A Bride’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dress

Styled shoot – Leigh Hetherington Bridalwear.  Image: Sean Elliott Photography.

Choosing a wedding dress for most brides is probably the most exciting part of their wedding planning but for some it can be an overwhelming experience walking into the complete unknown. With so many wedding dress shops and styles to choose from, it’s almost impossible to know just where to begin. The wedding of your dreams often begins with the dress of your dreams so it is important to get this right.

With a wealth of experience from being in the wedding industry for over twenty years and having helped hundreds of brides find their dream dress, here are some tips and advice that Leigh Hetherington Bridalwear has put together that will hopefully help you to enjoy your journey to finding the perfect dress, one you fall head over heels about and a dress that is right just for you.



Mood Board Wedding Dress Images and Themes

Whether you are a traditional bride or a fashion forward trendy bride the advice is the same.

Be true to yourself, the wedding dress you have dreamed of should reflect you as a person. Start by putting some kind of picture folder together or scrap book of dress images and themes that you like the look of. If you are someone that revels in the limelight you might opt for something flamboyant and extravagant, if you are a more reserved bride you might want a dress that is understated and elegant or you might be a fashion follower and always looking at the latest trends.

Collect images that portray these ideals so that when you go to your wedding dress appointment it will be something that you can use to relay your ideas to your wedding dress advisor. It will be a good starting point for you both to work from.


Leigh Hetherington Bridalwear Hairpieces

What comes first? The dress or the venue?

When choosing your dress, consider your wedding venue; are you having a formal wedding, a garden party or a romantic themed wedding? Will it be in a Grand Hall, a Country House, on a beach or in a village hall for example. Think of how everything will come together, after all a wedding dress with a 10 foot train might look out of place in a village hall ( and probably won’t fit!)

Keep an open mind

It is okay to have ideas but try not to set them in stone. Many brides come into our boutique with what they think they are going to love and leave with something completely different. It’s much more productive for both the bride and your wedding dress advisor to have an open mind, then nothing is ruled out. Let your advisor guide you, after all they will have helped many brides find their dream dress.

A little tip to remember: some dresses do not have hanger appeal and could easily be dismissed, most of the time these are the ones that look fantastic on the body. Our philosophy at the Leigh Hetherington Boutique is to really listen to what the bride wants, advise and make suggestions that will hopefully ease them into enjoying their experience of trying on some beautiful dresses and finding ‘the one’. Choosing to visit a bridal boutique will mean you have their friendly and knowledgeable team on hand to guide you through their extensive collections and advise on what styles would best suit your body shape.

Dresses below (left to right) by Rembo Styling, Wtoo by Watters, Ellis Bridal.


Body Shapes and Dress Design Considerations

Did you know that an A-line dress works well for most body shapes, whereas a straight sheath dress would be best on a tall, willowy figure?

A pear shaped figure isn’t always flattered by a fishtail dress as it can accentuate the hip area (unless you want to accentuate these areas). We only give this advice as a guideline as pattern placement, bead-work and different necklines can completely change how a shape can look on your figure. We recommend our brides to experiment and try lots of different styles and shapes.


Dresses above from the BOHO Collection at Leigh Hetherington Bridalwear


Who to bring to the wedding dress fitting?

We advise brides to bring along only a couple of guests with them to be part of the choosing of the wedding dress experience. Any more than this can result in too many personal opinions and will only result in confusing the bride’s decisions. After all it is your big day!

When attending your appointment, it is best to come equipped with shoes, preferably a similar heel height to those you will be wearing on the day – this will give you an idea of how the dress will look. Flesh coloured underwear and a strapless bra is a must as this will sit under the dress and not show through light coloured fabrics.

If you have a vision of yourself on your wedding day with your hair in an updo or hanging loose in luscious waves, it might be a good idea to try and simulate this for your appointment, no need for it to be perfect, it’s just to help to give you an idea if it works with your dress choice. Specific hairstyles look better with certain necklines, you wouldn’t want to cover the only bit of detail on the dress with your long locks.

