NEW YORK – Something borrowed, something blue and a wedding multiplied by 52? That’s TLC’s new series “Say Yes to the Dress: America,” a 10-part series premiering in January that takes the traditional wedding experience to a whole new nationwide level.
The show follows one bride and fiancé from every state, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, as they are given the wedding of a lifetime, including a free trip to New York, a private shopping event at the Kleinfeld bridal salon and a group wedding with all 52 couples in Central Park.
Wednesday’s wedding ceremony, held at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, was nothing short of a spectacle.
"Say Yes to the Dress: America" wedding in Central Park on July 10, 2019. (Photo: Trae Patton/TLC)
Despite the sweltering heat, the area was packed for the late afternoon wedding. Curious tourists grabbed spots to gawk. At the far end of the terrace, the grooms stood in tuxedos waiting for their brides-to-be to walk down the steps in front of them. (And a groom from Delaware fainted from the heat and had to be rushed out by medical staff. He still gave a big thumbs up on his gurney ride out.)
Cue the harpist. With bridal designer and wedding officiator Randy Fenoli waiting at the altar, the 51 brides and their fiancés walked down the aisle in tailored Kleinfeld dresses while family members, friends and passersby clutched water bottles and watched the procession.
One by one, Fenoli announced the brides’ names and states alphabetically while they walked down the terrace steps to meet their grooms. When all 51 couples finished lining up, Fenoli began the ceremony.
He was emotional as he described the “Say Yes” journey and how personally connected he felt to the couples. He led them in simultaneous “I do’s” and exchanging of vows while the crowd swooned at the 51 couples’ first married kisses.
The brides and their fiances get ready to say "I do." (Photo: TRAE PATTON/TLC)
Following the ceremony, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, who crafted a cake fit for all 104 wedding participants, hand-delivered the giant dessert.
Fenoli, bridal designer Hayley Paige, style advisor Lilliana Vazquez and fashion industry veteran Joe Zee also participated in the one-of-a-kind experience.
While 51 couples joined to tie the knot, only 10 will be prominently featured in the upcoming series, which culminate in the two-hour wedding special. But Fenoli says every bride should feel beautiful and have their perfect wedding day.
“Every single one of them has to be happy. I told them we were going to marry them and make them happy, and I am going to deliver on that promise,” he says. “For 26 years, I’ve had one mission and that’s for every single bride to feel beautiful and confident in her wedding dress, so when she walks down the aisle she feels the most beautiful she has ever felt. And now I have 52 of them and every single of one of them loves their dress,” he said, while the brides prepped for the big day in the park’s Loeb Boat House.
Randy Fenoli and designer Hayley Paige celebrate the upcoming wedding with a donut wall from Cake Boss Buddy Valastro. (Photo: Trae Patton/TLC)
The smiles and tears of joy reflected Fenoli’s promise.
For Colorado bride Sammi Jo Woodard, a longtime fan of the show, being a part of the “Say Yes to the Dress America” wedding was more than she ever dreamed possible.
“Randy does a really great job of making the brides feel like they’re his family. I’ve always looked up to that experience, and hoped it would happen to me,” she says. “I couldn’t afford dresses from Kleinfeld, so I would’ve never gone there before, I got so lucky. Just to be able to share this with all the other brides, it’s really special. I really feel so grateful for ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and everybody,” she added, teary-eyed.
While it doesn’t check the boxes of a traditional wedding, Texas bride Helecia Williams says that’s what makes it all the more special.
“It’s kind of like a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s like a fairytale. If you could imagine the perfect wedding day, this would be it. And to get married with 51 other couples, that’s pretty cool, too.”
Both brides were more than cool with sharing their wedding day with other couples, despite probably sweating through their makeup. They say they not only formed new friendships – Woodard says the brides felt like “sisters” – they were each other’s helping hands.
Fenoli agreed, adding that the love was “palpable.”
“They have come together from Hawaii and the glaciers of Alaska to the East Coast and the plains of the Midwest, and they’re out there helping each other with hair and makeup,” he said.
“There’s so much going on in the world right now, and to see the way they all come and work, together and share the love, it’s like every one of them should get an award for being Miss Congeniality. It’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life,” Fenoli added, choked with emotion.
Longtime “Say Yes” bridal designer Paige calls the mass wedding “crazy” and “enlightening.” Paige, who typically works with only one bride to find a dress, says she thought “the biggest challenge was going to be finding 52 dresses for 52 brides, and that ended up being the smoothest day” on Monday at the Kleinfeld bridal salon. “So many of the brides came in with that grateful attitude and open-mindedness, and we said yes to 52 dresses, which has never happened.”
The original “Say Yes” series returns for a new season July 20 (9 EDT/PDT).
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