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Sara's Story: Trash the Dress

Sara is a long-time friend of mine and an amazing woman. She approached me and asked that we do a "Trash the Dress" photoshoot. I had asked Sara to write a few words about her dress, and why she wanted to do this. This is Sara’s story.

Sara says:

"I’m not a “say yes to the dress” kind of person but like most little girls, you always dream of the wedding dress you will wear someday.  My dreams were never about miles of tulle or sequins.  I opted for simple elegance.  I love a good party, so my dress would have to be fun too, as my dream for the party of all parties was also my desire on my wedding day.  So nearly twenty years ago my dress journey began with an inquiry to a local seamstress who did a lot of costume work if she would make a dress for me.  Hesitantly she said yes after I explained my desire for just a white dress.  

Sara under veil dress bride

Off to the fabric shop, I poured over the pattern books looking for just the right dress.  My fingers slid over all the bolts of satin till I found the right weight and sheen.  I waited on sales and cut coupons to get the best deal on all my supplies.  Loaded up with the notions and supplies I dropped them off at Jeanette’s Sewing Room in Lapeer as my wedding countdown began.  After the dress was completed, I headed north of town to Delynn’s Designs who had agreed to do some embroidery work on the dress.  She was a little a gasp when I replied it was costumed made for me when she asked who the manufacturer was in case she made a mistake.  I had full faith she would create something beautiful, which she did without fail.


Sara dress beach purple bride

When I was choosing my dress it wasn’t merely for just one day.  I had older couples I had looked up to who had cherished pictures of putting on their dress at their 25th, 40th and 50th wedding anniversaries.  I had visions of my marriage lasting that long and when I got my dress back from the cleaners, I looked upon it with fondness that I would open it back up again.  When my marriage came to an unfortunate end, all those dreams drowned with it.  For a few years I kept my dress with a hope that maybe we would reunite and I could wear it again.  As the years passed, my dress was shoved in a corner not sure what to do.  I saw resale shops windows filled with old wedding dresses and it brought an ache to my heart of what stories they had on their journey to there and didn’t want that fate for my handcrafted dress.

Sara dress bride purple Grand Rapids

More recently a friend of mine began a Facebook discussion on what to do with her old dress.  The feedback was diverse: use for Christening gowns, yet her kids were all past that, save it for her girls to wear on their wedding day, yet all of them had had good “dress up” time with it already, donate it, cut it up for a variety of other things all appeared in the comments but it was her sister’s comment that got me thinking the most.  She was a kindred divorced friend to me and it wasn’t what she said but when I replied back about her someday getting remarried, her response that she didn’t have much hope for that at our age that sunk my heart.  I noticed the dress box once again in the corner and wondered about my own hope for remarriage.  The second time around dating scene has proven more frustrating than I would have liked.  Every so often I would look at my dress box and wonder if I would get to put my dress back on again.

 Sara was able to put her dress back on again.

Sara was able to put her dress back on again.

I occasionally pin wedding ideas to a board on Pinterest for decorations I could use at my church.  I do a lot of the sanctuary decorating and often help brides with the setup of their big day, so I like to have a quick list of ideas I can turn too.  Pinterest often fills my feed with suggested ideas and one day I came across a wedding pin called “trash the dress.”  As I clicked on it, a whole host of pictures of photo shoots with women in these great outdoor settings were at play in their wedding dress.  While some were covered in mud and paint, some were just striking poses in these serene settings that caught my eye.  Once again I found myself dreaming, “could that be me some day?” I was really trying to find hope that I would once again get to don a pretty dress and walk down the aisle towards marriage.

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This summer I was at a wedding, the second time around for both of them, over dinner there were comments about the brides beautiful dress.  A friend commented how she liked the soft gray color and how she doesn’t feel brides should wear white for a second marriage.  My heart sank, “does this mean I can’t wear my dress again?” I slowly thought to myself. 

I had the privilege of befriending a young woman who was now off on her own and gaining some great skill in her photography businesses.  She excelled in not only just your traditional family portraits but also did a great deal of “adventure” photography; drone work, outside, people dressed in cosplay, etc.  Her work was what inspired me that maybe it’s time to get out that white dress and really start envisioning my future.  As I prayed, I could hear God whisper that he does have plans to make me bride and restore my heart.  So I shot Alex a text with a few examples and pitched her idea.  She loved it right away.

Sara bride grand rapids beach dress

I’m a visual person.  I like looking towards goals and the future with an image or a talisman.  I have a jar I have been collecting found pennies in for the last few years.  Whenever I find a penny on the ground, I pick it up and say a prayer for my future husband as I deposit it in the jar.  I adopted the song, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey, as my anthem for healing & hope for new love.  


 Alex here - this is actually my favorite image of Sara from this session as it shows her natural beauty. We both were talking about Baptism and the way that God talks about it in the Bible. How we are a new creation in Christ, and we definitely used this symbolism here.

Alex here - this is actually my favorite image of Sara from this session as it shows her natural beauty. We both were talking about Baptism and the way that God talks about it in the Bible. How we are a new creation in Christ, and we definitely used this symbolism here.

I vision casted on paper a “dream guy” that I could hold up to men I went out on dates with. I explained to Alex that not only would the photo shoot be a time of healing but the pictures would be pinned up and covered in scriptures, so as I look at them, I can be reminded; “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11"

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