‘Trashing the dress’ is the unlikeliest trend in wedding photography


Many a bride has gone to great lengths to preserve her wedding dress in pristine condition. But others go the extra mile to destroy it the best they can.  

Welcome to the most unusual trend in wedding photography: Trash the dress.

Some of these brides smear their dresses with paint or mud, or jump into a pool or the ocean in their wedding gowns. Others, while still wearing their gowns, set them on fire, even pouring lighter fluid on the gown first in some cases to create a more spectacular image. Either way, this calls for fast action by the photographer to capture the moment — and by the groom to put out the fire before it spreads to the bride. 

Photographer Linda Kasian has yet to set a client on fire, but she has taken photos of couples who chose safer ways to trash their attire. 

“Two years ago, I started receiving requests from couples who asked me to take their wedding photos in the ‘trash-the-dress’ style,” Kasian said. “My clients … didn’t use their real wedding dresses, but bought a cheap, white wedding dress or one that looks like a wedding dress. We went to the beach and I gave them colored baby powder to throw on one another. They also got in the water and the whole shoot was so much fun.”

The Russian-born Kasian made aliyah with her family in 1990, when she was 15, and arrived in Los Angeles in 1999. She shoots weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events, and said she enjoys every minute of her work. “The wedding shoots can be very creative, and it’s fun working with the bride and groom on different ideas for the shots,” she said. For trash-the-dress shoots, “The most popular shots are in the water, the beach or the pool. The connection between the water and the dress, and the way the dress floats in the water, makes a very dramatic photo.”

Although Kasian’s clients have chosen to destroy substitute, less-costly dresses, many brides decide — in the name of art — to destroy their expensive wedding gowns. That’s how Natalie Bernstein, who got married a year ago, described her reasoning. 

“If I kept my wedding dress, it would be left in the closet forever, but with the photos that we took, it’s going to be hanging on our wall, and we would enjoy it. It’s very powerful and artistic. It’s not like any other wedding photos I see,” Bernstein said.

For her photo, Bernstein stood on a beach in her dress as it was set aflame. “My parents and in-laws thought [I was] crazy to do it,” she said, laughing. “They tried to persuade me not to do it, but when they saw the photos, they had to agree that they were amazing. Still, they couldn’t stop commenting that it’s $5,000 up in smoke.”

Most brides, however, are not willing to risk their lives for a great photo, no matter how amazing the picture might be. But they are willing to get dirty and cold, get splashed with paint or wine or mud, dive into a pool, or do whatever they can think of to make the photo interesting. 

When Tali and Eran Benita decided to have trash-the-dress photos taken in a swimming pool, Tali wore an affordable white dress rather than her actual gown. The $75 dress survived, and she still wears it. 

Eran and Tali Benita went under water in a swimming pool to get a great wedding photo. Photo courtesy of Eran and Tali Benita

“It’s in a great condition,” she said. “It was a great preparation for the big day for my husband, Eran, who hates taking photos. In the end, it was a fun day and we both enjoyed it.”

So, the next time you see a bride swimming in the ocean, walking through a forest or fixing a car with her white gown peppered with grease spots, don’t feel sorry for her or come to her rescue — she may simply be posing for one of her most memorable wedding photographs. 

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