Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why Trash the Dress?

There's an incredible amount of energy put into finding the perfect wedding dress. You even need to say yes to the dress, the way you say yes to your fiancé. In addition to the dress, there are the accessories--the bridal shoes, the bridal veil, the bridal jewelry (besides the wedding ring).

Pre-wedding dresses.
There's not just the dress for the wedding! Just as a wedding ceremony is not just a wedding ceremony anymore, but an engagement party, a bridal shower, a bachelor and bachelorette party, a rehearsal dinner, and a wedding, a bride may choose to purchase not only a wedding dress, but also an engagement dress, a bridal shower dress, a bachelorette party dress, a rehearsal dress, and a wedding dress. Plus there's the silk robe to wear when getting dressed for the wedding. The lingerie to wear after the wedding. Plus an all-purpose T-shirt whenever you are feeling sufficiently (or in-sufficiently) bride-like. 

Why all this conspicuous consumption? It's a two-way street. As much as we would like to place the blame solely on the shoulders of the wedding industry, there wouldn't be such a huge supply if there wasn't at least some demand. Sure, some (much) of the demand was artificially created, but girls sure love shopping, especially for pretty clothes that make them feel special.

What about trash the dress, the post-wedding event? Apparently a Las Vegas photographer suggested it. The idea was that he was bored of normal wedding photos. He wanted to do something fun, like an actual fashion shoot, which includes juxtaposing the elegant with the trashy. So he convinced a bride to do the shoot. Now other photographers are pushing the idea. Why?

Vancouver photographer Darcie Radtke says, “A lot of people are interested in trash-the-dress shoots but when it comes to their own dress, they have a fear of actually doing it. But most women have these dresses and put them in their closet and never look at them again. This is a way to have beautiful, lasting images of your dress.”

But don't women already have beautiful, lasting images of their dress from their wedding pictures? I hardly think they need more. It might also be better to have a beautiful, lasting dress (hence many women's fears of trashing them).

Romantically tragic.
I have to admit, as financially irresponsible as the idea is, some trash-the-dress pictures look pretty nice. Besides the romantic and sexy ones (which, again, could occur at a wedding), there are some effects that are hard to achieve without a body of water. Some seem Ophelia-esque (just be careful to not actually become like Ophelia). Some seem daring. How many times are you going to jump off a cliff into the ocean? Maybe a few times. How many times are you going to jump off a cliff into the ocean wearing a thousand dollar dress? Only once, likely, even if you are in the habit of buying thousand dollar dresses.

Once in a lifetime plunge. Literally. Even more so than the wedding itself.
There's a reason for that. Why ruin a thousand dollar dress that you spent months searching for (and then having tailored to your body)? Personally, I wouldn't even trash a hundred dollar dress. I spent money on that dress! I'm going to wear it again. I'm going to wear it until the cost-per-wear is under a dollar, even if I have to wear it to my neighbor's kid's birthday party to do it.

Trash the dress, with friends.
There's other things you can do with your dress besides trash it, even if you aren't going to wear it every day for the next six years to make the cost-per-wear worth it. For one thing, you could save it for a fun friend photo (after all of your friends are married, knock-on-wood).

You could donate it to goodwill or a bride-in-need. Or you can donate it on a more temporary basis to be used in school plays and graduations, or let your kids trash it when they use it for dress up (that's what my fiancé's mother did, and her dress is still in pretty good shape).

You could wear it again when you renew your vows. You can save it so that your daughter (or granddaughter) can wear it (or at least some part of it). You could have the skirt shortened and dye it another color and make it your go-to formal dress.

Suddenly measuring out one's life in coffee spoons doesn't seem so bad.
Maybe that takes away from the singularity of the dress? Maybe. But isn't that what marriage is? The turning of an extravaganza into the quotidian? Isn't that a good thing?

At the very least, you can always try putting on your dress again and head over to Starbucks for a free coffee.

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