Topic: Profiles

Running of the Brides

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Running of the Brides line

Running of the Brides inside

All photos/art by Amy Bidder

Amy Bidder shares her first-hand experience at The Running of the Brides event—a unique, annual bridal sale held in Boston by Filene’s Basement.

My fiance and I will be taking flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica, with our closest family members and friends for a destination wedding on July 8th. Our travel plans have us on a tight budget, so I made it my mission to find the perfect dress on a dime. This led me to experience a unique Boston tradition—The Running of the Brides. This huge annual bridal sale was started by Filene’s Basement in 1947, and is presently held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

My team consisted of my sister, future sister-in-law, and two best friends. We arrived at the Hynes Convention Center at 5:30 am to make sure we could get a spot near the front of the line for the 8am opening. In prior weeks, I had heard stories of brides camping out overnight with lawn chairs and sleeping bags. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have as much competition at the door because of the bad weather, but the line snaked around the corner before the sun was even up. Thousands of women stood in the rain with signs, balloons and matching t-shirt showing their dress size and allegiance to their bride. Video crews patrolled the line to get a shot for the morning news and marketers gave out freebies while the crowd waited. The company sponsoring the event had a contest to create the best dress possible out of toilet paper with a time-limit of 3 minutes as the on-lookers whooped and cheered. The winning designers got to move to the front of the line.

As the time grew closer, the excited buzz grew and when the doors finally opened it was a mad rush into the convention hall. Within a few seconds every dress was off the rack, and it became a game of bartering and trading for the right size and style. The daring brides, including myself, stood in our underwear while waiting to try on each gown. A cameraman from a local new station had his camera trained on me while I tried on my first dress. We devised a strategy of standing next to another bride with the same size and our two groups banded together to find as many gowns as we could and trade them back and forth. My team spread out across the sales floor looking for anything that would fit. It was a negotiation process for every dress I tried on. Every time a lucky bride found her dream dress, the victory was announced over the loud speaker, and everyone would cheer. The rest of us were assured that that there were plenty of dresses left and and encouraged to keep on searching.

My advice for brides-to-be going to this event is: get there extremely early; wear good sneakers; and bring lots of snacks for the line. Also, realize that it’s not for the timid. Think of it as a fun event to do with your bridal party, and don’t take it too seriously. Although, there were thousands of dresses available many of them were being horded by the first ladies through the door making it difficult to find the right size and style without a little luck and a lot of patience.

The trip to this infamous event was bittersweet. Though I didn’t find the dress I was hoping for, my friends and I had a great time socializing with the other bridal parties, watching silly contests and seeing the spectacle that is the Running of the Brides.


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