Trash the dress: Gowns get a second day to star

Liza Galvao traded in stilettos for Steve Madden

Liza Galvao traded in stilettos for Steve Madden boots during her Trash the Dress session with husband, Kenneth. The photos were taken at Stakey's Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue three months after their wedding. (Oct. 2011) (Credit: Pennace Photography)

Say yes to the dress, if it fits. But Trash the Dress? Really?

Trash the Dress photo sessions are extreme bridal portraits taken weeks or months after the wedding in nonbridal settings, such as fields, city streets and beaches. Meant to express a bride's -- and even a groom's -- unique personality, they're also known as Sass the Dress, Rock the Frock or Fearless Bridal photos. The practice, inspired by fashion photography, has grown in the past several years.

While the ritual may be edgy and fun, it can have its dangers. A Canadian bride drowned in August during a Trash the Dress photo shoot by a river when she was swept up in a current and her waterlogged dress dragged her under.

For bride Liza Galvao of Centereach, Trash the Dress was an intimate way to capture the bond she shares with her husband, Kenneth, and to enjoy dressing up again.

"You spend so much time picking out your dream dress and you wear it, what, eight hours?" Liza Galvao says. "I wanted to wear it again. I wanted a couple more pictures of just my husband and me."

Galvao's dream dress was a Maggie Sattero design -- Yara in Pearl purchased for $895 at Paradise Bridal in Patchogue. She and her husband had traditional wedding photos taken on the day they exchanged vows, July 2, 2011, which also happened to be the bride's birthday. It was three months later when she rocked her frock at Stakey's Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue.

"It was really fun," Galvao says. "Even the people who were there getting pumpkins were all excited."

In addition to having multiple seasons represented in the wedding album that Galvao put together with photos from both days, the change in weather influenced her look the second time around. "It was cooler in October, and I was able to wear my hair down," Galvao says. "I was undecided on the day of my wedding, and I ended up wearing my hair up because it was hot."

It had rained just before her extreme session with Brooklyn-based photographer Laura Pennace of Pennace Photography. Galvao's dress was long, and she was not about to wear her white stilettos in the mud. Instead, she chose chunky Steve Madden boots with 5-inch heels. She and her groom ran around in a corn maze, and she took a turn in the inflatable bounce house on the grounds.

"I had fun with it," Galvao says. "I didn't want to actually trash my wedding dress. I had it cleaned afterward and preserved. We just wanted a little bit more of that intimate moment between the two of us."

The ubiquity of wedding images online and elsewhere in the media may be driving the Trash the Dress trend, according to Pennace. "Now people see a photo and they want that," she says. "You have blogs and Pinterest. It's so easy for brides to find inspiration."

Sass the Dress is the phrase Pennace prefers. "There does not have to be any trashing involved," she says. "It's a great way for a couple to have funky, offbeat photos to show off who they really are."

For Pennace, the juxtaposition of an elegant bride in a corn maze is hard to beat. "I just really like the contrast," she says. "These types of shoots allow you to be a little more edgy and creative."

The added creativity is what drives Holbrook-based photographer Lisa Viox to occasionally focus her lens on Trash the Dress sessions. "Instead of being nervous about getting the shot, like at a wedding," Viox says, "you get to let a couple let loose and let their hair down."

Viox, who mainly photographs babies and families, was happy to photograph her friends Lori McClelland and Chris Kouroupakis of West Babylon two weeks after their September 2011 wedding. "I was so happy to be able to document that connection," Viox says. "The photos spoke to that and let them be who they are."

That authenticity came out in the photos taken at a North Shore beach, McClelland says. "It was so carefree," she adds. "We knew we had tons of time. If the sun stayed out, we would have just kept going and going."

Indeed, McClelland cherishes those Trash the Dress moments as special and personal. "I still can't stop looking at them, and it's a year later," she says. "To me, they each tell a story."

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