The Baby sister/Bride to Be (B2B in Bridal code) and I, the humble MOH (Maid of Honor) participated in the Running of the Brides this week.
WARNING: This story contains graphic depictions of bridal carnage. Reader discretion is advised.
This annual event pits rabid brides in an epic struggle to find a super cheap designer wedding gown. Basically, Filene's Basement clears some floor space, dumps some gowns and unleashes hoards of hopped-up brides to compete in a test of strength, will, and negotiating skills.
Brides line up in the wee hours before the 8am opening.
And of course, the media is in attendance to capture the blood sport.
Apparently, bringing a team is crucial to your success. While matching outfits are optional, colorful markings can make you easy to spot in the sea of tulle and beads.
We thought we prepared. We were hydrated, full of tasty oatmeal and we properly limbered up, flexing elbows and doing the I-WILL-fit-into-this-dress hip wiggle. But nothing, not even a viking helmet could prepare us for the hysteria and cut-throat mayhem was about to take place.
The doors open at 8am and by 8:01am there is not a single gown left on a rack. Now this is where your team comes in. Brides and their pack of followers bum-rush the floor grabbing EVERY SINGLE GOWN THEY CAN GET THE CLAWED HANDS ON. It does not matter if the gown is your size. It does not matter if you even like the gown. YOU MUST ACQUIRE A MOUNTAIN OF GOWNS. Why you ask? So you can trade. You sit atop your mountain of bridal fluff and send out your search parties who wander the floor screaming "I need a size 6 strapless white ball gown, will trade size 12 empire". Signs also come in handy here "Will trade for size 16!". "Vera Wang! Will Trade for VERA ONLY!". So the more people you bring with you, the more dresses you hoard, the better your negotiating power is.
Since the B2B and I were not the first in the door, we did not even get to touch a gown for about a half an hour. We wandered aimlessly, dressless and dejected, until the now mostly naked brides began discarding the rejects and you could snap one up if they deemed it to have no bargaining power.
We successfully acquired several promising gowns via stealth, humor and begging, and the B2B, in her power panties and strapless bra found an unoccupied corner to slither into our prizes. We found one dress that was lovely, an ivory chiffon halter top "goddess" type dress. But alas, it was not "THE one".
By about 9:30am, we decided to make a calculated retreat. I was wounded and we needed to regroup and consume more coffee.
After about a half hour, we regrouped and dived back in. The frenzy had apparently abated, and you could view, first-hand, the extent of the carnage. Discarded gowns littered the floor. Limp plastic garment bags were stuffed in the racks. Broken hangers littered the ground. It was not pretty. But by this time, battle weary employees were managing to get gowns back on the racks so us unfortunate scavengers who did not come with a sizable army could actually touch some dresses.
By 11:30am, after three and a half hours of rampaging brides, the B2B decided to raise the white flag and admit defeat. "THE Dress" was not here. Sad and dejected we left for lunch.
To sum up - Was the Running of the Brides worth it? Yes and no.
The B2B was looking for something very specific. She wanted a light flowy, not too formal dress. The majority of the dresses there were of the ball gown style - beaded bodice, big skirt, long train. Good for a big church wedding, not for a ceremony on a beach, in August. The place was full of, as the B2B put it "there was nothing at the sale except for piles of stepped on 1980’s rejects and bad Project Runway wannabes." Not that there is anything wrong with that, just not what she was looking for.
The deals were good. The gowns had price tags of $1200 and up and were selling for between $249 and $699. But they were also filthy. These gowns are the floor samples from bridal shops, so they've been tried on, sweated in, stepped on. There were makeup stains, pulls, broken zippers. There were some stunning gowns, but on the whole, I didn't feel it was worth the repair/alteration and cleaning costs.
I'm glad we went, it was a great experience, but sadly, "THE Dress" was not there.