Sunday, July 15, 2007

Call me overly-sentimental...

Call me whatever you wish, but I cannot imagine myself ever being a candidate for the current "Trash Your Wedding Dress" trend. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the title speaks for itself: photographers being paid to take pictures of wives, post-wedding, in their wedding gowns. These are not your standard portraits, but rather ones with the sole purpose of letting the bride trash her dress. Reasoning? She has no desire to stick the dress in a closet. After all, she will never wear it again.

Trash the Dress is only one of several sites where you will find photographers advertising such an opportunity for women to have these photos taken. The following is taken directly from their site:

Go ahead, you know you want to. Trash it. Get it dirty. Get it wet. Roll around in the mud. Drench it in the ocean. Totally trash it. Why? … Why not? You’ve
made a commitment to your husband. He’s your one and only true
love, right? Then you’ll never need the dress again. And no, your daughter
won’t wear it in 20-30 years. So you have two choices:
1) Suffocate it in
plastic and throw it in a closet

2) Show your husband how committed you are by trashing the dress, and get
some great fun pictures while you do it!
Then after you do it- send the pictures to us to publish for all the
world to see. What are you waiting on? Call one of the trusted photographers
on this page or find one you trust and go trash the dress!

One should not be terribly surprised that such a trend exists. Not only do we live in a culture that devalues and often misses the entire purpose of sacred marriage, but some also read less into sentiment than others. Anyone who knows me will attest that I hold the value of such things quite close. I am not a lover of material possessions, but I also have my own marriage ceremony coming up in just over five months in which I will walk down the aisle in a gown that means more to me than a mere article of clothing. I cannot simply toss it aside once the ceremony and festivities have subsided. How can I discard something that will forever remind me of such a day? I do not take lightly the value of such a gown, nor any of the other details of the ceremony. All are intended to reflect this central truth - Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. He did not do so out of the Church's own merit, but rather makes His Beloved pure and spotless before a living and holy God. "Oh, I'll never wear it again," and "I know my daughter won't want to wear it when her day arrives" fall short as valid reasons for deciding to take photos of yourself sitting in a swamp or even looking mysterious under the surface of murky lake water. Again, some may disagree, but I see a most symbolic gown cheapened by the mere desire to rid oneself of such so-called clutter.


G. F. McDowell said...

I echo your bemusement at the "trash your dress" trend, and maybe it's the curmudgeon in me, but I am also bemused at why our culture is so enamored of brides wearing a wedding gown that will never be worn again, period.

Please do not perceive this as an attack, but when did the world go completely insane about wedding dresses? The dry cleaning shop my mother used growing up had a display of the hermetically sealed wedding dress box they have, and across the front of the display is emblazoned, "Now My Wedding Dress Will Last Forever". I remember thinking, "no it won't." I sometimes wonder if our veneration of the bridal gown isn't somewhat idolatrous.

Instead of the two extremes of either trashing the dress or mummifying it for all eternity, I propose a moderate path: Marrying in a dress you'll actually use again (and not for a second wedding). Then, you can be reminded of your vows every time you wear it, and when it wears out, tear it up and make rags of it, and put those to good use.

Of course, I am probably now Male Public Enemy #1, but I'd really like folks to consider whether it glorifies Christ to idolize a wedding dress, and how we can steer clear of that particular idol when we are in a world full of idols.

For the record, I am single and courting.

ColoradoDreaming said...

I have never heard about that. Interesting that someone would want to destroy something that important. I know my daughters will not wear mine in their weddings but Sami did wear it for a True Love Waits wedding ceremony. I didn't get a picture though, I think someone else did but I never got it if they did. I can't wait to see what dress you pick out. Will you be getting married there? Just curious. So happy for you.

ColoradoDreaming said...

REALLY!!!!!! HOW COOOL! I"LL GET TO COME! Can you tell I am excited!!!!!

NTR said...

"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure"--
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints."

Rev 19:6-8

A modern expansion would read:
"And behold the bride! In feigning pragmatism, she took upon herself to rid herself of that which had been granted for her to wear."

I dunno. Just don't think we're the type to invest so much in the symbolism of the entire day and then treat it with such disregard when it no longer suits our situation. Maybe that makes someone mad here, but what else would you call it if not "disregard?"

Perhaps she should get rid of her engagement ring since SURELY it is impractical to keep a nice diamond around when a young couple has bills to pay... and well... it has served its purpose.

Oh wait. Wouldn't that be practical... too?

If it is really such a hassle to keep and care for it (not necessarily preserving it forever) maybe we should just get over ourselves and give it to someone who might greatfully recieve something that might save them some money on an already expensive endeavour without turning a nose up at it. Or sell it, so that it's anonymous if that would hinder things.

Either way, a terrible waste of material and a terrible sham of a 'tradition.'

G. F. McDowell said...

Apples and oranges. Is an engagement ring something that is only intended to be worn a single day? No. The analogy does not follow in this case. Objection overruled!

GloryandGrace said...

G.F. - Based on your analogies, and based on the point of my blog that you slightly missed, it's not apples to oranges. When you take a few seconds and consider the symbolism that is cheapened by something such as "Trash Your Dress," it will make sense.

