I Survived Running of the Brides-Chicago; Wedding Photographer

It all started on July 22.  Ashleigh, the bride, had her brother go downtown and stake out a place in line about 3:30. The doors were going to open at 8:00 am the next morning for Filene’s Basement’s once a year bridal gown sale known as “Running of the Brides.” I came with Ashleigh and 4 other ladies from Lake Bluff about 9:30 pm. A couple more women joined her team before midnight to camp out and wait for the night on State St. It was rough sleeping in a bag camping chair. Just when I’d finally doze off, a siren would go off, someone in a taxi would yell at us driving by or I’d hear the men across the street fixing something drop plywood or a ladder.

5:00 am opening of Starbucks felt like Christmas! I made it a double that morning for sure. As 8:00 am drew closer news crews were flocking in to interview Ashleigh and the other thousands of women lined up to get the deeply discounted designer dresses. Just before 8:00 they allowed the line to come in and snake down to the bottom of the escalator that leads into the store. The had everyone countdown the last 15 seconds outloud. The crowd started slowly shoving forward in eager anticipation to run frantically into the store and grab all the dresses a team could for their bride.

When the rope was dropped, we all ran to grab as many dresses as one could carry. The dresses are just hung on the racks-in no certain order of style, color or size. You just grab what you can and run back to the bride and pile them up. Ashleigh had strategized to have someone guard the pile of dresses that about 12 girls had gathered so no one would steal them. Yes, someone would. There were two-three women helping her try on dresses and sort sizes she needed as quickly as possible. When one wouldn’t work it was handed to someone on the team to “barter” for a dress that might work. You have to have “collateral” to try for other dresses you need to try in order to get our dream dress. Without a dress to try you probably won’t be able to find a dress to try on at all. Women just change in the middle of the store. It feels crazy. But if you want your dream dress at a dream price, you will sacrifice some things. Sanity? Maybe. It’s all an exciting experience. One for the books.

Ashleigh’s certain dress experience didn’t stop when she found her dress. Yes there was fireworks and cheering. Until someone, unaware it was THE DRESS, gave it away thinking it was just another dress they didn’t need. Talk about frantic women!!! Luck would have it the dress was found by a team member and through a tiny word scuffle with another bride, it was recovered! Whew! All things are good again!

Ashleigh's brave campers

doing one of many interviews that morning

bartering

and she found it!