What You Don’t Know About TLC’s ‘Say Yes To The Dress’
One of TLC’s most popular shows is Say Yes to the Dress. It takes place at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan. The employees at the store do whatever they can to satisfy a bride’s every whim. Kleinfeld claims to have the largest selection of wedding dresses on earth, and over 200 employees help brides find the perfect look.
The show mixes fashion with drama and, of course, tales of love. But not everything turns out exactly as you’d expect. There are some behind-the-scenes secrets and other tidbits about the show and the store that may surprise you. Check out some interesting facts about Say Yes to the Dress…
If The Gown Doesn’t Fit, Simply Sue
Bride Randi Siegel-Friedman sued New York bridal salon Kleinfeld Bridal (the setting for Say Yes to the Dress) for $12,000 in 2017. She said the boutique refused to give her a refund for a custom-made gown they designed. A few months before the big day, Seigel-Friedman claimed the dress didn’t fit well and the fabric was wrong.
She opted to wear an off-the-rack gown instead. When she went to the bridal boutique to collect her refund, the store refused. So the bride filed a lawsuit. It’s unclear if she received any compensation for the discarded gown.
Pnina Tornai Gowns Are Particularly Popular On The Show For A Reason
It’s interesting that so many brides wind up choosing a gown designed by Pnina Tornai. The reason is that the show and Kleinfeld are firm supporters of the Israeli dressmaker. Tornai reached out to Kleinfeld about carrying her line before the show launched, and she was initially turned down.
Eventually, TLC and Kleinfeld relented, and Tornai became one of the store’s biggest vendors and the only one with an in-store boutique. You’ll notice that a Pnina Tornai gown is often one of the first dresses offered to the brides to be.
One Bride’s Fiancé Was Involved In A $2.5 Million Scam
When Emily described her fiance David Gotterup in a 2015 episode, she told the cameras, “He fired me so he could date me.” She then proceeded to select a Pnina Tornai gown that cost $6,500. She was over budget, but that was the least of her problems. Shortly after, Gotterup and his business partner were charged with 11 counts of fraud in Brooklyn, New York, related to mortgage refinancing.
Gotterup was accused of bilking his clients out of more than $2.5 million. Worse, he was also accused of using money from a disaster relief fund to pay for his wedding. Gotterup wound up being sentenced to 135 months in prison.
The Couple Injured In The Boston Marathon Bombing Separated After Appearing On The Show
Rebekah Gregory and her fiance, Pete DiMartino, appeared on the show in 2014. The pair was injured in the Boston marathon bombing while watching DiMartino’s mother run the race. Gregory’s leg was amputated, and DiMartino suffered from several injuries, including a ruptured eardrum.
The pair wed nearly a year after the tragedy but split up just 10 months later. Gregory said in a statement to the media: “Over the last several months I’ve come to realize that going through such a horrific event together put a fast-forward on our relationship that we each handled differently.”
You Must Be Bold & Open About Your Life When Applying For The Show
Brides who want a spot on Say Yes To The Dress need to know a lot about their weddings before applying for the show. They also have to be willing to reveal details about their relationship, such as what their future husband does for work.
Brides must be able to describe themselves and their fashion sense in three words. They also must be willing to talk about their budget, family traditions, and why they want to appear on the program. The Atlanta version of the show requires brides to admit if they have been convicted of a crime.
A Bride Sued Producers For Unveiling Her Gown Before Her Wedding Took Place
In 2016, bride Alexandra Godino sued producers for airing her episode before her wedding took place. She told the New York Post: “Not showing the world my gown before the wedding is very important, and in particular, I do not want my fiancée to see the gown before the wedding.”
Godino felt her wedding would be ruined if people saw her gown in advance. “I hired a lawyer because, how many times have they done this to brides? This is a show about weddings, how they’re completely unsympathetic is mind-blowing,” Godino added.
Kleinfeld’s Manhattan Store Is A Madhouse
Kleinfeld’s Manhattan storefront is not very large. There’s just enough room for a bride, her gown, her family, the show’s cast, and the production crew. The store has catapulted in popularity since the show launched, but in reality, you won’t see the whole staff waiting on just one bride.
These days, brides-to-be must vie for attention with 20 other brides at once. That means there’s a lot of women trying to get a glimpse of themselves in the mirror at the same time. If you make an appointment, you have just 90 minutes to choose a dress before the staff moves on to someone else.
