College Student Finds Quite the Wedding Dress Bargain

Emmali Osterhoudt stumbled upon a $6K Galia Lahav gown for just $25 at an Alabama Goodwill
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2023 11:11 AM CDT
She Said Yes to the $6K Dress—for $25, at Goodwill
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/AYOTOGRAPHY)

Emmali Osterhoudt is a nursing student who doesn't see herself getting married (or even engaged) anytime soon, but when she came across a wedding dress at Goodwill during a recent thrifting expedition, she knew she had to grab it. In a TikTok video posted earlier this month, she gushed in amazement about her find at a thrift store in Birmingham, Alabama, where she'd gone to search for picture frames, per People. "I had already checked out, I was about to leave, and I saw a section that we hadn't hit," Osterhoudt says. "And so we went over there and boom, it was beautiful and it was there."

"It" being what the Washington Post describes as "a flowing, lacy gown studded with pearls and rhinestones," with a price tag of just $24.99. Osterhoudt scooped it up, but it was only once she was back in the car with her roommate, who'd accompanied her, when Osterhoudt decided to check out who the designer was. The dress had been created by fashionista Galia Lahav, and Osterhoudt saw online that similar Lahav wedding dresses were going for more than $6,000. Lahav's client list includes Beyonce, Paris Hilton, and Jennifer Lopez, among others. "It fits me like a glove," Osterhoudt notes in her video, showing off the form-fitting dress to viewers.

The clip has since gone viral, drawing more than 3.8 million viewers since Osterhoudt posted it on Sept. 6, and her story soon caught the attention of Lahav herself, who was inspired by the purchase. Lahav rep Yael Friedman tells the Post that, after seeing what had happened, Lahav decided to donate five to 10 more of her wedding dresses to Goodwill locations around the US, in the hopes that someone else will stumble upon a surprise find. "We thought it would be an exciting idea to play fairy godmother, and donate a few dresses ourselves to Goodwill for more Cinderella moments," Friedman notes.

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So what happens next? Osterhoudt tells People that, despite messages sent to her from parties interested in buying the dress from her, "I do not plan on selling it." The 21-year-old, who's a nursing student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, hopes to actually wear it when she finally does say "I do," which may happen sooner than she originally let on—ABC News notes that she and her boyfriend, Nick, whom she's been dating for a few years, have talked about possibly getting engaged next spring. "Hopefully, I'll still be able to fit in it by then," Osterhoudt tells People of wearing the dress on her eventual wedding day. (More wedding dress stories.)

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