- A bride living in Rochester, New York, wore a $50 gown made in the 1950s on her wedding day.
- Natalia Lauer, 24, told Insider she and her husband are big into thrifting: “We’re vintage people.”
- Lauer’s “dream” dress cost a fraction of her $1,000 budget – and she plans to give it away for free.
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Growing up, Natalia Lauer fantasized about wearing a ballgown to her wedding. Little did she know that she’d eventually be able to make her dream come true with a vintage gown that cost less than $100.
Lauer, who told Insider she’s a telebanker and part-time photographer from New York, recently went viral on TikTok for sharing the unique story behind her wedding dress. The clip, which was posted on January 11 and has over 1.1 million views as of Friday, shows viewers a picture of Lauer wearing an ivory white puff-sleeved gown with the caption: “When I told everyone my wedding dress was thrifted, from the 1950s and $50.”
Speaking to Insider, Lauer, 24, said she was never opposed to wearing a second-hand wedding dress. In fact, she and her husband Sebastian, 22, prefer to thrift most of what they own, from their clothing to furniture for their home. “We’re vintage people,” she said. “It’s definitely about sustainability for us.”
She and her partner met and fell in love on the set of a video shoot in New York City five years ago. A few months later, she discovered she was pregnant with her son, Jet. And a year after that, her now-husband popped the question by placing an engagement ring beneath her pillow while she slept.
“It’s an unconventional love story,” Lauer said. “But I’m not a traditional person.”
When it came to wedding planning, Lauer said they again decided to forgo tradition by spontaneously tying the knot months after moving to a new home in Rochester.
The happy couple (L) and a solo portrait of Natalia Lauer in her wedding dress (R).
Courtesy of Natalia Lauer
They quickly found an affordable venue close to their house, which was available for a discount if they were willing to get married in November of that year, she said.
That gave Lauer just over two months to find her perfect dress.
Lauer didn’t want to spend thousands on a dress she’d only wear once
While her father had given her a dress budget of roughly $1,000, Lauer said she didn’t feel right about spending thousands on a dress she’d likely only wear once.
Given her love of vintage clothes, she decided to see whether it would be possible to thrift her dream wedding dress. Lauer said she began the journey by checking out her local Goodwill stores before seeing what was available on websites like Poshmark and Depop.
A month before her wedding, after countless hours scrolling through the internet, she found what she instantly felt was the perfect gown on Etsy.
Natalia Lauer’s son, Jet, and the wedding dress.
Courtesy of Natalia Lauer
It was a tiered ballgown that the seller said was originally made in the 1950s. Although Lauer said she’s petite, she did say the seller told her to be sure the measurements would work for her size as the gown would be impossible to adjust.
“She wanted to make sure it was gonna fit me and I was like, you know what? This looks like it would fit me. So I’m just gonna buy it. It’s $50 if it doesn’t work, it’s fine,” Lauer said.
Luckily, when the dress finally arrived, it her like a glove. “I did not need to do any alterations, any height alterations, any waist or arm alterations,” she said. What’s more, the gown didn’t have the musty smell that sometimes lingers on thrifted items, Lauer added.
“It was completely clean. It didn’t have a smell at all,” she said. “I knew that was my dream dress.”
The couple and their son Jet on their wedding day in November 2021.
Courtesy of Natalia Lauer
The gown featured puff sleeves and lace trim, a material that Lauer said she didn’t initially think would work for a wedding dress. “I thought lace is more casual,” she said. “But when I saw this dress, the combination of the tulle with the lace, it felt like a statement piece.”
What made it even more special to Lauer is that it didn’t look anything like typical modern wedding dresses. “You can definitely tell it’s vintage. It’s not something you’re gonna go to like a bridal store and find, it’s very unique looking. I just love that about it,” she said.
She also wasn’t the only one to fall in love with the gown at first sight. When her husband saw it during their first look at their wedding, she said he “absolutely loved it.”
“Right off the bat he was like, ‘Oh my god, this is beautiful,'” she said.
Her grandparents were also big fans. “It was really emotional too,” Lauer added. “It was special for them because that’s their times.”
Although Lauer currently has the gown safely stored in her basement, she plans to see if she can use social media to give it away for free. “It’s not my intention to resell it or try to profit from it,” she said.
“I know how special a wedding can be and I think gifting a wedding dress, which is a like big part of it for a lot of people, would just be so special,” Lauer added.