Filenes Basement famous Running of The Brides sale has become a family tradition. It all started when my sister bought her wedding dress at the ROTB in Boston.
She snagged a gorgeous designer wedding dress that retailed for over $7K for just $699. I've never been that great at math, but I have a masters degree in sales percentages, and 90% off is off the charts, an amazing deal.
So given her ridiculous success, my younger sister—who also happens to be getting married next year and I decided that we would give Filenes Basement bridal sale a shot.
2012 Update: Sad to inform you all that Filene's Basement went belly-up and the Running of the Brides is no longer.
Our team members travelled from Toronto, Montreal and New Hampshire and met up in Boston the night before the Running of the Brides bonanza. I couldn't sleep a wink. For one, hopefully within the next 12 hours I would find the wedding dress of my dreams—which is a truly exciting prospect. And two, I needed to wake up at around 4am. Ugh!
At about 3:45am, I get up BEFORE my alarm goes off—which for those who don't
know me, this is a feat never before seen and mostly likely never to be seen
I take a quick shower, to revitalize my senses and snap me into GO mode. I throw on my team tank top, grab my camera, slip my credit card into my jeans, throw on my running shoes and head out. We're supposed to meet the rest of the team at 4:30am at the Hynes Convention Center. This is the first year that the sale has been held here, previously it has always been at the store.
We have no idea what to expect. Bright eyed and bushy tailed we walk along Boylston Street to Filenes Basement, the sun has not even come up yet. We get near Hynes and we quickly realize, we are not alone. Right next to the front doors, we see tons of girls camped out. They brought all their gear: foldable chairs, sleeping bags, sweaters, coolers and most of them have Dunkin Donuts cups in hand.
We find out later that the first people arrived at 8:00pm the night before! We begin walking to the back of the line. And we pass about 150 or so people, 95% of the line up is women, with the occasional gay best friend or really understanding Dad. There is plenty of security but you don't feel unsafe—everyone is there to have a good time and they are all here for a great reason. People are very chatty and Uber friendly.
Within seconds, we are no longer the last people in line. And within an hour, there are at least 250 people lined up behind us.
Then all of a sudden, without even a countdown or anything, it's 8:00am and the brave security guards of Filenes Basement open the doors and unhinge the rope that was keeping the mob in place.
Our team's mantra was: Stay Wide! Stay Wide!
Which basically meant locking arms and spreading the 7 of us out as we ran, keeping the fury behind us from getting ahead. It seemed to do the trick. Before I knew what was even happening, we were right at the front, we all looked at each other quickly and then just ran into the big room with our eye on the prize. The goal was to grab as many wedding dresses as you possibly could (they are heavy, these suckers) and then meet up at the back left hand corner of the room.
Easier said than done. I ran up to the closest rack and started grabbing dresses. But as I looked around to see my next move—all I could see was hundreds of Filene's Basement wedding dresses disappearing of the racks. It was the most surreal thing I have ever experienced.
It was like little white clouds there one second and then poof gone. Leaving behind a sad empty rack. I think I managed to grab about 7 dresses, when I looked around the room and saw that every single rack was now completely bare.
The bridal mob had devoured them within seconds. I began to make my way to our team meeting spot. It seemed like we were all successful. Between the 7 of us, we managed to get about 24 wedding dresses.
We threw the pile down on some boxes to have a look at our wares. It was as if we were pirates, looking at our stolen treasure. What had we managed to snag? As we sifted through the white gowns—we were instantly bombarded with girls asking us for our castoffs. Did we have a size 6? Did we have any champagne colored gowns? We didn't have a clue what we had yet.
But there were hundreds of teams that had not managed to grab any dresses and were on the prowl. We had an important task to focus on, we had to ignore all the requests from the competing teams and put the blinders on. One of the team members would hold up a dress and ask my sister and I if either of us was interested in trying it on—yes, no or maybe. If it was a no, it would go on a pile that was safely guarded by another member—these dresses would be our lifeline later.
We went through out initial pile and ended up with about 7 or 8 dresses that either my sister or I wanted to try on. Not too shabby, since they were all just grabbed completely blindly.
As for the "no" pile—these dresses were for bartering, our bargaining chips to get more dresses that were more up our alley. We were now ready to do business. Girls from other teams, would come bearing some of their offerings and looking to trade. Their brides had sent them out with her perfect dress in mind. So they would peruse our wares and see if their was anything that would suit their master.
The first dress I tried on, was a no go for me. One women who came empty handed begging for a dress was absolutely over the moon when I handed her my cast off. She now had something to trade. She was in the game.
For about 2 hours, it felt like the racks at Filenes Basement would be empty forever. That no one was going to dare put anything back up for grabs without getting something in return.
Then slowly but surely as girls found "the one", her team would cheer and clap and they would walk away from their once heavily guarded pile of white silk, satin and crinoline.
I tried on dress after dress. Trying to keep an open mind. Many girls had come with a very specific dress type and size in mind. I felt that I would hopefully, know it when I saw it.
After going through our initial batch of wedding dresses, I decided to take a little stroll around the area to see what was on offer. I saw a diminutive brunette drowning in a simply stunning gown. She made a face as she looked in the mirror which signaled to her minions—NEXT!
I thought the dress was simply stunning. I walked up to her and asked nonchalantly if I could offer her a trade for her cast away dress. She said she was looking for a white, strapless trumpet in size 4—whatever that is. I insisted that she send some of her ladies in waiting over to our rack to view our cast off collection, we had plenty to choose from, her majesty was bound to find something that pleased her.
I enlisted the help of one of my crew to help me into the wedding dress. It fit! The zipper was busted but it fit! My other teammate held up the mirror we managed to nab at the beginning (mirrors were in huge demand obviously) and I saw my dress. It was lovely. Simple yet sophisticated.
The minion mumbled something again and left.
She knew there was no way that I was giving this dress back—heck, there was a chance I wouldn't even take it off before the day's end!
My teammates agreed, I had found "the one". And I didn't even have to punch anyone at Filenes Basement to get it.
Quick check of the price tag and I fell even more in love with my wedding dress. It was a steal! I headed to the cash register with a huge smile on my face. It was about 11am now and I had been running on pure adrenaline. As I waited in line, the tiredness began to settle in. What an adventure Filenes Basement had been. But I had lived to tell it. I LOVE Filenes Basement and you will too!
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