and then they ran

This was probably the best thing that will ever occur during my wedding planning.

So after a horrendously long bus ride to Baltimore (that was almost 3 hours later than it should have been) and an even more stressful train ride to the airport to get our car, we arrived at the infamos Filene’s Basement at a little before 11:30pm. Luckily for us, the store was under an awning on the second story of a strip mall. It was in the back so it wasn’t facing the main road, and it was reletively quiet. There was already quite a handful of people there, probably around 30-40 or so already in front of us. We picked our spot at the end of the line and decided to take turns heading to what we thought was a 24-hour WalMart next door. Turns out the WalMart closed at 11, so Amelia headed to a little grocery store type thing to see what they had while I held down our spot.

Aparently we were out of the loop when it comes to camping out at night in front of a store. People in front of us had tents and sleeping bags and chairs and the people who arrived after us had inflatable air mattresses. We, well, we had nothing. At all. I guess that tends to happen when we come from Omaha and everyone else is local.

I guess we (or me, I should say, since Amelia was still gone) looked kind of pathetic, because the nice family in front of us decided to give us a quilt to lay on so we didn’t have to sleep on the concrete. Combine that with the beach towel Amelia bought us at the grocery store and we were quite the site.

We got a couple somewhat decent hours of sleep…well, as decent as can be sleeping on the concrete. Early in the wee (cold, freezing, freezing cold) hours of the morning the tv station reporters started showing up to do their live reports for their morning news. Everyone finally got moving around and the line magically shortened (who knew tends and air mattresses took up so much room?), but we had to stand. By this time various wedding vendors from the area decided to capitalize on the fact that they had so many potential brides in one place and started handing out various flyers, most of which ended up in the trash cans. Who wanted to carry random pieces of paper around when the doors opened and it was a free for all for the dress?

By this time we were getting excited and the dresses were in site. Rivalries were starting to be formed, and you could see all the potential brides eyeing each other for dress size similarities.

Or maybe that was the Rock Star energy drink making me see things a little crazy.

Either way the hours were counting down, and the strategies were being formed.

And then, the Gods looked down, and smiled.

And aside from the possibility of finding a dress, bestowed on me the greatest gift of all.

So you see those people on the right in the light blue shirts? Well they were from the outstanding WeddingWire website. Aside from giving out awesome WeddingWire shirts to all the brides, they were also giving out 4 gift certificates for a free dress! All you had to do was pick the correct number between 1-1000. Well, my favorite number is 3, so my options were going to be 3 or 33, but when they actually asked for my guess, I realized that I could pick 333, three 3’s, I was excited! So my vote was cast and I forgot about the whole issue.

I headed to WalMart to get some signs to make our “Want” and “Need” signs.

*Side Note* The WalMart there has TWO stories. With an escalator. And a specialty designed cart escalator. Yes, that was very, very impressive to me for some reason. Again I’m blaming the Rock Star drink.

Anywho I walked back and when I got up and through the MASSIVE amount of people that had gathered (all down the side of the building and then down the stairs!) there were a bunch of WeddingWire people standing near our spot. I climbed back through the people and found Amelia, and the WeddingWire people announced that they had a winner in that section. So they went back through and had us repeat our numbers. After they had asked a couple people behind me, they went “Yes, we have a winner!”

And, well, since I’m typing about it you can obviously guess what happened next…but just in case you didn’t…

Pardon my crappy appearance. Remember I had slept outside all night.

Anywho, I won a free dress! ME! I’ve never won anything! But apparently 3 IS a lucky number.

After this the time went by rather quickly. We formed an “aliance” with the amazing people in front of us who gave us the blanket, so there were a total of 5 people who could grab dresses and a mom to stake out a spot. She had brought her mom and brother and one of the few fiance’s there. They had all driven up from Virginia (or was it North Carolina? I can’t remember.) But since she was a different size from me, we figured that an aliance would be beneficial for the both of us since we could grab even more dresses.