The Owners Of Kleinfeld Give The Brides Some Serious One-On-One Attention
Kleinfeld owners Mara Urshel and Ronnie Rothstein love their job and want to make the dress-buying experience as streamline as possible for brides to be (even if time is restricted). This includes giving customers their personal cell phone numbers.
During a 2016 interview with Brides, Urshel revealed: “At Kleinfeld, the staff works diligently to ensure that the customer feels that she is the only bride in the store. Every step of the way, the bride receives personal one-on-one attention, from a personal bridal consultant, to her fitter who she will work with for the next few weeks until the gown fits perfectly!”
It Takes Hours To Film An Episode & Producers Like To ‘Stir Up Some Drama’
In 2013, bridesmaid Courtney Wright revealed in an interview with Brides that filming an episode of Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids in Atlanta took eight hours. The group tried on four dresses, and each dress involved an hour of discussion afterward.
“I wasn’t expecting all the questions,” said Wright. “I thought it was just like, “Alright, go.” She added, “They want you to act as natural as possible, but you can tell that they want to stir up some drama. If someone says something that could potentially cause a disagreement, the director asks you questions about it.”
Musician Elle King Was Already Married When She Appeared On The Show
During season 15, musician Elle King, who is also the daughter of actor Rob Schneider, appeared on the show. She found the perfect dress and was thrilled. However, there were some complications surrounding her wedding. First, she was already married to her husband, Andrew Ferguson, during filming.
The wedding was performed in secret, and the dress was intended for a ceremony planned one month after the episode was to air. The ceremony never took place, because the couple split. Ferguson was also arrested for domestic abuse.
The Show’s Announcer Knows Absolutely Nothing About Wedding Gowns
Voice actor Roger Craig Smith has been narrating the action on Say Yes to the Dress since 2007. In addition to describing all the bridal gowns, he’s also famous for voice work for several other projects, such as Ralph Breaks the Internet, other cartoons, and the video game Resident Evil.
Smith doesn’t watch the show; he simply reads the script and talks to producers about what’s going on in the episode. Over the past decade, he’s learned a bit but is not an expert by any means. And he advises brides never to ask him any fashion advice: “You would wind up in a burlap sack.”
Brides Are Allowed To Say ‘No’
Before filming an episode, the bridge’s budget is set in place, and the consultants do the best they can to adhere to the figure. Of course, they still present gowns that are much too expensive in order to create a fairy tale scenario.
One of the show’s brides, Valerie Bowman, revealed that the gowns she couldn’t afford were removed from the area. Bowman said the bride is not required to purchase a dress she is presented during filming. If she isn’t satisfied with any of the offerings, or can’t afford any of them, she can simply walk away.
The Brides Pay A LOT Of Money For Those Dresses
Most people know that wedding dresses aren’t cheap. If you’re lucky, you can get a discount or take advantage of promotional sales and find a dress at Kleinfeld for a minimum of $2,000. On average, their gowns cost about $4,500. Dresses in the store run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Then you have to add in any necessary alterations. Kleinfeld’s packages, per their website, start at $895 and that includes two to three fittings.
One Famous Bride Called Off Her Engagement A Month Before Her Episode Aired
Dancing With the Stars alum Karina Smirnoff appeared on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta in 2012 for the season three premiere. The show centered on her upcoming wedding to MLB pitcher Brad Penny. Unfortunately, the pair called off their engagement a month before the episode aired.
Interestingly, it was the second engagement the professional dancer had called off over the course of two years (she was engaged to fellow DWTS pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy for nine months in 2009). In 2015, Smirnoff made headlines again for calling off a third engagement to an entrepreneur named Jason Adelman.
Some Of The Kleinfeld Floor Samples Are Dingy
Kleinfeld Bridal dresses look incredible on television, but that’s not exactly what they look like in real life. Some visitors to the store have noticed that the dresses aren’t always so magical looking. In an article by the New York Post, a few women said they went to the store and encountered dresses on the floor with sweat stains in the armpits.
Bride Carly Sposato opted for private tailoring instead of the one offered by the store, which can be problematic. “If you decide you’re going to do your tailoring outside of Kleinfeld, once you open the box, they’re no longer responsible for what happens,” she said.
