I work at Kleinfeld and help brides on 'Say Yes to the Dress.' I'm truly not acting on the show — here's what my job is actually like.
- Lisa Fuhrman has worked at Kleinfeld for 14 years and is a regular on "Say Yes to the Dress."
- She says she's worked with more than 10,000 brides and loves filming the show.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Lisa Fuhrman, a bridal consultant, stylist, and cast member of "Say Yes to the Dress" at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I got my undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. I've been working at Kleinfeld for the past 14 years, and I've been a cast member on the "Say Yes to the Dress" television series for 10 years. Prior to working at Kleinfeld, I was the vice president of HR for a fashion company and global PR firm.
In 2008, I decided I wanted to leave the corporate world. I was watching TV one day and came across "Say Yes to the Dress." I'd never seen the show before, but after watching a marathon, I thought, "I could do that!" I emailed the owner, Mara Urshel, and the rest is history. I was interviewed by Mara, and my skills in HR were consistent with those of a great bridal consultant.
We've just completed 20 seasons of "Say Yes to the Dress." The production company, Half Yard Productions, did an on-camera test with each bridal consultant, but ultimately TLC, the network that airs the show, decides which bridal consultants should be on the show.
Over the years, I estimate I've helped more than 10,000 brides find their perfect wedding dress.
I spend a lot of time preparing for my brides
I work eight to 10 hours a day, four days a week, on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I have four to five appointments a day.
I contact clients in advance and go over their files. Before the bride arrives, I speak with them about what they envision as their wedding-day look. We talk silhouettes, fabrics, embellishments, train length, and budget so that I can preselect some dresses they may like before they arrive.
Once they arrive, I sit with the bride for a 10-minute consultation to discuss their wedding. We work together for a 90-minute appointment to find the perfect dress for them. About 85% of my brides find their dress on their first appointment with me.
I follow up with all my brides after the appointment and invite them back to shop with me. Why someone doesn't buy a dress varies — sometimes they just need to "sleep on it," and sometimes they may be shopping alone or with friends and need to bring their mother or mother figure back for the second appointment. Or they may have fallen in love with a designer who's coming in for a trunk show in the next few weeks with a new collection.
During the week, I spend about three hours doing administrative work — reaching out to my brides, writing thank-you and follow-up notes, responding to emails, and answering fan messages. I'm flattered by all the fan messages I receive on social media.
Here are some of my favorite stories from working at the famed bridal boutique
I filmed an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" with fashion designer Randy Fenoli in which a bride and groom wanted to get married at Luna Park in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, and go on the Sling Shot in their wedding attire. I had to work to find a gown that would be able to fit on the ride.
Randy and I agreed to go to the wedding, but I couldn't decide if I would go on the ride because I was really scared. In the end, I was convinced to get on it and face my fears. When I got off that ride, I was so proud of myself. It was such an unforgettable day. I've been invited to many weddings and sometimes I attend the ceremony, but I typically don't go to the reception.
Many years ago, I started working with a client who has seven daughters. So far, I've dressed six of the daughters for their weddings, and I will be dressing the seventh shortly.
I once helped a bride who was renewing her vows with her husband — they were in their late 60s. Her original wedding was not very big, and she really wanted to feel like a princess. She wanted something age-appropriate to have fun and dance in, and I made her dreams come true. It was such a special experience — she was so happy.
There's nothing more rewarding and heart-wrenching than helping brides who are sick. I've worked with some brides who didn't make it to their wedding day because of their illness but wanted to try on wedding dresses. I've assisted dozens of brides with life-threatening illnesses. I make sure their experiences extra-special and unforgettable.
Being part of 'Say Yes to the Dress' is so much fun
I love every minute of it. I'm truly not acting — I'm doing the exact job I do on a daily basis, whether the cameras are on or not. I was nervous in the beginning, but the crew is fantastic and makes me feel comfortable. I love making brides happy, and I love that the show gives brides inside information on how the dress-shopping process works.
During the height of the pandemic, we changed a lot of the way we filmed. Viewers may not know that we have strict medical protocol, testing policies, and limitations we have to work around to ensure everyone's safety.
In this job, one lesson I've learned is that things are not always as they appear on the surface
Patience and tolerance go a very long way. It can be overwhelming when I first meet a bride with a large entourage. One time, years ago, a bride brought in 22 of her extended family members. It was quite a job just containing that crowd. Working with large groups and/or overbearing personalities or demanding mothers has taught me to be patient and try to accommodate everyone's requests, but ultimately the bride's preferences are my No. 1 priority.
Patience also comes in handy when meeting a bride who may not be able to articulate exactly what they imagine in their head. However, as long as I listen and ask the right questions, I'm usually able to find the right style for them.
Brides who are nervous about not finding the right dress should remember they're working with seasoned professionals who have helped all kinds of brides with varying needs and desires. I tell my brides when they come in that it's very normal to be nervous, but I assure them that after the first five minutes with me, we will become BFFs.
There aren't necessarily right and wrong questions to ask. But it's important to listen first — many of your "answers" will come during the consultation. Then you can cover things that weren't mentioned if they're important in selecting the right dress — budget, nonnegotiables, and how you want to look and feel when you put on the dress are important parts of the bridal consultation.
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