When should I look to buy my wedding dress?

Time is of the essence and your wedding dress appointment should not be left until the last minute. We advise that your wedding dress search should commence 8-12 months prior to your wedding date. This will give you enough time to purchase your dress and have fittings arranged several weeks before your big day.

If you are organising your wedding and your timescale is relatively short, most boutiques will have sale areas where they need to sell on their sample dresses to make way for new collections.

You may have grown up with the understanding that as a bride you must be married in white or ivory. I would say that although most brides still opt for ivory (as the traditional white wedding dress is no longer very popular) there is a proportion of brides that are open to other colour options. Blush pinks, champagnes, silver grey, gold and even multicoloured combinations are becoming more and more popular.

How easy is it to have a Bespoke Wedding Dress Design?

Times have changed and styles are not limited to full length dresses. There are no boundaries to where your imagination can take you. This is where someone like myself would step in. As head designer for the Leigh Hetherington brand I have been designing and creating not only collections of dresses for brides to view and try on but one-off creations for the individual. Over the last few years brides are becoming more and more confident to show off their personal style. I have created bridal trouser suits, jumpsuits, cropped top two pieces alongside your more traditional full length gowns and tea length dresses but nearly always with a contemporary twist.

We are so proud that our Leigh Hetherington brand is designed and created in the North East. We are finding that more and more brides are looking for British made dresses and goods. To complement our dresses we also create unique and beautiful headpieces and hand embroidered veils at our Newcastle studio.

Above Left: Leigh Hetherington Dress. Image Sean Elliott Photography

Start shopping early for your Wedding Dress and set a Budget.

We understand that not all brides have the budget to have a dress designed and created just for them so we made it our mission to house some of the most sought after labels in bridalwear. We chose designers that would sit alongside our own collection and offer brides alternative styles. From the USA we have Wtoo by Watters, fashion forward and glamorous, we have housed this designer for many years due to their innovative style and individuality. Rembo- Styling is designed in Belgium but made with love at their atelier in Portugal. This label has been inspiring brides worldwide ( and in the North East!) with their relaxed designs and beautiful, yet subtle detailing. Ellis Bridals is relatively new to our boutique but not new to the wedding dress industry, with over 100 years of designing and creating stunning wedding dresses and only available to independent luxury boutiques we knew we had to have this label. An Ellis dress is timeless, romantic with exquisite detailing.

Above Right: Leigh Hetherington Dress. Image Sean Elliott Photography


What do you think will be the future Wedding Dress Trends?

As a designer I’m always looking at for new things to inspire future collections. Our most recent collection ‘Be’ by Leigh Hetherington has a definite bohemian vibe with hints of Victoriana and elements from the 1970’s. The boho chic look is extremely popular at the moment as it is ideal for for any size wedding but more importantly at the moment for more intimate wedding parties due to the pandemic restrictions.

Looking forward, I’m in the midst of designing our new collection which is very exciting, I love the first stages of creating a collection, the inspiration, the gathering of beautiful fabrics, and visualising what something will look like. There will be more colour in this collection, I feel brides after lock down will want to celebrate with more colour. I have been inspired by the gowns in Brigerton although there is a fine line between designing a beautiful wedding dress and creating a costume. I look for elements that will give a regency dress a modern twist. I usually look at several things that inspire me and bring them together collectively to create something original.

It is a tough time for brides that have dreamed of having a large wedding with hundreds of guests, I feel it will be a while until these numbers are achieved again. We have had several brides that have had to compromise their wedding plans who decided to go ahead with a more intimate wedding. It ended up being perfect for them, surrounded only by their nearest and dearest. They are now looking forward to an after wedding celebration on a larger scale with friends and family when things go back to some kind of normality (and they get to wear their dress twice!)

Planning a wedding can be very exciting and sometimes challenging! Stay tuned to our wedding blog series where we will be interviewing more of our wonderful wedding suppliers!


Leigh Hetherington Bridalwear can be contacted at:

7 Old Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7JG

Tel: 0191 2605757