A few months ago I saw an advertisement for an event called The Running of the Brides. It is an annual event that takes place at Filene’s Basement stores around the country and gives brides-to-be free reign to scratch one another, poke eyes and pull hair just to get a bargain on that perfect wedding dress.
It had been a few years since my last trip to the zoo, so I thought I’d go see what all the fuss was about.
I looked up some information beforehand. Several websites offered tips on the best ways to manage this day. One site suggested that brides get a team of friends together and give them instructions on what to look for in the store. Another advised women to wear sports bras and swimsuit bottoms underneath loose fitting clothes so they could easily try on dresses in the middle of the aisle. And the one key component that all of the websites suggested was for groups to arrive early, some said as early as 4am so they could get in quick when the store opened at 8.
I ignored all of that advice and showed up in my work clothes at 5:30 that evening.
When I arrived it looked like a normal day at Filene’s Basement. People were filtering in and out of the entrance in a normal fashion and I couldn’t make out any frantic women shoving one another into the glass windows of the store. Did I have the wrong location? Wrong day?
I took the escalator up to the store and when I entered, saw rows of white dresses on racks. There were a few groups of women milling about, but nothing too extreme. As I started to browse the white dresses (a color I will not be wearing) I passed a group of women in bright pink t-shirts that said “Bridesmaid” or “Maid of Honor” to identify their role in the team. Another group was in pajamas and each of the girls was holding a wand. I felt sorry for them. Maybe if they had been here on time like all of those other devoted brides and friends of brides, their efforts would have been appreciated. At this hour though, the sentiment was lost on people like me who really didn’t care about paying $499 for a Vera Wang wedding dress.
Of course, there was also the possibility that I was wrong. Maybe people weren’t as hyped up about weddings as the advertisements would have you believe and these poor girls were victims of a marketing tactic. Maybe for once people were starting to realize that it wasn’t worth it to get excited about a dress that spends most of its time in an attic. Maybe Filene’s Basement was trying to hold on to the last vestiges of an industry that is past its prime.
And then I saw a woman struggle out of a wedding dress in the middle of the aisle. She stood in her sports bra and panties waiting for a member of her entourage to return with another dress. The half empty dressing rooms were a mere 20 feet away, but this bride-to-be didn’t care about that. Nor did she mind the strange men looking at her while pretending to browse ties and polo shirts in the aisle over. She was on a mission to find the perfect wedding dress and nothing was going to crush her enthusiasm.