Wannabe brides pounce on dress bargains

FROM tantrums and tiaras to bargain-bin brides, customers seeking cut-price wedding gowns at a liquidation sale yesterday were in far chipper mood than the angry women who last month lost money after the closure of a bridal shop.

When The Wedding Dress shut its doors at Penrose Wharf, Penrose Quay, Cork city, on March 21 with debts of over €1 million, scores of brides-to-be were left frockless, flat-broke and fed-up.

To add to their misfortune, liquidator Gerard Murphy told them they were last in a line of creditors with no hope of getting their money back.

Yesterday, Mr Murphy attempted, on behalf of The Wedding Shop, to make amends. Instead of selling off the shop’s assets to the trade, he launched a four-day sale of €250,000 worth of wedding outfit paraphernalia, open to the public, at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork.

Money raised — expected to be in the region of €70,000 — will go towards paying creditors but with the benefit to the public of being on sale at trade price.

Within 10 minutes of the sale commencing at 10am, two wedding dresses — worth over €3,000 between them but retailing at €600 and €500 — had been swept from the racks. Wannabe brides — undeterred by the caveat on the sale-room door that there could be “no fittings” and the dresses may be “shop-soiled” — rummaged through three rails offering bridesmaids dresses (from €45) and bridal gowns (from €600). Tiaras, bridal underwear, shoes, tie-pins, cuff-links, dress suits and jewellery were also on display with between 25% and 50% off. A steady stream of women poured in to the room, not at all put off by the liquidator’s announcement that because he is “not in the business of selling clothes”, they had no rights as customers.

Maria McCarthy from Goleen, Co Cork, decided she had the right to try on her potential gown, despite a warning to the contrary. Brendan Linehan, husband to Judith, former proprietor of The Wedding Dress, assisted in her selection, and advised on a tiara. Maria, who will marry Brian O’Sullivan on August 3, 2007, left with her frock, a glowing example of the merits of forward planning.

Sisters Michelle and Laura Hickey from Youghal were upbeat and downbeat respectively. Michelle, 23, who will marry Mark Fitzgerald next year, left armed with a bridal gown and two bridesmaids dresses. Laura, who is getting married to Declan Barron in July this year, lost money in The Wedding Dress closure and had to re-order her gown. Yesterday, too late, she spotted the same dress on sale.

One girl who had no need to worry about the cost of her outfit or getting to the church on time was Jennifer Hutch. Daughter of Gerry Hutch, otherwise known as The Monk, she yesterday tied the knot with David Usher after arriving at St John the Baptist Church in Clontarf, Dublin, in her father’s rather graceless Hummer.

Back in Cork, the wedding dress sale continues until Thursday. By close of business last night, 250 items had been sold, realising €20,000 in sales.

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