When Princess Diana married Prince Charles, she had a spare wedding gown in case something happened to the original. In retrospect, what she really needed was a spare pair of running shoes.
Next month, Princess Di's spare gown, an exact replica of the one she wore on her wedding day, minus the Queen Mary's lace sewn to the front, is going on the auction block. The dress is expected to net a tidy $90,000 at a charity benefit.
If only taking care of an old wedding dress were that easy for the rest of us.
Knowing what to do with one's wedding gown is a delicate situation, not unlike the dilemma of what to do with old flags and worn Bibles.
Old flags are ceremoniously burned. That doesn't seem appropriate for a wedding gown, but there are probably more than a few women who would jump at the chance.
People don't know what to do with worn Bibles either. They usually donate them somewhere so they become someone else's problem.
When "Father of the Bride," starring Steve Martin, was first released, I took my then 10-year-old daughter to see it. When the bride appeared draped in yards of beautiful white satin, she leaned over and whispered, "Cool dress. You only get to wear it once?"
"Well, yes, that's the idea."
Of course, that's the idea and the problem. Once you wear it, then what?
You can donate it to charity. You can sell it, but if you sell it too soon after the "I do," that doesn't exactly send an "I think it will last" kind of message.
A lot of wedding gowns end up sealed in a monstrous box and left at the bride's parent's house. "You've been married 20 years now, you sure you don't want your wedding dress? Your father and I will be happy to drive it over."
Princess Di's gown had a 25-foot train. What does anybody do with a dress even half that size?
A utilitarian sort could transform it into a hot-air balloon.
You could offer to help some sports arena make a cover for their dome.
Then again, why not just slipcover the state of Iowa?
When Mom and Dad celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, Mom took her wedding gown out of the cedar chest to wear for a photo. It didn't quite button up the back, but you couldn't tell that from the front.
After a few snapshots, she shook the dress off, tossed it to the grandkids and said, "Here, have fun."
That gown has seen more weddings than Zsa Zsa Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor combined. Some little boys went to the altar willingly, others were handcuffed and dragged against their will, and some complied out of sheer terror.
Watching the mock wedding ceremonies, I often wondered if it was kosher to let kids play with a wedding gown. But I figured it was better than having them play shacking up or divorce court.
When the husband and I married, wedding dresses with long, puffy sleeves, full skirts and high necks were in style. Most gowns were a cross between something from a Renaissance fair re-enactment and a hoe-down.
I recently pulled my dress out of its sealed box and found it is pretty well yellowed.
It wouldn't be fit for a wedding, but it could be a terrific prop for some kid whose school is having Little House on the Prairie Days.
Do I hear an opening bid of $50?