I’m not going to lie, I love binge watching Say Yes To The Dress whether its U.S., Canada or U.K. I love watching the drama unfold as brides and their entourage walk in the Kleinfeld Bridal salon revealing their backstories, trying on 10 (or more) dresses, the occasional family quarrels on set, the emotional parts and asking ‘Are you saying yes to the dress?’ out loud whilst watching the show (yes, I’m obsessed). It’s a pretty iconic TLC show!
When it was revealed that we were going to have our own Say Yes To The Dress Asia, I was excited. I had a feeling that it’s going to be way different than its counterpart because we are so multi-cultural and deeply rooted with our customs and culture it’ll be interesting to see what drama unfurls and of course the wedding dresses which I’m pretty sure aren’t going to be the conventional white bridal wear.
I got a chance to interview the perfect pair to host Say Yes To The Dress Asia, Fashion Designer, Jovian Mandagie and TV Host, Daphne Iking to get some inside scoop on what we can all expect from the much-anticipated show before it’s premiere this Friday on 24 November at 9 pm.
FEMALE: How did you two end up as the hosts of Say Yes To The Dress Asia?
Jovian: This is my first time working with an International channel provider, TLC and when I was called to audition, I’ve actually never heard of this program. I had to undergo a long auditioning process where there were solos and paired up sessions with co-host candidates. I knew who they were and I was very anxious, I thought I wasn’t going to get the job but I’m so grateful that I’m here today. This is my third hosting job and I have to say this is one of my greatest achievement in my hosting career and I’m glad I’m doing it with Daphne.
Daphne: I didn’t know that I was auditioning for Say Yes To The Dress Asia until my second round of audition. I think we were both chosen because of the natural chemistry that we have on set cos we’re already friends in real life and he made my first wedding dress. So it was like a love story in a way *haha
F: Jovian, do you still remember your first bridal gown design?
J: Yes, that was during my collegiate days and I had a friend who trusted me to design her wedding dress as well as seven dresses for her bridesmaids. I made her a dress that was a classic, clean-cut empire dress made of French lace. So she was really my first ever customer.
F: Daphne, what is it like working alongside a well-loved designer, Jovian, for the show?
I think it’s really different seeing as he is a designer. I gained a lot of fashion insights through this program with him. And because we’re friends, it doesn’t feel like we’re working when we’re on set. The problem about working with a friend is that we tend to talk over each other because we know each other so well and are so comfortable with one another – that part was a challenge but everything else was a breeze.
F: Seeing as it’s a reality TV show, some people are skeptical about the realness of the reactions on screen. So, how authentic is the show?
J: Even though it’s a reality TV show, we had to capture everything at the right moment whether the bride was crying, screaming, happy and everything in between and those things are all real – there’s really no second takes. It’s almost like doing a live show, if you missed the first shot then that’s it, no reshoots ‘cos otherwise it won’t come off natural and you’d have lost the real emotions.
F: What was it like dressing different brides from multi-cultural background? Were there difficulties involved?
D: One of the bride is from Russia and she wanted to impress her Chinese in-laws so we had someone to come in as there was only so much we could advise her. We were realistic in that aspect where we will get experts for the show. Other than that it was mainly us and the entourage who helped the bride decide.
J: Honestly, after ten years being in this industry and having created over hundreds of bridal dresses and being known as a bridal designer, I still gained a lot of new knowledge from being on the show and it’s something that I value so much. For example, I now understand how to dress up an Indian bride as I’ve never designed a proper bridal sari or even the traditional cheongsam, I’ve done modern takes on it but not one that’s true to its culture.
F: Do you see any differences in terms of dealing with Asian brides as compared to Western brides?
J: I think in general, us Asians, we are all very grounded in our customs and culture. We are very polite and not as vocal as the western girls. The taste of Asian brides are very colourful – they like to add on so many things to one dress. Especially for the Malay and Indian brides, they won’t go for a conventional white gown, instead opting for colours, embellishments, and details here and there. And as consultants, we had to make sure there aren’t too many things going on and made sure it’s tasteful.
F: Brides come in with their big ideas about what they want to wear from colours to the cut. What was it like dealing with demanding brides and their entourage?
J: As a fashion consultant, I have to be real on camera as I am off camera with clients. I have to be real with them and advise them where needed. Sometimes they want a certain cut but it won’t necessarily work out on them due to body shapes, so my role is to find something that will flatter their body and make them look beautiful for the big day.
D: At the end of the day, Jovian knows what would look good on you. Some brides want this and that, tiaras, earrings and a necklace all in one but if it doesn’t look good Jovian will say it as it is. In other cases, the entourage comes in with their own idea of what the bride should wear and it makes it harder for the bride to make her choice. That’s when we come in to strategize a plan to make everyone, especially the bride happy.
F: As consultants to the program, what do you think makes the perfect wedding dress?
J: Back to basic. I advise going for something effortless and ever-lasting. I think every bride would in their own way want something feminine and romantic whether it’s the pastel hues or the silhouette. It should be pleasant to the eyes and anything that’s classy and elegant would win anyone’s heart.
D: In one episode we had one bride who wanted to wear sneakers on her wedding day.
J: I don’t really prefer it because I think you can wear sneakers everyday but in that case, I thought why not, right? So for that particular bride, we custom made this beautiful white bridal sneakers with lace embellishments for her and it turned out very elegant and modern, better than expected.
D: At the end of the day, it was about making the bride happy on her wedding day.
F: What was the most beautiful thing you realised from these brides during your time with them?
J: We definitely have great stories behind this whole show. It’s not just about the pretty dresses, it’s about family values and how you actually bond with one another from the parents, siblings and the future in-laws. In fact, some of the brides were really personal with us when sharing their stories and emotions. That’s the beauty of it.
D: Yes, in fact, one of the brides became so relatable to me that I broke down on my first day of shooting. I just lost my dad to cancer and one of the brides lost her mother to cancer as well. So when she was telling me about it, it brought memories of my father and I couldn’t help but to shed tears. She was also from Kadazhan and it was so close to my heart. The great thing is that you get to see yourself in each of these brides and it makes it very interesting to watch.
F: Any funny episodes we can look out for?
J: One of the brides came in with her entourage including her future mother-in-law who came bearing a surprise wedding dress that she designed and sowed herself. So, she came into the shop with that surprise dress hoping that her future daughter in law would pick her’s for the big day. That was quite funny in a way and you have to watch that episode to see the turnout.
D: And you know us being Asians we’re so careful not to offend anyone let alone your future mother-in-law, so it was really hilarious to see the bride trying to deal with the whole situation.
F: Summarise the show in three words.
J: Emotional. Fun. Amazing.
D: Lots of drama!
Watch Say Yes To The Dress Asia premiering Friday, 24 November 9 pm on TLC (Astro channel 707). Don’t miss it!