Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running of the Brides

I haven't commented much about the wedding yet...mostly because I haven't done a darn thing. Okay, I have done one thing, one minor detail... I bought a DRESS. This is something that can take ages to find, and I'm really quite surprised that this bucket checked off. There isn't a short way to tell how I got it, my apologies in advance...

First time I went out looking for the dress, I went to David's Bridal-a big cheesy chain store. I loved everything I tried on, and the prices were dirt cheap. But, you can't buy something on the first day out, so I took it as a research day.
Second day out, I went to Yolanda's-a local spot famous for their dresses (as they were going out of business and had enormous sales), and again, I loved everything I tried on, unfortunately the prices were f-ing outrageous. Seriously, I thought this was a sale? Do you know what sale means?? A sale does not test the limits of my credit card.
Third excursion, I went to a great spot in England, Sara De's (I think, I can't quite remember the name) in Lewes, and again, loved everything that I tried on. Here the prices were just right - if we're going to judge things like goldilocks. But, I still had time so I decided not to buy anything, and besides the logistics of buying something in England were a bit overwhelming.
So, here I am, three dress shops under my belt. And what have I learned? Well...I like every dress I try on, so umm...not much. But, I certainly know my high & low price range.
I dare calling my family and ask if they want to go on a fourth outing, but this time will be at Filene's Basement "Running of the Brides"!!
So of course I have to email the group... are you up for this? It's a great opportunity to buy a dress valued from $900-$9,000 for much, much less. There will be 2,800 dresses, most of them in my size. I like everything I put on anyways, why not go for the experience? We may get lucky. The tricky question is: are we going to wait in line early in the morning and get matching outfits like totally insane people, or are we going to be rational and wait until the first surging crowd leaves and then we can have a nice leisurely look through the dresses?
I'm totally expecting the very sane option #2…but can you believe my mom is adamant that we get there first thing in the morning??! As is my sister....my aunt...my cousin...my nieces. I realize now, I'm the only normal one in the family (maybe I should end the sentence here, but I will continue with) who wants to get there at ten. So, now its time for research on this thing...and this is where it begins to get scary, there are rules to this thing! Its a very strange parallel universe of shopping, let me just get into it and you will see...
6:30 AM, day of dress, we roll into the Hynes Convention Center. We have our matching shirts on, sky blue tank tops with a little white flower attached to one of the sleeves, quite sweet. I have a silver "B" for bride around my neckline, my mother has "MOB" for mother of the bride, and I have a "SOB" for my sister...being the (heh) sister of the bride. :)
We see the beginning of the line (picture at left) and it's not so bad. We're here quite early it looks like. Doors open at 8:00 and it looks to be that we're in a good position in line, just at the end of those girls down that hallway there. So, we walk down the hallway of fresh faced decorated groups of girls, each group of about 8 (1 bride, 7 friends) in a different pretty color (almost everyone dressed alike in each group). The groups look like dance teams, I am feeling a bit like I'm attending a high school dance competition (not me, I never danced with a team, you would know if you ever saw me dance). So, we get to the end of the hallway, where the line ends, but...the line doesn't end. The nice comfy carpet turns to cold menacing tile, and this hall meets with another, we're turning right and all we can see are more and more groups of girls! We walk to the end of this hallway with a little more sense of urgency. The groups aren't so cute anymore, they are frightening. Who are all of these people? When did they get here? What have I gotten into? Another hallway. Down to the end of this next hallway and we're essentially back to where we started. A large circle and hundreds of girls. And it's only 6:30, more will come.
We sit against the wall waiting for 8:00 to come and keep busy by giving directions to my aunt, cousin, sister and nieces. At 7:45 people start to get agitated and the line that was against the wall compresses and fills the whole hallway. There is such a surge of people that we have to run to keep our space in line. My aunt and cousin have arrived and are in their outfits, but still my sister isn't there. Finally she comes and she and her daughters have to meet us at a sprint the line is moving so fast. It's 7:55, people are getting anxious and are worried about their dress, I'm surrounded by bridezillas and their psycho friends. This is becoming dress war.
