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Exclusive Interview with David Emanuel

TLC has re-commissioned SAY YES TO THE DRESS UK after viewers fell head over heels for the British version of the hit wedding show. Following in the footsteps of popular US wedding series SAY YES TO THE DRESS, a franchise which reached 15 million viewers in the UK alone last year, SAY YES TO THE DRESS UK’s host and royal dress designer David Emanuel will once again be on hand to help British brides find the dress of their dreams.

Returning early next year for 40 brand new episodes, produced by Half Yard Productions, cameras follow the ‘A-Team’ of bridal consultants at Confetti & Lace in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex as they work with David Emanuel to guide the most demanding and devoted brides to find the perfect bridal gown. Whether you’re ‘Team Ballgown’, ‘Team Fishtail’ or like David, simply ‘Team Bride’ there will be something for everyone.

Host and Creative Director, David Emanuel said: “It has been incredibly exciting to be part of a smash hit TV show for TLC and I can’t wait to meet new brides and continue the fun for a second series.” We caught up with David to ask him a few questions about not only the programme but the man himself!

UWD Meets David!

Born and raised in Bridgend Glamorgan in South Wales, David was originally destined for the world of music being an accomplished violin and cello player. He was accepted by the Welsh College of Music and Drama but chose instead to attend the Cardiff School of Art and Design to study design. He then went on to study fashion design at Harrow School of Art where he met and subsequently married Elizabeth Weiner (1976). Following this they jointly attended the Royal College of Art in London.

Following two seasons as an assistant to royal designer Hardy Amies at Saville Row, he launched his own fashion house in 1977 aged just 25 with his wife Elizabeth – entitled Emanuel. Whether you were around at the time or not (I was 13) everyone knows that David and Elizabeth were chosen by Diana, Princess of Wales to design her wedding gown. I remember watching in awe as she stepped down from her carriage surrounded by clouds of ivory silk, pure taffeta and antique lace. Sequins and pearls adorned this most fabulous gown with a train that was an amazing 25 feet long!

From this moment onwards the Emanuels were thrust into international media, and since then have dressed some of the most famous celebrities across the globe. We wanted to catch up with David and get a little more ‘intimate’ with him, in a media way of course.

Tina: How do you feel your own designs have changed since you launched?

David: “My obvious influences were the early 80s, the New Romantics with lots of big styles (David and I both come from the same circles in the 80’s and if you don’t know what pedal pushers are, do look them up). The 80’s were big romantic dresses – think Gone With The Wind! Since then designers/styles/influences have changed and now brides can choose from a huge variety of dress shapes for their big day.”

When choosing a gown what factors should a bride take into consideration?

“The style of the dress is key plus you must be comfortable. Can you move in the dress? What shoes/accessories will you be having? Too much jewellery can overwhelm a dress so it is important to get the correct balance. The dress must wear you and not you wear the dress. You may think that you want something very fitted but if it is uncomfortable to move/sit in then it is not for you. Your wedding is the most wonderful day and you must feel comfortable wearing it.”

What is the one piece of advice you would give to a bride?

“Keep an open mind! Listen to the advice you are given and be objective.”

What other designers/icons influence you?

“I love Viktor and Rolf! Obviously having been in design for so many years I enjoy seeing other people’s creativity. I have worked with some of the industries leading names and enjoy close relationships with amazing clients. Quite often it is a balance between my design and their input.”

How important are programmes like SYTTD in today’s wedding planning?

“They give brides access to professional advice watching others going through the same experience. They are hugely important as we help brides choose their dresses others can draw similarities with body shapes, fabrics etc and understand what will/will not suit them.”

Are you brutally honest with the brides on the show?

“I am always very honest as it is paramount that we are giving the best advice. If they come with a pre-conceived idea as to what they want but I know it is wrong for them then I am obligated to tell them and show them dresses that will suit their figures, colouring, etc.”

Do you ever look at some dresses and wonder what the designer was thinking?

“Yes sometimes! The recent upsurge in a lot of illusion dresses which only look good on certain sizes and for certain occasions. Weddings have decorum and etiquette and some of the designs are not always appropriate, although they may be stunning.”

Can you sum up marriage in one sentence?

“It is falling in love but not just the couple, the families also. Two families merge into one. A good marriage also combines the love of two families.”

We concluded our interview by establishing that David and I do not live too far away from each other so I have promised to take him out for dinner. At my request he bid farewell in Welsh – it is such a beautiful language I felt it was the only thing to do. I am quite smitten, David is lovely and genuine – a rarity in the world of fashion sadly. If you are fortunate to meet him and he is helping you to choose your gown, do listen, this is one man who knows his bias from his bosom!

SAY YES TO THE DRESS UK launched with huge success last summer, accounting for nine of the top 10 TLC shows this year and pulling in the channel’s third highest ever rating since launch.

To apply for SAY YES TO THE DRESS UK please visit

TLC is available on Sky 125, Virgin 167 and BT TV 323.

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