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After Her Fiancé Left Her At The Altar, This Bride Took The World's Best Photo Shoot

“The moment the first bit of paint hit my dress I was free.”

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Shelby Swink, 23, met her ex-fiancé in college back in 2011 and they hit it off right away. The two were happily engaged by March 2014, planning for a November wedding.

“I poured my heart and soul into the wedding plans, because I wanted the day that would celebrate our love and commitment for each other to be absolutely amazing,” Swink told BuzzFeed News.


Swink said she was lucky to have her friends and family supporting her, but none of them knew what to do or how to act when what was supposed to be her wedding day rolled around.


So the wedding photographer brought up an idea to have a “trash the dress” photo shoot where they would ruin her wedding dress and take fun, nontraditional photos in rebellion.

“At first it sounded crazy, but after really thinking about it, I knew that it was the perfect thing for me,” Swink said. “After all, it was just a dress, a material item.”

“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.”

“My mom is the one who paid for the dress, so I was nervous as to how she would react when I told her what I wanted to do with it. But both of them were 100% supportive and wanted to be there for me.”


Swink’s dress is also being displayed in a local bridal shop in Memphis through the beginning of January. A portion of the proceeds from each dress bought while it's on display are going to a local nonprofit called Be Free Revolution.

“I can't even describe how liberating and cathartic the experience was for me,” said Swink. “The moment the first bit of paint hit my dress I was free.”


And if she could say one thing to her ex, this is what it would be: “Thank you for sparing me greater pain and loss down the road. Thank you for pushing me to realize my own strength..."

"...Thank you for teaching me that no one can take away my happiness. Thank you for letting me go so I can one day experience true reciprocated love. THANK YOU!”

Krystie Yandoli is an entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Krystie Lee Yandoli at

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