...and I lived to tell the tale.
Participating in the Running of the Brides was what you might call "a life experience." Another way to say it would be "absolutely ridonkulous." My running team and I did a lot of prep work in the weeks leading up to the big day--there may or may not have been PowerPoint presentations assembled--so I thought some personal experience might be helpful to any other running brides with dreams of a cheap dress and a healthy sense of bloodlust.
I wasn't running for myself--I was a foot soldier for one of my best friends, Erica. We are mutual bridesmaids--I'm going to be hers in April, and she'll be one of mine in September. I had to have her back! The team consisted of Erica, Erica's mom, MOH Kelly, bridesmaid Lauren, friend Jill, and myself. And guess what? We were one of the crazy groups of people camped out on the sidewalk for an entire night before the event (since 11 PM, to be exact. Ca. Razy.).
Setting up camp, and one last photo before settling down for the night!
Why was this such a big deal? Why did we build ourselves a little compound of sleeping bags and lawn chairs on the asphalt in the middle of the night in the summer in Washington DC?
Because of this:
Sources: here and here.
Do you hear the choir of angels singing? It's Monique Lhuillier's Scarlet! Fact: One of my beloved Erica's defining characteristics is her champagne taste. I am not kidding when I tell you it's like she has some kind of laser beam in her brain that zeroes in on the most expensive item in any given store. Naturally, this gorgeous dress was The One for her--but sadly, the price tag on that sucker was just not feasible. So we decided to make the run in hopes of finding it, or something like it.
Team LBB poses for one more (terrible) photo. LBB stood for "Low Budget B*tches" because we are klassy. Then, my fabulous bride friend made her sign.
When the doors opened at eight AM, we were among the first groups to make it inside the store; we had the full "sprinting and yanking dresses off the racks like a hungry lion" experience. I was seriously sweating bullets! But, to be honest with you, that wasn't the most insane part--the bartering, negotiating, and dress-trying-on follow-through was even more intense (for me, at least). The store was absolutely crammed to the gills with women running around with armfuls of wedding dresses, so it was crowded in an epic way. Crazy and fun, but not for the faint of heart!
The run began just a few minutes after this photo was taken!
Here are a few tips I'd recommend. There's lots of good advice out there already, so check out those suggestions as well!
Bring water and wear layers. Like I said, the store was packed, it was July, and lots of people were either running around or frantically changing in and out of dresses. It got REALLY FLIPPIN' HOT in there. After awhile, I had stripped down to the skimpy camisole I was wearing under my team t-shirt, which was rather indecent, but better than sweating my face off. You will feel much better if someone manages to cram some fresh water into a fanny pack somewhere.
If you are looking for a specific dress by a specific designer, this may not be the event for you. Sadly, things did not work out for Erica! We scoured every corner of that store, and I am one hundred percent confident that the Scarlet wasn't there anywhere. Erica very gamely tried on lots of other beautiful dresses, but The One is The One. We left dress-less. (She did eventually find a gorgeous pre-owned Monique online though!)
Be nice to the dresses. A few times I saw girls changing dresses so hurriedly that they put their foot through the tulle/ripped a seam open/tore the lacy overlay (and so on), which destroys a perfectly good dress. Can you imagine finding a dress you love and being so frantic that you wreck it?! No matter how much adrenaline is rushing through your veins, the dresses are not on fire, so remember to take a deep breath and slooowwww down.
Be methodical. Take your time and remember who you've talked to, who has dresses your bride might like, and where they are. If you run around like a chicken with its head cut off, you will put yourself into a tizzy and forget everything. Very counterproductive. Not like I'm speaking from direct experience or anything.
Finally, one last piece of information: I saw lots of ballgown silhouettes, and very few mermaid/trumpet/fit-and-flares. I saw lots of beaded and/or ruched styles, but not much lace. I saw a lot of mid-range designers (Pronovias, La Sposa, Melissa Sweet, Amsale, Junko Yoshioka) and absolutely none of the big guns (Vera and Monique).
Who else has survived the Running? Any tips to share?