Filene’s Basement holds 8th annual “Running of the Brides”

A bride's friend tries to find the perfect gown.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News)
A bride's friend tries to find the perfect gown.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News)

It’s often compared to Spain’s running of the bulls, except there are no red-eyed, snorting bulls, just brides-to-be. And they’re running toward racks of highly discounted wedding gowns. Filene’s Basement held its eight annual “Running of the Brides” Friday morning.

Brianna Kennedy, a bride-to-be from Lawrence, Kansas, told her mom and three friends which racks to hit first.

Kennedy left on a 2 o’clock flight Thursday afternoon to come to the Columbus “Running of the Brides” in hopes of saving thousands of dollars on a designer gown.

Kennedy and the other women had 1,500 gowns from which to choose. Many of the dresses had $10,000 price tags. But the brides-to-be will only pay $249, $499 or $699.

Kennedy arrived to Filene’s Basement just after five p.m. yesterday and managed to get second in line. Kennedy and her friends tried to stay warm overnight in a tent.

“When is the big day? December 19, 2010. So two years. OK. So if you don’t find one today you could possibly make it to another run? After the expense and the travel and sleeping in the cold rain this better be it. I don’t have much more in me,” Kennedy said.

Sarah Betts from Columbus was just down the line from the Kennedy crew. Betts brought nine helpers with her including her mom and two sisters. And they all wore green Saint Patrick’s Day hats so they could easily find each other in the crowd once the doors opened.

Betts said she never imagined bartering and 95 percent discounts would be part of her search for the perfect wedding gown.

“I’m on a budget, and I’m really trying to stick to that budget. And as I was doing some research on different ways to save on a gown I found out about this. And I was like, you know what, if I can get a really great gown for a really great price it’s worth it,” Betts said.

Just before eight o’clock two of the front doors were opened. The women were allowed to stand just in the entrance, but several Filene’s employees made sure no one got past.

Then they were off! Within about two minutes the racks were empty, well, except for a lone lavender gown.

“Look at this. Do you believe this? This is insanity,” Barbara Betts, Sarah Betts’ mom, said.

Barbara Betts is watching her daughter and another young woman strip down to their bras and underwear. But they weren’t the only ones. Brides-to-be all over the store threw modesty out the window. There were changing areas available for those who were a little shy.

Betts tried on many gowns and found one she and her friends really liked. But mom didn’t feel exactly the same.

“It’s her wedding. But I like that, not my favorite though,” Barbara Betts said.

While Betts continued to try on dresses her helpers traded with other women.

Brianna Kennedy who flew in from Kansas sat in her bra in front of a mirror. Kennedy described the experience as hectic and exhausting. As second in line she alone grabbed 20 dresses to try on.

“Have you tried on any that you like so far? No. Nope. Just waiting. Everybody’s out trying to find dresses for me. And I’m trying to cool off after laying in a pile of 20 dresses,” Kennedy said.

While Kennedy and Betts struggled to find the wedding gown, Elizabeth Delpit had better luck. Delpit came by herself and she did not wait in the long line. She got there at 8:15. Twenty three minutes later she stood at the cash register holding her credit card.

“I already had it in mind. It was there left for me on the rack. So, it’s all probably some sort of giant coincidence that the dress I wanted was left for me there on the rack untouched,” Delpit said.

Delpit was the third bride-to-be to purchase her dress. The first purchase was made around 8:20.

Pat Boudrot, spokesperson for Filene’s Basement, said the women can save thousands of dollars.

“People can extend their honeymoon, they can invite more people to their wedding, they can add the savings to a down payment on a house. So it’s really worth it. It’s a couple hours of hard work, but it’s well worth the savings,” Boudrot said. The “Running of the Brides” started in Boston in 1947.

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