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    Auction Finds

    A wedding dress on the cheap

    The two wedding dresses were lying on top of a box under a back table at the auction house. I was surprised to find them because it’s not often that I see new – and very clean – wedding dresses at auction.

    Usually, they are vintage wedding gowns, a little faded from storage, their colors way off-white. But these two looked to be pristine – and so snowy. They were in their original boxes, and their interiors were stuffed with tissue paper. They had the typical wedding-dress look with white beading.

    But how did they end up here? Usually items at auction are passed on by relatives after someone dies and the family has no need for their stuff. These were obviously not in that category.

    I wasn’t sure how well these dresses would sell, though. The bidder would have to be a dealer who sold clothes or someone on the hunt for a wedding dress at that particular time and was lucky enough to come across one here. The other issue was size: One of the dresses looked to be a 12, the other a bit larger for a buxomy woman.

    I was sure that the highest bidder would get them at a great price compared to what they’d cost in a retail store or online. At this auction house’s last vintage clothing sale, an Art Deco ivory and silk embroidered wedding gown went for $20.

    I doubt if these dresses ever lived at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, where the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress” is filmed. I’ve seen the show a couple of times, and the gowns are gorgeous. But they are also expensive – in the thousands of dollars. At Kleinfeld, brides-to-be – and family members – are filmed as they choose from a selection of designer dresses.  

    Online, brides-to-be may be able to find dresses in the hundreds of dollars, but who wants to buy a wedding dress they can’t try on? And I’m sure we all remember the Philadelphia woman from a few years ago who was scammed when she tried to buy a Monique Lhuillier-designed dress on eBay. The scammer even admitted to her that she had been scammed. That situation, though, had a happy ending.

    Or can you ever forget the Carol Burnett episode when she mimicked Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” by wearing the drapes from her window. I loved Carol Burnett; she was so naturally funny. (The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin is seeking donations to refurbish Scarlett’s green curtain dress, wedding dress and other costumes from the movie for a 75th anniversary exhibition in 2014.)

    At the auction for the two wedding dresses, there wasn’t a thundering of bidders. As usual, the auctioneer started high – way past $100 – but ended up at $5 before someone made the first bid. The bidding proceeded back-and-forth between two people before it stopped at a whopping $25. The highest bidder had choice and took the smaller size.

    Then the bidding started again at $5, and stayed there. The other bidder got the second dress. Now that was a steal.

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