INTERVIEW: Randy Fenoli Headlines Bridal Fair SA
THE Say Yes To The Dress star is heading to Mzansi – and he’s really looking forward to being back!
By: El Broide
IS it just us or has there been a ton of engagements all over your Facebook profile as well? This also means a lot of weddings, bachelorette parties and kitchen teas. Yes, planning a wedding is stressful which is why the upcoming Bridal Fair SA is the perfect one-stop shop for all things wedding – and star of TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress will be at this year’s expo to share his knowledge and make your wedding as effortless as it should be. The Bridal Fair SA, to be held at Montecasino from May 27 – 29 2016, is set to showcase the very latest wedding trends, tips and quality insights on how to create your dream wedding.
This year, more than 200 wedding exhibitors will be showcased at the fair. Every facet has been catered for from flowers, cakes, wedding dresses, venues and estates, photography, jewellery and lots more. However, Randy will be there to give you his expert opinion as he showcases a collection of the hottest dresses around. Ahead of his visit to the country, we had a chat with Randy and got to know a little bit more about him.
We’re so excited to welcome you to South Africa! Tell us, how did Say Yes To The Dress start?
After 9/11 I decided to sell my 7th Avenue condo in New York City and move to New Orleans to open a one-of-a-kind bridal gown and special occasion dress shop. Two weeks before I was to open, New Orleans was hit by hurricane Katrina. For the next two years, unable to sell my brand new condo in The French Quarter, I stayed in New Orleans and got into deep debt. I finally decided one day to send my resume’ to everyone in the bridal industry that could possibly give me a job back in the bridal industry. Kleinfeld was one of the offers I received. They offered to create a position of “Fashion Director” for me, and I accepted. The first day I began working as Fashion Director at Kleinfeld was the last day of filming for the first Season of Say Yes to the Dress. At that time, I had absolutely NO desire to be on a reality TV show. After they repeatedly asked me appear on the show, I reluctantly gave in, the rest is history! We are presently filming Season 14.
Why do you think the show is such a hit with audiences around the world?
Unlike other reality shows that rely only on drama, Say Yes To The Dress focuses more on family relationships and personal connections. I think viewers can relate to the show on that personal level because their families may have the same dynamics as the families they see on the show. Now I am not saying that Say Yes to the Dress doesn’t have its share of drama, but I believe my job is to find the source of that drama and to help guide the bride to her happy ending. It’s going on 14 seasons, which is, as far as I know, one of the longest running series in TLC history.
Where did your love of fashion begin?
The passion really began as a small child. When I was 9 years old, my mother came home with a new sewing machine, good scissors, and some patterns with the intentions to make her own clothes. However, she soon discovered that she could not sew a hem in a terry cloth towel. She left for work the next day, but not before telling me that I was not to touch her sewing machine or good scissors. But after she left I looked through the patterns she had brought home and found a McCall’s pattern with “That Girl” Marlo Thomas on the front. At the time I had a huge crush on Marlo Thomas. I set up everything on our dining room table and proceeded to make the dress from the pattern. When I was done, I pressed the dress, hung it in her bedroom, and put everything else away. That night, when my mother came home, she saw the dress hanging there and asked me where it came from. I told her that I made it for her. She wore the dress to work the next day and came home with another pattern and asked me if I could make her this skirt. So I guess you could say the passion began with my mother.
What makes the perfect wedding dress?
For me 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”.
You’ll be in South Africa for the Bridal Expo later this month. Tell us more about that?
Public appearances give me the opportunity to be able to connect with a larger group than working privately in the salon. I want to teach people to love, accept, and embrace themselves. In my presentations I teach through what I call my “Three E’s”, Educate, Elevate, and Empower. My hope is that after people see my presentation I have not only taught them something, but that I am able to help elevate their life in some way and that they leave the presentation empowered to be confident in the choices they make in life. I am so excited to come and visit South Africa. I hope everyone comes out. Anyone who wants to come out is welcome. You don’t have to be a bride. I’ve got young girls that come to the show with their mothers because they watch the show together, I’ve got grandmothers come out and just meet with me. I’ll take pictures with them, I’ll take selfies with them, I’ll give them hugs, I sign publicity photos that I give them. I hope everybody comes out.
Have you been to South Africa before?
I have been to South Africa once before – it was a brief trip and not since the premiere of Say Yes To The Dress. I was here for business but never for an appearance like this at Bridal Fair SA. No matter where I go, I love meeting fans. I am always thrilled and humbled by how many people approach me to tell me how I have touched their lives, or how much they enjoy watching me on Say Yes to the Dress. I truly love hearing their stories and making that human connection. When I was asked by the Bridal Fair SA team to come to South Africa I was excited to think that I could present a show to South African brides who didn’t have it in their budget to travel to New York. I could bring my South African fans the “full-picture” – the “Head to Hem” makeover – so that they too could complete their bridal-day look with hair, makeup, and accessories and at the same time I could visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The Bridal Fair SA team have an exciting schedule planned to allow me to experience the excitement of Sandton, a true South African safari in the Pilansburg, an overnight pit stop in the suburb of Houghton in Johannesburg and a whirlwind trip to the Cape to experience some of the best that South Africa has to offer. I think I may need a vacation from my vacation.
What’s your best wedding tip for anyone planning on getting married soon?
The one piece of advice I would give, is that you do this once and I think that you can either be stressed over the entire process or you can enjoy it. And I really think you should enjoy it. I think you should enjoy trying on the dresses, I think you should enjoy smelling the flowers, I think you should enjoy the flavour of tasting the cake. You know, really just enjoying the entire experience and the wedding day too. Take time to enjoy it, don’t just go through the motions of what you know you’re supposed to do. Take time to really soak it all in and make memories as this is going to be one of the happiest memories of your life. And if you’re not enjoying it, then I say go and elope.
What else are you busy with at the moment?
As the star of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, Big Bliss, Randy Knows Best, and Randy To The Rescue, I am kept very busy – we are currently filming season 14 of Say Yes To The Dress. I appear as a guest on many television shows, I co-host on talk shows and serve as a fashion commentator for many red carpet events. I also frequently speak at bridal shows around the world. When I am not working I enjoy quiet time at home watching movies and spending time with friends. Each day is different and unique, but the one constant that motivates me is my little shih tzu Chewy! He wakes me up every day with kisses all over my face. He’s such a loverboy!
Tickets for the Bridal Fair SA are available via iTickets and start at R125 for general admission. VIP tickets, which include entry to Randy’s showcase, are available now. We can’t wait get some life-changing tips from Randy while keeping up with the hottest new trends. Oh, and we can’t wait to see what the exhibitors have in store as well. See you there, Johannesburg!