Real honeymoon: one wedding dress, 19 countries

Real honeymoon: one wedding dress, 19 countries

Most brides dream of never taking off their wedding dress, but one woman turned this dream into a reality

For many women, choosing the perfect wedding dress is one of the most important parts of organising a wedding. You spend hours trawling the shops until you find the perfect gown, wear it for one day and then delicately pack it away in storage. But what if you could wear your dress for years after the wedding?

Jennifer Salvage is one bride who is doing just that. After marrying her husband Jeff on Easter Island in 2008, the couple decided to keep on photographing Jennifer in her wedding dress on their travels around the world. So far they have visited 19 countries and undertaken 147 photo shoots - and there are no plans to stop yet. Unique Honeymoons chatted to Jeff about the amazing adventure and found out where they plan on visiting in the future…

What inspired the idea behind the dress project?

The project really evolved over time. The genesis came from our wedding on Easter Island. We didn't know where we were going to actually have the ceremony on the island and wanted a dress Jennifer could stuff in a backpack. She was directed to the only dress in the world that could handle it, a Maggie Sottero Destinations dress. As it turned out, it was carried up to the crater of a volcano and then worn a few more times in the days that followed. I wanted really iconic wedding shots which included getting sunrise and sunset lighting.

When we got home we had a lot of travel planned in the summer related to my writing and photography [Jeff is a self-trained photographer] and we just thought why not take the dress along and get a few more shots in far off places.

Did you have any idea where it would take you when you started?

We figured we would get a book of amazing photos of our adventures. Initially, we didn't think it would be shown to anyone other than our friends and family. I guess we underestimated a bit.


Tell me about your travel - is it an extended honeymoon or are you still working?

We are both academics who work during the school year and travel when we both have time off.  Since travel is really expensive we find projects that help us travel or stretch the travel dollar.

Which places would you like to visit next?

We are scheduled for a trip to Cape Canaveral for a ride on the Zero-G Experience, an amazing adventure that has been on our bucket list for a long time. After that, we are headed to South East Asia to explore the vast ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Buddhist temples in Thailand and the spectacularly clean Singapore.

What's been the most difficult activity to under-take in your dress?

That depends on who you ask! Jennifer's 2+ hr modelling session in Antelope Canyon was gruelling. She's not a model and not used to posing. In the Canyon, it was one pose after another. Everything had to be timed with the beams of light and there were tons of photographers and tourists milling about.

For me it's anything on the ocean. I get extremely, violently seasick. Getting the scuba shot required days of training to be certified and then I had to actually get the shot itself. Let's just say I fed a few fish.

And your favourite?

We each have favourites. Jennifer loved the Kiwi's and the shots in New Zealand are near the top. However, she also really loves the shots in Egypt. We had one amazing experience with kids in their parent's restaurant where we played pool with them one night. The laughter and joy were contagious and when we decided to pop the dress out the kid's excitement couldn't be contained. The photos go beyond modelling and just show how universal happiness can be.

How has the dress held up?

It's amazing. Sure we've pulled a few threads and tattered an edge or two, but it's doing great. We do have a dirty secret, which we have freely shared. We do have backup dresses. We never expected the original dress to wear this well. So early in the project Maggie Sottero honoured a request of ours for extra dresses. They gave us five! When we first attempted a few crazy shots, we used one of them. We didn't want to risk the original. Since then, we've never touched the other four dresses. They remain hermetically sealed in their original bags/boxes. We hope we don't need them for at least another five years, maybe even ten. No matter what, the original always comes with us. It's the one with all the miles on it!


How long do you intend to keep travelling and wearing the dress?

As long as it's fun, we're going to keep going. We imagine the attention will die down, but we started this for us and we'll finish it for us. I would love to look back at our lives and see one trip of a lifetime after another seeing Jennifer beaming like the day we got married.

How has carrying out the project changed your lives?

Honestly, it hasn't changed our lives as much as enriched our lives. It's been great for our relationship. We grow together with the project. We both have the same goals and any success is shared. It improves our communication skills and exposes us to experiences we would never have. This is especially true with foreign travel where the goal of a photo requires us to "work" with locals instead of being a tourist. This establishes a deeper relationship with those we come across.

If you could pick one last place to wear your dress where would it be and why?

Love this question! We would love to have photographed every country on our list and every activity we could think of and then revisit Easter Island for a final shot when we are in our 80s.


Follow the couple's journey on their website, One Dress, One Woman, One World

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