Bridal Bargain

I went to the infamous "Running of the Brides" sale at Filene's Basement in New York City. I was there primarily as a journalist who wanted to experience the gown-grabbing chaos, and secondly as a bride-to-be with slim hopes of finding a dress that suits my contemporary, slightly bohemian sense of style.
The running of the brides

While many brides are willing to spend thousands on the perfect wedding dress, this bargain fashionista wants a unique frock under $200. No billowy princess bride gown for me! I want simple, form-fitting elegance.

And so it begins

When I arrived at the Union Square store around noon -- my plan to get there in time for the 8am opening rush was easily thwarted with one press of the snooze button -- I was greeted by endless racks of designer wedding dresses priced from $249 to $699 (marked down from $1900) and frantic women in various stages of undress in the middle of the department store.

"I think I found the one," 28-year-old Vilmary Lopez said of her ornate, strapless white gown. "You can't beat the price -- only $250 -- that's another five people you can invite to the wedding."

Even though I didn't find a dress that inspired me to spend over my budget, I learned a few valuable tips I'd like to share with blushing brides planning to brave the annual Filene's sale.


1. Bring a friend

You need help to navigate through the overwhelming assortment of dresses. Unlike Lopez, who enlisted the help of a friend and was able to try on 10 dresses, I didn't fare as well during my solo mission and became frustrated after trying on only four dresses.


2. Know your body type

"My body looks boxy," I overheard one woman whine when she saw herself in the mirror. From my observation, women blessed with full bosoms fill out the strapless princess gowns best, while more modestly endowed women (like me) look best in A-line, sleeveless or capped-sleeve dresses.


3. Don't hate, congratulate

The eleventh commandment should state, "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's dress." I witnessed women hovering near dresses they liked even if someone else was still wearing it -- and overhead one crafty woman trying to convince a fellow shopper that she could find the dress they both wanted cheaper on eBay.


The bonding spirit of the event, however, outweighed the cattiness. Whenever a bride found her dream dress, the sisterhood of brides gathered around her applauded in celebration.

Find out when the Running of the Brides sale will come to your town here!



Comments on "Inside the running of the brides sale"

Andrea October 16, 2008 | 8:55 AM

We are gearing up for our first ever Running of the Brides event to take place in Ohio this just so happens that I had already requested October 17th off months ago to go check out churches and reception areas, but that's already done now, so it's perfect that this event is tomorrow.... What isn't so perfect is we have to drive 5 hours to get there. Regardless of the drive, we feel the savings will be well worth it. This will also be the first time my mom meets my fiance's mom, so that should be fun. We're all very excited, and geared up with our team shirts. Wish us luck!!!

Tracy Hopkins June 09, 2008 | 8:50 AM

Hi Patricia, I just saw your comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed my article and liked that I captured the camraderie of the brides. It was a lot of fun and if I'd come with a real game plan, I'm sure I could have found one. But I did find one on Ebay that I'm very pleased with and will wear for my wedding this weekend!

Patricia E. Boudrot June 09, 2008 | 7:40 AM

Hi Tracy -- I saw your story about the Running of the Brides on SHEKNOWS and I thought it was great. It is difficult to shop for a dress by yourself in this environment--it can be overwhelming, especially if you're just not in the mood. I wish I had been there to help you. Hording and coveting does occur, but I'm glad you zeroed in on the bonding. This is the piece that most of the tv news reports miss, because after the cameras have captured the chaos of the doors opening, they're gone, and the viewer never gets to see the stuff that warms the heart as brides begin to find the dress of their dreams. It's this camaraderie and bonding that makes memories for the brides and her helpers. Thanks for writing about it and for sending people to the website for dates.

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