Trash The Dress: 8 Tips for having a Trash The Dress Photoshoot

8 tips for having a trash the dress shoot

After photographing Kristen and AJ’s Balinakill Wedding, they asked me if I would do a Trash the Dress with them, the next day. Due to the fantastic wedding festivities, we postponed it a day – and I am so glad we did. We got the best light down in the pulpit. After doing a few trash the dress sessions, I’ve learnt a few things. Below are my top 8 tips.


Find a photographer whose work you really adore,

and who you like as a person. It’s a really fun shoot to be a part of. You want someone who wants the same Wow! Amazing! results that you’re looking for. After all, you can quite likely only do this session once. I think personally when it comes to something niche like a Trash the dress (or Cherish the dress shoot even), you should select a photographer who is experienced in portraiture, fashion or weddings. A novice or a photographer who is used to studio work or photographing babies, for example, might not take the right approach, and you could be disappointed. Photographing a trash the dress session isn’t candid work. A lot of thought, styling, patience and creativity goes into a session. There is nothing else to focus on in the session apart from making sure that you and your dress look amazing in every shot

Get your hair and makeup done or do it yourself really nicely.

Having your hair and makeup done for a photo shoot is always a great way to install some confidence. There’s a big difference in wearing a dress on your wedding day all dressed up, and then wearing it just as a dress that’s going to get ruined. Making sure you feel your best at your photo shoot will definitely help bridge the gap between “wedding dress” and “dress” and will show in your body language.

Make sure your dress still fits properly.

If it has been a while since your wedding day, you may want to make sure that your dress is still comfortable. Spending time and money on a trash the dress session, only to be floating around in your wedding dress, or falling out of it, would be rather disappointing for you.

Prepare for the weather.

Think of styling your dress out with a shawl or a jacket. It isn’t your wedding day where you’re going to be judged by anyone. This is your turn to break the rules and do something a little alternative. If you’ve always fancied that leather jacket of yours, style it out with your wedding dress. Sometimes the weather takes a turn, and if I learnt anything from the Cherish the dress sessions I did was that a cold bride isn’t a happy one.

Prepare for postponements.

If it’s absolutely bucketing it down, and you had plans for a beach session, it is worth checking with your photographer what their postponement policy is.

Be realistic. 

If your wedding dress is off the shoulder and made from thin material, and you had dreams of floating on the water with the sun streaming down on you – don’t schedule it for December (UK). In fact, I am really surprised and exceptionally pleased at the lengths my American couple went too for their trash the dress session. The water was FREEZING, and it was August. They braved the water, and you would think the session took place in some caves in a warm country. Not once did they complain either, because these photos are what they wanted.

Think about shoes.

If you’re planning on a cherish the dress session up in the Trussochs or high peak district for example, then sensible walking shoes are a must. Consider something quirky like Doc Martens or Timberlands (Or wellies). However, you also have the option of walking up in sensible shoes and changing when you get there. This gets me on to the next topic of packing a bag.

Pack a bag.

So when I did this Trash the Dress shoot at the Devils Pulpit in Scotland, we packed a bag. Depending on the location of your shoot, what you’ve packed in your bag could really help you get amazing images and make it a more comfortable experience. In this particular bag I wish we had packed:

  • an outfit change for the bride to go back to the car in
  • an outfit change for me, the photographer, to go back to the car in
  • a towel
  • another towel
  • proper wellies, not brand new timberlands
  • waders or something similar would have been amazing
  • dry socks
  • shorts as opposed to jeans
  • hair tie

Remember that if you don’t want to trash your dress, you can still do great things with it in a Cherish the dress shoot. Read my article here on ideas for post-wedding photos wearing your wedding dress or suit

All these tips aside… HAVE FUN! It’s a super cool experience.

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