Trash the Dress

Most women want to preserve their wedding dress to pass down to their daughter or just as a keepsake.  However, I believe my daughter will probably want to wear her own wedding dress, so I decided to “trash” my dress.  I don’t know if you have ever heard of this concept, but it has been around for a few years and many brides are choosing to do this after their wedding. Sand, dirt, mud, water or any types of stains are the bride’s enemy on her wedding day.  In a “trash the dress” session, the bride welcomes these elements.  The dirtier, the better.  I chose not to take a plunge in a lake or set my dress on fire (yes, fire).  Instead, I chose to go on a hiking trail where dirt, grass stains, tree limbs, and shrubbery became my friends.  The session took a lot of work because I had to climb up on a huge rock in heels, I had to sit in the grass, which made me itch, and I had to continuously remove tree branches from my dress.  Needless to say, my dress was “trashed” after the photo shoot.   Here are some photos by John Michael Cooper of You absolutely have to check out his website for more phenomenal shots. I am very impressed by his work.  He is referred to as the father of the “trash the dress” phenomenon and rightfully so.  He’s original, edgy, daring and beyond talented!  Mr. Cooper, Mr. Cooper, why art thou so Super Duper?


Ladies, please don’t try this at home.  I don’t know how Cooper incorporated the fire into this shot, but it was pure genius.  For some eerie reason, this is my favorite shot.

Men, don’t get any ideas.

For brides-to-be, this might be something you want to incorporate into your wedding photography.

As noted in my wedding post, “I Do,” you might recall that I am not a woman of tradition.  I did not do formal bridal shots in a studio. That’s just not my personal style.  I welcomed the “trash the dress” shots when Justine Miller, my photographer, told me about them (   I did not take photographs in sand, mud, fire, or water, but the photo session was a lot of work and worth every ant bite.

How do you preserve your stunning wedding day or trash the dress photography?  I chose a leather customized photo album for both my wedding and trash the dress sessions.  You don’t have to worry about pictures falling out of the book because there are no sleeves to hold the pictures, and the pictures are literally embedded onto the page like a magazine.

I was recently informed of the concept of digital scrapbooking.  One of my dear friends used a couple of my wedding pictures to display an example of the digital scrapbooks that her company customizes.  The digital scrapbook is more detailed and is a great idea to preserve your photographs.

If you are interested in digital scrapbooking, contact Kiley Green at

Have a great day!  Stay tuned for my next post!  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.




Shayla Jay

Shayla Jay


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  1. SherryG

    Good Morning Shaylajay,

    The photos are lovely! Trash the Dress…Hmmm! I think its a good concept as you are right all three of my daughters wanted their own dress. What a beautiful wedding dress. For some reason the dress on fire makes me think of nature…earth, wind & fire which are three powerful elements of the universe. I love your idea of going into the desert. Your photos brought back sweet memories for me! I did a photo shoot in the Catalina Mountains wearing a cream color formal gown but without the heels…barefoot and presented it as a gift to my husband….he loved it! Now the photos are displayed on one wall in our bedroom. I had a blast and can relate to your comments about the ants as I was dealing with ants, and all of the flying insects as I struck my poses. Trash the Dress….I like it! Shaylajay, I love what you are doing, keep it comin!

  2. pl

    Your beautiful Trash-the-dress photos allows the dress to become “center stage.” I can see “the dress” as a “work of art” and not just a garment. This reflects a creative way to make use of this beautiful dress instead of just hanging it in a bag in the closet. I love this expression of self and art!

  3. Nkenge

    I never thought of or heard of the “trash the dress” concept until now. My dress is just sitting in its bag in a storage closet in my garage!!!. This is a great way to remember your dress, the day and let the dress have a life of its own that it so deserves, isn’t that why we chose the dresses we did?

    I’m looking forward to more Shayla!!! Great job!!!

  4. Haute Pink

    I love the concept. I checked out John Cooper’s website. The shot of the bride mid-air with her hair flying and the sand blowing in the air was beautiful. His work is to be commended. Thanks for the post.

  5. Candice

    I love the trash the dress concept! It’s so creative!

  6. Gina-Banafrit

    I love love love LOVE it! Beautiful concept that truly reflects art! It adds character to the bridal shoot, and your photos are simply amazing!

  7. Claire

    I love this concept. I had never heard of this either.