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Posted February 26, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Trash the dress; keep the photos and memories

By Josette Keelor - jkeelor@nvdaily.com

A bride poses next to a large tiller wheel, the hem of her dress mingling with the tall grass around her on a Northern Virginia farm; another bride wades knee deep into the surf along a beach at the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

On a recent winter day a bride braved the mountains of snow piled high in Winchester wearing a sleeveless wedding dress.

None of these scenarios makes for a typical wedding photo shoot, but all are gaining in popularity among brides and grooms across the country.

It's called "trash the dress" and became official in 1998 when Nevada photographer John Michael Cooper was credited with coining the phrase. Also known as "glamming the dress," the idea is to take interesting photos and get more use out of the wedding dress, usually after the reception when the bride and groom can have more fun without having to worry about family waiting nearby.

"It's kind of a way to get really unique photos of your wedding dress, if you're not planning to save the dress," said Carson Boita, of Boita Photography in Front Royal. Those who do want to hold onto their dresses for posterity or to pass on to a relative need not fear.

"We go as extreme or as unextreme as the bride wants," said Amanda Godlove, owner of Lux Photography in Sterling. "We don't do anything the dry cleaner can't do."

To help ease the fears of her clients, Lux calls the plan "rock the dress."

"Most girls get a little anxious with 'trash the dress,'" she said.

The Web site www.trashthedress.com offers another phrase: "Flaunting the dress," which is likely to quell any worries that brides might have about participating in a fun and improvisational photo shoot.

With her wedding packages, Godlove offers photo sessions the day after the wedding, which can be helpful when wedding-day events make picture taking more difficult. The stress of the wedding is behind you, and you can just relax and have fun, which also helps.

She photographs the bride and groom doing what they love, whether it's climbing trees, playing football on a fall afternoon or running along the beach.

"It's another chance to get the fun photographs," she said.

"You can really do a lot of fun things."

A couple of weeks ago, photographer Julie Napear, owner of Julie Napear Photography in Woodstock, photographed Meghan Ford, of Toms Brook, on a Monday that presented a rare opportunity: to capture photos of a bride sitting in more than two feet of snow in her wedding dress.

Ford, whose wedding was on New Years Eve at the Old Stone Church in Winchester, was not worried about ruining her dress.

"It's definitely something you'd never do before your wedding,"she said, laughing, but she had no plans to wear it again anyway.

"The photos came out great; I couldn't be happier," she said. She plans to take more photos with Napear in the spring.

Napear had her first experience taking "trash the dress" photos last May when she traveled to the Outer Banks to photograph a Maryland couple at their wedding.

"It's a lot of fun," she said. Ashley and Jimmy Gibson asked for photos of them rolling around on the sand and wading into the water.

"The ocean was freezing cold," Napear said, so she suggested that the Gibsons instead jump into the pool at the beach house they rented for their wedding in the town of Duck.

They took the photos in the evening on their wedding day for the best lighing.

"Everyone waited around to watch," Ashley Gibson wrote by e-mail recently. "We went out to the ocean and just started having fun ... My husband even tackled me into the sand at one point. It was a BLAST. After the ocean fun, we walked back to our house, which had a private pool. Everyone gathered around, and my husband and I jumped in together. No one could believe their eyes." She was not concerned about ruining her dress, since she would wear it only that one time, but to her surprise, the pool water washed off the sand and salt from the beach.

Napear looks forward to more opportunities to photograph couples trashing or flaunting their wedding clothes.

"You're going to pay for it to be cleaned anyway, so consider that," she said.

Whether you were married last week or last millennium, you can still decide to trash or rock or flaunt your dress.

"You can do it 10 years after the fact," said Boita. "There's a whole wide gamut of things you can do."

Emily Roache, of Cross Junction, agreed to some "trash the dress"photos because it offered her the chance to wear her dress again, more than two years after her wedding. She and her husband Kris, who married on Oct. 13, 2007 at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, felt the photo shoot suited their spontaneous personalities.

The couple met in 2002 during a live-action role-playing in Manassas.

"The first time Iheard about it ["trash the dress"] was on a Web site called Indiebride," she said. "It's basically for anybody who doesn't want to use The Knot."

Since the concept is still relatively new, some photographers are looking for couples to pose for their portfolio photos.

Godlove is looking for a bride who rides horses.

"We'll do it for free," she said, and it does not even matter when the wedding was. All she requires is "a bride with a wedding dress and a horse."

Ashley Dickerson, who grew up in Northern Virginia, also took advantage of a free session for her wedding last year in South Carolina.

She first heard about the phenomenon from a co-worker whose sister, photographer Erin Foushee of Erin Sage Photography in Charleston, S.C., was looking for couples to photograph.

"She wanted to pilot the concept and be able to show other couples examples of what the experience might look like," Dickerson recently wrote by e-mail. She and her husband, who now live in Texas, were excited to try something new, and since it was free, they jumped at the chance.

"I knew I would never need to wear the wedding gown again," she wrote. "We felt that the 'trash the dress' session would be a great memory to look back on down the line."

For the Gibsons, the session reflected their personalities, which Mrs. Gibson described as laid-back, crazy and fun.

"The whole experience made our wedding day unique for us and our guests," she wrote. "It was something people were talking about for days afterwards. It is a story that is documented by amazing pictures for my future children and family to see."

For more information about the "trash the dress" trend, visit the Web at www.trashthedress.com. Brides interested in a free horseback-riding "trash the dress" session can call Lux Photography at 703-444-8871. Boita Photography in Front Royal can be reached at 660-3041; Julie Napear Photography in Woodstock can be reached at 703-505-7959.


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