Find the perfect wedding gown with the hosts of ‘Say Yes to the Dress Asia’

Vernise Tantuco

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Find the perfect wedding gown with the hosts of ‘Say Yes to the Dress Asia’
After dressing 18 brides for 'Say Yes to the Dress Asia,' Daphne Iking and Jovian Mandagie talk abut how to deal with bridezillas and finding the right dress for different cultures

MANILA, Philippines – Anyone who’s been a bride or bridesmaid will know how hard it is to find the perfect dress for the big day – it has to be the right cut, great for post-wedding dancing, and it has to fit the budget.

Daphne Iking and Jovian Mandagie, the hosts of the first Say Yes to the Dress Asia, know all about these problems, having dressed 18 brides from all over the region for the upcoming show.

Between dealing with different cultures and making each bride happy, Daphne and Jovian have been through everything.

Below, they answer a few questions about the show, finding The One (dress, that is), and even reminisce about Daphne’s own wedding gown.

Have you guys seen the western version of this show, and what makes this Asian version different from the western Say Yes to the Dress?

Daphne Iking: Yes, we have. Sorry Jovian, I answered for you. Yes, we have. My sister – actually, for me – my sister actually introduced the show to me because she is such a bridezilla and she’s watched it for research and then she got hooked. She got me addicted to this show and now I’m hooked.

So what makes Say Yes to the Dress Asia different from the other editions for me would be: one, I think you could take on the other [inaudible] Jovian, but for me I think it’s the stories. The Asian brides, their stories are not just about looking for the perfect dress but it’s the stories that come with this whole show that is very, very relatable to us Asian audiences. You would definitely know a bride – it could be yourself or it could be someone that you know who is exactly like that bride. ‘Oh my God, yes, I know that bride. She is exactly like so and so because she has mother-in-law who has done this so and so.

Every story is very relatable to an Asian audience I feel because of the Asian customs and traditions, and just the way we Asians are, we don’t like to offend people. We are reserved with our comments. Even though we want to bitch it out to the world, we don’t do that because by nature, we are a little bit more – you know, we don’t do that. We don’t disrespect our elders. That’s just wrong.

So that is interesting, and how they get their points across especially brides who are very reserved and they want to say something out loud to their mom-in-law who is a little bit more opinionated for instance, and how they manipulate the situation to get their friends to say it out loud so that they don’t look like they’re in trouble, yeah.

JM: Yeah. I think for me, I think for instance that Say Yes to the Dress Asia is going to be very colourful as compared to the ones from America because you know how Asians, we love colours, and every single wedding that we plan, there must be a theme behind it whether it is English wedding, a French wedding, Indian wedding or even Arabic wedding. So you can expect something that is really interesting, is that the silhouette of the dresses they are seeing are very different. They are mainly very modest because we Asians, we like to wear something that is more decent and nothing too revealing and nothing too sexy. And the detailing that you’ve seen is way, way much more colourful and intricate as compared to the one that was from the US.

'Say Yes To The Dress Asia' hosts – renowned Malaysian fashion designer Jovian Mandagie and television presenter/actress Daphne Iking – give Asian brides memorable moments as they find the perfect dress

What was the most challenging part of dressing all of these different brides from different cultures?

JM: Okay. So I think the challenges of getting the right dress for a particular culture is that you need to make sure that you understand the culture. You need to understand the restriction of that particular custom and culture, and finding the right brand and also a designer that really do traditional attire. So you don’t want to mix a culture with something that is too modern and eventually, you will kill the culture altogether. It is very important that being an Asian and if you are coming from a particular ethnic that you want to re-portray the element that is really strong to the world and also to the guests who are coming to the wedding.

DI: For one or two of the brides, we actually had another consultant who was more knowledgeable in terms of the custom of the dress because we had some Indian bride. We had this lady who is European but then she’s marrying into a Chinese ceremony. So it’s even more emotional for her, but she still wanted to married in a very Chinese ceremony, not Russian or anything of her background. But she doesn’t know anything.

So she’s got her Chinese colleague friends just because the Chinese, she got them on board but they have different ideas. So that’s why we had someone who came in as – to give advice with regards to the custom, what colours not to wear, why do you need to wear it like this, why – what are some of the reservations that they have based on some of the taboos of the wedding for instance. So that was quite helpful for us, and why it was quite different from other – from the other editions of Say Yes to the Dress. I didn’t know some of the new customs, yeah, and we’ve been living in this multicultural country for so – like really, you can’t wear that colour? Why? I thought black is like a major no-no. They said, ‘Oh, you can but you have to pair it up with gold or this colour.’ So I’m like, ‘Oh, really. All this while, I thought it’s just Chinese ceremony, red, red, red, red, red, red, you know? So yeah. We learned something new.

Which for you was most difficult – ready-to-wear dresses or custom-made ones? Or even is renting out for you more difficult or is it advisable?

JM: For me, I think the most challenging would be the custommade because you can’t imagine how is it going to look like already as compared to looking at the sketches because – I mean, I find that buying something off the rack would be a lot easier because you get to try it on immediately and you see how it is. You can compare from one dress to another. Whereas for custom-made dress, you only look into the dress based on the sketches and you come in for fitting session one or two and then you see the final dress.