Anyway the crowd was getting ansy and the employees were getting ready. It reminded me of a scarier version of Black Friday shopping. By scarier I mean picture over 500 scary, insane BRIDES (yes, 500 BRIDES. Not to mention how many people they brought with them, which was an average of about 4 people per bride. We were SEVERELY outnumbered with our 2 people, total.) who are all trying to save thousands of dollars on their dream wedding dress.

Yes. That is the dresses hanging in all of their glory. Notice how far back they go!

Again, pardon how ridiculous we look. I promise we don’t usually look like that. But we were tired. And the upcoming pictures of dresses make me look equally as ridiculous. But just ignore the makeupless face and messy, messy hair. 🙂

At this time the crowd was getting a bit…ansy. After all, there were over 500 brides in line at this time, not to mention the hundreds of groupies for said brides. Amelia and I were pretty much outnumbered, most groups had at least 5 or 6 people.

The employees inside were taking the tape off the racks now, and the line was steadily moving closer to the still-closed door (can we say, ow?) The poor workers inside looked terrified and held onto the racks for dear life. Which they very well should have, considering what happened next.

And the countdown began.

And the brides started running.

Imagine those scary scenes from the Day After Thanksgiving sales that you see at the big stores offering incredible deals, like back when places were selling the XBox. Or Furbies. Or some other hot item of the year. You see those old ladies being trampled into the ground and people screaming and running n every direction, and you sat at home watching this on your TV and said to yourself, “Morons.”

Yeah, I was that moron. Only imagine that scene, with a rampage of violent, obsessed brides and their mothers who are hoping to save a few thousand dollars to get their dream dress.

It was violent. It was ugly. It was painful.

Before the doors opened we were shoved off to the side next to the main doors. We were so packed that we had moved up about 3x closer than we had been all night, and the doors were still closed. When the doors finally opened, people screamed, the line moved slowly because people couldn’t fit through the door, and we got showed into the wall. I hadn’t even taken a step.

Somehow I managed to get through the door and by this time I had lost Amelia. But I was in the store, there were the dresses, and all hell had broke loose.

I ran. And I grabbed. And I grabbed some more. I couldn’t see, the dresses were heavy, and there were employees yelling for people to go this way and not that way and it was utter chaos. Somehow I found our group and I threw down my stash on our pile and turned to go for more, and the thousands of dresses were gone.

This was less than 30 seconds since the doors opened.

Then the fun began. We shifted through the dresses, we had grabbed about 50 I would say between the 5 of us, and passed between me and the other girl to shift out possibles. Her fiance was involved in bargaining (yes, there was intense bargaining), her brother and Amelia were shifting. I was stripping.

Dresses were flying, somehow we stole a dress rack to put our trades on. People were hovering, trying to steal from our pile. Unkind words were said.

Pretty quickly I found a potential dress. I really liked it and it did fit, although it was small. I wanted to lose weight anyway. Ha. So that dress went into safe keeping, away from the hoarding, grabbing arms of brides who came too late and mothers who didn’t expect this big of a crowd.

This was Contender #1:

I liked it. But then I found this.

Contender #2:

This one was my favorite. And the one I would have bought. This would have been the one I wore to the wedding. I didn’t have The Dress moment, but it was beautiful.

This was also a strong contender because it was so different. It wasn’t really me but it was gorgeous.

Contender #3:

I have no idea what was going on with my face here. Again, remember the sleeping on the sidewalk fact.

By this time I had sifted through the large pile of dresses and had my small stack of these 3. I was sending picture after picture to my mom and she was on the phone. People around the store would cheer, signaling they had found their dream dress. The dresses were slowly making their way back onto the rack.

I had narrowed it down to Contenders 2 and 3. I liked the first one, but I was drawn to the elegance of the 3rd and the coloring and detailing of the 2nd.

