The untold truth of Randy Fenoli

Everyone knows Randy Fenoli from Say Yes to the Dress, Randy's Wedding Rescue, and New York City's esteemed boutique Kleinfeld's Bridal. After all, few people know more about what you should wear on your wedding day than the reality TV star and bridal designer extraordinaire. With years of design experience under his belt and a personality that can charm even the crankiest bridezilla, Fenoli has outfitted countless women with dresses worthy of their dreams. Hello, beautiful!

But there's more to the patron saint of weddings than his ability to put everyone at ease with his fierce sense of style, his sincere dedication to brides, and his keen, discerning eye. Believe it or not, there are still a few things most don't know about everyone's dream bridal consultant — and some are pretty darn surprising! So, read on to learn everything you need to know about Randy Fenoli and prepare to be blown away.

His childhood wasn't exactly easy

Fenoli may be living the dream now as a famous celeb with a bustling career, but his life wasn't always chiffon and ruffles. Rather, his origins are relatively humble, and his childhood had its fair share of difficulties. "I was born and raised on a farm, my father was pretty abusive, and I prayed my whole life to get away from him and get off that farm," he recalled in an interview with IrieDiva. He added that his background gives him perspective, so he's not one to complain. 

Fenoli also lets the pains of his past inform how he interacts with his fans in public. "That's why one thing I won't do, if somebody asks for a photo, I never say no unless I'm running to catch a flight or in the middle of something," he continued. So, chances are, if you run into him while you're out and about, he'll stop and take a selfie with you. What a sweetie!

Already creating by age 9

Despite the hardships Fenoli dealt with, a creative spark burned within him from a very young age. When he was 9 years old, he found an opportunity to stoke that spark into flames when his mother brought home a sewing machine and supplies one night. She had planned to make her own clothing, but she quickly learned she was less than talented as a seamstress. "She left for work the next day, but not before telling me that I was not to touch her sewing machine or good scissors," he shared in an interview with People South Africa.

Of course, Fenoli couldn't belie his nature and leave the machine untouched. Instead he sat down and made a dress from a pattern, leaving it for his mom to discover when she came home — and she loved it. "She wore the dress to work the next day," he continued. She also asked him to make more clothing. There was no stopping him after that!

He won the Miss Gay America pageant in 1990

There's another reason that Fenoli was inspired to pursue a career in the bridal industry, and it's one that might surprise you. It turns out he perfected his sewing (and did his own hair and makeup) when he performed as a female impersonator, according to The New York Times. His stage name was Brandi Alexander, and you can see some of his performances on YouTube. Bless the internet for its many treasures! Those experiences, he said, helped him understand what it felt like to transform into a dazzling, blushing bride. 

Fenoli was good at it, too, as he snagged the crown at the 1990 Miss Gay America pageant, which you can watch in all of its fabulousness here. It was kind of a big deal, too, as he was given prize money that he was able to invest in his college education. Who knew he could work it like that?

Of course he's an FIT graduate

When it comes to colleges that are renowned for fashion design, one of the first schools that pops to mind is, without question, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. So it's only natural that Fenoli set his sights on it as the best school to hone his design skills. "When I started off at FIT I was very, very focused on what I wanted to do," he shared in his 2015 commencement address at FIT. That, of course, was fashion design. 

Not only did Fenoli do well at FIT, but he thrived, as he was truly in his element. "I was that student that you hated, the one that stayed up all night," he continued. That helped him kill it in student competitions, where he far surpassed his peers. That's also why he was able to land a dream job the Monday after graduation — what an overachiever!   

He had a bunch of jobs before becoming a designer

It might seem like Randy Fenoli has always lived in a world of silk and swishing satin, surrounded by elegant gowns and dresses 24/7. But long before he was a world-famous fashion designer and television star, Fenoli had some regular old jobs just like the rest of us. "My first official job was working as a cashier at a gas station," he revealed in an interview with TLC. "They later promoted me to manager to open up their new gas station/convenience store." Sounds like he excelled at that, too!

In addition to his gas station hustle, Fenoli also worked as a makeup artist, was a hairdresser, waited tables at restaurants, and even had a gig as a personal chef — gotta make that coin somehow! However, it's obvious that his calling was in design from the start, and we can't imagine him doing anything else.

He had a brief stint...selling real estate?

After landing a job designing for Paul Diamond right out of college, Fenoli hit the ground running. But after a while, he began to feel burned out from the pressure, so he decided to move to New Orleans to sell real estate, according to The New York Times. "I realized that real estate was really the way to go so I bought two homes in New Orleans, refurbished and sold them," he recalled in an interview with IrieDiva. With the profits, he bought a dream home in the French Quarter and planned to open up a one-of-a-kind dress shop in the area. Talk about living the dream!

Unfortunately, his timing couldn't have been worse. Two weeks before his shop was set to open, Hurricane Katrina hit. "For the next two years, unable to sell my brand new condo in The French Quarter, I stayed in New Orleans and got into deep debt," he shared in an interview with People South Africa. He finally decided to return to New York to work in the bridal industry. That's when he was hired at Kleinfeld, and the rest is history.

The celebs he'd like to dress the most are...

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't want to be outfitted for their big day by Randy Fenoli. But who is it that Fenoli dreams of dressing for their wedding? 

Of course, his answers are totally wholesome. "I would love to style Angelina Jolie and not just because she's so beautiful but more so because of who she is," he mused in an interview with IrieDiva. "I just think that [what] she stands for … it's just beautiful." He especially appreciates her commitment to family and her bravery regarding her voluntary mastectomy. Could he be any sweeter?

