Ten Years Before Her Wedding, This Bride Found Her Balenciaga Wedding Dress at a Thrift Store

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Photo: Courtesy of Kelsey Herold of Groovy Awapuhi Photography

When she got into the Goodwill, Sallay made a beeline to a salesperson and tried the dress on. “When I zipped it up all the way, I remember looking in the mirror and just celebrating, because I was so elated that it fit and it was a Balenciaga,” she says. “My heart was pounding because I was so excited that no one knew this. When I saw it, I kind of knew that this was probably going to be my wedding dress.” Sallay bought it for $100 dollars, leaving her with only $50 in her account. When she got home, Sallay did what any fashion addict does when they get their hands on a special piece: research it. “The first thing I did was look it up on Style.com, because I wanted to know if it was a runway piece,” says Sallay. “The dress was look 21 from fall 2006. I remember screenshotting it and putting it on Facebook, saying, ‘Best Goodwill score of my life.’”

A year later, Sallay’s friend back in Indianapolis mentioned that she had a guy friend that Sallay would get along with. Though she was still in New York, Sallay and her now-husband, James, began chatting on Twitter. They decided to meet up once she returned to Indianapolis during summer break. “We had so much in common and we ended up spending every day of that summer together,” she says. Sallay moved back permanently that October and transferred to Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, where she studied computer graphics. The two have been together ever since. “Something that really separates him [James] is his heart. Even before dating, he was so supportive and accepting of me right off the bat and continues to be my rock to this day,” she says. “He got to know about me and my fashion. He got his first experience being an Instagram boyfriend with me.”

Photo: Courtesy of Kelsey Herold of Groovy Awapuhi Photography

Sallay was ahead of the trend of small, intimate ceremonies; they got married in May 2019 at a courthouse in Indianapolis and then honeymooned in New York and Hawaii. “I remember that morning I put on the dress, I specifically remember being nervous, almost as if I was getting married and there was a ceremony.” Sallay styled the look with a veil cut from the tulle from her mother’s wedding dress train, while her $15 heels were thrifted from Tekla Vintage, a small store outside of Detroit.

Of course, while there is now sentimental value to the piece, Sallay still appreciates the dress’s place in fashion history. “It was awesome and it still continues to be my best thrift score today. I’ve never seen it resold anywhere on the internet ever,” she says. “In my head, I’ve always thought, who is the person who first owned this? What did they use it for? I have no idea what compels someone to just give it to the Goodwill in New York, but it’s awesome. It really gave me the opportunity to be the happiest person on earth as a 19-year-old in New York City.”

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