In April of 2009, I ran with the brides at Filene's basement. In fact, I ran with two other brides and two of the three of us found our dresses there. It was such a totally fun day, and although I had a LOT of anxiety about my dress, ultimately, my sister was right. Trust your seamstress, but I will tell you that I paid $500 for my dress and $485 for the alterations. My original budget was $1000, so I came in under it, and other dresses I loved more in the store were way over it. When I tell people where my dress came from, they get a really freaked out look on their face, like they can't imagine going to the running of the brides. They are missing out, my friends. It's totally awesome. But there are a few rules I came up with after our experience - and I will tell you, there is no reason to get there at 7am. That is all hype. Go at 10am and browse dresses - I didn't find mine until 10. Don't expect fancy designers either - you'll see a few, but you'll also find several-year-old samples like mine that don't appear to have ever been sold in the US. It's a small price to pay for a good deal on a nice dress and not having to deal with a bridal shop.
There were definitely people this morning who bordered between rude and downright deserving of a punch in the face.
True to the description that Filene's sent out, within minutes, the racks were absolutely stripped. People grabbed everything. My sister headed off to grab whatever she could find that people weren't guarding. She handed me a pink dress with pickups, which I loved and wore around for about ten minutes. Eventually we began to acquire some dresses. In the Filene's basement world, any dress is collateral, because you can trade it. The trading was absolutely the most obnoxious part. From about 8:00-8:15, everybody was just sorting through the dresses they had grabbed. Then they all started to trade - but because there was a group of about 20 brides who had large teams and had amassed about 20-30 dresses apiece, and were still trying all of them on and wouldn't let any of them go, the rest of us who only had five or six dresses started to trade among ourselves, but what happened was that even if, like me, you were perfectly happy to let the dresses go without getting anything in return, nobody else was, so you felt like you had to trade.
So here are my rules for RoTB:
1.) If you have a dress, don't be too picky about what you trade it for. The people who had a dress that one of us really liked, but that didn't like what we had to offer, were some of the most annoying people in the store. If you are walking around with a size 10 dress, and looking for a six, and somebody wants to try the ten on, take the other ten that they are offering you. You have as good a chance of trading it as the one you are holding.
2.) Get the hell over yourself. I would say that about 40% of the dresses there had seen their share of Filene's RoTB events - and (see previous post) some of them were downright ugly. Don't treat people like crap just because the dress they are offering to trade you isn't a Vera Wang.
3.) Don't hoard. There were a limited number of dresses that were a size 16-20, and it was because this one girl had grabbed every single one she could get her hands on, and then was "considering" all of them. Then she would only trade for another dress that was a size 16-20 and we were kind of like, "we can't possibly trade you anything because you have all the dresses."
4.) Don't push or shove. When you push or shove somebody to get a dress, and then another person yells, "if you push me again, I'm going to call the police", the store security comes and neither of you get the dress.
5.) Don't bring your own security force. The most hated groups were the ones that managed to snag the racks that were next to the mirror, one of which brought her parents or fiance or something with her and the guy in their party was fairly large and tough looking and stood at the end of their racks with a scowl on, wouldn't let anybody pass, and would screen your trades. I tried to trade them a dress for a really nice one they had, and the guy just said, "oh, no, not that." Which frankly, hurt my feelings because I really liked that dress and it hadn't fit me right but it was gorgeous. At that point I got snotty and was like, "fine" and started stalking away and he could tell I was pissed and tried to be like, "no, we can trade" but I was just so annoyed that I took my dress back and waited for somebody that wanted it. At this point, by the way, most of the trading had ceased, because enough people had found dresses or released theirs that there were enough floating around and these jerks were still demanding a trade. Eventually, they decided to "just let the dresses go" so I went after the dress I had wanted to try on - and the guy then tried to joke about it with me, being like, "what are you going to trade for that?" and then was like "just messin' with you." If you were an asshole before, don't be surprised when you act like an ass and I don't think you're kidding.
6.) Don't keep more dresses than you can keep your hands on.
7.) Decide on 1-4 favorites, not 20. If you are that uncertain about what you like, give it up and go to a real bridal shop to get a better idea of what you're looking for.
8.) Have specific styles in mind. I was looking for pickups and no beading, but I wound up trying all 5 styles they had with pickups, and buying one of those.
9.) Try to make friends. Befriend another girl who has a similar sense of style but is a different size - pass her stuff that doesn't fit you and she'll do the same. I'm sure a lot of people approach this as a "I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to find my dream dress."
10.) Bring a notepad and a sharpie. The smartest group I saw had a rack of dresses, and they marked their "maybe" dresses by taking a piece of paper, writing maybe on it, and then slipping it through the neck of the hanger. Then they put the sizes on all of their for-trade ones, so you knew if they were in your range or not.
11.) Organize your tradeable dresses - we were a variety of sizes, and my sister organized our tradeable dresses in order by size so that people who were looking to trade for an 18 or a 10 knew which side to check on.
12.) Bring your own mirror - or steal one from the housewares section - and bring tape!. The people that were hoarding the 3 way mirror were the worst - but the people in front of the regular mirror were pretty bad. One group brought their own, and it slipped and fell. Bring one and either affix it to a hanger beforehand, or affix it to the rack.
13.) Bring at least one friend - maybe its just for those of us with carpal tunnel, but I couldn't zip those dresses alone.