Saying yes to the right dress

Brides-to-be pour through magazines, designer websites and bridal boutiques, searching for a dress that will help them look their best. But one designer says that although how the bride looks is important, how the bride feels when she puts on her wedding gown is what makes it the dress.

As fashion director at Kleinfeld Bridal, and as one of the hosts of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, Randy Fenoli knows what it takes to help a young woman find the dress that will make her feel like a bride.

“It goes deeper than just the fabric on our bodies,” he says.

Fenoli was in Cayman recently as a participant in the engage!10 wedding conference at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.

Every day, future brides flock to Kleinfeld in New York City to find the perfect dress for that special day.

“Even though they’ve fallen in love with this image in the magazine, it may not be right for them,” Fenoli says. “Sometimes I can look at that image in a magazine and I think, ‘OK, I get it.’ It’s not the dress they want, it’s the feeling of that girl in that picture, and I’ve got a dress that’s going to make this girl … feel like that.”

Fenoli understands that the power of clothes goes beyond the world of fashion.

“One of the most interesting things that I ever saw was when Oprah took Christmas to the children of Africa,” Fenoli says. He goes on to explain that, in addition to a soccer ball for every boy and a doll for every girl, the renowned television personality gave every child a uniform.

“Guess which gift they liked the most? The uniform. Do you know why? Because once they put it on, they no longer felt poor. Now that really tells me the power of clothes, and how they affect you and how you feel.”

And that is why Fenoli believes that a bride’s wedding gown should be one that embodies her personality and style.

“I think the most important thing is to wear what you feel comfortable in,” he says.

Destination: I Do
According to Fenoli, destination weddings are one of the hottest trends in the wedding world.

Certainly Seven Mile Beach has seen its fair share of weddings.

But just because they plan to get a little sandy while reciting their vows does not mean that brides are compromising on their gowns.

“They’re not giving up their dream dress to wear a little chiffon slip, they’re holding true to who they are and wearing that ballgown, or whatever they want, on the beach,” Fenoli says. “They’re saying: ‘This is who I am and I am not going to change it just because I’m getting married there.’ I think that’s very brave of them, and it shows that they know their sense of style.”

There are still some pieces of advice that Fenoli would give to future beach brides, however:

“If it’s a summer climate and it’s warm, I would, personally, lean towards more lighter fabrics such as silk organza, silk chiffon, silk taffeta, tulle and lace,” he says, adding that lace has the added benefit of being very difficult to wrinkle, a plus when it comes to transporting that gown to the wedding site.

“You’ve got to know how you’re going to get it there,” Fenoli says. “If you’ve got this big gown, you’d better start calling the airlines and making sure that you can get it into a closet or something and, once you get there, you’d better know how you’re going to steam it or press it.”

Charged as an Accessory
More and more often, Fenoli says, future brides are bringing accessories – mostly shoes – to their gown consultations.

“I think it’s great,” he says. “That shoe tells me volumes about that girl.”

Whether it’s a tailored Chanel shoe or a sexy five-inch pump, Fenoli says that an accessory can really help a consultant to find the bride-to-be her perfect dress.

“It really gives me an insight into what their style is and how they want to look,” he says.

Accessories can serve as the perfect inspiration when a bride is searching for the dress that personifies her style.

“I think it’s good to get inspiration everywhere, at any time … inspiration comes from everywhere,” Fenoli says.

Mail-Order Bride Gown
It seems that almost every higher-end mall store has now decided to get into the bridal gown business with an online boutique, but should future brides consider ordering from an online boutique?

“My first recommendation would be don’t,” Fenoli advises. “It’s not like ordering a pair of jeans online … a wedding dress is a completely different garment.”

Fenoli explains that bridal gowns are made in an entirely different fashion than any other dresses.

“A wedding dress is constructed like no other dress,” he says. “There’s boning, there’s a whole separate construction underneath the dress that holds it up from the waist.”

This means that full-chested women can for once get away with a strapless dress, and women with boy-ish figures can gain instant curves.

“I think that’s where girls get tripped up. They say ‘This is my body and I have to wear this shape, or silhouette, or dress,’ and I don’t believe that,” Fenoli says.

Every Shade of Bridesmaid
It’s not just her own gown that a bride-to-be has to worry about – she also has to dress her bridesmaids.

One bride chose to solve this problem by throwing the idea of uniform dresses and colours out the window.

Instead, every bridesmaid chose her own dress in a varying shade of purple.

“I thought it was fabulous, I thought it made it personal, and I thought it made it memorable,” Fenoli says.

To avoid ostentatious colours and varying dress styles when giving bridesmaids the chance to choose their own dresses, however, brides should restrict their bridesmaids to a specific length and colour palette.

“It’s all in the attention to detail. I would make sure that each of those bridesmaids brought me their shade to make sure it fit … or I’d give them a palette to work within,” Fenoli says. “ I think it makes it unique and individual, and then they will probably wear that dress again.”