The Show Has Featured Transgendered Brides
The first transgender bride to appear on the original Say Yes to the Dress was Gabrielle Gibson in 2017. “I’m six-foot-one and I love to wear five-inch heels — my fiancé is five-foot-four — so I was a little worried about finding a dress with the right length,” Gibson told Yahoo Style. “After booking my appointment at the store, I was informed that the show was filming that day, so I decided to audition.”
Precious Davis, another transgender bride, appeared on the Atlanta version of the show in 2016. “I loved watching Precious’s episode, and I was thrilled to be able to tell my own story,” Gibson noted.
Omarosa Was Forced To Change Her Wedding Venue After Appearing On The Show
Omarosa Manigault rose to fame after starring onthe first season of The Apprentice with Donald Trump. She was a White House correspondent when she appeared on Say Yes to the Dress in Season 15. During the episode, she revealed details about her wedding, including the venue.
She added that she was marrying the pastor at her future church in Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately, she wound up tying the knot elsewhere, reportedly because she received death threats prior to her big day. She ended up holding the ceremony at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The Spin-Off On Plus-Sized Brides Wasn’t Very Successful
For some reason, TLC decided to make a spinoff of the show that focused on plus-size brides. Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss aired for two seasons before it was canceled in 2011. The show was similar to the original; however, brides were separated based on their weight. Yikes.
The episodes focused on Kleinfeld dealing with non-standard sized dresses. Other than that, there was very little difference between the shows. It simply focused on women who were larger than average, and it certainly wasn’t one of the network’s most enterprising decisions.
The Bridal Consultants Aren’t Randomly Selected
The Say Yes To The Dress consultants are carefully selected to match up with certain brides. Valerie Bowman, who appeared on the show’s Atlanta version, was a brunette without a Southern accent. To make things more interesting, producers paired her up with a blonde-haired Southern Belle consultant.
Meanwhile, the show has drummed up such a huge interest in Kleinfeld that fans come from far and wide to visit the store and try on dresses even if they don’t have an appointment. Some are not even planning a wedding when they make the trip.
One Bride Died Of Cancer Months Before Her Episode Aired
In 2012, the season nine episode “Queen for a Day” centered on bride Margo Mallory, who was battling cervical cancer. She and her fiance were planning a wedding later in the year. The episode featured Mallory’s search for the perfect dress as well as clips from her wedding.
Mallory, just 24 years old, noted how she and her husband weren’t giving up hope. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer. At the end of the episode, producers posted a photo of Mallory and her husband. She had died five months before the episode aired.
The Show Tries To Use Female Camera Operators Whenever Possible
If you’ve ever watched Say Yes to the Dress and thought it would be scary to strip down in front of a roomful of people, you’re not alone! Many people would find this experience pretty unnerving. To help with the potentially awkward matter, the show’s producers try to use female camera operators.
Also, the show won’t air any images of someone who’s in their intimate apparel — although you can see plenty of it in some of the sheer dress styles that are so popular with some brides!
There’s A Modesty Consultant On The Show
Not every bride wants a strapless or sheer dress. After Mara Urshel and Ronnie Rothstein bought Kleinfeld in 1990, they hired Rochel Leah Katz to assist with their religious customers who wanted a more modest look.
Katz caters to the store’s Mormon and Orthodox Jewish women customers. “The custom changes we’re doing are long sleeves, high necklines, and full-lining,” Katz said to Racked. “But we also do short sleeves, semi-sheer, and everything else.”
All About The Charming Randy Fenoli
Fashion designer Randy Fenoli made his debt as Say Yes to the Dress‘ Fashion Director in 2007 and charmed viewers with his witty remarks and eye for just the right style. Fenoli has fashion in his blood, having started sewing dresses when he was just nine years old.
He studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and is also talented at hairstyling and make-up. Since SYTTD, he’s hosted Randy to the Rescue and Say Yes to the Dress: Randy Knows Best.
Randy Won The Miss Gay America Competition In 1990
He truly is multi-talented! Although SYTTD viewers are used to seeing Randy Fenoli in a sophisticated suit, in 1990 he won The Miss Gay America Competition dressed in drag as a character called Brandi Alexander.
