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One-on-One With Randy Fenoli

Words by Jennifer Stein

Selecting the perfect gown for your wedding day away is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Questions you may be asking yourself such as, “How do I travel with my gown?” or “What comes first, the destination or the dress?” These are all answered in the following paragraphs. Fan favorite and star of the reality series, “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress,” Randy Fenoli is here to give his tips and tricks on finding “the one” in regards to your destination wedding dress. 

Q:  What are some new and exciting trends you are seeing in wedding dress fashion?

A: The biggest trends I saw during Bridal Market were not strapless dresses, they had yokes, they had straps, everything you could imagine except strapless – v-neck, halter, you name it, I saw it. I’m interested to see if these designs will be as popular and if they’ll sell. I saw fewer ball gowns and instead, slimmer silhouettes, lots of lace and tulle. But the tulle was in a softer, slimmer silhouette. The lace was all mixed, from Chantilly to Venise lace – mixed with patterns, layered and even ghosted lace. And the trains were shorter.

Across the board, any kind of gown you could ever want was shown at Bridal Market Fall 2013. We saw 80 to 100 different collections. I try to peek in at every booth we can get to so I can come back and report what is out there.

Because there is so much variety, there is something for anyone…a bride can be traditional, bohemian, blinged out, sexy, Cinderella, she can look any way she wants to look. If a bride can’t find a dress for her, she’s not looking hard enough.

Q:  Are there any trends you wish would go away?

A: All trends should go away. What I mean by this is that trends will date your wedding. Something traditional will stand the test of time. At one point, we saw so many designs inspired by “The Great Gatsby” and the movie came and left. By the time the dresses hit the stores, the trend had already made its way through. To go with a strong trend, later on, you may say “Oh it’s so 2013.” I prefer a timeless gown. I do not think strapless is a trend, it’s been around for a long time and I believe it will stay. It offers freedom of movement in a bridal gown…brides can party and dance at their wedding.

Q: When it comes to shopping for a wedding dress, are there any particular designs you think are tailored to the destination bride?

A: I have seen three destination weddings in Cayman during the month of June. One I attended and dressed the bride in a Pnina Tornai gown which was corseted, with a long train. The next Cayman wedding in June, the bride wore a Carolina Herrera with satin petals on the beach and the third was an Oscar de la Renta with silk/satin organza and a peplum. The point is, for destination brides they are not really choosing a look that would typically be identified as a “destination dress.” I think they select the gown they want and make it work with the location. You do need to keep in mind the elements and the weather. You don’t want to be getting married on the beach in Mexico wearing a heavy satin gown with long sleeves. A destination wedding can be anywhere – so there are endless options.

Q: Any tips and tricks for traveling with a wedding gown?

A: Keep in mind how it will pack. Lace packs beautifully and a lot of gowns this season are very packable. If you’re going to take a larger gown, check with the airline to see what the rules are and if they can hang it for you in first class. If it’s really large, buy it an extra seat. If you’re going to pack it and if it will wrinkle, know how to press it when you get to your destination. Certain fabrics don’t pack well; silk/satin organza wrinkles very easily.

Q: When should a bride go dress shopping, before or after she selects her destination?

A: Pick the destination first because once you have that figured out you’ll know the theme and feel for the wedding. Even though it doesn’t have to match the destination, it needs to fit the destination. Maybe you are having a barn wedding, yet want to wear something completely unexpected like a crystal studded ball gown. You could make it feel like it belongs by hanging a crystal chandelier above your altar. But, know what you’re working with first. Perhaps you have a narrow aisle, but your dad is walking you down and you have a large dress…that could create a problem if you don’t know ahead of time, so pick the venue first.

Q: What should a bride do if she falls in love with a gown she can’t afford?

A: That’s a tough one. My big no-no is trying on a gown outside of your budget. I will try with everything in my power to avoid a bride putting on a gown that is beyond what she can spend. If you fall in love with it, then you’ll be broken hearted. It’s like driving a Lamborghini but having the budget for a Honda. Why would you put yourself in that position? It’s not about how much money a person has; it’s what they want to spend. What they’ve allotted for the gown is what they should stick to unless they’re willing to cut somewhere else.

Q: Not everyone knows how to dress their body – do you have any tips and tricks for brides to look their best and embrace her particular “assets?”

A: I think most women know how to dress in everyday clothes…they know how to pick jeans and know their size. They’ve never shopped for a wedding dress. They don’t understand that all sample gowns come in a size 10, so not everyone will fit into it correctly.

