Bride whisperer Randy Fenoli is back at Kleinfeld Bridal in the new season of Say Yes To The Dress on Sundays on TLC (DStv 135). This season’s brides are challenging Randy in all sorts of intriguing ways, from brides who want dresses that’ll be up to an adventure, to a wedding with 2 brides – who’re both seeing Randy on the same day – to brides who’re looking for a special way to honour the memory of beloved family members.

While he was playing matchmaker between the ladies and their perfect dresses, we managed to slip Randy a few questions…

Made to move

In Sunday, 4 October’s episode 5, one bride wants a gown that she can really move in, while another is gearing up to ride a mechanical shark to the altar. But Randy is ready for anything.

He still remembers back in 2018 when he and the bridal stylist and Kleinfeld Bridal consultant, Lisa Fuhrman, tried out the most extreme ride at amusement park Coney Island to figure out how to dress a bride who was making it part of her big day! Tell us about it, Randy!

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“The one at Coney Island, oh my gosh, that's one of my favourite episodes,” says Randy. “Lisa the consultant and I went to see the wedding in Coney Island. And the bride wanted to wear the dress on this ride called The Slingshot. It hurls you way up in the air. Lisa is absolutely petrified of any kind of ride like that, but I talked her into going on the ride with me, and it's priceless. She swore she would never do it again. And she would never have done it if I had not been there with her, but it was quite interesting. This season (in 4 October’s episode) we have a bride (Jennifer) who does taekwondo. And she wants to make sure that she's able to move in this dress, and do her taekwondo move. So that's the only one I can think of this season that is similar to those other experiences.”

Bridal fantasy

Hearing about amusement park and taekwondo brides got us thinking about adventurous weddings - so Randy, how would you design an ideal gown for a bride who wanted to marry underwater?

That's so out of my reality. I would probably never think of designing a dress for underwater weddings. It's so rare. We did have a bride that came in (in season 15) and said she was getting married underwater. I'm like, “Is this dress going to go up above her and drown her?!” I was honestly, seriously concerned for her welfare. Going underwater with a big dress or any kind of dress is like, is it going to be clinging to you? Are you going to be able to kick or like, what's going to happen? And then when I saw the wedding, it was actually quite beautiful to have it underwater with just the tulle that was flowing and everything.

So if I were to design a dress underwater, it would probably be something that had some very soft layers of tulle. Satin, especially a silk satin, is going to get ruined if it hits water. It's going to get stained. Lace would work underwater. You also have to be careful of what kind of beading you use. You're going to have to use more sequins that are made out of plastic rather than like bugle beads and rhinestones that have that silver coating, because if they get wet, in time they're going to oxidise and the coating is going to come off and it's going to lose its sparkle or whatever. So maybe clear glass beads? I think it would be really pretty underwater. But something I think on the bottom that had some movement and flow, because once you're underwater, the movement of the water just makes the dress dance. So that's what I would probably think about is the movement of the dress.

Something old

In episode 4 (which aired Sunday, 27 September and rebroadcasts Thursday,1 October at 08:35), bride Jacqueline Nowakowski was determined to find a gown that would showcase the crown her grandmother had worn on her own wedding day. Randy, talk us through a little of why the “something old” is such a special part of wedding traditions…

This is something that I really, really love. She was very close with her grandmother. And her grandmother had her crown that she wore when she got married, but it had literally almost disintegrated. The metal had rusted and the beads had fallen off. And she actually rebuilt the – or recreated the crown. She took it from photos, and tried to use as many of the original materials as possible. But she actually recreated and fixed the crown, so she could wear it for her wedding. And for me, that is so important – to have the people that you love at your wedding. And if they've passed, this is a beautiful way of incorporating them into your wedding. Or wearing a veil that they wore or maybe having a picture of them in a tiny little frame that hangs off your bouquet. There's so many ways – or a picture of them inside the dress that's pinned in to know that they're there with you; or maybe a piece of lace from their wedding dress that you could pin inside their dress, that I've done before, or sewn into the inside of the dress. Just to have them there.

For me, what is a wedding? It's about family and tradition, and to have those family members there, and the tradition going from one generation to the next. I think it is so important. It's something that I don't personally really have in my life because I'm not really close with a lot of my family members. We're just not a really close family, just for no real reason, I guess. And I won't ever get married, or have a traditional wedding. That's for sure. So I think seeing that for me is just so moving and touching. And to honour that is just so beautiful. I'm glad that she brought in her grandmother's crown, and that we found a dress that looks beautiful with it.”

Taking on traditions

Speaking of traditions, in episode 10, still coming in early November, it’s Iron Chef star Cat Cora’s wedding. Cat and her then-fiancée Nicole Ehrlich both came to Randy for a consultation on the same day. Randy, how did you keep the tradition that the bride’s dress should be a surprise to her partner on their wedding day?

