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.


1082 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth
Tel: 01202 432800

Specialists in once worn and ex-sample designer wedding dresses, all at under £1,200 – and now an official stockist for Alfred Angelo and Nicole Spose bridal gowns.  Some of the stocked once worn and ex-sample designs can include: Forever Yours, Ronald Joyce, Benjamin Roberts, Maggie Sottero and San Patrick. The shop is beautifully fitted and the bride and bridal party will be made to feel as welcome here as they are in any shop that offers new gowns. They also stock new bespoke jewellery, veils and accessories. No appointment necessary.


4 Georgian Passage, East Street, Blandford Forum DT11 7DX
Tel: 0797 905 4258

Brides on a tight budget can buy a quality designer dress at a fraction of the original price at newly opened Exclusively Yours in Blandford Forum. Here you can see not only an ever-changing array of preloved dresses, but also stunning ex-sample and discontinued gowns which have never been worn – and they’re all at amazingly affordable prices. You’ll get the full bridal experience too, with a glass of bubbly a goody bag and the undivided attention of the friendly and knowledgeable staff. There’s a recommended seamstress sas well, so the dress you choose can be altered to fit perfectly and, of course, if you want to sell it after the wedding, Exclusively Yours will be happy to help.

Exclusively Yours is open three days a week for browsing and also by private appointment at other times, including evenings and weekends.


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.


15 High East Street, Dorchester DT1 1HH
Tel: 01305 269555


Established in 1983 and stocking a wide selection of wedding gowns from some of the world’s leading designers. Sizes range from 8 to 30 and prices from under £200 to over £2,000. Their enthusiasm and attention to detail, together with extensive experience, means the service is of a very high standard. The shop is located on two floors and has three spacious fitting rooms, one of which has wheelchair access.  Appointments are recommended but not always necessary.