Married at First Sight bridal magic
The jittery Married at First Sight girls are in safe hands
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
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.