Say yes to your perfect dress

Tell your own story, Randy Fenoli urges

Fort Wayne-area brides are in for a treat at the 2015 Bridal Extravaganza sponsored by Fort Wayne Magazine’s Weddings on Feb. 22: Leading bridal fashion expert Randy Fenoli is our keynote speaker!

Designer, fashion and beauty expert and star of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Randy to the Rescue,” Fenoli is also the author of “It’s All About the Dress,” which helps brides-to-be find the perfect dress for them. Fort Wayne Magazine’s Weddings spoke by phone with Fenoli about his upcoming appearance in Fort Wayne.

Fenoli was raised on a cattle farm in southern Illinois, the youngest of seven children, and began designing and sewing clothes at the age of 9. Indeed, the first garment he ever made was a dress for his mother. He said he loves designing wedding gowns and helping brides find their perfect look because “it’s the single most important garment a woman will wear.” He said he believes a wedding should reflect the engaged couple’s story.

“Every single bride wants their wedding to be unique,” Fenoli said. “The best way to make it unique is to tell your own story — where did you meet, what’s your ethnicity, what are your religious beliefs, your family traditions — everything you do as a couple. If you follow that (story) it’s going to
be really easy to plan.”

Fenoli will talk about his life story during his Bridal Extravaganza appearance, and he’ll discuss what trends are hot on the runways for 2015. One trend he’s not a fan of is the amount of skin that appeared on those runways.

“I saw more skin this season than I’ve ever seen in bridal,” he said, citing reality star Kim Kardashian’s wedding gown that featured bodice cutouts. “I saw see-through wedding dresses, slits up to the upper thighs, leg cutouts. I say save it for the honeymoon. If my daughter walked out in a dress like that I’d slap her stupid. A wedding is a religious ceremony — you’ve got (all the in-laws) and they don’t want to see you walk half-naked down the aisle.”

One trend Fenoli wholeheartedly supports is that designers are catering more and more to plus-sized brides. As fashion director at the New York City bridal salon Kleinfeld, Fenoli pushed for a plus-size
department after watching too many larger brides be forced to “imagine” what a dress might look like by holding it in front of them. “I got really upset! Why should a girl have to imagine what a dress should look like?” he said. (His TLC spinoff show, “Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss,” helps brides who carry a bit more weight find a beautiful, flattering gown.)

Fenoli said he tries to encourage women who may have “body issues,” something he said he still suffers with.

“I wish I could live and believe some of the stuff I preach,” he admitted. “I live with my own demons. I was skinny and made fun of a lot. I have a lot of body issues myself. Even the hottest model has body image issues.”

In addition to his many TV shows and work at Kleinfeld, Fenoli is involved with numerous charities, including Make-A-Wish, the American Red Cross and causes related to breast cancer. He believes everyone
should feel special. But he said he doesn’t believe in “bridezillas.”

“I have a woman in front of me who wants to look beautiful,” he said. “She’s walking down the aisle at the biggest party she’s ever thrown, and all eyes are going to be on her. It’s a lot of pressure. I totally understand why she freaks out. It’s a big deal for her.”

But in the end, the perfect dress is out there for each and every bride, he said.

“It’s like finding the perfect guy,” he said. “You may think you’re going to marry Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome and you find Mr. Short, Bald and Blue Eyes. It’s the same with the dress. You don’t buy a dress with your head. You buy it with your heart.”


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