Review: Say Yes to the Dress UK

Say Yes to the Dress UK is finally here!

First, there was Say Yes to the Dress, New York. Then came Atlanta. Then Canada. Now, it’s the turn of Say Yes to the Dress UK on TLC, and if you’re a wedding dress obsessive like me, you’ll know that it’s about bloody time.

If you’re up to speed on your wedding dress trivia (and let’s face it, if you’re getting married then you probably are), you’ll probably have already heard of David Emanuel, designer of the Princess Diana wedding dress, a fashion masterpiece remembered primarily by its 25-foot train. So how do you follow designing the most famous wedding dress in modern history? Go and present the UK version of SYTTD of course, taking on the role as the lovable – if somewhat bitchy – camp-as-a-Christmas-wedding male sidekick (move over Randy and Monty).

David Emanuel - Say Yes to the Dress UK

For those of you unfamiliar with SYTTD, here’s the basic premise of this incredibly popular wedding TV programme: Wedding dress shop owner/sidekick gives a pep talk to shop staff. Bride enters shop with entourage, usually comprising one troublemaker/sob story/bitter mother-in-law/and very occasionally husband-to-be (a big no-no, by the way – no foxes are allowed in the hen house). Bride explains her unique requirements for a wedding dress. Bride reveals her budget; eyebrows are raised. Groom and how the couple met is mentioned in passing – more as an after-thought than anything else (stop wasting time – it’s all about the dress!). Shop owner/sidekick goes on the hunt for the ‘perfect’ gown. Mum wants this one? Let’s try mum’s pick first? Entourage hates it? Let’s go back to what the bride wants. Eventually, bride ends up in a dress that draws on the best of both worlds. She gets ‘jacked up’ aka accessoried to within an inch of her life. Everyone cries. Bride is asked if this is her dress and if she’s saying “yes” to it. Bride confirms. Voila! Whoever said searching for a wedding dress was difficult? Very formulaic, of course. But it’s a magic formula; a formula that taps into the hearts and minds of thousands of little girls and not-so-little women who’ve been dreaming of their wedding dress since forever ago.

Confetti and Lace Dresses - Say Yes to the Dress UK

Say Yes to the Dress UK follows brides trying on their dream dress in the Lakeside shop, Confetti and Lace, owned by wedding dress deisgner Christine Dando. As a result, the brides are definitely more ‘Essex’, looking for that perfect wedding bling. This week’s episode had a bride who described herself as an Essex/Turkish/Malibu Barbie, and who was planning on getting married in Vegas, for example. So yeah, pretty much everything I had hoped for: a big, bombastic, sequined, bedazzled view into the wonderful world of wedding dresses. If you’re expecting feathers and tulle over quiet lace and plain Jane gowns, you won’t be disappointed.

Confetti and Lace - Say Yes to the Dress UK

The beauty of Say Yes to the Dress UK is that it has the opportunity to avoid the schmultz of the US version, and get all British bitchy on us. Which is where David Emanuel comes in – putting the entourage in their place (this week’s episode had an auntie who told her (very slender) niece she had “shoulders like a rugby player”. In swoops David, in defence of the bride – of brides everywhere! – reassuring the bride she is a “tiny little thing” and looks “fabulous”. Hurrah. And then there’s another bride who brings her father along to her dress appointment, only to reveal her tattoo sleeves that she has had “for years” but that somehow her father has never seen until she whips it out in a wedding gown. Cue the bride worrying she’ll disappoint her dad, dad looking disappointed, and David Emanuel looking on in the knowledge that things are about to go down…but he’s secretly quite enjoying it anyway. Golden viewing.

Bridal Tattoo Sleeves - Say Yes to the Dress UK
Fishtail - Say Yes to the Dress UK

It’s also a much more familiar, realistic version of the show – brides aren’t expected to spend the £10k plus on a Pnina Tornai gown like they are on the New York version. Instead, they are offered rather more affordable and well-loved dresses by Ronald Joyce, Mori Lee, Justin Alexander and Sophia Tolli. And Christine Dando, of course. Brides are coming in with budgets of up to £2k – about the average for a UK wedding dress – and they aren’t scoffed at. For any bride who’s ever been to a wedding fair in the hopes of grabbing a bargain, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Hey, wedding dresses are expensive! It’s OK to not want to spend a house deposit on something you’ll only wear once! SYTTDUK gets it. It gets British brides.

David Emanuel on TLC - Say Yes to the Dress UK

OK, so it’s pretty daft and unrealistic at times (there’s no WAY brides are walking out with their dress after only trying on one EVER) there’s nothing really too revolutionary here, but as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke…keep throwing glitter at it.

Say Yes To The Dress UK, Fridays at 9pm, TLC.


  1. I find it fascinating that a whole shop full of dresses yet the consultants seem to be pushing the same 4 or 5 dresses on to the brides. It seems like every episode has a bride trying on the dress that has a small kind of applique strap sheer on back that has button s from the knock all the way down to bottom of back with appliques on the sheer material. Near enough every bride has tried that dress on!

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