Randy To The Rescue – Tonight!

I can think of no two things that have less in common than Randy Fenoli and a Semi Tractor /Trailer. Nothing about bridal gowns, nothing about a bridal makeover, nothing about brides at all reminds me of an 18 wheeler. Until now. Tonight is the premiere of a brand new reality show on TLC,  “Randy to the Rescue” and things are about to change. 

  “Say Yes to the Dress” opened the door for all of America to meet Randy Fenoli and it  parlayed his years of experience into his very own reality show featuring a semi tractor/trailer fully stocked with everything a bride could want to be beautiful on her wedding day including a consultation/ makeover with Mr. Fenoli .


There will probably not be any brides throwing things or having meltdowns, the premise of the show is to give three lucky brides the opportunity of a lifetime, to get advice and support from a seasoned wedding professional. The opportunity to look and feel as beautiful as possible, as every bride should.


The idea is genius, bringing the game to the fans instead of asking them to come to you. How many brides from Minneapolis are actually going to travel to New York to buy a gown? Probably very few. So, when the Mobile Makeover unit with Mr. Bridal Fashion pulled into their city to film, brides lined up in droves. All the while,  Randy  performs makeovers (in the truck?) and dispenses some valuable advice.

My favorite of  ‘Randy’s Rules’ :

You Should Always Purchase the Gown That Makes You Feel the Most Beautiful

“I personally feel that every woman is beautiful. And on your wedding day, you should FEEL beautiful. The perfect wedding gown will make you feel like you never have before. You should be able to look in the mirror with the confidence of the beautiful woman that you already are.  Don’t buy a dress because when you look in the mirror you say, “This dress is beautiful;” buy the dress that makes you look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful.”

Tune in tonight,. Friday June 15 at 9 pm on TLC. I know I will be watching!!!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Another Reality Roundup- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly


Last week I heard that there will be a new Reality TV show featuring one of my favorite designers, Amsale (pronounced Ahm-sah’-leh). If you only recently heard of Amsale, I suspect you were only recently engaged and do not work in retail. She has been designing bridal gowns since the 1980’s and making remarkable gowns the whole time. When I heard this, I had to google it to make sure it was true…. yes, it’s true!

The premise of the show, called “Amsale Girls”,  is about the running of her salon on Madison Avenue and the pressure they face to meet the needs of their extremely high end clientele. I am certain she will be the star, making regular appearances and infusing her timeless taste into our lives. Her ‘forever modern’ mantra might have been lost on the masses over the years but, timing is everything and realistically most people (right now) are in need of a healthy dose of good taste.

I am hoping she will give glimpses into the production aspect of the gowns as well –  for a host of reasons.  If the shows description on the WeTv site is true, all of the gowns in her salon are made on-site in a workroom by couture seamstresses. This is the part that I want to see!  The fact that someone has not outsourced their garment production to another country speaks volumes to me so, I will be placed directly in front of the TV for  the premiere of “Amsale Girls” on WeTv June 12th, hoping for the best and cheering for one of my favorite designers who I have had the pleasure of meeting on several occasions when I worked on the retail end of the bridal business.


On the other end of the spectrum we have a show that is more akin to a train-wreck than a TV show. I use that term a lot but, in retrospect I should have never used it at all and saved it just for this occasion. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is bad… really bad. It doesn’t show the darker side of the wedding business, it shows gluttonous consumers who are obsessed with over-the-top gowns, tacky decor, tart-ed up tweens and seem to overlook the fact that they are basically high-end homeless people. Of course, this show was imported from the UK and produced by none other than Simon Cowell of  American Idol fame and seems to have good ratings on TLC. Shame on TLC, I thought the “L” was for learning, in this case it seems to be laughing. I admit to watching it once but, that’s as far as I will go. I do have friends who think it is hilarious but, I think it is sad.  I can say is that whatever money the gypsies have to spend is not being wasted on charm school, it is being put back into the economy which is a good thing.


My Big Friggin Wedding. I have not seen this show. I didn’t even know it was a real show until I accidentally ran across it on the internet. According to the review I read, this show would be  the child born from a marriage between Bridezillas and Jersey Shore. YIKES.  It is on VH1 which also produces the latter show, enough said. I don’t need to watch to understand that  fist-pumping, meatball eating, screaming, inappropriate behavior and guido-tacky is in store. I can assure you this is a Jersey thing and not an Italian thing. I am married into a large Italian family and none of them dress this way, none of them speak to each other this way and none of them spend that much time tanning, grooming and working out. Watch if you must. I will be watching something else, probably “Amsale Girls” since good taste is in such short supply.

