del Sol Photography
Staging photo shoots in muddy swamps, grubby streets and sandy beaches, gussied-up couples are choosing to "trash" their matrimonial duds after tying the knot.
"Over the past few years, I've seen some traditional ideas start to fade," said Joshua McCoy, a wedding photographer based in Oxford, Mississippi. "Many brides say they would rather have some fun in their dress than have it take up space in their closet for years to come."
Unlike previous generations, preserving their pristine wedding gowns isn't a concern.
"I'm never going to wear it again. And I'm sure my daughters aren't going to wear it," explained Sari Kronzer, a 28-year-old Houston attorney, who roughed up her dress after her wedding in Mexico last month.
Usually occurring days, or even weeks, after the ceremony, "trash the dress" sessions capture the new husband and wife wearing their wedding attire in some decidedly un-fairy tale settings. Covered in soot, grime and grit, the pair strike a pose, resulting in a snapshot that may make your grandma shake her head.
Las Vegas wedding photographer John Michael Cooper has been credited with the trend's invention. His iconic "My Joan of Arc" and "Ophelia" images, which feature a burning bride and one floating in water respectively, came to symbolize the fad in many publications.
But in an apparent attempt to distance himself from the concept, Cooper has recently retired these photos. According to a statement on his web site, he doesn't "want these to become like those good songs that are overplayed on the radio" and says it's time to "push the boundaries once again, reinventing ourselves and doing the unexpected." Cooper still continues to shoot what he calls "anti-bridals" for a hefty fee though.
Some view the process as much-needed stress relief -- the ultimate epilogue to months (or years) of wedding planning involving bickering relatives and financial sacrifices.
Or it's simply be a bonding experience for the newly married couple.
Newlyweds Sari and Chris in Mexico (Rachel Schrank / La Luna Photography)
"Not only will we have the photographic memories," explained Sari, "but also the physical act of doing it -- stepping into the freezing cold water [of the Cenote Azul caves] with my new husband."
Her groom Chris Kronzer, 29, quickly agreed, but with one hesitation. Did he have to wreck his wedding clothes too? "He was more concerned about ruining his new linen suit than my dress," joked Sari. After all, he would actually want to wear his outfit again.
On the other hand, Sari had intended to don a not-too-pricey, never-to-be-worn-again frock for their intimate 30-person gathering.
But while shopping for a cocktail dress for their reception, which was held in Texas two weeks after the wedding, she fell in love with a lace and silk organza gown by Romona Keveza. Although the dress didn't exactly fit her definition of cheap, Sari knew it was the one. (The designer's gowns usually range in cost from $3,000 to $5,000.)
So would she still want to trash this dress? Absolutely.
Although family and friends incredulously asked, "How could you ruin your dress?," Sari had no second thoughts about the shoot.
Even while lying on a rock in icy aqua, Sari didn't have any regrets. She instead thought about Tyra Banks.
"The whole time I kept thinking, 'Thank God for America's Next Top Model.'" The TV host's model mantras helped Sari bring out her inner Gisele, as the photographer, Rachel Schrank of La Luna Photography, prompted her to "look serious."
"I think a lot of it has to do with fantasy and imagination... They want a piece of the magic," concluded photographer Matt Adcock of del Sol Photography based in Playa del Carmen.
As for the defiled dresses, most can be dry cleaned and returned to their original glory.
"I've had brides throw it in the washing machine after their shoot and have it come out looking almost brand new!" exclaimed McCoy.
See more images of brides trashing their dresses and Sari's before and after shots. Click on the thumbnail images below: