‘Say Yes to the Dress’ guru on bridezillas, Kate Middleton

Randy Fenoli, fashion director of Kleinfelds in New York, rolled into Washington along with his “Randy to the Rescue” big rig earlier this week to film an episode for the second season of his TLC reality series and for a bridal pop up event with Hitched bridal salon.

Washington, D.C., was the ninth destination for Fenoli and crew, who brought 200 gowns and plenty of bridal expertise to cities across the country. We caught up with the “Say Yes to the Dress” regular on the last day of shooting, and talked about his feelings about the term “bridezilla,” his most memorable experiences and advice for D.C. brides.


Randy Fenoli on stage while filming in Washington, D.C. (courtesy of Astrid Photography).

What was the idea behind the show “Randy to the Rescue”?

For brides that don’t have it in their budget to come to New York, I wanted to bring the dresses to them. I know that a lot of brides can’t envision the entire look until they see it. I wanted to give them one step further, almost a full dress rehearsal.

Randy completes a blue print for one of his brides. (via Instagram @caraannkelly) Randy completes a blue print for one of his brides. (via Instagram @caraannkelly)

You have famously said you don’t believe in “bridezillas.”

No, I don’t believe in “bridezillas.” I believe we have women that just want to look beautiful on their wedding day, and they have a lot of anxiety, and they have a lot of family drama and issues. And, I come in and try to diffuse it. I’m kind of that unbiased opinion. I work for the bride, and I will do anything to find her the perfect gown that makes her happy. I will fight for her. I’ve done some things that are a little ridiculous. I’ve gotten in trouble so many times.

Please, do tell.

In the last city, this girl wanted a dress with a keyhole neckline and lace. We couldn’t find one that she loved that looked good on her. And if she said “keyhole neckline” once, she said it 30 times. She found a dress she loved and it was lace, but it didn’t have a keyhole neckline. So I literally took a shrug from another designer that was lace that kind of looked similar to it. And, I cut the shrug up and made her this keyhole neckline, and then brought it out on stage and put Velcro  inside the dress and said, “I know you wanted a keyhole neckline.” Then I pulled out the shrug.


A shopper looks through gowns at the bridal pop up shop with “Randy to the Rescue” and Hitched bridal salon. (Photo courtesy of Astrid Photography)

Do you have any advice from all of your experience for bridesmaids or friends who may have to deal with a particularly demanding bride?

My advice would be more for the bride. Remember your bridesmaids are your friends. I used to design bridesmaids dresses, and I’ll never forget the day I decided to quit. It was actually here in D.C., at Hannelores. I had bridesmaids dresses there, very fashion forward back in the 90s. The brides came in, and they were like, “Oh my god, look at these bridesmaid dresses they are beautiful, but I don’t want them looking better than me.” And they turned around and went to the teal ruffled polyester dresses.


Randy greets guests inside the Capital Hilton grand ball room (courtesy of Astrid Photography).

I think that Kate Middleton is the ultimate example of perfection in letting Pippa walk down the aisle in that gorgeous, sexy dress. What she said was: I’m confident, I’m marrying a prince. I’ve got a ring on my finger. I have everything I need, I don’t need to be advertising or looking sexy or whatever, and I love my sister.

Have you had any particularly challenging brides during this trip?

Well, I had a bride in Denver. She descried herself as a very raw, natural girl, didn’t shave, bathed using very little water once every three days. She said she was thinking about having a nude wedding because she couldn’t  spend a thousand dollars on a wedding dress, but her mom really wanted her daughter to wear a wedding dress.

After the third dress she said, “I’m done, I don’t want to try on anymore dresses.” This is our first city out that we filmed. We’re in the mile high city, the altitude was affecting everyone. I had one with a nose bleed. Everyone is in a fog. We’re filming a show. We’ve got nine more cities to go and 39 more brides, and I’m thinking, we don’t have a show. So I said, “Let’s just get you in hair and makeup and see how you feel about a dress after that.”

You’ll have to watch to see how it plays out. I will say I took [my manager’s] Christmas decoration off his tree. (He had some burlap ribbon.)


Behind the scenes of “Randy to the Rescue” (courtesy of Astrid Photography).

How have D.C. brides stacked up against the rest you’ve worked with?

We’ve had a lot of momma drama. We’ve had some tough cookie mothers.

I think because all the brides I’ve worked with so far have been attorneys and doctors and one who was formerly in politics. That kind of bride or woman — doctors, nurses, attorneys, paralegals, teachers and accountants — they think analytically. They have to make quick decisions and everything has to be a check list. I ask, “How do you feel in the dress?” And they say, “I don’t like the hips, don’t like what it is doing here.”

They can’t connect with their feelings because buying a wedding dress is not a check list. Buying a wedding dress is an emotional purchase.

What is your advice for the career oriented, multitasking D.C. bride?

I would say put their job away for the day and realize that this wedding is about them and their fiancé, and telling their story of what their tastes are and their style–what kind of food they like, what flowers they like–and hitting all the senses of what they want to tell their guests.

The second season of “Randy to the Rescue” is slated to premiere, Friday, May 31, on TLC.

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Michael Cavna · March 27, 2013