Of all the shows that have ever aired on TLC, Say Yes to the Dress is one of the most iconic. It’s not only the catchy title that people recognize either. The store, Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan, the dress consultants (particularly Randy Fenoli), and the feverish activity of shopping for a dress are all associated with the show. These connections make sense. While Say Yes to the Dress wasn’t the first wedding reality TV show on the air, fans consider it to be the biggest and best.
This past January, the show kicked off its 16th season, and fans are still tuning in. Yet, Say Yes to the Dress is so much more than a single show. There have been numerous spinoffs, including Atlanta, which ran for six seasons, and Bridesmaids, which ran for four seasons. Say Yes to the Dress also moved into Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Asia markets. This is a global phenomenon.
After 11 years on the air, more than 275 episodes to date, and more than 11 spinoffs, you might think that Say Yes to the Dress has no secrets. You might believe that, if there was something the show didn’t want audiences to know, you would have heard it by now. Well, now is as good a time as any to burst that bubble.
Here are 15 Dark Secrets You Didn’t Know About Say Yes To The Dress.
15. A Bride Sued For Airing The Episode Before The Wedding
Alexandra “Ali” Godino made some noise in 2016 when she sued Say Yes to the Dress for airing the episode featuring her buying her dress before her wedding. According to her interview with the New York Post, Godino claims that she stepped in for producers at the last minute when the feature bride backed out. Godino adds that producers promised her the episode would not air until after her May 2016 wedding. She then filmed the episode, said yes to the dress, and bought her $20,000 gown.
Then she got the bad news: the episode would air on March 25, two months before her wedding.
14. White Dresses and White-Collar Crime
They say that any publicity is good publicity, and that may be true. But, after one of its recently featured couples was investigated for mortgage fraud, Say Yes to the Dress made some strange headlines in 2015. Like most brides on the show, Emily was bright-eyed and bushy tailed. In hindsight, it was rather awkward when she claimed she was fired by her future husband, so that they could date. In reality, however, the husband, David Gotterup, may have saved her from legal issues.
By the end of 2015, Gotterup had been indicted on 11 counts of fraud, allegedly scamming clients out of more than $2.5 million.
He was even accused of paying for his wedding to Emily with funds that he acquired as disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy. For his crimes, Gotterup would later be re-sentenced to 135 months in prison.
13. Sad Story
One of the more popular episodes of Say Yes to the Dress featured a couple who were injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. Rebekah Gregory and her then-fiance, Pete DiMartino, were in attendance at the Marathon watching DiMartino’s mother run when the bombs went off nearby. Gregory required a leg amputation and DiMartino suffered a ruptured eardrum, a damaged ankle and lost his Achilles tendon. The episode was part of the season 12 finale, which aired in December of 2014.
Unfortunately, shortly after their “dream wedding,” this inspiring couple split up.
After the split, Gregory reconnected with an old boyfriend. In December of 2015, almost a year after her Say Yes to the Dress episode aired, she married for the second time, this time without the fanfare.
12. Sending The Bride The Wrong Dress
When bride Randi Siegel-Friedman claimed that the Say Yes to the Dress bridal shop, Kleinfeld Bridal, sent her the wrong size gown in 2016, the shop found itself in one of the stickier situations in its history. Siegel-Friedman said yes to a dress costing more than $12,000, but, when it finally came, it wasn’t the proper size. The bride even claims that some of the fabric was incorrect.
After she was denied a refund, the bride-to-be sued the bridal shop for the cost of the dress.
Meanwhile, Siegel-Friedman was forced to wear a sample dress from another shop to her wedding. While the end result of the lawsuit is unclear, there is a lesson here for all those future brides out there. Make sure your dress sizes and alterations are clearly recorded and understood, or you may be on the hook for a lot of money.
11. Calling All Extraordinary Brides
This might not be all that shocking, but if you or your tastes are ordinary, Say Yes to the Dress doesn’t want you. It does make sense. We’ve seen seasons upon seasons of rich white women in expensive white princess dresses. Now the producers at TLC are trying to push the envelope as to who they bring in. They want unique situations and even more unique brides.
This has led to the show to cast only extremely bold personalities or brides with bold dress choices, such as colorful or even black dresses.
For example, last season, we got the first polygamist couple. So, if your dream was to appear on Say Yes to the Dress and your story doesn’t stand out in some way, you had better find a dress style that might.
10. The Queen of Kings
Season 15 started with a bang when Say Yes to the Dress invited musician and the daughter of Rob Schneider, Elle King, on to the show to find her dress. She found her dress, cried and said yes to it. However, King’s situation turned out to be quite complicated. First of all, King was already married to her partner, Andrew Ferguson, when the episode was filmed.
Since that marriage was done in secret, the dress was for a ceremony that was to take place in April of 2017 (a month after King’s episode aired).
9. The Bride Who Passed Shortly After Wedding
Perhaps the most touching episode of Say Yes to the Dress came in season nine, “Queen for a Day,” when Margo Mallory, a young woman battling cervical cancer, came into Kleinfeld looking for her wedding dress. Mallory and her partner were to marry in late 2012. The episode was sweet and the young bride-to-be stunning. At the end of the episode, we saw clips from the gorgeous wedding ceremony.
Margo spoke about how she and her husband were determined to overcome every struggle. The audience was hopeful.
Then the episode ended, a picture of Margo and her husband popped up accompanied by the text: “In memory of Margo Mallory Ambler 1987-2012.” Sadly, five months before the episode aired, the 24-year-old, Margo Mallory, lost her battle with cancer.