By the way – Damn you, Nia Vardalos for titling your first movie so that everyone with any particular kind of wedding thinks it is okay to use your title with their words. Does MY BIG FRIGGIN GYPSY REDNECK WEDDING sound familiar? To Nia’s credit, do you think she ever thought of the negative impact this would have? Also for future reference – any wedding that is referred to as MY BIG FAT (anything) is a bad idea. But Kudos to Nia for having the ability to single-handedly add her slang to modern vocabulary!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Weddings and Television- a Marriage Made in Hollywood Heaven

The romance between viewers and television weddings  started with a bang in 1981. In July of that year over 750 million people watched as Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles. Later that same year the fictional characters of Luke Spencer (no relation to the former) and Laura Webber were married in a lavish ceremony with Elizabeth Taylor as a surprise guest. This is still the highest rated hour in daytime soap opera  history with 30 million+ viewers.

Since then we were riveted while movies, seriesm specials and reality television took over the wedding venue. Of course reality tv is a guilty pleasure many watcha nd few admit.  There are currently 20+ wedding-related reality shows on various channels ranging from extremely popular to struggling viewership. This doesn’t even include cake and decor related shows and specials, or The Knot on demand. 

The hunger for these shows is never-ending and based on two things: trainwrecks and fairytales. We watch the trainwrecks to feel better about ourselves and we watch the  fairytales hoping that could be us one day. Using that basic formula  the networks know that if they build it – we will come.  The highest rated shows tease us with the hope that there may be a trainwreck within a fairytale or vice versa. Sometimes it happens, and when it does……. it is a hit!

Say Yes to the Dress has a simple plot:  Find your dream gown in a 35,000 square foot iconic Bridal Salon in Manhattan. Brides from around the world have flocked to Kleinfeld’s Bridal for generations in hopes of locating the gown of their dreams. The best part of the show is the interaction between brides, their family and the staff. Sometimes you get to see the happy ending and sometimes you get to see a near-catfight among the salon guests. Catfight? $25,00 gown? Happy ending? Where do I sign up?
This is a perfect mix of good and bad and I always walk away feeling satisfied. Not so much with the Altanta version.

Bridezilla is not as easy to watch. Maybe it is the years I spent in bridal retail, maybe it is my mother’s  upbringing … I dont know. But there is something about this show that give me  heart palpitations. If I have to listen as one more bride demands to have things “her way or the highway”, I think I might throw something at the tv. These women exist in real life as well as on tv and my advice is to  avoid them at all costs. Watch if you must.

Amazing Wedding Cakes has only one down-side. Yes, it is exhilarating to watch as these talented pros create art from flour and suger. The problem is that they also give the illusion that baking and delivering a 5 tiered cake is not  as hard as it looks. What I love most is watching the chefs and bakers work with their creations, how quickly their nimble fingers make a blob of icing look like an actual tea rose. They way they move their hands is hypnotic. This show should come with a disclaimer-” Warning: watching this show might give you the temporary impression that the tasks you are about to watch are easy. Do Not Try This At Home!”

Platinum weddings allows us to experience the wedding of the uber-wealthy. With colossal budgets come colossal demands and this show is a real tribute to the wedding planners and how well they are able to organize and execute these demands. You will not see any Bridezillas here. These women pay someone to get mad for them and it is usually the wedding planner.  Watch as each planner delivers all of the couple’s request, whether it is  the hand-monogrammed table linens or  600 flower centerpieces. This show delivers the goods every time and although there are rarely any nail-biters, the drama is still there. It’s in the details.

David Tutera  made a name for himself as a highly sought-after wedding planner many years before his reality show  began broadcasting into our homes. What this show accomplishes is genius. It takes one  part trainwreck and sprinkles it with magic dust to turn it into a fairytale.  Mr. Tutera can turn a swamp  into something magical and he does this everyt ime. The lucky brides are so thrilled to have him on board and they trust his style so there is smooth sailing – usually. When you hear the crickets something is not right.

No re-cap of wedding shows would be complete without the ultimate trainwreck of all time; My Big Redneck Wedding. I dont think this needs much explanation. I can’t explain it anyway since over-all clad grooms andbrides in hunting gear makes no sense to me. Honestly I am not sure if this has any elements that I would recommendnd except one – it is a trainwreck every time.  If you like trainwrecks, knock yourself out.

Don’t miss Fabulous Cakes tonight at 8 pm on TLC featuring Chicago’s very own fabulous bakers including Amy Beck who we are very proud to have as one of our preferred vendors. Best Wishes, Amy and to all of you who sacrifice to make our wedding viewing more enjoyable! 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago