David Emanuel's 5 tips for picking the perfect wedding dress: 'I want to help brides feel confident!'

Legendary designer David Emanuel gives his advice on budget wedding dresses, dressing for your body type and the new series of Say Yes to the Dress UK.

TLC’s hit show Say Yes to the Dress UK is back for more wedding dress inspo, sound advice from Princess Diana Dress designer David Emanuel and of course plenty of drama.

We chatted to David on his best advice for picking the perfect dress.

1. Consider budget luxury

say yes to the dress oxfam

While David’s a fan of the original US version of Say Yes to the Dress, he also thinks that is mainly focused on money and often unlimited budgets. He’s more interested in dealing with real brides on realistic budgets, and that’s why the first episode of the new series is set in an Oxfam bridal shop.

“I have to say I was very impressed. When it comes to second hand, they are in amazing condition and the concept is great - it might have been worn by a bride but she will have cleaned it professionally and given it to the store or sometimes it is the bridal designer or manufacturer that has donated it to the store so it has never been worn before. It's a real cross section of gowns and a full range of sizes available.

[Read more: David Emanuel wants to dress Meghan Markle]

"Of course they’re getting it for a real knock down price, anything from one hundred or two hundred less – sometimes even more. And of course all that money goes to Oxfam, which is a worldwide charity. It’s a double whammy really!

"I know in America some brides trash, destroy, even burn their dresses after their wedding and I just think it’s such a waste.

"Whereas this way these gowns are being reused. One bride we met said she would re-donate it back to the store once she’d worn it – and I thought what a wonderful way to keep the beautiful gown in use.”

David said there are multiple Oxfam bridal stores across the country as well as other bridal-themed charity shops and consignment stores.

2. Dress for both your and your bridesmaid’s shapes

david emanuel

David admits while it’s easy to go with the trendiest wedding dress style such as the mermaid style which seems to be the 'it' gown of the moment. He argues that brides should wear the style that most flatters them and that they feel most comfortable in.

“So many girls come to me wanting what I call a Jessica Rabbit dress. Tight, tight, tight! And I say to them, yes it’s going to look lovely in pictures but do you really want to wear something that form fitting all day? Will you even be able to sit down at it properly at the reception dinner? Will you be able to dance freely in it? Of course style is important but feeling comfortable in your dress is incredibly important.”

David says he loves the bridesmaids concept that’s popular in America, where bridesmaids all wear the same colour gowns but in a style that best suits their type of body.

"I quite like the way Americans pick a colour theme but choose different styles, silhouettes or shapes. You really can’t squash a girl into a poufy Cinderella gown or expect a larger girl to wear a little slip dress. To be fair I think it’s good to have variety.”

3. Think outside the box

Despite his glass-cut accent and of course designing Princess of Wales wedding dress, David is in fact far from a staunch traditionalist when it comes to weddings.

He encourages brides to think outside the box, and even approves of non-white gowns.

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“We’ve done a red wedding gown, lovely gowns with a champagne colour. I mean why not? It’s fantastic to mix it up for season themed weddings, such as if it’s a Christmas wedding of course you think of red. Equally in summer time a pale blue or pale pink wedding dress can look amazing – I mean why not?”

While he remarks that there really can never be a grander wedding than Princess Diana’s, one of his favourite weddings was a recent small wedding he attended. David said this just goes to show that “sometimes a small and intimate wedding can be just as lovely and memorable”.

4. Consider crinoline

princess diana wedding dress david emanuel

David shot in fame back in 1981 when he and his partner Elizabeth Emanuel designed Princess Diana’s incredible wedding gown for her marriage to Prince Charles.

And he says its larger-than-life crinoline style is starting to reappear on the runway and in bridal gown shops.

[Read more: David Emanuel on Princess Diana's gown]

“It has already made a comeback! We have a few coming in already. Some with the big crinoline are the ones that I call Gone with the Wind gowns – I say to girls if you love to dance you simply must consider a crinoline gown because they have movement and it looks so pretty on the dance floor!

"When you think all those years ago I designed Diana’s dress it had a huge impact on the bridal business and design world, then it went quiet and now it’s coming back full circle! Which is certainly interesting to see.”

5. Choose a dress with confidence

David said many brides ultimately want their mother’s approval and blessing when it comes to choosing the right dress – but he hopes to instil enough confidence in the bride that she will choose the dress that is best for her – and wear it with absolute confidence:

“There is always drama, if it’s not drama from the bride then it’s from the mother if it’s not the mother then it’s the maid of honour!

"It blows me away sometimes the bride really wants their mother’s approval and I’m quite surprised that at whatever age they are they ultimately want their mother’s approval – I thought they might be a bit more confident – but I try to make them feel more confident and make the best decision for them.”

A new series of Say Yes to the Dress UK with David Emanuel starts on TLC, Friday September 8 at 9pm BT Channel 323/HD 377.

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