8:00 and the doors open. The line pushes forward, we start at a walk, then a jog, then a run. We're down the hallway, around the corner, girls are screaming everywhere with excitement, it takes a minute and a half for us to get into the room...we run in...and all of the dresses are GONE. There are 2,800 dresses in this room. Just a minute ago they were nicely displayed on racks and now they have all been scooped up by manic bridesmaids and brides. The groups grab every dress they can get their hands on and hoard them from the other women. They sit on them. Block people away from them. Huddle them as a group. And fight each other for them, you can hear their hisses and growls. (Here is a video of the entrance, we enter at 2:08 in the clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reVxw25eXNM and here is one a local news show did http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/offbeat/running_of_the_brides_082109 and we can (barely) be seen a few times in the middle and end of the clip.)
I couldn't believe I ran into a room (and I ran, because I think that's what I was supposed to do) and I don't have one dress. Not even a red dress in a size 2 petite or polka dot one in size 40. Nada. So, I look for my team in their blue tank tops, and thank god we went with a color scheme because otherwise I think I'd be stranded alone for days in this chaos. We regroup on the left hand side, get over our shock and horror and decide to plan. We have decided on stalking. The six girls in my group are walking around to try to find a dress. Any dress. So, I walk around for a while, asking anyone with a large stash of dresses if anyone would give me one they don't want and it's not working. It takes me 30 minutes to get one dress. No one will give up a dress for free, it's all about trading a dress for a dress. But I don't have anything to trade, which makes it tough. Finally, after looking pathetic enough I get my one dress. Hurrah!
I run back to my group with my sad little dress. I see that they also have one other dress. Yay! Well done team! Two dresses of 2,800, not what I was expecting but well…its what we have. So, let's try them on. Oh, oh no. Oh this is so not it. Sure, my sister loves it, but it's not what I'm looking for, and I can't buy a dress big enough to fit Carnie Wilson.
Now we have implement stage 2 of the plan: keep the best dress on, and guard the other one with your life. Those who aren't guarding are looking for new dresses. I am charged with walking about with my best dress on, even if I hate it. This way, other brides can see my best dress. Sure, I don't want it. But someone else does, I have become the display model. And you won't believe what happens, the brides that want my dress send their bridesmaids to get it. But I'm smart to their ways now, I'm into trading too…so I send their bridesmaids to find what I want. I am in business!!! Me and my two dresses and now my team of 6 has grown! I had no idea it would work like this, but it does. As I told you, its a parallel shopping universe that does not exist in your local mall.
After a while we have a few extra dresses, we max out at about six and we work the trading system for about an hour. And then we finally get a bit tired of the trading aspect of this whole game. If we all just walked about the aisles like normal people, this would be a lot easier, but no, of course not, that's not how it works here. But, even so, we're tired of it and are making up our own rules. We start sharing my stash of six dresses (only one in my size and only one that I like, mind you) with the other brides around me. People are shocked at our generosity. And very soon, it becomes fun. We're chatting, we're looking to see how dresses look on the other girls and we're having a good time with it.
Finally, around 10:00, one of the girls next to me gives me a dress and says "I think you were looking for something like this" and then she turns to leave for the day. I try it on, sceptical that she would have any idea and am totally shocked because I love it. Everyone loves it. Brides start coming up to me asking to trade for it. People around are saying how nice it looks. We're getting approving glances left and right. We look around and realize how lucky we just got and decide to call it a day, and even more importantly, we decide to call it a dress!
So, after we buy the dress (with my ATM card mind you and not the AmEx) we head out for a coffee to ease our raging headaches. And then head back into the convention center to see if we can find anything for my second cousin who is just arriving. Re-entering the room now could not be more different than it was a few hours ago. The dresses are back on the racks. There are a few people hoarding on the sides, but most of the crazy ones (who got in line around 3:00am) have found their dresses & left, or have given up. You can walk around the perimeter of the room and see gorgeous dresses being tried on all around you, and they are stunning. It's such an event. The madness is over, it's almost as if the last two hours didn't happen, but I know I was there, it wasn't some crazy shopping nightmare. And this new experience is great but you have to experience the other madness in order to love this sanity. And now I am falling in love with all of these dresses. I want to come back after work (which I have to go to) and see all of these dresses again. It's like playing Cinderella now, each is beautiful and a work of art, total masterpieces. And I have the best one and also this wonderful experience that I will never forget.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lesley,
    I love this post!
    Looking forward to read more of you and "A",