NTR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NTR said...

Hmm, blogger garbled my post.

The two are not apples in oranges if you consider three constants:

1)Both engagement ring and dress require financial or spacial accomodation; purchase, care, upkeep, etc.

2)Both are meant to signify or be used during a fixed period of time. The engagement ring is not the wedding ring.

3)The reason cited in the argument for getting rid of both is "pragmatism." If that is the principle in action in the comparison, they certainly can be compared.

Given these factors alone its clear that were talking apples to apples, as it were. It may be a comparison of Gala to Golden Delicious Apples, but nonetheless they are still apples.

I do think you missed the OP's points and my own. Weddings are a ceremony, and ceremonies require an investment in symbolism. The dress needs to be special; different than just any old dress you can wear out later. Grace wasn't "bemused," she was offended because this "trash the dress" stuff destroys some of the symbolism for reasons that seem to go no further than vanity in a feigned pragmatism.

They don't just dispose of the dress quietly. They revel in it, hire a photographer, take pictures, put it on their walls and boast to their friends about it. Look at the pictures on the link she provided? Is pragmatism the sense you get from looking at the products?

Sarah said...

I am not so appalled by the fact that these brides don't want to preserve their dresses ( I have mine in a box and haven't looked at it in a good 4 years), but that most of the pictures of them in their dresses are seductive and skanky-looking. What is the point? It is just very flippant, as you said. The sacredness of the day does not come from the dress, but it is a special reminder that at least should be passed on to someone, rather than corroded with swamp slime or seaweed and fish guts. :-)

Laura said...

OK, maybe some of the pictures on the website are trashy, but the one you put in the blog itself is gorgeous. Wow.

I plan on wearing a dress I can wear again -- although any full length dress I own will spend most of its time in my closet just because I'm short and a long dress tends to swallow me up a little bit... So I guess I can sympathize with the "trashers" in this case. You're really never going to wear it again, it's pretty but not the only memory you'll have left of the day (photos, I hope, will survive too!), and really, by the end of the day, I think I would want to rip that sucker to shreds too for being so dang uncomfortable!! ;)

GF, the world went insane about fancy white wedding gowns at about the same time that chlorine bleach was invented -- and Queen Victoria got married in a great big white dress. Before that (and even after that, since white satin was prohibitively expensive for most) it used to be that a woman went to her wedding in her nicest dress. Laura Ingalls Wilder got married in a black dress because it was her best one!

GloryandGrace said...

If I lived during that time period, I probably would've done the same thing; worn my nicest dress because of how significant the wedding day is.

However, based on what the white wedding dress is supposed to represent (whether others see it this way or not), I could not bring myself to do such a thing to the dress. If I'm going to do anything with it besides keep it stored away, it will be to give it to another woman who may be in need of using it for the same purpose. I won't want to rip it off and tear it to shreds due to the wedding being over and done with, just like I won't be selling my engagement ring once the wedding ring is finally placed on my finger.

I can't bring myself to trashing out a dress that is intended to represent the pure and spotless bride of Christ and how that is reflected as I am walking down the aisle toward my own groom. Let the possibility remain that I can give it to someone for the same reason, but not corroding (good word, Sarah!) it because it's "just a dress."

Daughter of the King said...

I see where you are coming from, but with my dress I looked at it this way, this is the only day I will wear it, so I am going to enjoy it , not freak out if someone touches it or if a little girl with cake all over her face runs up to have a dance with the Princess Bride, we took lots of outside pictures where the dirt was in the air and I brushed against some shrubs.... my dress was not in tip top shape when I was finished enjoying every second in it.... so I wouldn't say I TRASHED my dress, but I think it kind of looked that I simply passed it to consignment. But I will never forget it....

Thanks for sharing.

Brock said...

Surely the real question here is not what to do with the dress afterwards - but why so much is invested in it in the first place?

I read with interest the quote from Rev 19 about the bride being offered like a virginal lamb - but that's no reason to spend vast sums of money on something that will only be worn once. Why do we think it a good idea to put so much fine haberdashery into a garment which is in effect 'disposable'? The same symbolism could be achieved by dressing in a simple white robe (think about how elegant a well-tailored confirmation dress can be).

If we insist on making such a huge investment, the problem comes what to with the article after it has served its purpose? To venerate the dress to the extent some seem to suggest borders on idolatry (as has already been said above) - so what are the alternatives?

There are lots of posts all over the internet about this - and potential solutions galore; from cutting it up to make a christening gown or special pillows; to giving it away to a less well-heeled woman to wear for another wedding.

I'm not sure why should it be such a problem if this 'disposable' garment is used as a prop in taking some unusual photos. I guess it might be quite liberating to wear the dress again freed from all the worrying constraints about having to keep it pristine.

The sort of thinking that venerates the pure and virginal qualities of a bride; also sees her as somewhat less pure and clean after her wedding. Why shouldn't we extend this thinking to the dress - and allow it too to become dirty and crumpled whilst being enjoyed to the full after the wedding?