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Family & Relationships Getting the 'Say Yes to the Dress' Treatment at Kleinfeld Was Not What I Expected

19:41  10 january  2020
19:41  10 january  2020 Source:   goodhousekeeping.com

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a person in a wedding dress: A closer look at what it's like being a bride on TLC's 'Say Yes to the Dress,' working with Randy Fenoli, and shopping at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City.© Landon Neil Phillips A closer look at what it's like being a bride on TLC's 'Say Yes to the Dress,' working with Randy Fenoli, and shopping at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City.

As I open the twin doors to Kleinfeld Bridal, I'm overwhelmed by the cafeteria-level chatter coming from the waiting area of the legendary New York City bridal shop. It's just before 9:30 in the morning — on the Saturday before Memorial Day no less — yet the store is filled with caffeinated women, Starbucks in hand, talking and taking selfies in front of the photo wall next to the front desk.

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In front of me, there's a line of 10 or so people anxiously waiting to check in for their hour-and-a-half-long appointments. Looking to my right, I see a sign that reads, "Please be aware that by entering Kleinfeld, you consent to your voice and likeness being videotaped and used without compensation for exploitation on television and in all media ..." Pointing it out to my mom, she immediately asks if I think they are filming our appointment for the extremely popular TLC series, Say Yes to the Dress.

a white tub sitting next to a sink: Kleinfeld© Landon Neil Phillips Kleinfeld

Turns out they aren't, and as Wendy Douglas, who oversees production of the show, later tells me, the SYTTD team usually tries to shoot on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Because I'm not filming, I can skip the hours of paperwork and on-camera interviews, and get straight to shopping.

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After 10 minutes of waiting in the lobby area, a smiling consultant named Brandi Hill comes out to greet my mom and me, offering us Kleinfeld-branded water bottles. As we introduce ourselves, I get distracted staring at the huge white-carpeted showroom behind her, which is where episodes are shot. In the 30,000 square-foot space, there are sparkly headpieces, showstopping $10,000-and-up dresses on mannequins, and bedazzled Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes everywhere. To my pleasant surprise, it looks just like it does on the show.

Right away, Brandi takes us back to a private, blue-walled dressing room away from the crowds and the center of the room. It's then that she begins asking me about what I'm looking for in a dress — a pre-interview sans the cameras, if you will.

I Said Yes to the Dress and Here's What Happened© Hearst Owned I Said Yes to the Dress and Here's What Happened

Admittedly, I had already been to four other bridal stores in the city before coming to Kleinfeld, so describing my dream dress was no issue. Like the gown I have been drawing on cocktail napkins and hotel paper pads since I was nine, I tell her I want a simple strapless (or thin-strapped) white gown with a sweetheart neckline — no sparkles, no over-the-top lace designs. Much to the dismay of my mother, who got married in 1990 (a.k.a. the era of poofy sleeves and Princess Diana-esque trains), I saw myself in a simple and classic design that would fit my theme and wouldn't exceed my budget of $2,700 (about $1,800 less than the average dress sale there).

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Brandi Hill wanders through Kleinfeld© Landon Neil Phillips Brandi Hill wanders through Kleinfeld

Right away, Brandi gets it. Unlike other consultants I had at other boutiques, she doesn't try to talk me into sparkles or rhinestone-studded belts, which is refreshing. I was lucky that Brandi happened to be working that day, as Wendy tells me that consultants are often assigned according to their schedules, barring unique filming circumstances.

"Sometimes it's just by pure availability ... [sometimes] if there's a personal story attached to the bride [or] something where a consultant can maybe relate to that or has more experience with that, we'll match them," she says.

However it works, I'm glad Kleinfeld put me with Brandi. She proves how much of a pro she is as she picks out my dresses and maneuvers the backroom without a hiccup. Let me tell you — this storage room is no joke. Besides hosting a maze of plastic-covered gowns organized by silhouette and designer on the ground level, there are hundreds of garments also hanging from the ceiling on a conveyor belt (like the ones you see at the dry cleaner). How she doesn't get lost in there is beyond me. But nonetheless, she returns a few minutes later to my dressing room with a handful of options.

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Julie Wetherbee in a wedding dress: The first dress Brandi picked for me: an ivory silk Tara Keely gown.© Landon Neil Phillips The first dress Brandi picked for me: an ivory silk Tara Keely gown.

Brandi pulls six gowns, well within the five to 20 option range that Wendy says is typical for brides. The first dress I put on ends up being the one I spend the most time in. It's an ivory silk Tara Keely gown with a removal bow in the back. It has everything I thought I wanted — a sweetheart neckline, a ballgown flair at the bottom, and absolutely no sparkle. Though I feel beautiful in it, I'm not ready to commit to it for some reason. There were no tears or an instant flood of emotions ... this couldn't be it then, right?

And so, I slip into dress number two, a white Nouvelle Amsale A-line gown with a straight neckline. Within seconds of Brandi clipping me into the dress, I knew the neckline wasn't my style and almost immediately took it off without much analysis. Likewise, I very quickly put on (and take off) an off-the-shoulder Alyne by Rita Vinieris gown, ruling out any sleeves that would inhibit my ability to do the YMCA at the reception.

Number four is a Michelle Roth classic A-line gown with a draped bodice that isn't really my style, while number five, a satin Rivini by Rita Vinieri, is just a tad too heavy for my liking.

At this point, it feels like we were zipping through my hour-and-a-half long appointment at full speed. We have a machine-like routine down: Get dressed, experiment with headpieces and veils, snap pictures, walk into the main showroom, talk about what I like and dislike, and, boom, on to the next one. But according to Randy Fenoli, the iconic star of Say Yes to the Dress, it wouldn't be quite so seamless if I was on the show. A filmed appointment actually lasts about three hours instead of an hour and a half.

