Filene's Basement is kicking off their annual Bridal Gown Event
in Lawrenceville, NJ, on October 19th. Affectionately termed "The Running of the Brides," the wedding dress sale attracts throngs of brides-to-be from across the country (and even the world) hoping to score designer wedding gowns—which are normally priced from $900 to $9,000—marked down to prices ranging from $249 to $699.
While we've never personally attended a Filene's basement bridal sale, we have
been to not one, but TWO Vera Wang Bridal Wear Sample Sales (don't ask)—one in New York City, the other in Chicago. Based on our experience, here are some tips to help make your trip a success.
How to Find Your Dream Wedding Gown at a Sample Sale:
Arrive early. Very early. Depending on the city, we're talking two, three, even four or more hours in advance.
Bring help. Enlist the help of two or three friends to help you try on the gowns, zip you up, find your size and swap with other shoppers. You could also have one friend hit the shoes and veils while the other helps you with your gown. Be sure to go over what you're looking for before the sale starts (something to talk about while you wait in line!).
Bring a mirror. Mirrors were very scarce at both sales we attended. We're not suggesting you lug around a full-length mirror, but a locker-size mirror that your friend can hold for you will really come in handy.
Know what you want. Do you want ivory or white? Strapless or sleeves? A full crinoline skirt or something sleek and figure-hugging? Knowing what you want will ensure you're happy with your gown long after the adrenaline rush of the sale has subsided.
Know your size. To figure out what style of gown you really want, visit at least one high-end bridal shop before the sale just to try some on. Note your size at this time, as designer sizes can vary significantly from the sizes you're probably accustomed to.
Don't forget veils and shoes. Not sure about Filene's, but the Vera Wang sample sales had great selections of veils and shoes at unbelievable prices. If you already have a gown, consider shopping the sale just for these accessories.
Know your budget. It's very easy to get caught up in the moment, so decide how much you're willing to pay in advance. Stick to your budget, plus or minus a couple hundo for that can't-live-without find.
Be prepared to get naked. Or, consider wearing a swimsuit or a white cami and boyshorts. Women grab as many gowns as they can carry, pick a spot on the floor, and start stripping. Large curtains are hung up to give you some privacy, but it's basically one vast, make-shift dressing room that you share with dozens of other women.
If you can't find your size, it's better to buy a size up than a size down. You can always have a slightly larger gown tailored to fit you...but not so much with a gown that's too small.
Be prepared to barter. There's no need to be a bridezilla—in fact, we didn't see a single catfight. There are many thoughtful brides who were more than happy to swap and trade gowns in search of the perfect frock.