My advice: keep an open mind. Try it on. So many girls say, “I don’t want strapless, beaded or lace,” yet some end up walking away with a strapless, beaded lace gown.

Q:  Veils, in or out?

A:  Absolutely in. Without a veil you’re just a pretty girl in a white dress. Every girl should have some sort of hair accessory to set them apart. This is the only time in your life you can wear tulle on your head without looking foolish!

Q: If you could have your dream destination wedding, where would you choose to say "I do” and what would you wear?

A: I personally love destination weddings over at-home weddings. It’s everything you dreamed about and planned for and it’s over in 8 hours? [A destination wedding] limits the guest list to people who are really important to you -- the people who will actually pony up and be there. And that’s who you really want there anyway. Plus, it’s not just a one day affair. Instead of only a wedding day, you get to spend time with your guests for several days. I personally would do a destination wedding.

I would choose a place with beautiful beaches and water and a beautiful ballroom which overlooks the ocean. I’d like to have both the ceremony and reception in the ballroom because, well let’s be honest, I don’t like to perspire. At all. I’d choose a place where there were beautiful sunsets and I’d love for my guests to experience a beach destination. There are so many things you can do at a beach wedding.

I would wear one of the tuxedo jackets that I designed myself. I have 8-12 jackets where I select the fabrics and they really reflect my personality. Definitely a bowtie and a dress shirt with French cuffs, cuff links and, of course, patent leather shoes.

Q: Were you expecting the fame after signing on for “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress?”

A: You never quite know what to expect. I wasn’t expecting the loss of my personal life. You don’t really realize that you’ll be converged upon by 30 people by yourself while you’re walking down the street. You think you know what you’re signing up for, but you really don’t. I have to do things differently now. There are only a couple of restaurants now that I can go to which protect my privacy. I only take certain routes to work. I do most of my shopping online and I don’t appear at any event without security.

Q: Hot pink platform heels, in or out?

A: I say if you’re going to spend money on an accessory, spend it on the shoes. I think you should spend $600 on shoes that you’ll wear again and again rather than $60 on a pair of shoes that will go in the trash when the wedding is over. Accessories either elevate or depreciate your look. If you should add a pop of color, do it in a shoe.

Q: Covering up tattoos, in or out?

A: Tattoos are part of your life’s history. What are you doing at your wedding but telling your story? It’s who you are, so why cover it up? It doesn’t have anything to do with being a trashy person or anti-religion. It had significant meaning to get it in the first place – so embrace who you are, never be ashamed of that.

I do have a funny story, though, of an exception to this. A bride came in and she made a point to tell the consultants her family wasn’t allowed in the dressing room. Grandma went in despite the efforts of keeping them out and saw the bride’s tattoo which read, “This ass belongs to Joey.” She was marrying Mike. The wedding was almost called off.

Q: Ombre, in or out?

A: I saw a lot of it this season on the runway. I’m also seeing it in flowers and décor, from going from white in one room or area, to a light shade of pink to red.  

Q: Cocktail-length wedding gowns, in or out?

A:  I have a lot of girls asking for them. I don’t have a lot of girls leaving with them. It’s an odd length. I think if you’re doing informal, it should be short. The tea-length, it’s weird. Not a big fan.

Q: Crumb catcher necklines, in or out?

A: I think they’re on the verge of going out. I don’t have a problem with them, but I didn’t see a lot on the runway.

Q: You're a favorite on TLC's "Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress," and a lot of brides on that show have traveled from all over the country. Under what circumstances would you recommend a bride travel to New York to find her dream dress?

A: There are so many brides who want to be on the show and I always ask them, “Do you want to be on the show or find a dress? Do you really want to find the gown that’s truly perfect?” Our casting team does vet brides for the show to make sure they are really getting married and truly are brides and not just after their 15 minutes of fame. They look for interesting families and stories. They want to find something which will make the audience want to watch. Perhaps they have a smaller budget, but need alterations because they have a larger bust, so they are faced with the challenge of making it work. We try to educate the audience -- what families go through, the realities of choosing a wedding dress. They realize there is so much that goes into it. The family dynamics are so much deeper than a man just picking up a tux.

To follow Randy Fenoli – visit facebook.com/RandyFenoli or twitter.com/RandyFenoli 

Photo courtesy of TLC, © 2012 Discovery Communications

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