Shelby Swink first met her fiancé while they were both studying at Tennessee University. Soon after they started dating, her fiancé finished his course and moved back to his hometown of Florida. The relationship was put to the test but he surprised her the following year by moving to her hometown of Mempis so he could be with her.

Within months, they were living together and planning a wedding. Everything was perfect until one day he sat her down on the bed and spoke those most crushing of words “I don’t love you anymore and I cannot marry you”.


The next few weeks were spent ringing round friends and family members to cancel the big day. Shelby was in a lot of emotional pain but managed to get the message out there that the wedding was no longer going to take place.

Soon after that her friend suggested a “Trash the dress” party.

At first she wasn’t keen on the idea as her mother had paid so much for the dress.


After discussing it with her mother, she decided to go ahead with the trashing ceremony.

“I knew that doing something to mark the occasion was the perfect thing for me. I was not going to let my ex-fiancé’s mistake of letting me go take away my happiness.”



“Nov. 1 was supposed to be a fun and happy day surrounded by friends and family who loved me,” Swink continued. “I decided that I would not let my ex-fiancé’s mistake of letting me go take that away from me.”


“The moment the paint hit my dress… I was free. All the disappointment, all the hurt… I just felt it leave me. I can’t even describe how liberating and cathartic the experience was for me. I let go of all the hurt and became myself again.”


The dress is now on display in a local dress shop. A portion of the proceeds from each dress bought while it’s on display are going to a local nonprofit called Be Free Revolution.


“Instead of lying down and letting life trample over me, I decided to get up and face it head-on,” she said.

All photos by Elizabeth Hoard Photography

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