He credits his female impersonation days for making him a better designer. “I made 90 percent of my outfits when I was a female impersonator,” he explained to Vital Voice. “I bought very few outfits, most of them were handmade and I made every single outfit that I wore during the Miss Gay America contest from evening wear, sportswear, on stage female interview to every presentation – they had like seven different categories.”
College Republicans Spoofed The Show In An Ad Campaign
In 2014, the College Republican National Committee released an ad that spoofed Say Yes to the Dress. It was an attempt to target young female voters in Florida, and it didn’t go over too well because it came across as sexist and demeaning.
In the commercial, a young woman tries on two different wedding dresses. One is called the “Rick Scott” and the other is named for Scott’s opponent, Charlie Crist. The bride loves the Rick Scott gown, and the narrator says, “Rick Scott is becoming a trusted brand. He has new ideas that don’t break your budget.”
Kathy Griffin Surprised Her Friend On The Show
Kathy Griffin made an appearance on Say Yes with the Dress in the season 13 premiere. Her former assistant Tiffany had an appointment to be taped for the show and Kathy was supposed to join her. But Kathy canceled, preferring to surprise her friend on the show instead.
To catch Tiffany off-guard, Kathy actually got dressed in a wedding gown and posed as a mannequin. In typical comedic fashion, Kathy had a quip about the scenario, joking, “I’m far too famous to be in a bridal gown trying to fool my assistant. I’m back on the D-list.”
The Show Originally Had A Different Name
It might be hard to imagine calling the show anything other than Say Yes to the Dress, but it turns out it actually had a different name at first: “Kleinfeld Unveiled.” Store owner Ronnie Rothstein told the New York Post the story of the name change, which came about as they shot the pilot episode.
“There was a girl who was struggling over two dresses. I said to [her] mother, ‘It’s easier to say yes to the guy than to say yes to the dress.’ The network called us weeks later and said ‘We have the name: “Say Yes to the Dress.” ’ We thought it was terrible! Then all of a sudden it caught on.”
There Is An Episode That Fans Call ‘The One With The Evil Twin’
Although the official episode title is “Overbooked,” die-hard fans of SYTTD prefer to call it “The One With The Evil Twin.” In it, bride-to-be Jennifer Bloom brought her identical twin sister Melanie along and things got pretty catty.
Melanie kept criticising Jennifer and telling her that she looked bad. Show producer Abby Greensfelder said, “The twin was jealous of this moment that she wasn’t having.” Of course, that makes for great reality TV, and the audience loved it.
The Show Picks Which Bridesmaids Will Appear
It turns out that the show only allows certain bridesmaids to appear on the show, and the decision is based on the potential for drama. One bridesmaid opened up about her experience on Say Yes to the Dress.
“Before the show, [the bride] had to write out descriptions of who she was bringing, what their personalities were like, if they got along with everyone else, what upsets them, what they would disagree with and things like that,” she said. “Then, they chose the bridesmaids they wanted to interview from that.”
One Bride Got Engaged The Morning Of Taping
Season 12 bride Megan Bacino has a whirlwind day when she taped her episode of Say Yes. “My experience on the show was crazy because my now-husband proposed to me that morning – the whole thing was a surprise,” she revealed to Cosmopolitan.
The couple was in New York for a visit at the time. “The morning he proposed, cameras popped out of corners and the two consultants popped out and were like, ‘Are you ready to shop for a dress?’ I’ve watched our episode maybe two times in its entirety, and I still can’t really believe it happened,” she said.
The Show Helped Out A Bride In Need
Bride-to-be Kelli Hutchinson of Louisiana was only weeks away from her wedding day when her area received massive flooding. Among other things, her dress was completely ruined. Randy Fenoli, who used to live in Louisiana, heard the story and the show swooped in to help.
“In 15 seasons, this is the most incredible appointment we’ve done,” Fenoli said. “She’s a bride with three kids, their house flooded days after they moved in and she lost her father [last] year.” SYTTD set up a pop-up salon in Hutchinson’s town and donated a dress, veil, and jewelry. This photo shows the couple on their wedding day, which went ahead as scheduled.
Roger Craig Smith Has Done Thousands Of Voices
As we mentioned earlier, announcer Roger Craig Smith has done a lot of voicework outside of Say Yes to the Dress. He’s literally performed thousands of voices during his career! Some of his credits include Sonic the Hedgehog in Sonic Boom, and Mouse and Moose in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. He’s been in lots of video games, too, and was the voice of Batman in WB’s Batman: Arkham Origins and Arkham Origins: Blackgate.
