When my wife of almost 12 years moved out of our Tucson home in 2009 I was in bad shape. We had been together since high school. I was shocked when she left that she refused to take her wedding dress. After all, what was I going to do with it? And for some time I did nothing with it and didn't tell anyone about it. I just left it on its perch in my closet as a reminder that my life was changing drastically.
I was at my parents' house for dinner one night when I first mentioned the dress to anybody. I told my parents and my brother and sister-in-law that I had my ex-wife's wedding dress because I wanted to know what to do with it. I wanted advice. "You should wipe your @$% with it," my brother Colin chimed in immediately. I believe someone else suggested it would make a good doormat. My divorce had taken a toll on all of us; everybody was upset that my ex-wife was leaving me. "I bet you could come up with 101 things to do with it," my sister-in-law Jenny said.
I wasn't in a great mood that night. I was really struggling with my divorce and was extremely stressed about the future for my kids and I. But I couldn't help but smirk at the thought of my ex-wife's wedding dress sitting outside my front door -- what a fancy doormat it would make. I started to imagine other absurd uses for the dress and before I knew it someone had grabbed a pen and some paper and we were writing them down.
For a while all of our ideas made nothing more than a list. We had no real plan to do anything with them. My brother encouraged me to take the dress on a weekend fishing trip we had planned and it was on that trip that the dress came out if its pretty preservation box for the first time. That weekend we used it as a tablecloth, a sleeping bag, and a doormat outside of my buddy Andy's camper. I had mixed feelings seeing the pristine dress get dirty for the first time, but we laughed a lot. We ate hamburgers and hot dogs and wiped our hands on it. We stepped on it entering and exiting the camper.
Colin and I got together occasionally and photographed the dress at work in different ways. We had used the dress in around 50 different ways when I started thinking about how to go about sharing my pictures with other people. Colin and I were very entertained by the dress uses we had come up with, and two of my friends were also going through divorces at the time -- in both cases, the wife wanted out. I thought my pictures could be helpful to guys who found themselves in the same situation. Some friends suggested that I started a blog and with the help of another friend I did just that. In May 2010, I launched www.myexwifesweddingdress.com.
I knew little about blogs prior to starting my own, but I felt that pictures alone wouldn't be enough. I never really intended to tell my divorce story, but as I made my first entry I began sharing my feelings about divorce, and its challenges. It wasn't hard to type and it felt good. And that is how my website began. Every few days I would share a wedding dress application and continue the story of my divorce. I basically wrote what was on my mind, and maybe a particular issue I was challenged with that day. The pictures were funny, but the writing was serious.
My site starting gaining traffic momentum a few days after it launched, and before I knew it, people were interested in helping me turn my project into something more. After about a year and half and many more dress photo shoots later, I completed the book 101 Uses For My Ex-Wife's Wedding Dress, which is being published by NAL/Penguin and is officially available on October 25th.
Between the book and my website, my ex-wife's wedding dress has been used in over 120 different ways. This dress is amazing. It is very dirty at this point but it is still in mostly in one piece (the bow came off early during a jump-roping exercise). I am fond of many of the wedding dress applications but there are a few that stand out about the rest.
These are my favorite wedding dress applications: