— -- A Georgia woman whose photos of a “Goodwill Date Night” with her husband have gone viral said she hopes the idea inspires other couples to reconnect and find joy.
Noel Pauley, who lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, and her husband, Shane Pauley, started their date last Friday night with a stop at a local Goodwill store. Shane Pauley called his wife with the idea after a friend reminded him of the idea, which went viral in 2015 thanks to a Florida couple.
The Pauleys' rules for the night included that they each had to each pick out the other’s outfit and could only spend $10 each. They had to pick a fake first name for their spouse and, once they left Goodwill, they had to pretend nothing had happened and their outfits were normal.
“Some couples may be nice to each other when picking out outfits, but Shane and I were not like that,” Noel Pauley, 29, told ABC News.
Noel, who is a social worker, said her strategy was to pick out as many plaid items as she could for her husband.
Shane Pauley, 31, chose multiple outfits for his wife, which led to the couple seeking help from Goodwill employees on what was the best-worst outfit.
“They were on board and had a good time with us, so that made it fun,” Noel Pauley said.
When Noel Pauley exited the dressing room in what she called a “lovely 1985 floral dress,” her husband’s reaction was, “Ethel, get your choir book and come on.”
“I looked like a little old lady that would be in the church choir,” said Noel Pauley, who took the name Ethel for the date, while Shane Pauley went by Roger.
The couple, who have a 5-month-old daughter, then went to dinner at a nearby Longhorn Steakhouse, where they did receive some strange glances.
“The hostess and servers, they would do a double take, but they were very professional,” Noel Pauley recalled. “The customers, you could tell they were waiting for us to get up so they could die laughing.”
Noel Pauley said she struggled more than her husband in keeping a straight face through it all.
The date night ended when they went to pick up their daughter from her godparents’ house, but the social media attention was just beginning.
Noel Pauley posted photos from her date with her husband on Facebook, where they have now been shared more than 440,000 times.
“I feel like I went on a date and woke up and all the Internet knew about me,” she said. “Everyone is looking for ways to have a good time, to have fun with each other. People are like, ‘Oh we would have so much fun doing that together.’”
Noel Pauley said she has received messages from couples who gave the “Goodwill Date Night” a try and is glad people are seeing it for the fun, light-hearted moment it was.
“Sometimes you forget when you’re in the monotony of life, just let’s go get the baby and get dinner,” she said. “This was just to do something out of the norm and have fun together.”
As the author of a blog, Noel Pauley said she now plans to post a weekly feature on date night ideas. Some past date nights she and her husband have planned included zip lining and going to an arcade.
“We’ll have to come up with some more ideas because I don’t know how we’re going to ever to top this one,” she said.