Mindful of his mission to “Educate, Elevate and Empower” a bride to choose the perfect dress for her wedding day and to realize her own personal beauty, fashion and beauty guru Randy Fenoli continues to touch lives. After teaching himself to sew at the age of 9, winning prestigious awards for his achievements in bridal design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and consulting thousands of brides a year, Fenoli has earned the title of ultimate and all-knowing source in the bridal industry. He took time out of his busy schedule of motivating brides around the country and starring in TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Randy to the Rescue” to chat with Kim Wadsworth, editor of Vow Bride, our sister publication in Norfolk, Va., about Randy Rules, purchasing the perfect gown and how every bride can look and feel beautiful on her big day.
Kim Wadsworth: There is no doubt that you know the bridal gown industry intimately from the inside out after working in it for more than 20 years. What is one of the most important pieces of advice about selecting a wedding gown that you share with brides?
Randy Fenoli: The most important thing to consider when deciding on your wedding gown is to ask yourself which gown makes you feel the most beautiful. When you look in the mirror, you should not be thinking “this dress is beautiful.” You should be thinking “I am beautiful.”
KW: What gave you a kick start in the bridal gown business?
RF: When I was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) I won a bridal design contest where one of the judges was Vivian Dessy-Diamond. Weeks before graduation, she phoned my dorm and offered me a job designing for The Diamond Collection with my name on the label. Just a few months after graduation, my first collection was shown down the runway. That was the beginning of my 20-year career in bridal.
KW: How do you recommend brides approach purchasing a gown? What are some hard and fast rules about where to start?
RF: A bride should define her story and establish a plan. A bride needs to determine ‘what type of bride do you want to be and what type of couple are you and your fiancé?’ After you know your story, establish a budget, decide on your venue, determine the season for your wedding, etc. The answers to these questions help establish your plan for choosing the perfect gown. Most importantly, keep an open mind. The perfect gown is out there for every woman, but limiting your options may keep you from finding it.
KW: Brides are frustrated by budgets and sticking with them. When tempted by more expensive gowns, how do you suggest they stay on track?
RF: A bride should craft her budget carefully and spend money on the things that are important to her. You should be flexible within your budget, but not with your budget. For example, if you have allotted a certain amount for a gown but find the gown of your dreams that is slightly over that budget, maybe you could cut some of the budget from the flowers, decorations or something else. There are a lot of ways to save money on weddings today. However, be careful or the only thing you will love in the end will be the price.
KW: I’m sure you have many cautionary tales about how things can go bad when choosing a wedding gown. What is one of your Randy Rules for indecisive or picky brides?
RF: I don’t believe brides can really be too icky unless they are asking for something that is unrealistic. For example, a bride looking for a real French lace gown for under $1,000 is being unrealistic. Real lace is fairly expensive. When I have a bride who is having trouble choosing between two gowns, I simply ask her which gown makes her feel the most beautiful. She will carry herself with confidence and will radiate beauty from within. A wedding gown is probably the most important garment that a woman will ever wear and probably the most money she will ever spend on a dress, so I feel a bride has the right to be a little fussy when choosing her gown.
KW: What are the hottest trends in wedding gowns for 2013?
RF: The trends I noticed the most were gowns with gorgeous, dramatic backs, straps and sleeves. There was a huge influence from “The Great Gatsby” movie. I saw gowns that looked like they stepped out of the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Gowns with dimension, texture, ruffles and movement were everywhere! Bottom line, there is something for every bride out there.
KW: Is there a bridal gown style that is universally flattering?
RF: No. Every dress is cut differently and every person is shaped differently. I would not want to generalize and say that a certain style or silhouette looks flattering on everyone. It’s true that more people can wear an A-line silhouette and that a mermaid gown is more difficult to pull off. However, you also need to consider the neckline, waistline and details of the dress. You never know how a certain dress or silhouette will look on you until you’ve tried it on.
KW: Tell us about the inspiration behind your show “Randy to the Rescue” and what you hope brides will take away from it.
RF: So many brides contact me wishing they could come to New York for me to help them find the perfect gown. So I thought, if they can’t come to me, I will go to them. To accomplish this, I would bring the dresses to them via a semi-truck! I also wanted to show brides the “full picture” of how they could complete their bridal day look with hair, makeup and accessories. I call this their “Head to Hem” makeover. My mission with anything that I do is to elevate, educate and empower. I truly believe that every bride is beautiful and my hope is that these brides will walk away from this experience with the knowledge that they are beautiful.
KW: We know you are all about brides, so tell us what they can learn from the book “It’s All About the Dress.”
RF: The very reason I wrote this book was to help guide a bride through the sometimes daunting process of finding a gown. “It’s All About the Dress” educates the bride by giving her all the essential information she needs to be empowered to make the perfect gown choice without overwhelming her with too much information like so many books out there seem to do. I’m proud that the “models” I used in the book are real brides. The brides range in age from their 20s to 60s and in size from size 2 to size 22. I wanted brides to realize you don’t have to be a runway model or in your 20s to look beautiful on your wedding day.
KW: Why women? Why wedding dress? What makes you so passionate about what you do?
RF: One of the most important, if not eh most important, day in a woman’s life is her wedding day. To be able to share in this event and help a woman feel confident of her selection of gown and to help her feel beautiful is such a special thing. I am the luckiest man alive.