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I Said Yes to the Dress and Here's What Happened© Hearst Owned I Said Yes to the Dress and Here's What Happened

"It’s twice as long as a regular appointment time and it’s just because before she [the bride] can walk out, all the cameras need to get in place, so we get all the angles and everything," he explains.

Between the bride's pre- and post-interviews, Randy claims it's a full eight to 10 hours of filming to get one appointment shot. As for the chit-chatting that Brandi and I do while slipping on and off the gowns, Randy says that he only does that if the cameras are capturing it.

"I don’t want to know what’s going on," he says. Why? Because he is "adamant" about getting a totally authentic reaction from the bride on camera.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: (Top) Brandi, my mom, and I analyzing the Michelle Roth gown. (Bottom) Me trying on the Rita Vinieri dress.© Landon Neil Phillips (Top) Brandi, my mom, and I analyzing the Michelle Roth gown. (Bottom) Me trying on the Rita Vinieri dress.

My reaction to my sixth and final dress may have not been on camera, but it wasn't any less authentic. With the Tara Keely number still in the back of my mind, Brandi shows me a deep v-neck satin ballgown by Allure Bridals.

There's a lot I love about it. The fabric is crisp and not too heavy. The color is pure white, and the natural drop waist looks super flattering. That being said, I feel a tad uncomfortable with how prominent my breasts looked thanks to the plunging neckline. But of course, Brandi has a solution for that — she stuffs tissues into the top, explaining that through alterations, it's possible to remove the mesh piece in the front and raise the neckline an inch or two for a more modest look in the bust area.

As I stand in the mirror looking at myself, I feel super confident, sexy, and happy in this dress. But my mind keeps focusing on more negative "what ifs": What if I buy this dress and immediately regret it? What if my mom secretly hates it? What if the alterations department messes up my dress completely? What if everyone thinks it's too simple?

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After years of watching the show, I feel like I'm choking over my big moment: Unlike most of the brides on SYTTD, I'm not having that colossal out-of-body experience where everything just clicks. I look at my mom for approval, and she's nodding, but not overly excited. I think to myself, What if that magical moment is just a myth?

Talking with Randy, he was able to quickly diagnose my "what-if"-isms: I am what he calls a classic "analytical bride." In Randy's 30 years of being in bridal, he says that usually doctors, attorneys, accountants, teachers, and sometimes writers (hello!) and wedding event planners tend to fall in this category.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Smiling in the dress I eventually said yes to, the deep v-neck satin Allure Bridals ballgown.© Landon Neil Phillips Smiling in the dress I eventually said yes to, the deep v-neck satin Allure Bridals ballgown.

"They [analytical brides] overthink the process and I try to tell them, you don’t purchase a dress from your head, you purchase it from your heart. Just like you found your fiancé, you didn’t go through a whole checklist of 'he’s this, he’s that, he’s tall, dark, and handsome’ maybe he’s short, pudgy, and balding, but you love him and you don’t know why. The dress is the same thing, and it’s an emotional connection to that dress. What's most important is how you feel."

Moreover, Randy reassures me that sometimes the exact opposite of what you think is going to happen, ends up happening instead — and that's totally normal and okay.

"Honestly, so many people come in and say, ‘I’m not going to cry, I’m not a crier, I’m here to get a dress, don’t even think about it.’ The next thing you know they’re a blubbering mess, on the pedestal bawling because it hits them and they do have that experience," he says. "It varies."

In the end, I don't say yes to any dress that day, though I do tell Brandi I'd think on it. As she walks my mom and I out of the boutique, she gave me her business card with information about the two dresses I loved (the Tara Keely and Allure Bridal gowns) and her cell number written on it.

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Some of the clips and hair pieces displayed in Kleinfeld.© Landon Neil Phillips Some of the clips and hair pieces displayed in Kleinfeld.

Two weeks passed and my excitement about the Tara Keely gown gradually faded away. The Allure Bridal gown, though, was still very much on my mind. And so, I text Brandi to see if I can drop by after work during the week to try on the dress again. Turns out, one more look was all I needed.

When I put on the gown again, there are still no tears and I still am not having a revelatory moment. But it is different — without being able to fully explain why, this is the only dress that I ever felt myself in. Yes, it would need a bit of work in the boob area and, yes, it isn't quite the sweetheart neckline dress I was expecting to purchase in the beginning. But after weeks of striving to trust my heart and, for once, not overanalyze everything, I finally figure out how to silence my doubt. Casting my "what ifs" aside, I'm ready to commit.

I Said Yes to the Dress and Here's What Happened© Hearst Owned I Said Yes to the Dress and Here's What Happened And so, I call up my mom on FaceTime so she can share in the big moment we all have been waiting for. "Ready?" Brandi asks me, before inquiring, "Kayla, are you saying yes to the dress?"

With a small lump in the back of my throat, I replied, "yes." No dramatic music, no hysterical crying. Like my wedding dress, the moment itself felt very me — which is exactly what I wanted.

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fashion trend: Kate Middleton wears the perfect dress for a slim figure .
© Getty Images Kate Middleton: This dress by Duchess Catherine makes you slim and is in line with the trend Getty Images There are dresses that briefly revive the fashion trend and only then stay in fashionable sinking for a while. And those that are never really a must-have, but are always a good recipe for being stylish and chic with little effort. Duchess Catherine knows this formula too well and recently showed herself in such a dress when she visited the Kingston Hospital in London.

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