U.S. Customs drops duty on bride-to-be's declaration of love

March 15, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

When Australian Jane L. Metcalf strolls down the aisle in May, she'll be wearing her mother's wedding gown thanks to a quick reversal by the U.S. Customs Service, which had held up delivery of the dress by imposing an import duty.

And an outpouring of support from Marylanders, outraged at the $133.62 demanded by the Customs Service, might even make the wedding of Miss Metcalf and her fiance, Timothy K. Golden, a little sweeter.

The couple, staying with Mr. Golden's parents in Towson, were inundated with calls in response to yesterday's article in The Sun the gown being held up by the U.S. Postal Service for payment of the duty based on a customs officer's decision in Los Angeles that the 30-year-old dress made by Miss Metcalf's grandmother was worth $743.

For the prospective bride and groom, the wedding dress was priceless and so was the community's response.

Miss Metcalf and Mr. Golden picked the dress up at Eudowood Post Office in Towson yesterday, after the Customs Service reassesed the gown at $185 and waived the duty.

"The value was overstated in the beginning," said Glenn Voelker, a customs supervisor at the post office. "It's now considered a personal item, and there is no duty due."

Word that the gown had been held brought numerous calls to the couple, The Sun and area radio stations, with offers ranging from money to disc-jockey services for the reception.

Morning show disc jockeys Steve Marshall and Ben Maxwell from WGRX-FM went to the post office with money donated by listeners to pay the duty, but with the duty waived, the money was given to the couple toward their wedding expenses. Ray Persinger, a wedding photographer, offered his services for free. He was touched, he said, because the bride's family could not afford to come to Towson from Australia for the ceremony.

"If I were a rich man, I would send a plane ticket for her mother to come over," Mr. Persinger said. "I just thought it would be good for them to have some nice photos to send over to them."

Denise Adolphi of Catonsville also offered to pay the duty. A self-described "hopeless romantic," Ms. Adolphi said she wanted do whatever she could to help the couple.

"I know what it's like to be in love," Ms. Adolphi said. "It's difficult enough planning a wedding."

Bowing to tradition, Mr. Golden left the room at the post office as Miss Metcalf opened the package to see the Chantilly lace gown. It will need some alteration because "my mom is a lot bigger up top than I am," Miss Metcalf said.

Holding hands and smiling broadly, the couple said they were touched by the phone calls and support.

"It's been incredible," Mr. Golden said. "We just can't believe it."

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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