Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trashing the Dress (and marriage?)

When we got married, my wife wore her mother's wedding dress. It's a traditional white dress, which was altered for my wife and has now been worn twice in 50 years. It's possible that my daughter might wear the same dress, although it would need more alteration, since my daughter is already taller than my wife. The dress has been in a garment bag hanging in a spare room for 18 years now since its last use. It's a sentimental reminder of our wedding day.

I commented on a set of "trash the dress" photos posted on a web site the other day. I said that it bothered me and it seemed like they were being disrespectful of their own wedding. It seemed like the new brides didn't care.

Those who responded assured me that these sessions allow the brides to express themselves and they young women were just being playful.

What, as a person who rolls in mud?

One person said "I don't get what a wedding dress has to do with marriage. "

A wedding is a ritual. It is symbolic in every step, from setting, to clothing, to procession, to vows, etc. It affirms our place together as partners and affirms our place within the long line of those in our families who've gone before us. The wedding dress is a symbol to be honored, like a military uniform, a flag, a Bible, a Koran, etc. It's special. It should be.

The photographer stated that the brides "preferred these shots far more than the bridal portraits we did with them prior to their weddings". Well, which photograph will hang on their walls, the formal portrait, the candid at the reception, or the one where they've got mud and slime all over their dress and they're sitting in a creek bed?

I wouldn't tell someone not to do a "trash the dress" session, it's their choice. I'd even be excited to do a session with a new bride where they wore the dress in unexpected situations that brought a sense of humor to the shots. I don't think I'd want to shoot a session that seems to discount the momentous occasion that had just happened in the life of this new bride.

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