedding stress and is a unusual way to capture moments in her dress that aren't so stiff, like the traditional snaps taken on the wedding day.

Many modern brides say it's an expression of their commitment to their groom; all the while choosing to place more value in the memories of the big day than the dress itself.

Brides willing to trash the dress are adventurous; risk-takers who want out-of-this-world pictures. While some brides opt for a mild trashing that can be erased with a decent dry cleaning, others go for full destruction.

The photographers who snap the dirty pics say it's art, it's cathartic, it's creative and a practical way to get more use from the one-day wedding dress. It's not so much about trashing the dress, it's about the images and the memories that come out of it.

These can be better quality pictures than the wedding day because people are more relaxed and you have more time to do things and change the location. In the end, the process becomes more about creation than destruction.

Critics say it's destructive, pointless and anti-wedding. But at its core, Trash the Dress is all about natural reactions, spontaneity and feeling free to have fun and to laugh out loud.

As with most aspects of a modern wedding, todayís brides have unique styles and opinions. If getting the most out of your gown is a concern, but Trash the Dress is a bit too radical, try some of these feel good alternatives:

bridesagainstbreastcancer.org
goodwill.org

Marriott Cleveland East

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