8. Yes To The Wedding, But No To The Marriage
Have you ever wondered how often the couples who appear on Say Yes to the Dress split up? Well, TLC producers don’t seem too keen on sharing that information, but there are few of the couples that have announced their splits since their episodes aired. Take Kristy Tam from the season six premiere.
Tam was married in 2011, but, when her episode aired, she was primarily concerned with how she looked.
“I had a white party to watch with my friends when it aired,” Tam said. “We all gathered around and watched the show. It was terrible! I was like, ‘Is that what I look like in real life?'” Maybe not surprisingly, Tam split from her husband shortly after their wedding. According to some experts, shows like Say Yes to the Dress have contributed to wedding hysteria. Narcissistic brides have made marriages take a back seat to the weddings.
7. Ignorance Really Is Bliss
Not all the spinoffs from Say Yes to the Dress have been successful, but none has been as offensive as Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss. Incredibly, this show got two full seasons before it was taken off the air in 2011. In case you never saw it, let us explain the basic structure. For whatever reason, the TLC producers decided to split up the brides by weight. This decision was defended by suggesting Big Bliss showcased how Kleinfeld handles all the non-standard sized gowns.
The trouble, however, is that it separated all the plus-size brides from the skinny brides.
Aside from more fabric on the dresses, there was nothing different in the shows. The question must be asked: were the brides separated by weight to give the plus-sized brides a better stage or to keep the plus-sized brides off Say Yes to the Dress?
6. False Start On The Newest UK Season
Currently, Say Yes to the Dress UK is in the midst of its third season. As with all versions of the show, the goal here is to have the episode air after the wedding. For Reality TV veteran Vicky Pattinson (Geordie Shore), this isn’t how it worked out. Sure, Pattinson planned to be married by February 2018, before her episode was set to air. But, as the date neared, the British TV personality announced that she had postponed her wedding.
Despite Pattinson’s insistence that she and her fiancé still plan to go through with their wedding, fans question if the hesitant 2019 date is for real.
At the end of the day, the postponement really only hurts the ‘first look’ moment. Now that the episode has aired, Pattinson’s future husband will have seen the dress on television long before he sees his fiancé wearing it in person.
5. Say Yes To The Dress But This Time With More Pizazz
Today’s TV audience expect there to be a certain level of scripting and performance in Reality TV. While Say Yes to the Dress doesn’t fully script the show, past guests have said that the show encourages drama.
Courtney Wright, for instance, a guest on Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, said that the show filtered and edited her comments before they aired.
“They would ask us things, like ‘What kind of dress are you looking for?'” she said in an interview with 417 Magazine. “Then we’d all put our two cents worth in, and they’d stop us and say, ‘Say what you said again, but say it like this.'” Wright also said that “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.”
4. These Dress Prices Are Not For Everyone
For people who have never given their attention to wedding dresses, the costs might be shocking. Even buying an off-the-rack dress can cost thousands of dollars. At Kleinfeld Bridal, the average dress price is said to be around $4,500. Not including discounts or promotional sales, even the most inexpensive gowns at the Manhattan boutique come in around $2,000, whereas the most expensive dresses in stock are more than $30,000. But it’s rare that a bride simply buys a dress off the rack and has it fit.
Nearly every bride requires alterations and that can dramatically increase the cost of the dress.
3. A Famous Engagement Called Off… Again
Fans of Dancing with the Stars know Karina Smirnoff as one of the veteran dancing professionals on the show. Well, Smirnoff was one of the celebrity guests to find a dress on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta back in 2012. For the premiere of season three, Smirnoff picked her dress in anticipation of her wedding to MLB pitcher Brad Penny. While many fans watched the episode with glee, those in the know felt a bit awkward.
This is because Smirnoff and Penny had called off their engagement publicly in December of 2011, a full month before the episode aired.
To make matters even spicier, this was the second engagement that Smirnoff had called off in a matter of two years. Then, three years after her episode aired, Smirnoff was back in the news after calling off a third engagement, each with a different man.
2. The Kleinfeld Tourist Trap
Over the years, Kleinfeld Bridal has become a name synonymous with wedding gown shopping. There was a time when the boutique provided brides with an “old-world” type of personal attention as they looked for a one-of-a-kind dress, but that time may be long gone, and it may be because of Say Yes to the Dress.
Several brides have voiced their displeasure in various interviews, describing Kleinfeld as “a madhouse.”
They accuse the popular show of turning a small boutique into not only a shopping destination for brides from all over, but a tourist trap as well. Despite the shop’s requirements that all shoppers have a wedding date and venue set, the shop floor is said to be crammed daily with brides and their families all looking for personalized service.
1. You’re In For A Long Day
Through the magic of television, each episode of Say Yes to the Dress has a run-time of 22 minutes. In that time, several different brides try on many different gowns, and each guest gets a conclusion. But behind the scenes, the filming process is said to be quite the marathon.
According to some former guests, filming can last anywhere between four and eight hours.
The crew films both pre-appointment and post-appointment interviews, and each bride tries on about 20 different dresses. The show then edits out all those dresses that didn’t bring out extreme reactions, either positive or negative. As mentioned above, many of the interviews and comments are then redone to create the best final product. The bottom line is: if you’re looking to be on Say Yes to the Dress, make sure you clear your schedule.
Which one of these surprised you most? Let us know!
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