Expert advice about wedding dresses

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Hampshire and Dorset Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to


Finding the one

Finding the one

Q. How long before my wedding should I be looking at buying my dress?

A. Patricia Ireland says: Patricia says: If you want a bespoke gown for your wedding day you should ideally start looking at least 12 to 18 months before your big day. For designer collections, times vary. Our main supplier Victoria Kay has a lead time for dresses of between 16 and 20 weeks from the date the order is placed by us.

How long should I allow for any alterations?

If you've bought a dress off the peg it's best to allow three to four months before your wedding for any changes to be completed. Even bespoke dresses will require small adjustments before the big day. We complete all alterations to our brides' dresses as close to the wedding day as possible to ensure the perfect fit.

Patricia Ireland,Test Valley Bridal Services


Comfort and style

Comfort and style

Q. We're planning to have a winter wedding next year because it's our favourite time of year. What should I wear that's not only on trend, but will keep me warm too?

A. Carina says: Carina says: You really can't go wrong with a sleeve, they add a touch of elegance, sophistication and warmth too, perfect for a winter wedding. If they're not for you though a bolero in lace, satin or mikado silk will keep you toasty for the ceremony and you can take it off for the reception giving you two different looks.

Silk is a natural breathable fabric which keeps you snug and looks gorgeous. Mikado and satins work beautifully in winter, shimmering in the frosty weather and reflecting the low winter sun. They're heavy enough to keep their shape and keep you warm too. Also if ever an excuse was needed to wear a feminine feather or faux fur jacket, a winter wedding is it! Don't forget your shoes either. There are so many styles to choose from but a block heel is safer than a stiletto on slippery ground and is very on trend.



Seasonal style

Seasonal style

Q. I know the weather can be unpredictable in the autumn but I still want to look stunning in a fabulous dress. What would you suggest that's suitable for the time of year and glamorous too?

A. Sam Walsh says: Sam says: Dresses in champagne colours work really well for autumn brides. Think subtle shades rather than bold, like our beautiful silk champagne chiffon Lyn Ashworth dress (pictured). Bride Clare teamed it with an ivory bolero with long lace sleeves for her autumn wedding and changed it up from a day-to-night look by removing the bolero and adding a belt.

Sam Walsh


Dressing the part

Dressing the part

Q. I don't know where to start when it comes to choosing my wedding dress. I want to not only look fabulous, but also keep the planet in mind. What would you advise?

A. Erica Arnold says: Buy from a British manufacturer to cut back on transport miles. If you have the time and the budget, there are still a few companies in the UK that can weave silk or cotton to order for a bespoke gown.

Go for a design or separates that you can alter to wear again or change the colour using a low-impact dye. If you choose a pre-loved dress that needs sprucing up before the big day, look for a specialist company that offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional dry-cleaning methods.

If you're looking for something different, our Pure range of vintage dresses are cleaned and restored before sale using environmentally friendly methods. For the modern bride, our Evolution collection of contemporary dresses are made from re-worked vintage dresses and fabrics. Any new material incorporated in the designs is ethically sourced including quality 'end of run' fabrics and remnants.

Erica Arnold


English rose

English rose

Q. We want our country garden wedding to be as relaxed and informal as possible. I've no idea what style of dress to choose though. I want something that's not too restricting, but that will also make me feel glamorous. Any ideas?

A. Sue Evans says: The Casablanca Bridal fit-and-flare gown (pictured) has a beautiful cross-laced back and is great for an outdoor wedding. With intricate beading and embroidery it certainly delivers on the wow factor and is light and easy to wear. Available in three colour choices, there's also the option of lace side splits for a cooler feel.

One of my favourites is the Demetrios dress (pictured), one that Gok Wan himself fell in love with when we hosted a catwalk show for him last year. This design complements your theme beautifully. With soft blush pink petals and flowers scattered over the gown, it's also available in ivory. The train can be shortened to make it easier to walk on grass, it has an off-theshoulder neckline and the full skirt can be made without hoops for a softer effect.

For the accessories include a rose flower veil and blush petal hairpieces and to complement your theme, how about a flower ring cushion and matching garter, not forgetting a 'just-married' umbrella – just in case? Capes are also becoming popular; ideal as an extra layer to keep the chills at bay in the evening.

Sue Evans


Extra flair

Extra flair

Q. I want a statement look for my wedding day with a dress that's different to the norm. What are the latest trends to stand out from the crowd?

A. Sally Broad says: From plunging necklines to high necks, no sleeves to long sleeves, beautiful colours and 3D florals, not forgetting the shimmer of gold and silver metallics in both long and short style gowns; these are just some of the stunning bridal trends for the season ahead.

This year, we're seeing wedding gowns move away from traditional white and ivory fabrics towards fun, colourful designs in both sheer and solid textured materials. Flowing wedding gowns with colourful splashes of baby blue and pink, black, red and even shades of yellow will be seen.

You could even turn your gown into a one-of-a-kind work of art by having it hand-painted with beautiful flowers, incorporating this year's hot hue Pantone's Living Coral.

While traditional bridal styles remain popular, following the two royal weddings in 2018, we expect to see brides in elegant gowns with clean lines and more tailored looks. A simple classic dress, but with just a dash of colour, such as a beautiful bow or sash, could be the perfect choice for you. Jumpsuits and two-piece outfits, are also a great alternative for a sophisticated look.

Soft details with a touch of tailoring will make any shape look streamlined. Sheer caplets, cropped jackets and capes instead of veils are ideal for spring weddings due to the changeable weather.

Sally Broad


Winter winners

Winter winners

Q. We're planning to tie the knot in December 2019 and I'm not sure what kind of accessories, fabric or style of wedding dress to go for to beat the winter chills. When and where should I start and what should I be looking out for?

A. Anya Murrell says: December is the perfect time of year for embracing sumptuous fabrics and sparkle, or maybe more individual style. With Christmas on the calendar you may be feeling festive or want to keep the yuletide theme at bay, whatever you decide your wedding can celebrate the elements of winter you love best.

So, where to start? Choosing your dress is a big decision and you want to get it right. Most boutiques carry styles for the different seasons all year round, as brides shop for their dress at any time in the lead-up to their big day. A good bridal consultant will ensure they know your wedding date in order to make appropriate suggestions.

For chilly weather, think rich mikado satin or crepe and for a lighter look, organza with lace overlays. Whether you're after big skirts for maximum impact or fitted silhouettes, these fabrics are sure to say 'winter wedding'.

Sparkle can add extra style, such as a headpiece or belt and we particularly love the adaptable hair vines that have been proving so popular this year.

We like to encourage individuality, so if you're not fond of long trains, or feel veils are more of a bother than a beauty, we love the trend for bridal capes. Heavier fabrics look great outdoors, while lighter chiffon or tulle give a fairytale effect. So why not experiment when searching for your dream look?

Anya Murrell