Allegedly, trashing the dress became a thing circa 2001 courtesy of Las Vegas wedding photographer, John Michael Cooper. Cooper may have gotten the idea as early as 1998 when he watched an episode of Sunset Beach, in which Meg Cummings threw a massive tantrum and her bridal self into the ocean after her wedding was interrupted. And from there an idea was born, “I can make this type of crazy, sexy.” With the average wedding dress costing $1,211, it’s hard to imagine why a bride would want to demolish a dress that Oscar de la Renta described as “the most important dress in the life of a woman,” so the question remains, why destroy it?
Click to read first Part 1: Love on Las Vegas Boulevard – Finding Zion
Among the Bail bondsmen, pawnshops, liquor stores and Adult Video purveyors on Las Vegas Boulevard, you’ll find the two most famous wedding chapels in Las Vegas, A Little White Wedding Chapel (ALWWC) and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (VLVWC).
As a way to both celebrate and mourn turning thirty, my best friend and I took off on an on epic adventure together. Camping in the desert seemed like a great way to remember our passed youth, set our sights on the future and commiserate with an old friend. However, while most people hope to reach Zion one day; after four day there, we were ready to leave. Perhaps it was the 100-degree heat, the swarm of attacking ants our campsite rested upon or the cozy one-person tent my friend brought for both of us (she insisted it was a two-sleeper). Or maybe it was the screaming night terror she had at 3am from which I could not shake her from and from which I had a mild heart attack that characterized our amazing trip.
After four days of not showering and watching our neighbors camp with their portable generator and shower stall, we decided we’d had enough communing with nature. It hit us as we hid from another severe thunderstorm in our parked rental car sipping from our birthday champagne bottle…we’d rather be drinking…in Las Vegas. So on our last night in Zion, we broke camp, gave our spoiled neighbors one last dirty look and raced off to Vegas!
While we had originally sought seclusion in nature, we were eternally grateful for the excellent phone service we had in the middle of the desert. With the help of AT&T and Priceline, we headed to the cheapest hotel with the minimum amount of stars that, to us, implied that we weren’t headed to the worst hotel and part of town. $40/night, we thought, would buy us some respectability in sin city.
As we drove down Las Vegas Boulevard, we started to worry our logic had failed us as we passed seedy strip club, tattoo parlor, pawnshop, liquor store, adult video and book store in incredible frequency. Then I saw it, my feminist bride blogging Zion. Among all the XXX signs, bail bondsmen and gimp masks in the windows rested three important buildings. The first, our hotel with an air conditioned room, two double beds and a shower; the other two, nestled on each side of our hotel were the two most famous wedding chapels in all of Las Vegas: A Little White Wedding Chapel and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.
To say I was slightly exhilarated is an understatement. I had unexpectedly hit the jackpot in all the most appropriate and unlikely of places, Las Vegas. After a shit, shave and shower, a quick trip to the iron-barred liquor store where I’m pretty sure there was a shotgun hidden behind the sales counter like in the movies, we headed out to conduct some Feminist Bride research!
Related Articles: The Last Hurrah
It’s a night that strikes fear into the hearts of many a young lover – where fiancés disappear in the night to sow wild oats; where irresistible strippers spread their legs for the almighty dollar; where “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is more than just a motto, it’s a credo; and where the ability to remember the night’s events is worn either as a medal of honor or as a sign of disgrace.
The event itself has historically been the man’s day, yet women are now taking part as well. Some women dare to rival the debauchery of bachelor parties, but many also insist upon propriety and decorum above this one “get-out-of-jail free” card. No matter your taste in parties, it’s important to make sure the party is a representation of your ideals – not what other people think a bachelorette party should entail or how a woman should act.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe this momentous night is about saying goodbye to singlehood. Whether you’re the bride with the “suck-for-a-buck” t-shirt, or want to form a sewing circle, a bachelorette party is more about bonding with friends – of all genders. Traditionally, this is a same-sex party, and while I’m all for ladies’ nights, women keep anatomically dissimilar friends these days. So invite your guy friends! There is no rulebook that says a bachelorette party has to be ”just the girls.”
We’ve all seen the trend where opposite-sex friendships dissolve because a significant other felt threatened, or that eventually the lady felt like the male friendship was inappropriate, whether it really was or not. What does it say about a relationship that limits with whom you can be friends? If you value a friendship of the opposite sex, it’s important to honor it, and if your partner values you, then he should respect these friendships as well. It’s a powerful testament to see brides make a man a bridesmaid, and vice versa. A relationship is stronger when a partner can accept friends of all shapes, sizes and anatomy.
As my friends and I brainstormed on my own party, we stopped to consider the girls in relationships – would their boyfriends and husbands approve of a bachelorette trip…to Vegas? We quickly noted the folly of this thought process – we considered ourselves progressive women, yet even we have been conditioned to look to our men for approval. Yes, it’s respectful to share information about the event, but we women have autonomy to make decisions, exercise that right, even if they are unpopular ones. So chose Vegas or whatever type of event that makes the night a happy one for yourself.
There are double standards when it comes to the party scene as well. Though equal opportunity partying is expected, it is still common for partners to be manipulated into thinking that if one partner abstains (for example, from seeing a stripper), the other should be held to the same standard. The desire to party hardy and see a stripper does not by default mean a partner is straying from the relationship (there’s a no touch policy in the strip joints anyway). Sayonara-singlehood parties do have a bad reputation, but a relationship falters not because of the nature of the party, but because of deeper, rooted issues in the relationship. If trust cannot be shown even in the brief presence of a stripper or just amongst friends, how can it ever be earned before you get to the altar?
Having experienced a bachelorette party or two already, I was constantly dismayed at how most women treated this opportunity. Most wanted to go to the beach and read – no alcohol, no scantily clad men, no penis pops or disastrous costumes only suitable for Halloween parties – not because it’s what they wanted, but because of a belief that this type of behavior was unbecoming and inappropriate since they were soon to be someone’s wife. In asking these ladies the reasons behind their choices, they simply explained, “those days are over for me.” These ladies, who in college did keg stands, flashed their assets and spent many a night praying to the porcelain god, could not let their hair down for one night. It is perfectly fine to move past college nights of drunken debaucheries – BUT – there’s no need to assume sainthood just because we’re putting a ring on our fingers. Neither extreme is a fair representation of who we are or who we will be, because the truth of the matter is once we do marry, we’re still the same girls who ran naked through the quad freshman year. History does not have to repeat itself, but we also don’t have to abandon it either. Your partner loves you for who you are now, not who you will become. Don’t change and compromise yourself because you think you have to as a wife.
The truth is there is no such thing as a “last hurrah.” We said goodbye to singlehood the moment we stepped into a monogamous relationship. A bachelor/bachelorette party is not a chance to experience singlehood for “one last time” – it’s a chance for camaraderie with your closest friends, to laugh, to relax. These parties are harmless, but when more power is given to its stereotypes over trust in a long-term relationship, it’s a sign of weaknesses in the relationship. If these issues come to light, it is my hope that the partner has enough confidence to reassess the relationship, or at least address the real issue at hand. If there is real trust and each partner understands the true reasons behind hosting a bachelor/bachelorette, which is friendship, then there should be no limitations in the style of a bachelorette party. We should be free to be ourselves amongst our friends, men and women alike – be it a night full of shots or a relaxing day at the spa.