WITH the number of marriages increasing at the fastest rate in more than a decade dress designers Rebecca Downes and Marie Neal-Smith picked their moment wisely to join the wedding industry.

Previous to the registration of the Smith and Downes Brand in May last year, Rebecca Downes was producing made to measure, bespoke bridal wear as a sole trade.

As the business grew the partnership between Rebecca Downes and Marie Neal-Smith was established.

Ms Neal-Smith said: "We identified a gap in the market for an affordable yet well made dress appealing to the sophisticated bride.

"Our typical client has often had a negative and sometimes upsetting experience of wedding dress shopping in boutiques and comes to us looking for something different. "

In its first year Smith and Downes won a title at the North of England Wedding Awards for Customer Service 2012 in the New Business category).

The business has grown to offer a core range of 1950’s inspired dresses, alternative bridal options, occasional wear and kimono wraps, and is working towards plans to role out nationally as wholesale within two to five years.

Ms Neal Smith added: "Smith and Downes’ operate on a philosophy of supporting local artists and craftsman.

"We believe in the “Made in England “ brand but more specifically in the “Made in Yorkshire” brand and support the return of design and manufacturing in our region."