Scenes From the Scrum at Filene's Basement

It was game time this morning at Filene's Basement in Friendship Heights. The bargain basement department store's annual bridal sale is the Super Bowl of the wedding season.

Dainty brides-to-be, their mothers, friends and bride's maids lined up 300 deep before 8 a.m. and rushed the doors like running backs. Some teams wore matching homemade t-shirts emblazoned with the date of the nuptials; 7-5-08 read one logo.

Others communicated via walkie-talkies as they flung steeply discounted designer gowns by Jason Alexander or Vera Wang from a dozen racks in the middle of the store. Within minutes the racks were empty.

I was among them, along with my friend Carla, trolling for a pretty size 6.

We brides-to-be, outfitted in biking shorts, sports bras or lingerie, tried on as many dresses as we could find. Then bartered, trading ones we didn't like, an ivory ball gown for a beaded white strapless.
Some held up cardboard signs, "I need a 4 ..... please!"

The sale with gowns priced from $249 to $699 -- marked down from $900 to more than $9,000 -- has become central not only to Filene's but to the local wedding industry. Wedding planners, the catering sales manager at Hilton Hotels in Gaithersburg and reps from www.weddingwire.com and www.perfectweddingguide.com passed out business cards and flyers, some endearing themselves to hungry bridal parties by handing out free granola bars and cookies.

Mothers, sisters and a few fathers guarded dresses in "maybe" piles like offensive linemen. One mom, who spent the night outside with her daughter, shouted, "Get back!" as late shoppers eyed their booty. But by 10 a.m. discarded dresses were back on the racks. Several ladies had found "the one," beaming as their teams and the teams of others looked on with smiles and applause.

I scored too with Carla's help. She picked out for me a classy beaded chiffon dress, sales price a non-refundable $263. Retail price $1,000!
-- Krissah Williams

By Mike Shepard  |  August 3, 2007; 2:38 PM ET  | Category:  Retail
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This was a wonderful experience. My friend Kia (the bride), her sister, and two other friends were there let's just say thursday evening late and we just so happen to be the first in line. It was the most wonderful emotional, adrenaline rush ever! If I had to do it again for a friend I am pretty sure I would but I now have some tactics to use for the next run. Ladies come prepared and have a open mind. You really can't be picky in a situation where you are negotiating and not really sure what you are getting. It is a great team building exercise and it allows you to form bonds and relationships with other women. They make it out to be extreme fighting but most women are helpful, BUT you have to come with the right attitude. For every group of 6 women there may be, there is only "1" bride and there are like 3000 dresses in all diff shapes and sizes.. Best wishes to any who dare the next round.... :0)

P.S- the worker said the dress was orig. 10K but my friend paid $249.99....talk about great deal

Posted by: Carla | August 6, 2007 2:08 PM

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