There’s no question that wedding dresses are an investment. Based on a 2020 study, we found that the average cost is around $2,439. But if you’re looking to save money on the special garment, this woman’s shopping experience proves that thrift stores are full of high-quality yet affordable finds. Emmali Osterhoudt decided to browse her local Goodwill store in Birmingham, Alabama, where a Galia Lahav Couture wedding dress—and its $25 price tag—caught her eye. Even though Osterhoudt isn’t engaged or planning a wedding, she couldn’t resist buying the gown, a floral lace design covered in beadwork with a plunging neckline. After purchasing the piece, she discovered that the frock is actually worth $6,200.
Osterhoudt shared her experience on September 6, 2023, via TikTok, and the video has since gone viral, accumulating 3.1 million views. “I’m so freaking excited about this find,” she wrote in the caption. “I may not even use it when it comes to the day because I’m not engaged or married for a while, but maybe it’s fate lol. Also, JLo has worn this brand as well.” In the clip, Osterhoudt models the dress, walking around her room and showing off the garment from multiple angles. “I’m making this video because today, I found my wedding dress at Goodwill for $25 dollars,” she emphasizes. “And it fits me like a glove. It wouldn’t need any sort of alterations if I really didn’t want to. But it’s gorgeous.”
Osterhoudt explains that she looked up the gown online to determine its value, and saw it was listed for $6,200 on the designer’s website. She also points out that the fashion label has a big celebrity audience; Beyoncé donned an ornate figure-hugging dress by the designer for her vow renewal with Jay-Z in 2018 and Paris Hilton sported a tulle off-the-shoulder Galia Lahav Couture ball gown for her reception during her wedding to Carter Reum in 2021. Osterhoudt then gets a close-up of the fabric, which shimmers in the light. “It’s just stunning,” she says. “It’s a mixture of pearls and rhinestones.”
Many TikTok users had a lot of questions after Osterhoudt posted her clip, so she responded in a follow-up video. “So, the dress video completely blew up, and I did not expect it to get this big,” she said in the second TikTok. Osterhoudt then answered the most frequently-asked question: Which Goodwill location was she shopping at? “It’s in Birmingham, Alabama, in the Green Springs area,” she says. “And it had nothing. It had nothing but the dress.”
Osterhoudt proceeded to tell the story of how she came to find the designer piece. She explained that she went to Goodwill in search of picture frames for a gallery wall she’s making. “I had already checked out,” she notes. “I was about to leave, and I saw a section that we hadn’t hit, and so we went over there and boom—it was beautiful and it was there.”
Many others asked why Osterhoudt bought a wedding dress if she isn’t engaged. “Even if I never planned on getting married, I probably would have still bought that dress just because of the value,” she explained. “I could have resold it if I wanted to for such an amazing price.” She clarifies that she doesn’t intend on selling it, however. “I do plan on wearing it on my wedding day whenever that time comes. Hopefully I’ll still be able to fit in it by then.”
Osterhoudt also took a moment to thank the original owner for donating the dress. “I really don’t know how I got so lucky,” she says. “I would like to say thank you to the girl who donated it to Goodwill because it made my whole entire year. And little Emmali, who has loved weddings since she was probably five, is kicking and screaming right now because she’s so excited.” She concluded the clip by saying, “Maybe in a few years, I’ll make a video actually wearing the dress. Who knows?”