I am so excited to tell you about this one! Over the weekend, I was perusing around Borders and came across a book all about bargain weddings. Of course, I love having ways to save my clients money so I parked my tush on the floor, and began flipping through the pages. I sat there for about 10 minutes and came across a couple of cute tips, but this is one that I knew I had to do some further investigating.

I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it, and brides, you’re going to love it. Every year, a store called Filene’s Basement holds an event called “Running of the Brides”. Brides can get designer labels that normally cost over $1000 for $249, $499 and $699. They have been known to have dresses originally marked at $9000!

You know I love stories, so I have to tell you about Filene’s. In 1909, Edward Filene decided to sell the unsold merchandise from his father’s Boston Department Store. He filled a basement full of “automatic” discounts. To keep things simple, he used a formula. If, after 12 days, the item didn’t sell, he’d mark it down 25%. He would then continue marking it down again every 6 days until it sold, or it was donated to charity.

Filene’s motto is “Equal access to quality goods at bargain basement prices” and they must be doing something right – they have over 20,000 bargain hunters a day! The famous “Running of the Brides!” event began in 1947 and in 1986, Barbara Walters (20/20) called them the “world’s best basement”. And according to a news reporter who timed the event, during the “Running of the Brides!” in 1992, the shop was cleared out in 37 seconds. (Can you imagine?)

Now, I’m not trying to put anyone in harm’s way and I hear that the “running” has become a bit calmer (although these pictures from mydeejay.com don’t show calm). But Filene’s Basement website has some tips to make your day fun, safe, and savvy:

Before you go:

  • Recruit your team and assign jobs.
  • Create team unity by wearing something matching—for example hats, t-shirts or headbands. This will also help you find each other in the crowd.
  • Tear out pages from bridal magazines, or print styles from on-line wedding gown sites to show your team what you’re looking for.

The Day of the Sale

  • Dress smart—wear a sports bra or swim suit so you can change in and out of gowns anywhere in the store.
  • Leave your handbag at home or pack light for the day.
  • Please, don’t wear make-up. White shows everything.
  • The sale starts at 8:00am, so if you want to be one of the first through the doors, plan on arriving well before then.
  • Not everyone wants to deal with the 8:00am rush. Starting around 11:00am you’ll see dresses going back on the racks and the scene will be calmer.
  • Be considerate. Once you decide you don’t like a dress, put it back on the rack. It just might be someone else’s dream dress.

For more tips like these, e-mail pat.boudrot@filenesbasement.com to request the “Secrets of Success—finding your dream dress at Filene’s Basement’s Running of the Brides.”

Ok, so where can one find one of these stores? Well, unfortunately, there isn’t one too close. But I feel that it might be worth a weekend trip with the girls! They currently have 25 stores across the Eastern U.S. including D.C., Baltimore, Paramus (New Jersey), Manhattan (of course), Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), and more. The next “Running of the Brides!” is going to be in Chicago (1 North State Street) on July 23 from 8am to 9pm. For a full schedule, click here and to see all their locations, click here.

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