What is a “trash the dress session”?

Trash the dress sessions, also called fearless bridals, rock the dress, etc are additional portrait sessions done after the wedding to get unique photos not possible during the wedding and the dress might get a bit dirty. Trash the dress doesn’t always necessarily mean you trash the dress. I like to think of it on a continuum where one end is you might get your dress a teensy bit dirty and on the other you are doing something to deliberately trash the dress, like a paint fight or mud fight or jump in the pool. A trash the dress session can be as dirty as you want. If you want to keep your dress pretty clean but still want some additional portraits after your wedding, a day after session might be for you.

myths about trash the dress photos by Phoenix underwater photographer Alyssa Campbell

Myths about Trash the Dress sessions

1. You have to destroy the dress-

This usually not the case, unless you specifically want to. You call the shots I have done underwater trash the dress sessions and not only had the dress not sustained any damage, it actually cleaned the bottom! While I can’t guarantee your dress won’t be damaged a bit during a trash the dress session, it is all up to you.

Phoenix underwater trash the dress photos

2. It’s disrespectful-

This one is a matter of opinion. Trash the dress is about celebrating your relationship in a fun and daring way. A lot of people get caught up in the name. It’s not about trashing the dress, but more about being willing to break tradition a bit for some unconventional photos and a good time. Trash the dress sessions are definitely not for everyone! They are fun, bold ways to get another use out of that expensive piece of fabric, but if you’d prefer to play it safer with a post wedding session or preserving your dress after your wedding, those are some great options!

underwater wedding dress by Phoenix underwater photographer

3. My daughter will wear it when she gets married-

Typically, I’ve found this not to be the case. I think it’s great to preserve a piece of your history, but fashions change and typically what is a cool vintage tends to be more than 50 years old or older, not 20, and even then, it’s a gamble whether she will want to wear it! I know I didn’t want to wear my mom’s dress, no offense Mom! I think photos and albums are the best way of preserving history- plus then you aren’t stuck with a big dress hanging in your closet for years taking up a ton of space.

underwater engagement photos by Phoenix underwater photographer

4. The photos will look the same as from my wedding-

The whole point of a trash the dress or day after session is to get totally different photos in a relaxed atmosphere and different location from your wedding! I promise you, these will not look the same and are way more fun.

watson lake wedding day after portraits trash the dress

5. I have to get these done soon after the wedding-

These types of sessions are great anniversary presents! Do it for your one year anniversary, or even your 5 or 10 year anniversary.

Arizona underwater trash the dress engagement session

Love the idea of a trash the dress session but can’t bear the thought of getting your dress dirty? There are lots of inexpensive wedding dresses out there these days.  You don’t even have to wear a wedding dress. Colored dresses look amazing underwater and are often very inexpensive. Some ideas for inexpensive dresses:

  • Ross
  • thrift stores
  • prom dress sales at department stores
  • old dresses that mostly fit, but you don’t plan on wearing again- like bridesmaids dresses!

lady in red dress with man in brown jacket underwater

What kinds of fabrics do best in a trash the dress session?

It’s not an exact science, but in general, lace and delicately beaded or appliqued dresses don’t fare well in underwater trash the dress sessions or places with puddles, rocks, twigs or mud.

Silk tends to hold on to mud and dirt, but not always. Satin does fairly well underwater, but is very heavy.

Chiffon, tulle and other lightweight fabrics are my favorites for underwater trash the dress sessions!

Fun ideas for trash the dress sessions

-Underwater (my personal favorite!) 

These take place in a pool or ocean most typically. I have special underwater housing for my camera that allows me to take photos underwater for a unique look. To my knowledge, I am one of the only underwater portrait photographers who regularly do this sort of session in Arizona for non-models. Underwater trash the dress sessions take on an ethereal, dream like quality which I LOVE! Though challenging, they are a ton of fun and I highly recommend them. Want some more information about underwater trash the dress sessions? Email me and look through my underwater gallery!

-Sedona hiking trash the dress session

-Paintball trash the dress session

-Tempera paint fight

-Mud fight

-Paint a canvas together

-Ocean trash the dressI travel!! 🙂

Trash the dress is about celebrating your relationship with your spouse, but trash the dress photos don’t have to include your husband. They can be a great gift to yourself as well, married or not! Celebrate your beauty and feminism. Make it unique to you and the sky is the limit!

Contact me to schedule your trash the dress session, or learn more about underwater sessions here!



Alyssa Campbell Arizona wedding photographer

Welcome! I’m an Arizona-based wedding & portrait photographer specializing in natural and documentary photos. My blog is where you can see my latest work as well as check out tips & the latest news. Following me on social media is another way to check out my recent work!