The star of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" talks trends, tips and his newest show.
This weekend, wedding gown designer, author and TV personality Randy Fenoli comes to Central Ohio as a guest of the Columbus Weddings Show (produced by our sister company, GateHouse Live Events & Promotions). The Columbus Weddings Show presented by Worthington Jewelers takes place this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ohio Expo Center’s Kasich Hall. Several gowns from Fenoli’s new line, Beautiful Beginnings, will make an appearance in the expo’s four Runway Shows—taking place at 1 and 3:30 p.m. each day—and Fenoli himself will take questions from the audience during two stage appearances, which take place at 2:15 p.m. each day. Fenoli will be available for individual meet-and-greets after his stage presentations.
In November, we caught up with Fenoli, who spoke to us from his home in Florida, where he’d just returned from a trip to his design room in Taiwan. His newest show, Say Yes to the Dress America, premiered on Jan. 4 on TLC. (Responses have been edited for clarity and length.)
Because you’re so well-known for your gown collection and your role on Say Yes to the Dress, I have to start with this: What trends can we expect this year in bridal?
You know, that’s a question I get asked a lot, and it’s very challenging to answer. My gowns are carried in about 70 countries, and even within the U.S., the trends in New York are quite different from what’s happening in Ohio, which is quite different from what’s happening in California. In Southern Italy, I think, they like really big ballgowns and ornate dresses. In Denmark, if you put one sequin on it, they think it’s too flashy.
So with that being said, that kind of is the trend—brides today want the gown to reflect their personal style and not so much an overall bridal trend. With so many designers and so many different looks and information so easily accessible to us, a bride can literally have any look she wants.
Does that make planning your own line of wedding gowns pretty challenging?
It’s quite a challenge for a designer today; it’s not so easy as it used to be. The collection I designed, the gowns are really varied. So if you look at my dresses, you’ll see boho, you’ll see traditional, you’ll see princess, you’ll see just about every look that I can cover.
My newest collection, which I just previewed in Chicago and New York, is my Beautiful Beginnings collection. We’re now putting more pieces in that to fully launch in Europe and Chicago.
We can’t wait to see some of those gowns at the show this weekend! And you have a lot more going on, too—your newest show, Say Yes to the Dress America, premiered last weekend. What can you tell us about that endeavor?
In my personal opinion, I think it is going to outshine any bridal show that’s ever been on TV, ever. And I don’t use those words very often.
How does this show differ from Say Yes to the Dress?
We sent out a casting call and brides had to do a video submission on why they should be chosen to represent their state. Then we chose a bride from every single state, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, so 52 brides. We narrowed down to 10 of those that we thought were a great cross-section of the country to focus on through the 10-episode series. The final episode is going to be a two-hour special where we show them all coming to New York and everything that happened—all of the drama and the chaos and the fun and the tears.
Wow, that sounds like quite an undertaking! Did all of those brides shop at Kleinfeld?
We brought the 10 main brides in for formal appointments, and then we gave them wedding dresses from a curated collection that was donated by different designers—I was one of them. So they said yes to their dress, but then we had 42 more brides. We brought in the other 42 into two separate time slots at Kleinfeld, and they had that time to find their dress.
Now, imagine all the different body types, sizes, shapes and wants. Let’s say you have a girl that’s 6 feet tall and curvy and wants a boho style—do you have that dress in this curated collection on hand, in her size? So it was quite a challenge, but you’ll have to see how it plays out. So they chose their dresses, then the alterations department had to do alterations on 52 dresses in a day and a half. We had literally an army at Kleinfeld, over 100 seamstresses working overtime to get these done.
Did they all go home with their gowns for their own weddings, then?
I married them all in a massive ceremony! They were all gathered [in Central Park], in front of Bethesda Fountain. Hayley Paige joined me, and she was kind of America’s bridesmaid. I won’t tell you exactly how it ends, because there’s a lot of twists and turns during the whole thing.
OK, we have one last question for you: What’s your biggest piece of advice for brides?
Raise your left hand in the air and say, “I am beautiful.” Then look at that left hand and look at that ring on that finger—the person who gave you that thinks you’re beautiful, just the way you are. Recognize your own inner beauty and that every bride can look beautiful, no matter what size, shape, age, ethnicity, religion, whatever.
A version of this story first appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Columbus Weddings.
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