100,000 Bridal Clients Later, These Are the Common Wedding Dress Mistakes I See

Most brides might argue that the experience of planning a wedding is stressful and eye-opening enough to account for a lifetime of lessons. In reality, Randy Fenoli has been a part of 100,000 of them. It’s an estimate but, frankly, a conservative one. “I worked at Kleinfeld for five years, and Kleinfeld sees about 18,000 brides a year; I’d see at least 15,000 of those,” he tells us. That’s already 75,000 brides without accounting for Fenoli’s entire 26 years in the industry. That includes the ’90s when, as he recalls, he put on 24 trunk shows every year, as well as the gig most of us will recognize him for: as the star of Say Yes to the Dress—and that’s already on season 16.

Fenoli’s been front and center to nearly every bridal appointment gone well and gone terribly wrong on the cult hit TV show, and that’s a big reason we asked him to steer us straight on the mistakes brides-to-be often make when shopping for a wedding dress. After this nearly three-decade career, there’s one misstep that happens time and time again. “Not setting the ground rules before you bring in your entourage,” he tells us.


Courtesy of Randy Fenoli Bridal Silver Springs Collection

“Purchasing a wedding dress is really a unique experience. I don’t know any other purchase where we invite people in with their opinions on a purchase that is so personal,” the consultant, reality star, and bridal designer of the just-launched Silver Springs collection told us. “When you purchase a house or car, you don’t bring your mother-in-law and sister and college roommate to that experience.”

While Fenoli explains that having this company makes the bridal shopping experience unique and special, it also requires some direct communication from the bride before ever stepping inside a store. “Lay some ground rules to the people you bring. They should know that your budget is $1000 instead of $10,000—if someone’s pulling a $10,000 dress, they need to put in the other $9000 or don’t pull it.”

Beyond just the financials, he says that your entourage should be encouraged to honor the bride’s vision and approach the situation with positivity. “It’s about letting people know that this is a privilege and honor to go shopping with you, and you’re bringing them along because you care about them and want them to be part of this experience. They are there to help you, and not fulfill their vision of what they want you to wear.”


Courtesy of Randy Fenoli Bridal Silver Springs Collection

The mistakes don’t end there. Fenoli also recommends brides give their wedding style some serious thought before going into any dress appointments. He suggests knowing where and in what season the wedding is, as well as their ideal wedding day style aesthetic. “Bohemian, sexy, classic, or fashion-forward—once you narrow that down, it’ll give you a really good idea of what you’re looking for.”

Additionally, the expert says that six to eight months ahead of your wedding is the ideal timeframe to shop for a dress. “Brides are coming in today and saying ‘I’m getting married in a month.’ [At that point,] they have to choose a gown off the racks, and they lose out on a much wider selection.”

In case you’re looking for a bit more instant gratification, Fenoli's bridal collection will be in stores in 2019 in a range of sizes—great for a bride working on a shorter timeline. Otherwise, pursue the bridal styles below—entourage in tow or not.