He’s a busy guy, for sure. According to Smith’s website, he begins work at 7:00 every morning and works through to the evening hours.
Viewers Never Got To See Wedding Photos Of The Most Expensive Dress
The most expensive dress ever sold on the show, a Pnina Tornai, set the bride back an unbelievable $70,000. That’s a number most of us can’t fathom spending on one item of clothing.
The dress was featured in a Season 7 episode in 2011 called “For the Love of Mom.” Some fans were disappointed that the bride, Tabitha, never publicly posted photos of her wedding day. This photo at least shows us what the dress looked like.
It’s not always demanding brides who go on the show with crazy expectations and behavior. The parents can get pretty out of line, too. Abby Greensfelder, one of the show’s producers, shared the tale of one overbearing dad with the New York Post.
“We’ve had the total over-the-top, overbearing, beefcake Italian [father] who screamed at the woman who was trying to make alterations because his daughter looked horrible [in the dress],” she said. Luckily, his mood changed once he saw his darling daughter in the altered gown. This tough guy just totally lost it and it was so endearing,” said Greensfelder.
Some Fans Aren’t Big On Shay
Say Yes to the Dress introduced Kleinfeld’s new consultant Shay in season 14. He was the store’s first male consultant. Fans were not thrilled, put off by what they called his arrogant demeanor.
The SYTTD Facebook page was flooded with complaints from viewers threatening to quit watching the show, with comments like this one. “The whole tone of the show has changed and I don’t really want to watch it anymore. Shay is an arrogant, condescending and totally disrespectful human being. Where are all the other consultants?”
Shay And Randy Did Not Hit It Off
Viewers were surprised when newcomer Shay turned down Randy’s offer to show him the ropes when they first met. And Shay’s comments about Randy’s age didn’t exact;y endear himself either.
“Randy’s been doing this since the ’80s, and I was born in the ’80s,” he said to the camera. “It’s nice to have a different perspective — fresher, younger, newer. It’s apples and chocolate cake, and sometimes you prefer chocolate cake to an apple.” Meow!
Niche Caldwell Is Still Happily Married
Niche Caldwell was a popular bride on Say Yes to the Dress. “I was on the show about six years ago and I still get Facebook messages every time my episode comes on a rerun,” she said. What is she up to today?
She’s doing great! “Married life is good – we’ll be married five years this May and we have two kids – Savannah is 3 and Aiden is 10 months – and my husband [former Denver Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell] has played in two Super Bowls,” Niche shared with Cosmo.
Queen Precious-Jewel Earth Zabriskie-White
The uniquely-named Queen Precious-Jewel Earth Zabriskie-White is another bride who made an impact with viewers. “I have always been a big fan of the show, which is why we decided to [apply to be on] it. I always thought, ‘I don’t see any gay people on the show! They need more black lesbians on the show!,'” she told Cosmo.
Today, Zabriskie-White weighs 150 pounds less than she did on the show, thanks to the gastric-bypass surgery that she talked about in her episodes.
Some Say The Show Encourages Narcissism
It’s no surprise that people who want to appear on television shows like Say Yes to the Dress might have some narcissistic tendencies. Critics even say that the show encourages brides to care more about the wedding day than about the marriage that the wedding represents.
Kristy Tam, who appeared in the season 6 premiere, has been cited as an example of this. “I had a white party to watch with my friends when it aired,” she said. “We all gathered around and watched the show. It was terrible! I was like, ‘Is that what I look like in real life?'” She split from her husband not too long after the wedding… perhaps her disappointment in her appearance didn’t help strengthen their bond.
Kristy Is Much Happier Today
Things are looking up for Kristy after her disappointing SYTTD appearance. “My life since going on the show keeps getting better and better,” she shared. “I was separated in 2014 and my divorce was finalized in 2016. I have a new boyfriend. He’s my best friend and my soulmate. We took it easy because, when we got together, I was just going through my divorce,” she shared. The couple has a son together now.
Is another wedding in Kristy’s future? Yes, but it won’t be anything like the first one. “I don’t need the sparkle explosion that I wanted for the first wedding,” she said.