Jessica had told me about all of the research she had done and just how much thought she had put into trashing her dress. There was no way I was going to repeat all of that, so I asked her if she could give the other brides out there some tips and advice on "How to (gingerly) trash a dress." Wow did she go all out. I'll let you read what she had to say. -Chad
How To (Gingerly) Trash A Dress
By Jessica Steck
Selecting a wedding dress is like choosing your husband: you have to weed through all the rejects before you find the one that suits you perfectly. When the last flute of champagne is drained and the last song swayed to on the dance floor, you're stuck with the most exciting thing you've ever worn just hanging in your closet. Rejoice! You can once again zip yourself into that pristine white frock--and trash it.
I know--gasp. But, before you start spewing about what went into the handmade lace overlay atop your Vera Wang, read on. I discovered how to have a fun, down-and-dirty photo shoot and all my precious dress needs is a trip to a good dry cleaner.
First thing's first: create a concept. I started by Googling "Trash the Dress" and "Rock The Frock" and found that everyone has a different idea of what it means. Most of the sessions I came across involved bright paint, water or mud. Boring! I wanted to do something different. So I brainstormed and came up with the idea to be in my beautiful Vera Wang wedding gown in an environment completely opposite. My first thought was a landfill. My husband quickly told me I wouldn't last five minutes at a landfill. (We saw an episode of Modern Marvels a few days later featuring a landfill and he was so right!)
Then I thought of a junkyard. I pictured myself all dirty-ed up, wearing my dress and some black motorcycle boots, surrounded by broken down cars, dumpsters and old parts. I was excited to see the juxtaposition of the stark white dress thrown into the anything-but-white surroundings. Some brides choose to smear stuff down their dresses. For me, this shoot was more about juxtaposition and less about physically dirtying fabric.
Next, do some research. You need to know the exact fabric of your dress. How many layers does it have? What are they made of? A lot of this information should be found on the tag of the dress or the paperwork from your purchase, but if you can't find what you're looking for you can always call the store. If you get to know your dress, it will be easier to clean. My particular dress has a tulle netting overlay that can be really difficult to clean because of its delicateness. For this reason, we bought thin plastic painters' tarps to lay down to protect the surface of the dress. From what I saw, you might be surprised how resilient your little number can be.
Substances like grease are near impossible to remove from fabric, but your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill dirt can usually be removed by dry cleaning or hand washing. I saw a lot of online posts from brides who used washable paint on their dress and then soaked it in their shower and hung it to dry with no problems. Lastly, you want to give some thought to the type of things you might run into where you've chosen to do your shoot. I knew there was a good chance I'd come in contact with some grease because I was at a junkyard. If you're in a wooded area doing something with mud, for example, you should be careful of twigs and branches that can catch the whispy top layers of your dress and tear them.
Along the same lines of getting to know your dress and thinking about what it may come in contact with, before you do a trash the dress photo shoot it's a good idea to think about the level at which you are comfortable trashing the dress you got married in. I talked to my parents (who bought my dress for me) and asked if there was anything that would make them uncomfortable. Ultimately, they told me to do whatever I wanted to do, but I certainly didn't want to seem ungrateful. Mostly you have to be honest and realistic with yourself.
Whether or not you plan to pass your dress onto a cousin or future daughter, renew your vows in it or preserve it to hang in a closet for the rest of eternity, it's still your wedding dress. Figure out how you feel about it. Everyone's different. Are you sentimental about it? Is it just another dress? Thinking about this ahead of time will ensure you don't get caught up in the moment or allow a photographer to push you into doing something you'll cry yourself to sleep about later.
I was actually pretty set that my dress was going to make it out of the shoot without so much as a smudge, but I changed my mind that day and decided that if it had a few bumps and bruises for the sake of art they would serve as a memory of the photo shoot. We ditched the plastic tarps and I just went with it. Having not been careful at all, other than holding it up when I walked (black, dirty sand is not a good look), it really didn't get very dirty. The chapel-length train and under layers are pretty black, but I've seen worse from just a wedding reception. As long as you and your photographer know what to expect going in, you can always choose not to take certain precautions you came prepared to take.
Finally, you gotta commit! I am the girliest girl of all time and I was sitting on questionable car seats, leaning my face on headrests riddled with unknown substances and doing my best to ignore the spiders. Whatever setting you choose, you have to commit to what you're doing. Have fun with it and make it believable! You don't have to dive into a pool to get a great shot, but you can't be afraid to touch and interact and climb, explore and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Release your inner supermodel!
Come back to see how we wrap up this series! Do you think you're going to trash your dress?
Makeup artist Camila Santos (Just watch the transformation in the pictures of Jess from supermodel to junkyard girl)
Hairstylist - Rachel Ellerby - You can find her at J. Sterling's Hair Design in Apopka, Fl.
The dress was by Vera Wang
Here you can find Jess's wedding.