Fenoli also cites Oprah Winfrey as someone he'd love to outfit on her wedding day because of her work as a humanitarian. "I would love to see her happy and beautiful walking down the aisle someday," he noted. In the 2013 interview, he also mentioned that he wouldn't mind outfiting Kate Middleton's sister, Pippa, in a wedding dress, but that ship sailed when she married James Matthews in 2017. 

Finding inspiration in all women

So what is it that Fenoli finds inspiring? Who does he look up to, and what does he see in them? "I would have to say that women inspire me most," he proclaimed in an interview with Wedding Ideas. "I get inspired by their personal style, strength, femininity, and different personalities." It's hard to believe that a man could be such a sincere ally to women, but, with Fenoli, it's the real deal. And we're here for it!

It's a good thing Fenoli is down with the sisterhood, as many of his fans are, unsurprisingly, women and girls of all ages. "I've got young girls that come to the show with their mothers because they watch the show together," he shared in an interview with People South Africa. "I've got grandmothers come out and just meet with me. I'll take pictures with them, I'll take selfies with them, I'll give them hugs, I sign publicity photos that I give them." Team Fenoli for life!

His favorite way to spend his free time is totally relatable

With all that Randy Fenoli has going on, between filming for television shows and working on various projects, you can safely bet that he's a pretty busy guy. And since he's not superhuman, chances are he needs some downtime to relax, recoup, and recover from the rigorous demands of daily life. Everyone needs a day off once in a while!

So, just where will you find Fenoli when the lights have dimmed and the cameras have stopped rolling? "I enjoy quiet time at home with my dog Chewy, watching movies and spending time with friends," he revealed in an interview with Wedding Ideas. From what we know of him, it makes sense that his spare time would be as wholesome as possible!

Like any good dog papa, Fenoli regularly posts pictures and videos of Chewy on his Instagram page, which are, of course, totally adorable. 

How does he stay so fit?

You don't have to look twice at Fenoli to see that he's in fantastic shape. So what's his secret to staying svelte and slaying in his stylish suits? "I have to give credit to my Mother for giving me her good genes. Believe it or not, I am usually struggling to keep weight on me," he shared in an interview with TLC. Well, that must be nice. Many of us have the opposite problem!

While he doesn't have a tried-and-true fitness regimen (that we know about) or a diet that he swears by, Fenoli does cite a few healthy habits that keep him trim. "I eat more than most people would believe; however, I do not like to snack between meals," he continued. "I am also on my feet all day running around after dresses." Chances are he's not chowing down on wedding cake all day, every day either. 

A pet peeve that's pretty understandable

Fenoli encounters his fair share of bridezillas, along with unsupportive bridesmaids, jealous siblings, rude family members, and parents who want the exact opposite of what the bride wants, on Say Yes to the Dress. Weddings are a big deal, so it's enormously important for a stylist to make sure brides find a dress that's perfect for them. No pressure, right?

But somehow Fenoli always manages to keep a pretty cool head, making sure that things go as smoothly as they possibly can. But he says that he does get especially irritated when brides (and their entourages) start eyeing dresses that they just can't afford. "That is the one thing that does bother me," he noted in an interview with Wedding Market. "If it's not in your budget, you should NOT be trying it on!" He's not lying either — it's gotten his goat on the show before!

He's raking in the dough

With a successful career in the bridal industry and gigs on television that don't look to be slowing down anytime soon, Fenoli certainly isn't hurting for money. In fact, according to Celebrity Net Worth, he's worth a shiny $4 million — impressive! Of course, living in New York isn't exactly cheap. Additionally, he flies all over the world to make appearances, according to The New York Times, and that has to be a costly endeavor. But still, he's obviously very comfortable, and he won't be going back to managing a gas station anytime soon.

Although people might think he's still an employee of Kleinfeld, Fenoli is now an independent consultant making more money than ever. "Why should I work for someone else in a full-time job when I can earn $20,000 for a four-hour personal appearance?" he asked in his interview with The New York Times. Good question, Randy! 

Getting back into the designing game

Great news, fam! After years out of the design game, Fenoli has debuted a collection of gorgeous bridal gowns under the name Randy Fenoli Bridal. The intent of the collection is to provide brides with designer options with a budget between $1,500 and $3,500. "I felt there was a huge void in the market for somebody brides trusted to deliver a couture product with beautiful fabrics, great laces, impeccable embroidery and beading, and amazing fit — with 12-week delivery dates," he revealed in an interview with Hudson Valley magazine. Talk about a game changer!

Fenoli's vision for the collection was to have a wide appeal, too. "I wanted every dress to be different, to speak to a different bride, whether she's romantic, fashion-forward, sexy, bohemian, whether she wants to be Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn or Cinderella, whether she's having a garden wedding or a beach wedding," he continued. 

Although the line is carried at Kleinfeld, it's not associated with them. This one is all Fenoli. 

A commitment to inclusivity

Regular watchers of Say Yes to the Dress know that Randy Fenoli doesn't just dress women who are thin and young. Rather, he outfits a variety of women — young and old, slim and curvy. So it'd only make sense that his 2018 bridal line put size inclusivity at the forefront. "I want a dress for every size bride," he proclaimed in an interview with The Knot. "My dresses go all the way up to size 30 with no extra charge." Finally, someone who really gets it! 

And that's not all, either. Fenoli also moved the bridal size chart, which was based on World War II military sizing, and aligned it to more modern standards. It was something he had wanted to do for a long time. "Now that I get to do things on my own … we moved the size chart," he said. Being your own boss definitely has its perks!

Fenoli also considered older women who might be having a second wedding while designing his collection. How thoughtful!