Inspiration // Defy the Pressure to Marry and Trash the Dress

Photographer Sarah Rittenour explains the inspiration for this shoot: "The theme of this trash the dress shoot was about defying the pressures to get married young and beat the 'biological clock.' The model, Echo, is a young Chinese woman who experiences these pressures daily. I really liked playing with the idea of a young bride abandoning a wedding that didn't fit her and experiencing the freedom of finding herself while exploring the world. I believe the idea that marriage should happen for deeply personal reasons rather than societal pressures."

The coordinator of the shoot, who is Echo's cousin, explains: "Huge pressure is on the 20-30 year old unmarried people in China especially young girls. For decades, the marriage age in China was from 18 to 22 (the oldest). Echo has this pressure too from her parent even though she is only 22 this year. So we decided to take a wedding dress for this American trip to show a single girl can celebrate her life and take wedding photos by herself!"

Photos by Sarah Rittenour

Meet Sarah Rittenour: I've never been much of a "wedding person." They always seemed too lovey-dovey and artificial to me. So when everyone kept telling me never to photograph weddings, I didn't second guess that opinion. I saw myself as this super-serious photojournalist who would explore the world and find and capture the truth, even if it wasn't that pretty. Weddings were the furthest thing from my mind in just about every sense.

Then a friend asked me to help her shoot a wedding and I hesitantly agreed (money will make you do CRAZY things). I went into it, not expecting much, and I don't know what happened — I loved it. It was exactly what I was looking for: traveling, meeting new people, documenting unique, honest stories, creating artsy photos. I don't know why I avoided it for so long. I had found my dream job.