Beware the Brides of March.
Beware the Brides of March.
Benjamin Leatherman

Brides of March 2017: A Field Guide to Saturday's Bar Crawl in Downtown Phoenix

There’s a lot you can do with an old wedding gown these days. There are scores of 'em available at local thrift stores, ranging from frilly frocks to silken gowns, all of which can be repurposed as potential craft projects, transformed into mixed-media canvases, or utilized as costumes for geek events.

Or if you’re up for a bit of wild fun, you could always wear one to the Brides of March this weekend.

It’s an annual bar crawl that spoofs wedding culture and the Ides of March and happens in cities across the U.S. (including here in Arizona) every March. The gonzo event is organized by chapters of the Cacophony Society, the infamous urban pranking group with branches worldwide, and involves hundreds men and women wearing goofy and glitzy bridal dresses while engaging in an afternoon of drinking.

Dress to impress.
Dress to impress.
Benjamin Leatherman

When and Where: This year’s Brides of March bar crawl takes place on Saturday, March 11. Participants will gather at Charlie’s Phoenix, 727 West Camelback Road, starting at noon for drinks and the running of the annual high-heel race in the parking lot. After a round or two, everyone heads for the Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road light rail station nearby to begin the crawl, which will take them to several bars in midtown and downtown Phoenix before winding up back at Charlie's.

As always, organizers recommend showing up a little early to ensure that things start on time.

Prices: It's free to participate in the event, and none of the bars will have a cover charge. That said, you’ll have to pay for your own drinks and food. Also, light rail fares are $2 for a single ride or $4 for an all-day pass.

Age Limits: The crawl is strictly for the 21-and-over crowd.

Weather: It’s going to be be a nice day to wear a white wedding dress, as the forecast for Saturday calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s. Given that it will be warm and you’ll be walking, try to drink water as much as possible between rounds of adult beverages.

Brides of March participants at a light rail station in 2015.
Brides of March participants at a light rail station in 2015.
Benjamin Leatherman

Parking: There’s plenty of it available at Charlie’s, as the bar offers a large lot with plenty of spaces. Additionally, there are also park-and-ride facilities available near the 19th Avenue/Montebello and 19th Avenue/Camelback Road light rail stations.

Food and Drinks: Every drinkery and bar will serve libations of some sort, including beer, booze, and cocktails. Some will also offer small plates, appetizers, and other food options. A few might have drink specials for Brides of March participants. Each stop will last from 45 minutes to an hour, so be sure to pace yourself when it comes to imbibing.

What to Bring: Your ID and a certain amount of cash, both of which will help speed up the process of getting drinks. Comfortable shoes, sunglasses, sunblock, and a fully charged cellphone are also a good idea. Also, anyone who brings a canned food item to donate to St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance can score a drink or shot at Charlie's for only a penny.

Participants of last year's Brides of March bar crawl.EXPAND
Participants of last year's Brides of March bar crawl.
Benjamin Leatherman

What to Wear: A wedding or bridesmaid's dress, of course. It doesn’t necessarily have to be white (as we’ve seen some colorful and colorfully tacky frocks in previous years) but costumes are pretty much mandatory at the event. Brides of March organizers recommend hitting up local secondhand and thrift stores for low-cost frocks and gowns.

In fact, the Goodwill store at Main Street and Recker Road in Mesa has a Bridal Clearance Center with large amounts of low-cost wedding apparel, including dresses as cheap as $10 to $20. And any dudes who want to know how to fit into a dress can consult this online guide detailing how to make suitable adjustments.

What to Do: Have a few drinks. Take tons of photos. Pretend you’re a bride for a day. Toss the bouquet. Have even more drinks. Get into some shenanigans. Speaking of which …

Going for glory during the high-heel race at Brides of March 2015.
Going for glory during the high-heel race at Brides of March 2015.
Benjamin Leatherman

High-Heel Race: During the first stop of the crawl at Charlie's, Brides of March organizers will conduct a footrace in the parking lot of Charlie’s, where participants in towering ladies' shoes attempt to run. It’s quite an amusing sight to watch and sort of sets the tone for the day. Anyone wearing 3-inch heels (wedges aren’t allowed) can participate, and prizes will be awarded to the first-, second-, and third-place finishers.

Schedule and Stops: While the exact schedule hasn't been posted as of this writing, the event begins at noon and should run through the afternoon and into the evening. Here's a rundown of where they'll be going.

Noon: Brides gather at Charlie’s Phoenix. (The high-heel race
1:25 p.m.: The high-heel race takes place in the Charlie’s parking
1:35 p.m.: Depart Charlie’s and board light rail for Kobalt
2 p.m.: Stop at Kobalt
3 p.m.: Toast and garter belt toss
3:45 p.m.: Depart Kobalt and board light rail for Lucky Strike
4 p.m.: Stop at Lucky Strike
5 p.m.: Boquet toss
5:20 p.m.: Depart Lucky Stike and board light rail for Found:re
5:30 p.m.: Stop at Found:re and DeSoto Central Marketplace
7 p.m.: Depart Found:re and head for the final stop at Charlie’s Phoenix

After-Party: Many Brides of March participants will continue to drink and carouse after the crawl returns to Charlie's in the evening. An after-party will last until 11 p.m. (or later) and will include champagne shots, dancing and possibly cake.

And if you’d like to keep going after that, the annual Viva PHX music festival will be taking place at various bars and venues throughout downtown on Saturday night. It’s $30 to attend, and you’re welcome to wear your dress at any of the concerts taking place.

Editor's note: This story was updated after its initial publication with scheduling and other info.

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