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.
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.