'Say Yes To The Dress Asia' host and fashion designer Jovian Mandagie

The only good thing about custom-made dress is that you get to alter and amend the design as you go along with the fitting session. But in terms of the look and the whole look altogether, you can’t really change that much. So once you have decided on something, you have to stick on it.

DI: And that’s why I always tell the bride, you know, I always ask when exactly is your wedding date because timing is also very crucial. There are some brides who make the mistake of choosing the wedding dress just to – as soon as, oh, yesterday, the boyfriend proposes to her, the next day, she wants to go and buy the wedding dress without thinking about the theme, without thinking of the venue, you know? That has not even been addressed.

And then there are some brides who wait too last minute and that’s when they go crazy and haywire trying to pick out a dress. So having said that, when they do custom made, either they can’t get the dress in time or at this point of time, they decide, yes, I’m going to custom make this dress, and then 3 months down the road when it’s nearer to the wedding for instance, they go, ‘Oh, but you know, the theme is going to change now and what am I going to do because I’ve already sort of gone ahead with this design?’ So yeah, I agree with Jovian. I think custom-made dresses are a little bit more trickier but in terms of fitting, it will fit to the T if it’s a good design and a good – yeah.

You guys dressed 18 brides for this show. I’m sure there was a bridezilla in there somewhere. What advice do you have for friends and family who are dealing with stressed out brides?

JM: Okay. So for me, I think all entourage take a lot – I mean, a big role in this whole – the whole process of finding the right dress. And being an entourage, I think you have to give a very constructive comment and you do not want to also be selfish on one thing to only see what looks nice on your eyes. But you also have to consider that the dress must look good on the bride. The bride must look happy in it and it really complements the whole, I mean, the bride’s personality. I think that’s really important.
And I always advise the bride to also listen to their gut, and also listen to what do they feel and what they think as when they are wearing a particular dress. Sometimes, it can be very helpful, but sometimes the entourage will just not lead them to anywhere because, I have to say, a lot of entourage come in with a lot of opinions but they don’t really know what they want to see. So we come in as a consultant, myself and Daphne, we always strategize on how to tackle every single bride and also how to make sure that the entourage will eventually be happy with the bride’s choice.

DI: I agree with Jovian. You – at the end of the day, the bride has to be happy with what she is wearing, what she – comfortably within her budget. I know one or two entourage, I think it was more of a fun little girly trip for them instead of actively helping her to say yes to the dress, where they decided to get – just pick out all these really gorgeous gowns but they were just way beyond the budget. And they needed to just – you know, you need to be realistic. At the end of the day, yeah, have fun. It’s a whole experience altogether but have fun, yeah, that’s true. But at the end of the day, be realistic and set your grounds. What exactly are you guys looking for? What is the budget? And go from there. Downsizing the options so that it’s not going to be too confusing for the bride. And you have to be honest. You have to be honest if she looks good.

Yeah, so yeah, you have to be honest with her. But I think that’s where best friends come in. You sort of know when to push the envelope, but being honest at the same time without hurting her feelings, because it’s still a big day and it’s going to be a very emotional big day for her. And choosing the right dress is a big deal for most brides.

Jovian, you made Daphne’s wedding dress, right? Do you still remember coming up with the perfect one? And what was Daphne like as a young bride?

JM: I remember exactly how the dress looks like. It was the dress that we made for her because the wedding was held outdoors. And she wanted it to be [inaudible], she wanted to be elegant and timeless and very important that – you see, Daphne is a very active woman. I mean, she likes to dance and she [inaudible]. So I made the dress so breathable and she looked lovely on that particular day, yeah.

DI: Thank you, yeah, exactly on point.

JM: I mean, as a friend 10 years ago fulfilling her wish on getting that dream dress was actually one of the very sweet moments of my – in my career, yeah.

What makes the perfect wedding dress?

JM: What makes the perfect dress, is it? So the dress must fit the bride perfectly on her physique. That’s number one. And the dress must really complement the bride in terms of her personality and character. And I think what’s very important is that the dress really fits into all the checklist of where the venue is going to be held, what is the theme of the wedding and who’s going to be attending to the wedding, whether the wedding is held outdoor or indoor, or also the fact that whether the wedding is going to be held during day time or night time because all these aspects really matter so that the dress that you are putting on will not look out of the theme.

DI: All that and, last but not least, 10 years down the road when you look at your wedding photos, you’re going to say, ‘Oh, yes, I made the right choice’ without fretting too much on it. I know some brides tell us – who get so into choosing the dress and going beyond their budget that it actually affects the marriage which is the most important… Yeah, but basically, yeah, just remember that this is just a wedding and your marriage is more important. So find that perfect dress, but don’t get so stressed out that it’ll affect your future relationship with your husband.

JM: Yeah, yeah. I think the key point here is that find a dress that really complements yourself and something that you’re going to be proud of.

Say Yes to the Dress Asia premieres on October 27 at 9 pm on TLC. –

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Mayuko Yamamoto


Vernise Tantuco

Vernise Tantuco is on Rappler's Research Team, fact checking suspicious claims, wrangling data, and telling stories that need to be heard.