After a while a girl near us tried on a really different looking dress, she ended up not liking it and passing it off to us. This was Amelia’s favorite, but it wasn’t screaming The Dress to me.

Sort of A Contender:

It was definitely pretty. And it had a really unique cut and a pretty back. But it didn’t have the cathedral train that I wanted, and the boob area just wasn’t setting well with me.

After much deliberation and discussion with my mom, I decided to get both Contenders 2 and 3. I had my free dress certificate to use for one, and then I would just pay the $249 for the second. I really wanted my mom’s opinion and to see it in person. And then I wasn’t really out anything since I had one free.

So while Amelia started putting all the dresses back into a more uniform pile and back on the hangers, I went out to take a last look on the racks to see if anyone had put anything decent back up. I found a couple, but neither were great. But I had to try on at least one out there dress that I most definitely would not wear.

Yes, it had been a long night/day/whatever. And yes those were feathers. And solid beading on the top. That sucker was HEAVY. And probably almost 10 grand in a normal store. But not so much me. But it was fun.

So I had decided on the two, and figured in my head that I would be wearing Contender #2 for the wedding. The only drawback to that one was it was a bit snug. Not so much that I wouldn’t have worn it, but enough that I might not eat the week of the wedding. Ha. I still wasn’t 100% sold, but I was wearing thin and getting hungry. It was almost 11 in the morning now and the store had opened 3 hours before.

So Amelia, the wonderful bridesmaid that she is, told me to go take one last look around, just to ease my mind, and she would clear up the area. So I walked around and didn’t really find anything that stood out. On my way back to our section, I saw a girl trying on this dress that was so unique and different, that I was immediately drawn to it. I had no idea the size, and it was definitely unlike anything I would have tried on back home. But I was drawn to it, and so I followed the girl and asked her if she liked it. She said she wasn’t sure, and asked it I wanted to try it on. I said sure, and she gave it to me. It was a bit bigger than my normal size, but I was still struck by the unique color and style. It sort of threw me with the color, and when I took it back to Amelia she looked at it and went “I dunno…”.

But I didn’t have anything to loose, so I put it on. I wasn’t by a mirror, but I put it on and something inside just…clicked. I can’t describe it. I looked down at the intricate lacing and the coloring and the incredible train and just knew. Amelia was like “Wow.” And I got that feeling that they talk about.

I found a mirror and started crying. Yes, I never thought I would cry when finding my dress, but it happened. Uncontrollably, but it happened. I wasn’t balling or anything, and it could have been the RockStar wearing off, but there were tears and people walked by that I had never met and told me that that was The Dress.

I sent my mom a picture and called her. She sent me a text saying that was the one. No questions. She said it made her cry. She told me on the phone it was no contest. The other contenders just slipped out of my mind. This was The Dress. And it was completely unlike any other dress I had seen. It had that Vintage, Antique look that is the theme of the wedding and fit really flattering. It needs to be taken in a bit, but it is definitely the most flattering.

Yes, that’s it. The Dress. See the happiness on my face??? I even took my hair down. And even makeupless and tired it made me feel oh so pretty.

We did the cheer, and said goodbye to the Contenders. I never even looked back at them.

With my wonderful free giftcard, the dress came to a wonderful $14. I paid tax. It was incredible.

Later I found out it was a Justin Alexander designer dress. Priced around $3,000. How incredible was this?!

So the trip has been well worth it. I got the dress. The entire trip was less than the dress I was going to get back home. Now I just have to figure out how to get it home.

Luckily the rental car will do for the rest of the day.

So that was the big adventure. If there is any way to experience this for yourself, do it. I will never forget that experience and I only wish my mom was able to be there. I never did learn the name (well, I forgot it actually, oops) of the girl we made the alliance with, but she did eventually find a dress. Long before I found my definite one. And it was gorgeous too.

Here are a few more pictures from the day, taken after my dress was safely tucked into the truck on our rental car.

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~ by kazzamwedding on July 11, 2008.

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