A 'DREADFUL' year for weddings has put one long-running Dorchester photographer and dressmaker out of business.

After wedding photographer Chrissie Clements's wedding bookings fell dramatically from 40 a year to 12 this year she decided to close her photography and dress-making business - I Do Wedding Services - after 16 years.

She said: "This year was absolutely dreadful and next year I have no bookings at all, so I am giving it all up.

"Last year I was doing about 40 weddings and this year I have only done 12.

"I think digital photography is to blame and the fact that people take their own photos, and also the credit crunch, but it has had a knock-on effect throughout the industry. The only part of my business that has done well at all is the flowers."

Mrs Clements added: "I think an awful lot more people are doing their wedding on a shoestring."

Other wedding services are suffering.

Owner of Weymouth-based wedding chauffeur company Travelling in Style, Andy Plummer, said that he has never had so many cancellations.

He said: "At the moment we are about £1,000 a month down, which is about five weddings a month.

"I have been surprised at the amount of cancellations this year and I think people are trying to save money and can't afford the car.

"I have noticed recently when you go out on a Saturday that more people are putting ribbon on their own cars for weddings."

Two of the main Church of England churches in Dorchester have both seen a decline in weddings this year with just 16 taking place in the parish.

The Rev Richard Betts from St George's Church said it normally gets booked eight to 20 times a year for weddings and this year it only received 10 bookings.

Team Rector the Rev Harold Stephens from St Mary's Church said he has seen a dramatic decrease in church ceremonies over the past 10 years.

Despite the drop in religious ceremonies the civil ceremonies at the Corn Exchange are the best they have ever been.

Dorchester deputy town clerk Steve Newman said: "There are 39 weddings and one civil partnership taking place this year here and these figures are the highest we have ever seen."

The weddings at the town hall are priced between £115 and £190 and the number of weddings has increased by 11 from last year.

Wedding cake maker Lisa Notley, of Pulham, said that although this year has been slow, she has been flooded for orders next year, with 30 inquiries already.