It’s been a staple of US reality television for more than 15 years, and now, for the first time, Say Yes to the Dress is coming to the Middle East.
Launching on StarzPlay on February 11, Say Yes to the Dress Arabia will feature 20 brides from 12 countries, each looking to find their dream dress for their big day.
Aged between 23 and 50, the brides hail from countries including Saudi Arabia, Syria, India, Egypt, Iraq, Poland and South Africa.
The show was filmed over 14 days at Dubai’s Hazar Haute Couture boutique, with Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein in charge of finding the brides their dream dresses.
“It’s been an honour to be a part of such an iconic show, coming to our region for the first time,” he said, ahead of the show’s launch. “As everyone knows, your wedding day is one of the most monumental days of your life, so being able to take part in making sure the brides feel their best on their big day really means a lot to me. Working with the team at Hazar Haute Couture was a phenomenal experience, its stunning dresses allowed me to dress brides in many different styles.
“Having a group of 20 brides from different backgrounds was an interesting challenge. Each bride came with their own budget, requirements and entourage, so it was really interesting to get to know each one of them and dig deeper to help them find their perfect wedding dress. Seeing the brides’ faces light up when they find the dress was a really fulfilling moment. As a stylist, nothing brings me more joy then being able to help my clients feel confident and express themselves through fashion.”
The result of a partnership between the Discovery Channel and StarzPlay, the Arabic version of the show will be its 25th, and Dubai’s multicultural demographic made it the perfect city to film in, said Anouska Widdess, senior director at Discovery.
“Together I believe we have made a fantastic show that brings together all the magic, heart and drama that fans love about Say Yes with a uniquely Arabic twist,” Widdess said.
“I’m proud that Say Yes to the Dress Arabia showcases the true diversity of the city of Dubai. The brides had very diverse dress briefs and budgets for their gowns, ranging from $615 to $14,000 and above.
“We selected Hazar Haute Couture as our boutique, you could say the true star of the show. As the largest bridal boutique in the Gulf, there wasn’t anywhere else that could provide the brides with the biggest and most beautiful, diverse range of custom unique gowns. They were able to meet every brief, from princess cut and bohemian, mermaid, lehengas, and even a pink dress.”
Among the brides to appear on the show is food blogger Naomi Dsouza, who found her dream dress despite some clashing opinions with her mother and mother-in-law.
“The team were super-helpful, positive and patient – very, very patient with me and both my mums," she said. "The options the team chose for me were super-amazing. Every dress made me feel like a princess. My family did not always feel the same.
“I had so much fun, it was an amazing experience that will always stay with me.”
Also appearing is South African bride Amy Fox. “My mum and I are massive fans of Say Yes to the Dress, so I was just so excited to hear that it was coming to Dubai and I thought, ‘this is my time’. I had to of course take my mum along with me,” she said.
“My favourite moment was when I tried on the dress that I finally said yes to. I just felt so calm and confident and sophisticated and so me in the dress. And then when I went down to show my mum and to see her reaction, I’d say that was another pinnacle moment for me. It was amazing.”
Elsewhere, there’s Iraqi-Polish bride Eve Jaso, who described herself as a “controversial bride”.
“I don’t have a ring yet,” she said. “But I wanted to be on the show. For my family it was a shock. I don’t want to give too much away, but some things went down.”
StarzPlay will stream two new episodes every week. There will be nine in total, and, if the first series is a success, there are hopes for more in the future, said Khaled Benchouche, co-founder and senior vice president of programming at StarzPlay.
“I’m sure with the quality of the show, inshallah, it will run for many seasons.”