There are likely few people who know the wedding industry better than Randy Fenoli.
As the face of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” show, which will debut its 20th season on Saturday (July 9), he has seen pretty much everything — bridal highs and lows, mean moms, indecisiveness surrounding budgets, you name it.
But even Fenoli, who is also a dress designer, couldn't predict the "year of the wedding." The Knot, a planning website for people figuring out their nuptials, published a report in 2021 noting that there are 2.6 million weddings expected this year. That's led to what The New York Times described as "matrimania."
At Kleinfeld Bridal, where the show is set, Fenoli said he knew they would get "a lot more brides because so many weddings were put off or they [brides] did smaller, intimate weddings and now they wanted to have their big wedding."
“So I kind of anticipated it," he said in a recent Zoom interview. "But I don’t know that I anticipated it to the extent that it is, because it’s really been wild.”
In fact, this year is expected to have the highest number of weddings since 1984, Fenol said. That’s largely because of the pandemic causing couples to delay their matrimonial celebrations.
As far as the industry goes, Fenoli said he hasn't seen a crazy shift in the weddings themselves.
"I don’t know that the weddings are actually larger but I think there’s more to them," he said.
However, the pandemic likely helped people "put a lot of things in perspective."
"I think it allowed them to see who was really important in their lives," he said.
But, the surge in weddings has also contributed to wedding costs rising across the board. According to Zola’s annual First Look Report, which was published in January, about one-third of couples are now budgeting at least $20,000 for their wedding, with two-thirds saying they increased their budgets since they started planning.
Fenoli's top tip for creating a budget is making sure to prioritize what you care most about.
"First of all, I think it’s really important to set a wedding budget," he said. "You need to know what you’re going to spend. But then what are you going to spend it on? What is important to you?"
Of course, Fenoli thinks the dress is among the most critical things to plan around. He's spent years helping brides find their dream dresses at Kleinfeld.
"I think they [brides] want to get the dress of their dreams because they were shut inside for so long and didn’t get to dress up and have that glamorous moment," he said of post-pandemic trends in the industry. "So I think that has a lot to do with it."
On the show, some brides have gone to get their dresses very late in the planning stages, causing much stress to the bridal stylists who are helping them (all while being filmed). But Fenoli said it's now especially key to plan ahead, especially given overall supply chain issues.
"A lot of things are backed up in the supply chain," he said. "So it is taking longer to get wedding dresses ... now because everybody’s getting married, and everybody’s trying to get dresses, the factories are overloaded and the way things are overseas there are a lot of things on shut down. So yes, you do need time to get your wedding dress."
It can be easy to get lost in the stressfulness of wedding planning or budgeting. But, what's most important, Fenoli said, is that people should remember weddings are "an opportunity to have a celebration of love."
"I just think the most important thing is to just remember how lucky you are and how blessed you are that you have somebody that loves you."