I have a friend who is engaged (really, who of my friends isn't now-a-days? sheesh...) who asked me to help her last Friday.
She wanted me and a few other friends to come to the "Running of the Brides" with her. I said of course, although I did blink a bit at the 7:30am time on Friday morning. The Running of the Brides is a twice-annual event held by Filene's, and I was under the impression that it was basically a huge wedding dress sale.
But oh, my, how naive I was... "dress sale" as applied to this event is about as correct as applying a "quick bite" to a full dinner at The Four Seasons.
The Running of the Brides is not held in any retail store - oh, no - it's in the convention center. I arrived at 7:30 to find my friends, who had been holding their spot in line since 5:30am.
Each bride comes with an entourage of four or five girlfriends, all there to help secure a dress. An astonishing percentage of the groups have matching T-shirts (usually pink): "Trisha's Bridal Party" or "Running of the Brides 2009" or "Ivory Dress or Bust!". Many groups also wear matching headgear - hats, headbands, feathers.... something to help them quickly identify themselves.
At exactly 8am, the doors to the showroom floor open.
The masses rush forward, nearly trampling any slow runners, and dash to the dresses hanging on racks. The idea is to grab as many dresses as possible, not caring what style or size or anything else.
Girls push and shove and bear-hug as many dresses as they can still hanging on the rack. But the rule is that the dress is not yours until it's actually off the rack, so sometimes others would try to pry the dresses out of the arms of someone doing the bear-hugging.
At exactly 8:02, all the dresses are cleaned out.
Each group of bride and friends generally has a flag-bearer - someone with a flag, or balloons, or brightly colored scarf to wave. Each person makes their way back to the bride (watching for their group's feathers or T-shirts or whatever matching gear helps them find each other) with whatever dresses they have managed to snag. I got none, thank you very much, I was not prepared to be aggressive enough to get within 20 feet of any dress...
All the brides then strip down to underwear, and start trying on dresses. Many groups had brought mirrors (the kind that hang on the back of a door, full length) for just this purpose, as there are no dressing rooms.
My job as supporting cast was to sort through the pile of dresses we had collected, finding the ones in the right size range.
Then the whole operation transforms into a bartering society - people would walk around with signs saying "Need 2,4,6" or "6,8,10 with sleeves" and trade what they have for what they want.
I unfortunately couldn't stay to see if my friend ended up buying anything, but I sure hope after all that rigamorole she did!
As I was walking out, I saw some women slowly wandering toward the room, clutching their purses or a Starbucks coffee cup, obviously looking forward to a shopping day of hunting through sale racks. They were obviously not informed or prepared for the intensity and unique rules of this event.
I, as a newly initiated "bride-runner," felt a bit sorry for them, and I wished I could see their faces when they walked into the melee. I had the sudden urge to tell them "Did you grab a quick bite for breakfast yet?"