On her wedding day 14 years ago, rather than being glowing with happiness, Kelly Purchase was trying to shy away from her family and friends.

A size 26, she had struggled to find a dress to fit her and found the whole experience humiliating. As a result, she ordered a gown online, which didn't fit properly, and felt she looked anything but the beautiful bride on her big day.

"It was probably the most awful wedding day ever," remembers Kelly, 41.

"As everybody should feel on their wedding day - beautiful - I didn't. I just shied away."

The experience stayed with Kelly, who lives in Oakdale, Poole, for the last 15 years when she spent night shifts as a paramedic dreaming of opening a plus-size bridal shop.

Three years ago, she finally decided to follow that dream and quit her job to dedicate two years to learning about the wedding industry.

As a result, she is now the proud owner of the beautiful Brides with Curves dress shop, which opened at The Oaks Wimborne in Queen Anne Drive last September.

Her outlet - which boasts a huge array of gowns, plus accessories - is decorated in a pretty duck egg blue, with plenty of privacy.

Having been a plus size bride herself, Kelly knows exactly what her customers want, and has gone out of her way to cater for their every need.

"I'm not like any other bridal shop," she says.

"I do everything completely different, because I know how it feels."

Every bride gets the shop to themselves for two hours. Kelly locks the door, draws the curtains and lets them play dress up.

"No one else comes in the shop," she explains, "it's all theirs. It's even little things like we don't have mirrors in the changing rooms, because curvy ladies don't always like to see themselves getting changed.

"Even our dresses are not like anything else on the market - my designers only do dresses for plus-size ladies. It doesn't matter if they've got a budget of £300 or £3,000, they're still a bride."

Kelly has rails and rails of dresses ranging from a size 18 right up to a size 34, and her clients travel from as far afield as Penzance and Jersey for her expertise.

"It's as rewarding as saving lives," she says.

"The brides come in here and they're such a mess - it breaks my heart. They just come out beaming. Even if it's just one person that I make feel beautiful on their day, I feel like I've done something.

"As much as it's a job, I think it's a passion, because I'm turning other people's lives around. That's more fulfilling for me, that's more rewarding than anything."

Kelly admits it was "the biggest gamble of my life" to leave her secure job as a paramedic, but she hasn't looked back since.

She spent two years researching the industry, visiting other bridal shops, including some of the 12 other plus size specialists around the country, spoke with designers and studied marketing and business.

"It's a very brave thing to do," she says, "but life is too short. I just thought 'let's go for it'. If it didn't work out, then it's quite easy to get another job. I saw there was a gap in the market, my family were behind me and it's going great guns.

"I still can't believe it, it has been so overwhelming, but I'm loving every day."