When deciding on whether or not to do ROTB, I ended up having my decision made for me. When I was starting to look for dresses, Filenes had been bought out and there was a pretty big rumor going around that there would be no ROTB in 2009. With that in mind, I headed to another bridal shop, fell in love and put down a deposit. Only to find out a few months later, the August Running of the Brides was still on. For awhile I debated on whether to lose my deposit and go for it, but I figured I already found "the dress" and didn't want to feel pressured into getting a dress I may not love as much because of two possibilites: 1. finding a cheaper dress that I liked may tempt me, and 2. buying a dress out of guilt for having friends and family use vacation days to attend and waking up at the crack of down to stand in line-only to have me say ehh, I think I'll stick with the one I already put a deposit on.
Despite my decision to skip on my own ROTB Experience, I thought I'd share my experience from a supporter's side.
Typically, a bride cuts out a few pictures to prepare for a dress appointment. This is not really the case with ROTB. Sister Newport did have a few photos to share with her "entourage" (as we named ourselves), to get a better idea of what she was looking for. The more important way to plan isn't showing pictures, it was actually strategizing - yes there was strategy in the approach to find the dress.
Bridesmaid M, had watched a documentary on ROTB and took notes. She went on and did a little research and came up with a power point presentation. She eneded up printing it off to go over with the entourage the night before ROTB.
Strategy 1: Plan ahead.
Strategy 2: Coordinate. It makes it easier to find each other in the crowd. Bridesmaid M and her sister, bridesmaid E had shirts made for us, that said "Jenn's Entourage". For the male member of the group, they made a special shirt:
Strategy 3: Dress appropriately. Other than coordinateing, make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. When the people start to run, you need to be ready. If you do the winter ROTB dress warm, you may need to wait in the cold for awhile. Make sure the bride wears a body suit, or something she's comfortable changing in, in front of other people.
Strategy 4: Bring lots of people. The more people you have, the better. When you get through the doors, it is a mad dash for dresses. The more arms you have to grab=more dresses.
Strategy 5: Get there early. We got there at 3:00 a.m. and were about the 4th or 5th group in line. Shortly after the lines started to grow quickly.
Strategy 6: Designate "jobs" to each person. First, a job for running in, and a second job for when the dash is over. Make sure you choose people based on their strengths. A few examples of "jobs": Dress grabbers- this should be everyone during the dash, except for two people who run to "claim" a spot, Dress helpers- someone to get the dresses on, another to get them off, dress guards- people do try to steal them, packers and unpackers- the dresses come in big bags that need to be unzipped, then get the dresses of the hangers and handed to the dressers, bargainers- the bargainers need to take the rejects and find other brides to trade with.
Strategy 7: Create "alliances". While we were in line, the male member of the entourage started forming alliances with other brides. He found three women in front of us, the bride was a different size and wanted a different style than Sister Newport. He told her if we found anything like what she wanted he'd have us give it to her, if they'd do the same. A few hours later, he found a dress, brought it over to her. Within about half an hour, she came to find him and told him that he had found "the dress". By the end of the day, he had found "the dress" for three different brides. All of whom helped us out, too.
Strategy 8: Never stop strategizing. After seeing that alot of people were wearing pink, our way of standing out didn't seem so unique. So bridesmaid E came up with an idea that really made us stand out......She did all of our hair so that we'd be able to see each other across the room. It worked, not only could we find each other in the crowd, but so could everyone else. We ended up on a few different news stations, radio stations, online publications and made our way into the Boston Globe. (Side note: later that day, bridesmaid E & M's brother was at work, while a coworker called him over to look at "these crazy people" online, only to find out the crazies were his sisters and cousins).
Strategy 9: Don't discriminate when grabbing dresses. The more you can grab, the better. Just because it's not your bride's size it doesn't mean it won't help her out.
Strategy 10: Trade, trade, trade! Take any dresses the bride rejects, and have your "bargainers go out and trade for dresses in her size and style. The two dresses Sister Newport ended up with, both came through trades.
Strategy 11: Bring man power. Our M.V.P. of the day was the one guy in our group. He was able to grab an entire rack of dresses by himself in the beginning. We were so lucky to have him. He was the one who grabbed the most dresses, made alliances with other bride's groups, and found one of the dresses Sister Newport chose through a trade.
It was definitely a learning experience for him though. When he was going out to trade, he had no clue what Sister Newport meant when she said she wanted something lacey or Grecian, but he tried. He was also a little gullible. He traded a gorgeous dress at one point for a pink dress because the woman he traded with said it was a great trade and the bride would love it. He came back so excited and felt taken when he saw Sister Newport's reaction to ther dress. He came back with quite a few interesting dresses including the purple dress below.
Strategy 12: Enjoy the bonding experience. It was a blast and such a memorable experience. Even Newport Mom loved it, other than the last 15 minutes before you go in the door, that scared her. We had so many laughs from that day.
Strategy 13: Treat your supporters/friends to a great breakfast afterwards. We were pretty exhausted and starving by the end of the experience. Newport Mom and Newport Aunt K took us out to lunch afterwards.
If you don't like crowds, if you come back later in the day, there are still plenty of dresses. Many of the people who come in the morning are supporters and not actual brides. After "the run", dresses start to get put back on the racks. As you can see in the "celebration" picture above.
Upcoming 2010 Running of the Brides Events
Columbus : Friday, Jan 29
New York City : Friday, Feb 5
Boston : Friday, Feb 19
Atlanta : Friday, March 19
Chicago : Friday, July 23
Wash DC : Friday, July 30
Cleveland : Friday, Aug 27
Have you had a ROTB expereince? Was it successful?