Jenice Armstrong | Wedding pix of novel sort

Posted: June 13, 2007

COVER YOUR EYES, Vera Wang, 'cause here comes the bride - and there goes her expensive silk wedding gown.

Into an outdoor water fountain. Or onto a beach to get covered with sand and surf. Or how about against a wall at the Eastern State Penitentiary? So much for a dress getting marred by just a bit of icing from smooshing cake into the groom's face during the reception. Some brides are going all out and completely trashing their dresses.

In other words, after walking down an aisle, an adventurous bride might jump into a swimming pool so she can be captured floating - gown, veil and all - on her back against a bright-blue backdrop. Or maybe like one architect bride shot by Lancaster-based Weibner Photography, she might perch inside of a front-end loader.

It's a novel concept, considering how bridezilla some women get when it comes to protecting their precious wedding dresses. I've seen store employees don white gloves before touching some dresses, and brides who have attendants lined up expressly to keep her spotless dress from touching anything on her way into the church.

And it doesn't end with the wedding. If you believe the bridal magazines,

you're a bad newlywed if after the honeymoon you don't immediately have your gown not only cleaned, but also preserved and packed away in unbleached muslin in a special box. It's supposed to sit, away from the light in your attic or some place else dry, for all eternity - or until the precious Italian silk it's made of dry-rots and you forget whatever it was that made you select that particular style in the first place.

Sentimentality aside, some butt-bow dresses, particularly some I recall from the '80s, never should be allowed out again - even if one day a woman does have a daughter.

Trash-the-dress wedding photos were the brainchild of Las Vegas wedding photographer John Michael Cooper, who'd grown weary of suggesting creative poses only to be refused by brides skittish about spoiling their dresses.

"I was, like, you know, your Vera Wang is going to sit in your closet. But the photo is going to sit on your wall," said Cooper, who once photographed a bride in a dress that appeared to be engulfed in flames. "If you make a piece of art out of it, it's going to be a centerpiece for a long, long time."

An article he wrote on a blog last year prompted another photographer, Eric Michael of Louisiana, to create www.trashthedress.com. One of Cooper's ideas about having a bride lie across railroad tracks is more than a little disturbing. One image of a bride shows her posing next to a truck pockmarked with what appears to be bulletholes. Cooper shrugs off critics who worry that some of his images appear misogynistic or violent.

"It doesn't work for everybody," he said. "If you go to my site, it says, 'Tell your mother to close her eyes.' " *

Have you peeped a hot trend that hasn't been reported? E-mail heyjen@phillynews.com and let me know what you know.

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