Friday, February 20, 2009

I Survived Running of the Brides

This morning my family and friends drove through the ice and snow to the Hynes Center in Boston. Today was the bi-annual Running of the Brides hosted by Filene's Basement. This event is held nationwide in major cities, Boston being a very popular location. People come from all over (Chicago, Florida...) to line up at the crack of dawn and run to grab bargain bridal gowns. Our attendance all came about this past weekend when I received an e-mail notification from WeddingWire. My mum, sister, and I had planned to go dress shopping today and of course I thought, 'It's meant to be! We must go running with the brides.' And thus "Team North" was created with my parents, two of my closest (and craziest) friends, my sister and her  best friend. Boy was I wrong! 

After waking up at 2:15 am and driving 45mph until the MA border (where did the snow come from overnight?!) we got in line with about 1500 other brides and team members at 6:30am. The people at the front of the line had been there since 2:45am! When the doors opened at 8:00am, everyone runs in and grabs as many gowns as possible. We were probably half way down the line and when we got into the room where the dresses were, all we found were empty racks and chaos. Dad, with the locator arrow, took off to lay claim to a "changing" area, while we all spread out to see what we could find. Dresses were being dragged across the floor, stepped on, sat on, stuff in cabinets, and overall not being treated like the most treasured gown in a girl's life. People were guarding piles of dresses, regardless of the size, style, or color, and they were NOT giving them up! Just looking at a dress pile resulted in my mom being called and f*@#$!*  b*$@%. Yikes! Despite the first few unkind encounters, we did meet some very nice people who gave us a few dresses to try on. After about 30 minutes, we were done. A size 2-4 dress was not to be found and the mayhem was a bit overwhelming

By 9:00am we departed the Hynes Center, tired, dress-less, and yet not broken. The experience is a bit like when I tried a fried Twinkie...I'm not sure I can say "I'm glad I tried it!" As my friends headed home, my family and I headed to Nashua, NH to attempt to redeem our faith in the bridal process. After a trip to David's Bridal and a few pampered dress fittings, I think we are a bit renewed. Enjoy some of the photos below!

Approximately 1500 people were lined up, some as early as 2:45am. They let us in to the Hynes Center at 6:45am. 

After reading a story about a bride who lost her engagement ring at last years Running, I chose to leave mine at home. Luckily Wedding Wire reps were walking around passing out this bling: perfect fit!

My sister Rachel (right) and her friend Sarah holding or size sign. We chose to wear bright bandannas so we could find each other in the crowd. I'm not sure it worked...

My wonderful parents with our locator arrow.  Once in the chaos, everyone was able to find Dad and I  by looking for our arrow above the crowds. It worked really well!

It also worked as a bride locator.

A fraction of the people lined-up in the Hynes Center. A lot of groups had team colors or costumes. Some were pretty great!

Team North: forgive the red-eye, I can barely keep my open to type this right now, let alone fix photos. 

8:00am, the doors are open! EVERYONE RUN!

The scene we encountered when we entered the store: empty racks. A lot of people just took a whole rack of dresses and wheeled it to a corner for trying on. If you did not have any dresses to barter with, you were not going to get any to try on!

A team near where Dad and I were waiting. The bride's would just strip down and start trying dresses on right in the aisles. As I only prance about in my unders when I am alone, I wore dance tights and a spandex tank top.

People would walk around with signs and dresses to trade, looking for the right size/style. 

Dad and our claimed 2'x2' part of the store. 

After a few minutes, Britney and Sarah returned with a pilfered dress. Size 14 was a bit too big.
Off to barter it away!

Sarah found a pretty, simple dress that had already been ripped, but we tried it on for size comparison. 

A little transparent for my modest nature.

Our store neighbor guarding his pile of dresses. The were nice and let us look through their discard pile WITHOUT a trade.

Mom and Dad amongst the mayhem. I'm not sure how anyone could find the perfect dress with the lack of mirrors and the terrible lighting! 

9:00am rolled around and things were still hopping in the store. Despite a kind woman telling us to not give up, we decided to call it a day. Bridal mayhem is simply not our cup of tea. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

MSgt Robert North: My Dad

On February 7th, my family and our friends gathered in Burlington on the VTANG (Vermont Air National Guard) Base to recognize and celebrate my dad's retirement from 41 years of military service. The room was packed with my dad's colleagues, family, and friends, several of whom drove up from Southern Vermont to attend the ceremony. It was truly a wonderful event full of shared stories, well wishes, and a fabulous dinner later at The Windjammer! Now what for MSgt North? Well, as VTANG was a part-time job, Dad will still work for the local police department, but will hopefully have more time to photograph weddings with me! Enjoy the photos below.

A colleague of Mom's made this Quilt of Valor and wanted to give it to Dad as a gift. On the back she listed his times of service (enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1968) and the missions he was a part of. Truly a beautiful gift!

Dad's VTANG colleagues put together this shadow box of his mission patches.

This poster shows history of The Green Mountain Boys aircraft through Dad's 41 years of service. His VTANG friends signed it and presented it to him during the ceremony.

This fantastic (and delicious) cake was made by our family friend, Valerie. Each of the patches is made with icing and the writing is legible! She is a professional cake maker and decorator who does mainly work for people who have an in. Keep your eyes open though! Word has it she might begin taking on new clients. (She is doing our wedding cake this Fall. I cannot wait for cake!)

My favorite part of the cake was of course the Nikon camera depicted in icing. :)

Dad was awarded The Meritorious Service Medal, the next higher medal being The Purple Heart.

During the ceremony, Mom, my siblings, and I presented the Quilt of Valor to Dad.

Master Sargent Robert North. I could not be prouder to have him as my dad.