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Safety during an Underwater Trash the Dress


A bride-to-be booked me for her TTD in a cenote and recently wrote to me, as she was worried after hearing of a bride who drowned during a Trash the Dress in Canada.  After careful consideration, I felt it would be worth sharing with you the lessons we can learn from this tragic accident. 

A TTD shouldn’t be anything other than a wonderful memory.


The Facts: A bride drowned during a TTD in Canada.

Darwin Waterfall

I researched the incident and unfortunately found the information is correct.  A bride drowned last August during a TTD at Darwin Falls Park in Canada.  According to Global Post Article (See full article), the bride accidently fell in the water while posing for pictures at the water’s edge.  The area does have some strong currents and swimming is forbidden, however warning signs are often ignored.

It appears she had not intended to enter the water and therefore wore her wedding dress that must have included a long train. After falling in the water, she was dragged by the current despite rescue efforts by her photographer.  The photographer was not expecting to enter the water and tried to rescue her from land.

While the Cenotes and beaches of the Riviera Maya are very different from the Canadian rivers, we can learn some valuable lessons from this incident.


Safety Measures for an Underwater Trash the Dress

Entering nature for a unique photo shoot requires some safety precautions:

  • Choose a location in accordance with the couple’s swimming abilities (If you are not an agile swimmer, it is best to choose a location with foot throughout).

  • Choose clothing suited for the conditions at the site.  If there is current (rivers or the ocean), it’s best to choose clothing that is not too bulky and still allows you to swim. Many brides I have worked with on TTDs choose to bring separate dresses for the wedding and the TTD session.


  • The couple should be in good physical shape.  The sessions involve multiple hours in water that can be chilly.  The major risk factor is hypothermia, particularly if the couple is tired (after their wedding festivities) or if they are of fragile health.



 Example of a Cenote TTD – Video

A shallower Cenote with foot throughout. Watch the Video:

A deeper Cenote for comfortable swimmers. Watch the Video:

My Trash the Dress Sessions.

We choose a location according to your comfort level.  Before the session, I like to find out which photos you hope to shoot and discuss your swimming and diving comfort level.  We will then choose a site that meets your vision and where you will feel at ease. As well, the season is another factor to choose the right location. Sunlight orientation vary with season and a good venue on January may not work on July!

I will take you to sites with no current.  Whether in the ocean or in the Cenotes, I always take my clients to locations I know very well and have swum and dove regularly.  I always choose sites that have little to no current!

In case of discomfort, we help you immediately.  In the event that you feel uncomfortable, my assistant and I are in the water alongside you and can help bring you to shore in a few short seconds.

Presence of a Scuba Diver?  In my opinion, having a scuba diver present does not add more security to the photo session.  Besides myself, who is in the water with you, my 2 assistants are present throughout the session and are ready to intervene immediately.  We always work close to shore and at shallow depths (less than 5m for the deepest Cenotes).  However, if it would make you feel more comfortable, a diver can be arranged for your session.

Safety-trashthedress-3cDistance to a hospital.  I will bring you to various wild and natural sites along the Riviera Maya.  In case you are unwell, we are always within an hour drive of a first class hospital (either in Playa del Carmen or Cancun as I work in the Riviera Maya).

Your responsibility.  When you experience a TTD in nature, you are responsible for any accidents related to your health or as a consequence of your actions during the session.  I cannot assume your comfort level and ability to move in a natural environment.



To know more about my Underwater Trash The Dress Sessions.

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  • Corlis Gray - Gorgeous images! Seriously…really beautiful! The scenery, the couple, the poses…all amazing!ReplyCancel

  • John Young Photography - I have seen many water wedding photos but these are the most extreme and unusual I have seen. I doubt many of my brides would go for it but they do look very surreal and dreamlike.

    Not sure trash the dress type photos are very popular over here in the UK as dresses are so expensiveReplyCancel

  • tauchen Cebu - Underwater theme is very impressive. I have to give much credits to the photographers of this set. They were really talented to get perfect shots. I can relate much on this because I’m a certified scuba diver for 2 years. I want to have a wedding theme like this when I’ll be married.ReplyCancel

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