Real Bride Interview: Erica at Filene’s Basement’s Running of the Brides

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with recent Filene’s Basement’s Running of the Brides Survivor and Promotional Model, Miss Erica Vargo, and her mom, just hours after the sale!  Since there’s so much hype about this event, I thought we all might benefit from the perspective of a real-life bride who not only attended, but found her dream dress for pennies on the dollar.  There are some tips and a general outline on the Filene’s Basement site, but Erica is a real bride who was there first-hand!  Here’s what Erica had to say about the intensity of the event, her experiences, and her strategies for success.  Enjoy!

Go, team amERICA!

Something New Entertainment’s Disc Jockey Anna-Jeannine “AJ9” Herman: Erica, tell us about the “Dream Team.”  Who did you ask to accompany you to the Running of the Brides, and why did you choose each of them?

Erica Vargo: My “Dream Team” was those who are important to me and wanted to be a part of my wedding gown shopping experience. My mother, my two sisters, and one of my bridesmaids. I also wanted a team that wasn’t shy to go after dresses and knows my style, which all of them did. The most important people there for the day was my family, my younger sister even skipped school to be apart of the experience.

AJ9: What did you wear to the sale and why?  (i.e. did you choose something easy to run in, easy to get in and out of/change in, or wear something so you and your friends could see each other easily?)

Erica: We didn’t care how easy it was to run in our clothes, it was more how would we identify each other.  My team was Team amERICA and we all wore red, white, blue to see each other. Most of us had on bandanas so you could recognize us. I am pretty tall, so my red bandana stuck out well. I wore spandex workout shorts and a sports bra which was easy to change gowns with, without a fitting room. I also felt comfortable walking around the store in the attire too.  We also had some signs we placed in on of the racks with my dress size, team name, and desired gown style so we could easily be spotted.

AJ9: What time did you arrive at Filene’s Basement to wait for the doors to open?  How long did you wait, and what was the atmosphere like?  Did it really seem like you were waiting forever, or did time pass pretty quickly?

Erica: We weren’t as hardcore and chose not to sleepover (since I just flew in the night before from Dallas). We got there around 7am and the line was decently long. The wait was fun, the local news was there interviewing girls, vendors passed out information, brides shared stories, and a DJ serenaded the group while we waited in line. The time seemed to pass really quickly with all the commotion going on.

Waiting for the doors to open.

AJ9: Did you think you already generally knew what you were looking for when you entered the store?  Had you already chosen a style?

Erica: Yes, I definitely had a certain style in mind that I wanted. I also am a lover of fashion so I was open to new styles too if it looked great. My sisters and mother really understand my fashion sense too so this was really helpful. I figured you have to try anything that looks good at the sale becuase you never know what you will get! Sometimes something that looks ugly on the rack looks amazing on. I had some designers in mind too that I liked and made sure my team saw my “scrapbook” of inspiration before we went to hunt. I looked for a trumpet/mermaid gown and it is what I got! Toward the end of our shopping experience, I had narrowed it down to 2 gowns. One was my strapless mermaid gown and the other an A-line with straps, which differed from what I orginally wanted. Both were the same designer though — and many of the others I tried were the same. You can definitely find a gown here! Be open minded, have style in mind, and you might find a $3000+ gown for $699 like me 🙂

AJ9: What were some of your experiences grabbing/dodging/trading with other participants?  Did you and your team have any strategies that helped make the experience more manageable?

Erica: Best advice: stand next to girls who have similar style taste as you. Share rejects with each other. We had a line of about 4-5 girls who all liked the same stuff and shared our “no” dresses. Don’t be afraid to ask a girl, “if you don’t like that, please let me try it.” Once the itinitial madness calms down, the trading truly becomes the best way to find what you want. You can even come late and just trade! Also, Don’t worry about size (my final 2 were a size 4 and a size 10!), dresses run awkward with size. There is an alteration lady on site that can let you know if dresses can be taken in.

AJ9: How many different dresses did you try on during the day?

Erica: OMG, I want to say at least 100. SO MANY! Some were just for fun, like a Lady Gaga dress or a Renassiance inspired dress that are jsut too funny to pass up.

AJ9: Tell us about the dress you chose.

Erica: I don’t know the designer, but the price tag says $3k+ marked down to $699. It looks like an Anne Barge, Simon Carvelli, or Alvina Valenta gown.  The gown is trumpet/mermaid style.  Ivory color. Strapless with beautiful vintage beading at the top around the breasts/empire line. The back dips low where a silk ivory flower separates the beading form the satin gown. There is a train with silk buttons all the way to the floor. Truly classic and beautiful.

AJ9: What was appealing to you about the idea of attending the Running of the Brides?  Was it the thrill of the chase, that you love a great bargain, that you were hoping to spend the money elsewhere, or maybe just curiosity?

Erica: I know I have expensive taste and feared my dream dress would be way out of my price range. I love fun events like this too, so it only seemed perfect we’d do something crazy like this to find my gown! I’m so glad I got a beautiful dress for a low cost. Now I have more money to spend on other things I want at the reception!

AJ9: Did you feel that it was a good experience?  What could have happened differently or been done that would have improved your experience — either by yourself or the store?

Erica: I think it is fun. If you go in with too high expectations you might be disapointed. Just have fun and see what you find!  My mom said at the end ” I always thought we’d be in a bridal salon, sipping champagne and getting misty eyed as you walked out with your gown. This was way different, a little more barbaric, but most of all memorable and fun.” It might have been nice to still have that experience you get at a bridal salon, but it still is a fun day overall.

AJ9: Would you recommend that other brides attend?  What type of person would experience success at this event, and what might limit someone from being successful/enjoying themself?

Erica: Of course! If you like to bargain hunt, can handle chaos, and expectations aren’t too high — this is definitely fun! So many ladies found their dream dress at the event. And the DESIGNERS that are featured are to die for. So many gowns that I would have never been able to consider were featured and I am thankful I got to try them on 🙂

AJ9: How does your dress express who you are?  What does your dress say about your wedding?

Erica: Bottom line this dress has to be YOU! and my dress is definitely me, and is everything I was looking for in a dress. Has the classyness and sass I was looking for, the color, the regalness. Everything from color, to style, to mood flow with my party ideas.

AJ9: How did you know when you found the right dress?  What was it about this dress that made it a “keeper?”

Erica: I had a hard time! I narrowed it down to 2 dresses and the A-line dress I had many people were voting on for me! I knew it wasn’t a right choice because in my head thats not the shape I wanted. I wanted to feel sexy, have a certain shape and color and this dress had it all. That’s when I knew this was the one I wanted for my wedding! 🙂

Erica, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me!  It was really cool to learn more about the event from a bride’s perspective, and I know your thoughts will be helpful to ladies thinking about next year’s sale!  You rock!  <3 AJ9

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