Portrait of a prank: Center stage: the 'phallic thing' commonly known as the Dewey Monument at Union Square. Rampaging brides stormed the stairs to decorate the 97-foot-tall piece of granite. Surviving the 1906 earthquake was a cinch compared to the Brides of March. Click here to see a full-size version of the above image.
Here Come The Brides
San Jose pranksters invade the streets of San Francisco once a year to help cause trouble at the Brides of March, a raucous assault on the institution of marriage organized by underground icons the Cacophony Society. This year, we imbedded a photographer with the South Bay contingent to document the anarchy.
Photographs by Felipe Buitrago
Introduction by Dori Jeffries
A NUMBER of years ago, I went to a wedding reminiscent of a Jerry Springer episode. The audience looked as though they were witnessing a crime instead of a supposedly blessed event. I watched this obvious mismatch pledge their undying love in a state that could only be described as catatonic. The happy couple (term used loosely) barely made it through their vows before they were outside their reception in a screaming match where she used her eight-month pregnant belly as a weapon. No one was really surprised when their undying love lasted a mere six months. Had it not been "final sale only," I would have asked for the toaster back.
I was never the little girl who planned her future wedding. Now, passing through my prime marrying years, I have too many peers who have been married and subsequently divorced, thus leading me to the conclusion that the very concept of marriage is outdated.
With that being said, I am preparing a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding in the coming weeks. When Cynthia, also from San Jose, found an amazing man who worked his voodoo (gave her diamonds), she agreed to marry the fine gentleman. To celebrate her engagement we headed up to the Brides of March, an event we had heard of but didn't know much about.
The Cacophony Society organizes the Brides of March every year, ensuring that the streets of San Francisco surrounding Union Square are taken over by men, women, aliens and gorillas in wedding dresses for a day of drinking and confusing the tourists. In 1999, Michele Michele came up with the idea in a thrift store after seeing racks and racks of used wedding dresses being sold practically two-for-one and "realized how often the dreams of an idea marriage had failed and how so much of this dream has been fabricated in order to fuel the ever-increasing consumption of new products."
On March 10, in wedding dresses, we boarded the train from San Jose to San Francisco armed with champagne and flasks of whiskey in preparation to take our bridal march through, over and around Union Square. Since we got to Ginger's Trois, the meeting place, an hour before the bar was to open, we headed to a near by deli for a nonliquid lunch. We did not have long to wait before the street was filled with white dresses of all shapes and sizes.
Our route through Union Square took us to a tuxedo shop to find grooms, Victoria's Secret, the lobby of the St. Francis, Walgreen's for pregnancy tests and even Tiffany's. And our welcome is always the same—we're asked to leave. If everyone gets 15 minutes of fame, ours are quickly wasted in the vacation photo albums of the tourists who stop brides in the street and ask them what the event is all about. Many brides respond in character, telling the confused tourists that this is their special day but all they need is a groom and they would appreciate help in finding one.
At the end of the evening, we gorged on pizza and caught the train back to San Jose. Upon arrival, the group split in two and parted ways while a few of us continued on to our local home bars, as we were not ready to take off our wedding dresses just yet. Despite my aversion to marriage, being a bride makes for a great day that I was sad to see end.
While making fun of marriage seems like a bizarre way to celebrate an impending wedding, Cynthia and Russell will not be the typical bride and groom as they understand the actual wedding is something to laugh about, and what is more important is the marriage. If more people understood this, it would be harder to find dresses in thrift stores for the annual Brides of March invasion.
Crazy train: The two-hour ride from San Jose featuring champagne, brides' tales and a little disregard for the no-feet-on-the-seats rule is all that's needed to get psyched for the festivities. (Full-size version) While Dori puts in her 2 cents and Mandy and Carrie listen (left, from left to right), storm troopin' Alicia gets comfortable (below).
Thrift store pride: It's the one wedding dress that you can use over and over again. (Full-size version)
Jovino and Sterling demonstrate that despite the mockery, love still is in the air. (Full-size version)
Leader of the pack: Not just a participant, Michele Michele (right) is also the founder of Brides of March. She leads the horde with the help of the megaphone while Lisa checks to make sure the squad is close behind. (Full-size version)
Manhunt: No potential groom in San Francisco was safe, not even in the Sir Francis Drake. If marriage can be scary, how about being proposed to randomly and simultaneously by four inebriated brides from San Jose? (Full-size version)
Tonight we dine in hell: Like 300 Spartans battling the Persian army, two bartenders took on 300 rabid brides at the Top Tunnel Bar. Not an easy task, but they held their own. (Full-size version)
This ain't no storybook: You might think it's a happy ending, but it's not, as the brides walk away from the losers who wouldn't fork over the cash to buy the ring they wanted at Tiffany's. (Full-size version)
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