By Sandi Moynihan and Eric Brandner

WRIGHT-PATERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio— As soon as Melissa Wrisley put on the satin white gown, she knew it was “the dress.”

“Just looking at the bodice of this dress and the beadwork on it, I was already getting chills,” she said.

Just a few months earlier, when she was first engaged to her now-husband, Marine Pfc. Brandon Wrisley, Melissa was wondering if she would even be able to find a dress – let alone a designer dress – that would fit their tight wedding budget.

“[New, enlisted] military personnel don’t get paid very much and I’m a full-time student. And neither of our parents are very well-off,” she said. “So finding a dress was going to be really hard.”

Luckily, Melissa’s mother-in-law, Kim Wrisley, stumbled upon the perfect solution during her USO volunteer orientation tour – the USO Wright-Patterson AFB Airman’s Attic.

The Airman’s Attic, which is open to service members E-4 and below, offers gently used clothing and houseware items at no charge. The facility also features dozens of brand-new wedding gowns available to military spouses-to-be.

“[The dress I chose is] easily a $1,000 dress and I got it for free. And that is such a blessing,” Melissa said. “It still gets me.”

Melissa and Brandon Wrisley were married June 12 in Springfield, Ohio.

You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.