Diana's Spare Wedding Dress on Auction Block

Planning your wedding? Hemming and hawing about gowns? How about a vintage dress sure to impress all your friends -- regardless of whether bouffant sleeves are in style this year?

Princess Diana's spare wedding dress -- a quasi-replica -- hits the auction block next month and is expected to go for a cool $90,000.

The cream puff silk number resembles the original dress Diana wore on her wedding day to Prince Charles in 1981, except that it lacks the antique Queen Mary lace adorning the front.

Still hemming and hawing?

Go for it. Just shell out the big bucks on the once-in-a-lifetime, one-of-a-kind dress and skimp out on the cucumber canap├ęs and set up a for-profit cash bar. Basically disregard the gamut of Modern Bride magazine's wedding tips and blow the wad on the dress, leaving the guests hungry and poor. In this modern world of personalizing everything from vows to cars, I think your guests will understand.

Dummy Dress

The copy of the silk and taffeta gown was donated to Madame Tussaud's waxworks and put on display a day after Diana's 1981 wedding to Prince Charles. After collecting dust for 24 years, Tussaud's decided to cash in. The original dress still exists and is part of an exhibition about the princess at her family's country home near Northampton in central England.

Buyer beware, because the dress's designer says Diana never actually tried on the replica. Elizabeth Emmanuel, part of the designing team that created the hand-sewn, pearl-encrusted gown, said they agreed to make a copy of the dress because Diana asked for it as a "piece of history for the world to enjoy."

The auction house, Cooper Owen, has a different version of events. They say the young bride slipped on the taffeta "spare" on her wedding day to make sure that if anything happened to the original, there would be a backup on hand. (You know, the usual mishaps like spilled coffee, a rip or a tear.) Diana's 25-foot train is what should have been copied over and over again because that's no easy thing to walk around in.

Most brides will tell you that walking down the aisle doesn't rank as the most restful day, so you can only imagine Diana's wedding extravaganza. Besides remembering the names of the oodles of royal guests and getting the final look-over by the queen and loading up on carbs, her morning must have been super busy, making two fittings a bit unlikely.

No one will ever know, but then again if Emmanuel's version is accurate, it means you're buying a new dress, never before worn, so it's a steal. And in case you're superstitious, you avoid the fate of the beloved Diana, who died tragically in a car accident in Paris in 1997, a year after her divorce from Prince Charles.

Go-Go '80s

Now that you've made up your mind, get ready to pony up more than $100,000 on auction day Dec. 7 in north London. Since Madonna brought back the winged-hair look a la Farah Fawcett, the frou-frou frock may be all the rage in the coming months.

If you can't afford the top-of-the-line dress, console yourself with the next best thing.

The Duchess of York's wedding dress -- a replica -- also goes on the auction block, and at a bargain price too. Fergie's dress will only cost you $10,000, which means you'll be able to serve rubber chicken to all of your guests.

After all, a princess is a princess ... now you just need to find a prince.

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