Monday, October 18, 2010

Why would she want to trash her dress?

Shawna's TTD
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
When I have a bridal booth at one of the Bridal Fairs in my area I always pull out the image I shot of a bride in an inner tube floating the river. It turns heads, it makes brides and their moms gasp in horror. Why would she want to do that to her dress? They ask.

My first response is well, it's not really a bride in a dress in this particular case. That was a friend of mine who is a model and that's a wedding dress I paid $15 for in a thrift store. The dress was obviously so important to the original owner that she donated it to a thrift store.

My favorite thrift store is overflowing with wedding gowns. These brides may have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on their gowns, but in the end -- probably for those particular ladies who donated them -- the dress was only worth to them as much as the vows that were taken in them. I'm assuming the marriages are no longer intact. I could be wrong.

Whatever the case may be, I stocked up on used wedding dresses when they knocked them all down to $10 a piece. They weren't selling, I was told. Brides don't want to wear used gowns for their wedding. The only people who buy them are salvaging them for parts or using them like I am. And this is what I do with those gowns. I use them. Over and over again. I assure you they are getting used and appreciated more than most wedding gowns that grace the pages of Modern Bride. I have a concept, I call one of my model friends, we make that concept a reality.

Sometimes, however, the concept is not mine at all, but a real life bride really truly wants to destroy her wedding gown in the most fun way possible. That's what happened this weekend.

Some of you may remember the bride I shot on the beach of Galveston last year. As heartwrenching as that shoot was for the bride's mother to watch -- she gasped in horror as the hem of that gown graced the sand -- this one would have given her a heart attack. Shawna -- the bride in this shoot -- is not a victim to tradition. She's a country girl at heart. She knows how to work hard and she knows how to get dirty. This concept was all hers. She told me about it before the wedding. She fantasized about all the hideous things she could do to her dress. She loved her dress. She tried on dozens, she pored over bridal magazines for hours. But she realized something so many brides forget. It's just a dress. Just fabric and thread sewn together to be worn once. Just once.

Shooting weddings, I've seen brides stress and cry over little things when it comes to their dresses. There's a thread loose -- oh the horror! There's a spot from their lipstick -- OMG! There's a tiny rip near the seam -- "you have to demand you're money back" a bridesmaid will say. Not Shawna. She assured her mom that the sand would come out at the cleaners. It did. She got a little spot on it getting out of the car. It came out with club soda. She got wedding cake on it at the reception, a little cold water did the trick. No stress, no worries, she knew all along where this dress would eventually end up -- in the mud and the muck of a little country pond.

When I first started mentioning this trash the dress shoot -- first in my blog last week, then on my facebook page, I got several e-mails and phone calls from people. "Why would you do that to this bride?" they ask. "Because she asked me to," I'll say. "Why would she want to do that," they'll ask. "Because that's who she is," I'll say.

Shawna's not done with her dress yet. When she took it off she was very careful to not disturb the mud. She wouldn't let anyone hose her down. She gingerly wrapped it up and carefully tucked it away. Halloween is near. She wants to dress up as the Corpse Bride. I'd say her wedding dress is probably getting it's money's worth. It's been worn more than most wedding dresses -- except maybe for those that are hanging in my closet. And the vows from that marriage? Still as strong as they were a year ago if not stronger -- no signs of this marriage ending any time soon. I'd say Shawna's gown was worth a lot to her. Beautiful images of a bride on the beach -- check. Beautiful images of a glorious wedding day when she married the man she loves -- check. Fabulous, fun photos of the day she hung out with her friends and family and got dirty in the mud and had a blast -- check. Still on the list, Halloween night with the coolest costume on her block. Shawna knows the value of a good wedding dress.

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