Destination Wedding Fashion

Top 5 Things to Know About a Trash the Dress Shoot

We are happy to share with you a guest post by Del Sol Photography. Enjoy!

The phrase “trash the dress” conjures different emotions for different brides. Some react with horror at the idea of destroying their beloved gown and others with excitement at the opportunity to have an adventure and capture unique images of a once in a lifetime experience. Destination weddings offer some spectacular settings for trash the dress shoots, from the turquoise sea and white sandy beach to waterfalls and forests and in the case of the Riviera Maya, the crystal clear “cenotes” found throughout the region. Working with “mermaid brides” and “mermen grooms” in underwater trash the dress shoots is a great challenge, dealing with individual personalities and physical abilities, fears and tastes and the natural elements but in the end the results are photographs that are often treasured more than the actual wedding photos. It is an intimate look at the couple and the love and passion they share.

1. When do the shoots take place? 
Generally trash the dress shoots take place one or two days after the wedding. The bride and groom have relaxed from the stress of the big day and can let their hair down and enjoy the time with each other and their photographers.

2. Do brides typically wear their “real” gown?
Most brides DO wear their real gown, though some may purchase a less expensive dress or bring something special to wear just for the shoot. A lot of brides will bring wardrobe changes and props too, special lingerie for a “boudoir” feel or a cocktail dress in a bright color and flowy material that pops underwater. For the daring and open minded, the shoot may evolve into an “Adam and Eve” experience, with brides and grooms going bare in tasteful and natural photos that reflect their passion for one another.

3. Are the wedding dresses ruined after a shoot?
“Trash the dress” shoots in cenotes and in the sea should probably be called “rinse the dress” shoots. Most dresses withstand being wet with no problem and can be cleaned as good as new after the session (most hotels that host destination weddings offer cleaning services). As the shoots do take place in nature, there are no guarantees that you won’t lose a button or catch your train on a tree root, but generally the damage is easily fixed. Most brides say their dresses were destroyed more at their wedding with wine spills and dance floor accidents.

4. What should a couple do to prepare for a shoot?
Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast! A typical trash the dress shoot is anywhere from 4 to 6 hours long and can involve physical exertion (walking through the jungle, swimming, climbing, etc).. Definitely not something to do with a big hangover or after an all night party. Underwater sessions require couples to know how to swim and be comfortable in the water and it is recommended to practice holding your breath and opening your eyes underwater before the shoot to have a natural look. You can even bring a mirror into the bathtub for “training”. Mermen should avoid denim and tank tops and should ensure that their underwear are a neutral color (happy face boxers showing through your khakis are a no-no). Brides wearing strapless gowns should ensure a good fit, wardrobe malfunctions underwater are common! Don’t overtan and be sure to use sun protection in the days leading up to the shoot to avoid tan lines and sunburns.

5. What makes a successful shoot?
A successful trash the dress shoot is all about the attitude. Open your mind and allow yourself to relax, be natural and allow the photographers to capture the real you and the emotions you share with your partner. Listen carefully to instructions (for safety of course!) and be honest with the photographer about your level of comfort in the situation. The best photos happen when you forget about the photographer, look deep into your partner’s eyes, share a tender moment or laugh out loud, showing your true feelings and allowing them to be captured forever.


Trash the dress shoots should be FUN and adventurous, a chance to reveal the passionate and romantic nature of your relationship and create lasting photographic memories of one of the most important periods of your life together.


Phoebe Lai + Jonathan Chang Trash the Dress in Koh Samui, Thailand


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