Sophia-Tolli_ALLChoosing Your Wedding Dress
in Dorset & Hampshire

Slim and slinky, chic and elegant, a confection of tulle? Off-the-shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti-strapped, strapless, backless? In virginal white, ivory, gold, the palest of baby pinks or the deepest of crimsons or burgundies? If you’re beginning to panic, don’t. Just get out there and start looking! Your wedding dress is the most exciting dress you will ever buy and most brides will tell you they knew they’d found the right one as soon as they tried it on. Where do you start? There are thousands of wedding dresses our there but they all fall into five basic shapes:

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Its fitted bodice and full skirt creates the impression of curves for brides whose figures tend to be a bit straight up and down.

Empire Line

Its high-waisted style, with a slim or A-line skirt falling from just below the bust, suits brides with classic English figures – small on top and a bit fuller on the bottom.


Slim and figure-hugging, the sheath and its sister style, the fishtail, look stunning on both perfect petites and long and leggy brides. Those with less than perfect figures are advised to avoid it!

Princess Line

Describing an A-line by means of vertical panels either from the shoulders or from the bust, this style suits brides who want disguise their hips.

Dropped waistline

The long bodice and dropped waist of the basque-style suits almost every figure and is perfect for brides who want to draw attention away from a very full bust. When it comes to necklines and sleeves, take a good look at your shoulders before you make a decision.


this straps, halter necks and off-the-shoulder gowns accentuate pretty shoulders. If you have wide shoulders, go for a V-neck or wide straps Sweetheart, square and V-necklines elongate shorter necks. High collars and boat necklines disguise bony shoulders or prominent collarbones. Full, fancy sleeves and lace, beaded or embroidered bodices all suit the smaller figure while better-endowed brides should avoid low necklines and fussy detail on the bodice.

Should I wear white

Nowadays, only if you have a tan to set it off – if you’re going for the traditional bridal look, creams and ivories are much kinder to the skin. But the choice of colour is enormous. Gold, silver and delicate pastels are very much in evidence and, if you really want to make a statement, there are fabulous rich crimsons and deep burgundies.

The back view

Everything you’ve ever read about the importance of the back of your dress is true. That’s what your guests will be looking at all through the ceremony. A built-in train will give you a slimmer outline while you’re standing at the altar and lend a special dignity to the occasion. Yes, they’re more difficult to handle but think of the fun you’ll have practising in front of the mirror at home. You’ll soon work out how to walk and turn gracefully and don’t forget your chief bridesmaid will be there to ensure your train falls properly on the day.

A Final tip

When you go to choose your dress, limit the number of people you take with you for advice to a maximum of two. And always include a friend whose opinion you trust and who will tell you the truth about what suits you, and what doesn’t.


1512 Albert Road, Southsea PO4 OJW
Tel: 02392 826622

This multi-award winning boutique in the heart of Southsea is home to a host of international bridal designers, including Justin Alexander, Sincerity, Mark Lesley, Maggie Sottero, Sottero & Midgley, Eliza Jane Howell, LouLou, Lillian West, Sweetheart, Gina Bacconi, Ian Stuart and Gill Harvey. With over 27 years of experience in the bridal industry, co-owners Andrew and Robert Pearce and their small team of highly trained and experienced consultants offer a personalised, one-to-one appointment to each and every bride.

Within a beautifully furnished surrounding, home to over 130 handpicked sample gowns, the team pride themselves on their longstanding ethos – ‘From the first step through the Creatiques door, to your first step down the aisle’. Sizes from 8-36.


35 Princes Street, Yeovil BA20 1EG
Tel: 01935 472670

Eleanor Florence is owned by Sandra and John House. This is a dream come true for Sandra. Her knowledge of wedding gowns started when she was a child, watching her mother make wedding gowns. When she met John her knowledge broadened as his mother also made wedding dresses! The name of the shop comes from Eleanor – Sandra’s great grandmother and Florence – John’s great grandmother.  The entire family: daughter Kirsty, sons Christopher and Steve have all worked incredibly hard over to get to where they are today. The shop is beautiful –  a perfect setting, perfectly situated on the border of Somerset and Dorset.

Sandra is passionate in her desire to help each bride find the perfect wedding gown, whatever her requirements, while at the same time creating one of life’s most memorable and enjoyable experiences. And, as well as stunning bridal gowns, you’ll also find beautiful bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses.  ball gowns, bridal accessories, mother of the bride outfits and more.

You are always welcome to browse or appointments are available


151 HighSstreet, Lee-on-Solent PO13 9BX
Tel: 02392 556385

With a luxurious interior and stunning surroundings our this elegant bridal boutique is sure to relax you, so you can fully enjoy the experience of finding your dream dress for the big day. Their beautiful bridal collections, handpicked from top designers from around the world, include Eddy K, Allure, Mon Cheri, Martina Liana and Sophia Tolli, so whatever your taste and need there’s a style and design to make you look your very best.

Complete with private dressing facilities (and light refreshments throughout your appointment!) this is the ideal place to start the process of picking your perfect dress…and the friendly and experienced team can’t wait to be a part of your exciting journey! A complete range of accessories and bridesmaid dresses is also available.


1 Rose Cottage, Southampton Road, Landford, Salisbury SP5 2EG
Tel: 01794390658 or 07786 162736

Based in a secluded private location in Salisbury, Millie Couture specialises in involving brides in the design process, whether they choose a bespoke dress or a gown from the best international bridal collections. Owner Leesa Miller is a fashion and design graduate who went on to work in the luxury end of bridal wear before branching out under her own name. Now she offers her own bespoke styling plus a range of carefully selected collections, including English Rose, Louise Bentley, Wendy Makin, Sophia & Camilla  and Felicity Cooper.

Prices range from £850 to £2,500 and there’s a complete range of bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories. Appointments essential.


404 Lymington Road, Highcliffe BH25 5HE
Tel: 01425 616939 OR 07851385116

An appointment-only bridal wear boutique where you can enjoy the personal attention you deserve, whether you are looking for intricately detailed or modestly elegant. New Forest & Dorset Brides stocks collections by Trudy Lee, Private Label by G and Special Day for curvier brides, so there’s  something to suit all styles, budgets and sizes.
They also have a range of beautiful tiaras, shoes and accessories. And for brides on a limited budget, there’s a constantly changing selection of ex-sample and once worn dresses at a fraction of the RRP.


763 Wimborne Road, Bournemouth BH9 2BA
Tel: 01202 522377


For a stunning collection of bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, men’s formal hire, and outfits for all formal occasions: here you will discover floating organza , delicate lace , soft satin and rich taffeta with a range of stunning details from fabric flowers, bows and intricate beading to shining Swarovski crystals. Long, short, full-skirted or slim and slinky, there is a timeless elegance to these bridal collections.

Find your groom’s outfit from a range of Youngs Formal Hire and co-ordinate your bridesmaids with a sumptuous range of dresses, that come in a huge rainbow of colours and in sizes from newborn through to adult size 32.


55 Commercial Road, Lower Parkstone, Poole BH14 0JB
Tel: 01202 740072


Where happy endings begin! With 20 years’ experience helping brides find their dream wedding gown, Special Occasions has an enviable reputation for beautiful dresses and for its friendly and professional service. Home to a fabulous collection of gowns including Ladybird, Art Couture, Eternity Bride, Christina Wu and Love by Christina Wu for the curvier figure.

Dress sizes range from 6 to 28 and dresses can be individually styled with a variety of design changes. Appointments are recommended, but not essential.