It was such an incredible appointment because generally we only get brides in. We don't get the grooms or the partners. And here we had Nicole and Cat getting married, and choosing dresses at the same time. So we had to keep them in separate rooms. I had to bounce between each room and say, “Okay, you can't come out now because Cat's on the pedestal,” or, “Cat, you can't come out because Nicole's on the pedestal.”

But I think the thing that struck me the most was, just the love between those two was absolutely palpable. You could feel it. And they were just so freaked out about being separated. Cat was writing love letters! So I would have to run over and say to Nicole (from Cat), “I miss you, darling. I hope you're finding your wedding dress.” And it was just such a celebration of love. As somebody who works with brides every day – and they just want bigger and better and more sparkle and this and that and whatever – just to see that moment of just how much they loved each other and cared about each other, was really just touching and moving. It was special for me to be able to experience it. I still keep in touch with Cat and Nicole on social media. They're such a beautiful couple, and I think they have 6 children. So that appointment was really, really unique and fun and, yeah, touching.

Their tastes were actually very similar. They both wanted fitted dresses. And they didn't want the dress to overpower them. And they were kind of similar, but yet a little different. And I think it was a great match all the way around. But it was really about their love.

Randy’s fantasy brides

Randy, who would you love to dress, and what kind of gown do you think would suit them?

If I could dress anyone on the planet, it would probably be Oprah Winfrey. Just because I love, I love Oprah so much. I think that she has struggled her whole life with feeling beautiful and her weight. She's had so many issues with her weight, losing weight, and gaining weight and everything that – and I think that she's got such a beautiful soul. And that's who I always want to work with, just somebody who really is grounded and tries to make the world a better place. It would be such an honour for me to be able to dress someone like her and just make her feel beautiful on her wedding day because she deserves, it if anybody does in my opinion.

Michelle Obama is already married. And the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, is already married. But those are women that if they weren't already married that I would love to dress them. Maybe when Michelle Obama's daughters get married, maybe I'll get a chance to dress them. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, I just admire her so much for her leadership abilities and what she does. And even though she's married with a baby, I'd love to dress her, but Oprah would be my number-one pick.

Dressing Randy

There’s one person who returns every episode, every season of Say Yes To The Dress. And they have to look sharp. Randy doesn’t show up for consultations in Crocs and joggers. He dresses impeccably for the show and never looks out of place among all the glamour. Randy, how do you do it?

“This is much more complicated than you can ever imagine,” Randy says gleefully. “So generally, when I prepare for filming for a season, I get a certain number of suits. And we film about three or four days a week. So I usually get five or six different suits. I'll get a grey one and a black one and a blue one and maybe a cobalt one, etc. And then I will go through and I will gather together a tie, pocket square and sock combinations that goes well with that suit. Not a match, you don't want it matchy-matchy. You want a tie that has one pattern, you want a pocket square that has another, and you want socks that have another. You don't want them all to be the same. And it's a very difficult thing that I do.”

“Then what I do is I take the tie, pocket square, and sock combination and I put it in a Ziploc bag, and I label it ‘cobalt suit’ or ‘black suit’ or ‘grey suit’. And then I put out my suits and I rotate them. Then I go see my drawer of (packages of) tie, pocket squares, and socks. And I have a section of okay, this goes with my black suit, this goes with my blue suit, this goes with my cobalt suit, this goes with my grey suit. And then I take it out, get dressed. And when I come home, I put it back in the Ziploc bag, and I throw it in a bottom drawer so that I don't wear it again. The suits are on a rotation, so I don't wear the same thing two days in a row. That's how Randy gets dressed.”

“I literally have over 100 combinations of ties, pocket squares, and socks. Probably, oh, if I were to guess what's in my drawers in here, I'll probably have a 150 to 175 ties and pocket squares and socks. I had to kind of stop for a while. So I'm like, ‘Okay Randy, I think you have enough now.’ It was scary. Yeah, actually.”


The Maid of Honour

Our final item on the checklist was asking Randy what he’d put into a wedding day kit for the bride’s number 1. Oh, not her groom, her Maid or Matron of Honour. 

First of all, a note to tell her, “Look, it's your job to take care of the bride today. This is your best friend or your family member or whatever. So make sure that her needs are met, to make sure that the veil is fixed, that the dress is bustled, that she's got water, that she has breath mints, that she has powder or lipstick or whatever she might need to be prepared. As a Maid of Honour, this is your job. And don't get so drunk that you're not able to take care of her because this is your one responsibility on the day of the wedding. It’s an honour to be chosen as that person, but that you really need to step up to the plate and be there for her every need, and to anticipate what she's going to need.”

And then have things that are available to you like maybe scissors, a needle and a thread, or safety pins or anything she might need. Tissues, powder, anything that she might need during the wedding. And just make sure that you're there to help her with the train, and the veil, and help her to get where she needs to go. And as I said, that's your job. And it should be a privilege, and it should be looked highly on as an honour.

Watch Say Yes To The Dress S18 on Sundays on TLC (DStv 135) at 18:00

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