Safety during an Underwater Trash the Dress

Safety during an Underwater Trash the Dress


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

A bride-to-be booked me for her Trash the Dress a cenote and 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.

The Facts: A bride drowned during a portrait session in Canada

I researched the incident and unfortunately found the information is correct. A bride drowned on August 2012 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.

Dorwin falks in Canada


  • 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.

Examples of a Cenote underwater portrait sessions

Shallow cenote

Deep cenote


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.
  • Distance 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.
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