Deanna Bateman wanted to put her wedding woes behind her Tuesday, so she got real pushy.
On national TV, no less.
"I just hope I don't fall," the 31-year-old said as she contemplated bulldozing her way through racks of satin, lace, bustles, ruffles and beads galore to get the wedding gown of her dreams.
Bateman was one of nearly 30 brides-to-be featured in the "Today" show's "Running of the Brides," shoving, grabbing and rushing their way through racks of white dresses to pick out the most alluring wedding day attire.
Some contestants even took their shoes off to help them run quicker and maintain their balance amid the chaos.
It was all part of the NBC show's search for its 2007 reality TV wedding couple.
Each of the first 50 contestants to show up at the Venetian on Tuesday were to get a new wedding gown valued between $600 and $6,000 from Feline's Basement. Since the turnout was lower than expected, some of them took home more than one.
The brides are joining some 5,000 online contenders who hope to win a free wedding designed by Martha Stewart and a honeymoon at a surprise location.
With siblings in North Carolina, California, Michigan and Afghanistan, Bateman said having her wedding televised is one way she can share the special day with the people most important to her.
Ever since her mother died in a car wreck in 1994, and her father died last year, Bateman has relied on her six brothers and three sisters for support.
"After that happens, you realize how important family is," said Bateman, who wants her oldest brother to give her away at the wedding ceremony. "It's my only wish to have them all at my wedding. They're all I have."
She said if her wedding were on television, her brother serving overseas would be able to watch.
Bateman and fiance Jason Mishler, 27, moved to Las Vegas from Michigan six months ago for better job opportunities. Both work full time while caring for Bateman's three children. They don't know how they are going to find the time to plan the perfect wedding.
Mishler, who is adopting Bateman's children, wants to give his future bride the wedding she deserves.
"She's gone through a lot in her life, and I can't afford to give her everything I want to give her, so if we were selected it would be fantastic," Mishler said.
He arrived in Las Vegas a few weeks before Bateman, staying with friends and working two jobs in order to buy a home for his new family.
For the last eight years, "Today" show producers and viewers have selected one engaged couple a year to marry live on television. This year the show is taking a four-day tour in Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago and New York so producers and host Al Roker can meet some contenders in person.
Couples from the Las Vegas area showed up as early as midnight to ensure a spot on the show.
As the contestants wiggled, squirmed and shimmied into wedding dresses, Cody Helgeswon, 21, of Phoenix cheered on his fiancee, shouting directions such as "third dress, second rack on the right" to ensure she got the gown she wanted.
"A girl always remembers what she wears on a special day, and this is the most special day of all," said Jessica Maple, 22, a bride-to-be from Phoenix. "I want to make him stop in his tracks when he sees me."
"Today" show spokeswoman Megan Kopf said producers are looking for energetic couples who stand out to be to be among the four finalists viewers will vote for online to see who deserves the televised wedding.
Las Vegas hairdresser Suzie Stabile, 33, thought she might get the producers' attention with a sign that boasted of the love between her and her fiance, New York firefighter Joe Lacorazza, 29. The bright yellow sign had cutouts of hair clippers and a firefighter's helmet.
"I love my honey so much and I want to get married in front of everybody," she yelled into cameras during the taping.
Shannon Milicic, 24, of Boulder City and Justin Hitzman, 28, of Las Vegas hope their unique engagement will get producers' attention. Hitzman proposed to Milicic at the top of a mountain during a snowboarding vacation in Canada. Milicic's hands were so cold when she took off her gloves to receive the ring that within minutes she was begging to put them back on.
"It was so amazing," said Milicic, who tumbled over in the snow just minutes after the proposal. "The view, the moment, I was on top of the world. I was so happy I forgot how to snowboard."
After following the couples for 70 to 80 weeks in past years, Roker said he couldn't help feeling emotionally attached to the winning couples.
"When the moment happens, it's really special. You get all caught up in it. It brings you back to your own wedding," he said.