Oh, to be a June bride.

That is, of course, unless you are a Garfinckel's bride.

The news last week that the 85-year-old Washington department store was going under sent all sorts of important people -- bankers, developers, suppliers, real estate agents -- into a tizzy over the more than $70 million owed to them.

Creditors' committees have been formed, legal proceedings have begun, employees have been set adrift and liquidators have been hired to run the $20 million going-out-of-business sale that starts today at Garfinckel's nine Washington-area stores.

But overlooked in the chaos after the store filed for bankruptcy are the people who used to be essential to Garfinckel's success: its customers.

Brides, fur coat owners and charge-card customers are among the "little people" left holding the Garfinckel's bag, so to speak.

"We've been doing pretty well and all our customers are taken care of," said the person who answered the phone at Garfinckel's bridal salon, who refused to be identified. "We're not going to say anything else."

Garfinckel's was famous throughout the city for its elegant and impeccable bridal department, which included selling dresses and wedding accessories to brides and providing a gift registry for them to specify what sorts of china and stemware they preferred for wedding gifts.

Sources said the bridal department at Garfinckel's has been working frantically to place their customers' wedding business at other area department stores and boutiques.

"We've gotten a lot of referrals and we're glad to take over," said Charles Craig, a salesman with Woodward & Lothrop, the local department store chain that has a full-service bridal operation.

Neiman Marcus also has been helping dozens of former Garfinckel's brides.

Small boutiques that sell gowns and bridesmaids' dresses also are on the receiving end of the wedding march away from Garfinckel's.

"It was a little crazy in the first few days," said Linda Hamilton of Rizik Bros.

Fur owners who stored their coats, hats and muffs in Garfinckel's roomy fur vault downtown also are rabid about the bankruptcy. "They thought the creditors were going to take away the furs, but I assured them that I would kill anyone who would try such a thing," said Philip Reiner, who owns the New York furrier that runs Garfinckel's fur salon. "I told them they had at least three months to get the furs and they were not in jeopardy."

Garfinckel's had one of the area's largest fur storage rooms and was able to keep 17,000 coats, charging a $30 a year storage fee. There are 12,000 coats still in storage, said Reiner.

To calm the nerves of frazzled fur customers, Reiner bought an ad yesterday in The Washington Post assuring customers their furs were safe.

The other losers are the 1,000 or so Garfinckel's charge-card customers carrying positive credit balances, who probably won't get a penny back, according to Garfinckel's sources.

"They owe me $64," said Shirley Carr of Takoma Park. "The little people always lose."