Say Yes to the Dress: America brings one bride from every state to New York for a private wedding dress shopping event at Kleinfeld Bridal and a ceremony in Central Park officiated by host and bridal designer Randy Fenoli. Arizona bride Lindsey Stegemoller discusses her experience, below.
My mom, who passed away two years ago, always loved reality TV. We’d watch Survivor and Keeping Up With the Kardashians together, and I knew she would have wanted to see me on Say Yes to the Dress. So after I got engaged, I called one of her best friends and said, "Wouldn't it be crazy if I applied for Say Yes to the Dress and actually got it?" Her friend was egging me on, like, “Just see what happens!”
I applied for the show, not thinking anything would come of it. I never win anything. Nothing ever happens to me that's exciting. But then I heard back—and they wanted to know if I had any interest in doing a spin-off, Say Yes to the Dress America. I thought, Is this even real? Casting agencies don't really reach out to you, you know? That's not a thing. But I took the phone call, and I finally found out that we got the show after about two months of waiting. On Mother’s Day, Randy Fenoli and a whole film crew surprised me at my house. I was overwhelmed. I was crying. I had makeup all over my face. But it was exciting.
“I wanted my mom there as the voice of reason.”
Choosing a wedding dress was probably the thing I feared most about this process because it's all about me. I have to pick something that everyone’s going to focus on. The hair, the makeup, whatever—but people always have an opinion about the dress. I knew I needed to feel really happy about it, and I was worried that Kleinfeld Bridal wouldn't have anything for me.
I also wanted my mom there as the voice of reason. When you're planning a wedding, the first thing you do is call your mom and say, "Tell me your ideas." I wished I could say, "Mom, I want to have daffodils" and hear her respond, "That's dumb. No." I want that criticism. That person telling me, “You have to invite all my friends." I really do miss those bickering moments.
I brought my sister and my best friend to my appointment, but my sister is not confrontational. She told me, "I just want you to be happy." And I was like, "No, I need you to be honest. I don't want to look like crap." That's why my best friend was there. He was that role for me.
When I walked into the store, I wanted a different type of dress than what I actually ended up picking out. I thought I wanted something flowy, kind of bohemian. Still, I didn't know what options they were going to have, so I wanted to be flexible and let the staff use their expertise to find something that was best for me. The whole process was very fast-paced. If something doesn’t work, they’re going to find another dress. They are problem solvers. My consultant, Debbie, brought in five dresses for me to try. I thought they were all cute, but I needed to see them on my body. And I didn’t want to get too excited because I knew they weren’t my exact size. That dress looks great on a hanger, but I’m not a hanger. I have a human body.
But then the very first dress I tried on was the One. When I walked out to show my sister and best friend, they were like, "Oh my God." I was crying. It was the emotional moment you hope to get from trying on your wedding dress. It’s a really unique dress. It has flutter sleeves off the shoulder, which I don’t think you see often on wedding gowns. It’s also formfitting—that’s not something I would have pictured myself in, but I love it.
A lot of people go to Kleinfeld Bridal just to have the experience, so getting a VIP appointment all about me was really cool.
I decided to try one more dress just to see. They put an A-line gown on me, and it was hideous. Just disgusting. I thought, Wow, I could not look worse. So I put the first dress back on, and it was perfect. That was it for me.
The biggest thing, though, was getting a good bra to go with my dress. That’s something my mom taught me. She would always say, “Your cleavage is too much. Get a good bra. Pull it up. No one needs to see that." But I hate bra shopping—and shopping in general—so I wore this horrible strapless bra to my appointment. Even my consultant was like, “Girl, you need a better bra.” That’s 100% something my mom would have said. Randy and Debbie were like, “No, you’re not walking out like that.” They had one at the store they made me change into before I even showed my family. But I was grateful for it because my mom would have done that. Randy told me that’s why he picked Debbie for me: She has two daughters, and she was very motherly toward me. She helped give me the best experience possible.
And even though I missed my mom while I was at Kleinfeld, we found other ways to incorporate her into the wedding. I have a necklace that matches one she wore every single day of her life, and I have a pair of her diamond earrings to wear as well. That's her representation. I know her spirit's there. And this show is her spirit, I think.
Overall, I'm grateful for the experience. Who does this? Who flies out to New York for a giant ceremony and a free wedding dress? A lot of people go to Kleinfeld Bridal just to have the experience, so getting a VIP appointment all about me was really cool. I’m not used to being the center of attention or having the focus, so that was really fun. But most of all, I'm just so excited to get married. I told Randy, as long as this ends in my fiancé and me getting married, you really can't complain.
Say Yes to the Dress: America airs Saturdays on TLC.
Originally Appeared on Glamour