This morning, I logged onto Facebook and was greeted by a post from George Takei about a young woman who made the best of her fiance calling off their wedding (the original article appeared here before dose shared it). After being jilted by the man she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with, some friends suggested a great way to deal with the pain; by participating in a trash the dress session with her and her bridesmaids. She spoke to her parents about the idea, since they paid for the dress, and they were 100% on board with the idea.

Credit: Elizabeth Hoard Photography

Having your wedding called off and your betrothed tell you only mere weeks before the wedding that they no longer love you and want to be with you is incredibly hard. I’ve witnessed a loved one go through this, and finding a way to climb back up can be difficult. Shelby took what she was dealt, and found a way to use it to lift herself up – to take a day that could have gone down in her memories as full of misery, hurt and abandonment, and make it HERS again.

Credit: Elizabeth Hoard Photography

Not surprisingly, many people on the internet did not respond well to this. Because you know, the way one woman deals with the loss is TOTALLY their call as to whether it’s right or wrong.


Now, these were nowhere near the worst of the comments, but a definite common theme was that people seemed to enjoy inferring she was selfish for not donating the dress or for not offering it to a bride less fortunate. Selfish for choosing to destroy something that was paid for, that helped her let go of an insanely painful situation.


The hypocritical nature of those accusations makes me wish I could reach through the internet and slap them across the face. I wonder, how many of these people own a home bigger than they need, a car with any extra goodies, go out for dinner, buy coffee, buy smokes, buy lottery tickets? How many of them pay for a big cable package? Have expensive electronics? Buy more clothes than they need, buy more expensive clothes than they need? How many of them own anything that is not a NEED but they have because they want it? By their very accusation, they too are selfish for not using what they have to put towards the less fortunate.


In our first world culture, people LOVE to pass judgement and throw out accusations of things that they themselves are guilty of, and will defend to the death why they are not actually guilty. It’s a double-standard that we actively employ in our overly-indulged lives.


But even worse, is our belief that we have the right to define a person by their actions (even when their actions are not morally wrong, or evil), based on the way WE would have handled a situation.
Not everyone is going to deal with grief, hurt and loss the same way. Not everyone is going to find the same things to give them that release from it all and strengthen them to move forward. Shelby did something that helped her. Something that helped to push her back to her feet and deal. And what she did, she did with class. In her guest blog post, nowhere did she accuse the groom of being a bad person, nor did she feel the need to disclose to the world anything ‘damning’ of him. She explained what happened and how it impacted her, and she used it to fuel her forward.


“The moment the paint hit my dress… I was free. All the disappointment, all the hurt… I just felt it leave me,” she wrote in the blog post. “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.”

Credit: Elizabeth Hoard Photography

She then used the dress, and the situation, to help raise money for those less fortunate. Her pain, and her moving forward, was used to help others. And yet people still criticized it, calling it a ‘cry for attention’ and selfish that she would use this to help raise money.


Life is about taking the hard knocks, the curveballs and the rocky paths, and finding a way to push forward to the next better thing. When you can learn to stand tall, and find something that can take the fight back for you, that’s an incredible step. Regardless of whether you agree with the method or the choice, it doesn’t alter the fact that what the person did was what they needed to do.


We’re all different. We process things differently, we react to things differently. We are inspired by different things, we are passionate about different things, and we are guided by different things. Just because the thing that helps get someone back on their feet isn’t the thing you would do doesn’t make it selfish. It doesn’t make it immature, a cry for attention, or a spoiled ‘bitch’ as some called her. It simply makes her different.


Shelby took a situation that could have been devastating, that could have derailed her life for years to come, and turned it into something that could help her heal. For that, she deserves a high-five, because it’s a hell of a lot further than many even try to get after something like that. For that, she deserves to be an inspiration to both brides and grooms who have been through this – that it’s okay to find a way to use it to heal.

Credit: Elizabeth Hoard Photography

Featured Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hoard Photography


  1. Brittany Pines

    I seriously want to stand up and clap after reading this. Both for you and for Shelby. I love the idea of trashing the dress to begin with…and if I ever fit back into mine (which is doubtful!) I would do it in a heartbeat, haha! Personally I think what she did was classy, sassy, AND it did help other women (maybe those haters didn’t read the part about the donations to the local non-profit?). What a great way to turn a tragedy into a celebration, and show hope for the future.

    And you’re totally right about selfishness. I struggle with this because my husband & I were called selfish and asked why we care so much about “things” when we mentioned wanting to buy a home and a boat. It was really shocking to me at the time, and I was SO ANGRY. After a lot of thought though, I realize the reason we like things is because we see them as a way to help others. When we thought about that home and boat, we thought about game nights with our friends and times of fellowship. We thought about having kids and their friends having somewhere to play- I remember LOVING having somewhere other than my own home to go to as a child, it was like a vacation from my life only 10 minutes away. In fact, the person who said this was lived with us in a rental for over a month without any contribution at all- we couldn’t have offered that if we didn’t have a place to live ourselves. Shelby did something that helped herself AND others- and that’s fine. We aren’t any good to help those around us if we are broken and hopeless. Our culture is swimming in depression and suicide and we wonder why- maybe because nothing is ever good enough, and we can’t just appreciate a person making themselves (and by the looks of it, her friends & family) feel good about a situation.

    1. Tabitha Wells

      Yes! Scott and I often talk about wanting to be rich – not because we want to spend money on ourselves, but because for us, that would open the door to help so many people that we want to help. Is it selfish to want money and things? In a way, yes. But what you do with them defines whether it is or isn’t. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting some things for yourself.

      We had someone call us selfish for using our money to go to Disney World, saying that it would be better spent towards debt or even on a mission trip, this person KNOWING we had spent double this trip on a Mission Trip the year before, and I had done one only two years earlier.

      People like to pass the blame and determine what selfishness is based on what their thoughts of it is. Scott and I compared it to our whole sponsor child thing. For us, sponsoring a child is one of the most important things we do. In our minds, it is totally worth sacrificing a dinner out, or a coffee a day over. But other people don’t think it’s important. Does it irk me? Sure. But does it make their decision or thoughts on it automatically selfish? No. Does it mean they are immature or doing wrong? No. And that’s what people tend to forget.

  2. wildheartsea

    I’m clapping alongside Brittany with this one. not only was I moved by Shelby’s actions I was moved by your words. In this world people are so quicj to judge. They need to learn that 1)we all handle this world differrently and 2)we all have different pathes. My path is for no one to judge my wants are for no one decide its need but me. I can’t help but feel that she was judged because she was a women. There is another story similar to this excepts it was a man and he found 100 uses for his ex-wife’s wedding gown. it was considered comical. he could have easily donated the dress, but he trashed it and posted about each way he trashed it. donations arent a have to and just because you don’t does not equate you to being a selfish person.

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