Tabitha Stoffel is used to getting noticed anywhere she goes. The Reidland native has lived with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a brittle bone disease, since birth and stands only 3’10” tall. But that’s not the reason she’s being noticed today.
“Excuse me, are you the girl from ‘Say Yes to the Dress’?” asked two young employees of the restaurant where we were seated. They giggled and eagerly asked Tabitha all about her experience on the national television show.
Stoffel was actually featured on the TLC series, “Randy to the Rescue,” where Kleinfeld Bridal Fashion Director Randy Fenoli travels the country helping brides find the perfect dress for their big day.
The day after Stoffel’s fiancé proposed in front of her friends and family, she logged online to see how to be featured on the show. The show happened to be planning a visit to Nashville, and after submitting two audition videos, Stoffel was chosen. “I sent in the first video about how hard it was to find clothes to fit my body and the second video about my disease. Apparently they loved them because I was chosen for the show,” Stoffel said.
Stoffel, her mother, sister, and two friends headed to Nashville to find the perfect dress. “I’ve only looked in magazines. I hadn’t physically tried on dresses yet. It was exciting to have that be my first time. All the ones Randy brought for me to try, I liked. I found out with wedding dresses, it looks a lot different on the hanger than on your body,” Stoffel said.
Working with Randy was a highlight for Stoffel. “ He’s just like talking to a normal person. He was very normal. He was very kind and down to earth. He doesn’t judge. He greets every bride with ‘Hello Beautiful’ and makes them feel great,” Stoffel said.
Stoffel only tried on a few dresses before finding the perfect one for her. “I wanted a little bit of bling and I really like lace. I think it’s really elegant looking. That’s what I was going for and I did not want pouf! I hate that. I felt like it would make me look smaller. The dress I picked we thought wouldn’t work on my body. But I tried it on just to see. We were all shocked. And that’s why when I put that dress on and came out, I said, ‘This is it.’ I just knew. It hid everything I was self-conscious about. It was a good feeling. I think it caught them off guard too,” Stoffel said.
Once Stoffel chose her dress, Randy went to work. He spent the next three days cutting, hemming, and re-designing the dress to fit her petite frame. He also added extra jewels to give the dress more ‘bling’ to fit Tabitha’s personal style. She then had her hair and makeup professionally done and debuted her wedding day look on a runway for all her friends and family to see. “It was kind of weird because everyone was staring at me and I was trying not to fall off the stage!” Stoffel said.
Stoffel went on the show to find a wedding dress, but also found she has become an inspiration to other people who may be facing difficulties in their own lives. “A lot of people have contacted me saying that I inspired them. Even people with OI have contacted me and said I’m a huge role model for them. It’s been awesome. Now I hope more people can be aware that just because someone is different doesn’t make them any less of a person. Everybody goes through obstacles in life. We all breathe the same and it’s not just about your appearance, it’s about what’s inside, too,” Stoffel said.