Mar­ried at First Sight bridal magic

The jit­tery Mar­ried at First Sight girls are in safe hands

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - This week -

When New Zealand’s most well-known women are headed for the al­tar, there’s one per­son they trust above all oth­ers to craft the per­fect gown – Jane Yeh.

Aotearoa’s an­swer to A-list de­signer Vera Wang, the Auck­land style guru has dressed thou­sands of Kiwi brides for their big days, in­clud­ing local stars Hi­lary Barry, Na­dine Hig­gins (née Chalmers-Ross) and Mahé Drys­dale’s wife Juli­ette.

“I love the fairy­tale of wed­dings – I feel so lucky to

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do what I do be­cause I make brides’ dreams come true,” smiles Jane, who opened her first bridal store in 1994. “If I worked for the bank, I’d be fired af­ter five min­utes.”

While num­bers aren’t her thing, creat­ing cus­tom cou­ture comes nat­u­rally to the mum-of-one, who is now weav­ing her magic on Three’s hot new re­al­ity se­ries Mar­riedatFirstSight. Dress­ing brides who haven’t met their hus­bands-to-be is new ter­ri­tory for the de­signer, but Jane – who boasts more than 20 years of dress­mak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – be­lieves the ex­treme cir­cum­stances only make her role more im­por­tant.

She says, “Even brides who know their hus­bands for years are ner­vous be­fore their wed­ding! I can pick up on that en­ergy in fit­tings and tell straight­away when a bride feels good or when she feels un­com­fort­able. Imag­ine never hav­ing met your groom!

“If the girls look and feel their best, that’s one less thing to worry about. An amaz­ing dress comes about when women feel com­fort­able for the oc­ca­sion. If they put on the dress and think it’s nice, then it’s not enough – they need to go, ‘Woah!’”

That “woah” mo­ment is what keeps her driven and busi­ness tick­ing over, says Jane, whose fash­ion ca­reer started in women’s knitwear in her na­tive Tai­wan.

While she’s grate­ful for her start in the in­dus­try, Jane says pump­ing out cookie-cut­ter pieces sapped her cre­ativ­ity and it wasn’t un­til she moved to NZ al­most 30 years ago that she dis­cov­ered her call­ing.

“I’ve al­ways loved sketch­ing and paint­ing,” says Jane, who trained in fine arts in Tai­wan. “I used to get in trou­ble by my teach­ers for doo­dling

pic­tures of movie stars on my school books.”

In her first bridal store, in New­mar­ket, Auck­land, there were just four staff – Jane, two sales­peo­ple and a fab­ric cut­ter – but af­ter quickly es­tab­lish­ing her­self as the top pick for Kiwi brides, she soon had a small army of em­ploy­ees work­ing around the clock.

De­spite this, Jane still at­tends clients’ con­sul­ta­tions and fi­nal fit­tings, but since the re­cent pass­ing of her hus­band John, she has stepped back from the busi­ness to spend time with daugh­ter Natalie, 23, an in­te­rior de­signer.

“I miss him, but I don’t feel like he’s gone – I feel him around me,” says Jane. “Artists think about things in a ro­man­tic way. I have a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter and a job that I love, so my life feels very full.”

And she still has fond me­mories of her own big day in 2000. “It was a very small, low-key cer­e­mony in our gar­den. I left the big, ex­trav­a­gant stuff to my clients. My wed­ding dress was very sim­ple, long-sleeved and we made it with the best ma­te­ri­als. I al­ways say less is more.”

A hands-on ap­proach keeps busi­ness in­ter­est­ing for the pas­sion­ate cou­turier.

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