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Wedding Hats and the Etiquette of Wearing Them

When getting married in a spectacular location, such as a romantic castle wedding venue, it is nice to follow tradition and take the opportunity to adorn creatively designed hats and accessories. The Mother of the Bride, is the one lady who, at a wedding, will plan her outfit to the last minuscule detail to ensure she looks suave and sophisticated for her daughter's wedding and a beautifully fashioned hat can be a crowning glory.

Although not as customary as days gone by, the wearing of hats to a wedding is still a piece of tradition, especially for the Mother of the Bride, which can add a distinction to the occasion. Special hats can be purchased specifically for the Mother of the Bride, Groom's Mother, Bridesmaids, and the Bride herself.


The variety of hats available is immense today with everything from fascinators to full-brimmed floppy hats, obtainable in a multitude of colours and shades. Made from wonderful material such as silk, chiffon, satin, lace, wool, and ornately decorated with bows, beads, crystals or flowers, the choice is endless and the Mother of the Bride will be sure to be able to find a hat, which can emulate royal wedding elegance and be as spectacular as the wedding venue.

resized hat

There remains today, etiquette to wearing hats which has passed down through the generations from a time when it was an everyday occurrence for both men and women to wear hats daily and in this modern time, many old protocols have been long forgotten, so what is the protocol for hat wearing?
Dating back generations, it is considered polite for a gentleman to 'doff' (tilt) his hat when passing a lady and to totally remove his hat, when stopping to speak to a lady, when indoors, at a funeral or when a funeral cortege passes.

For ladies it is not necessary for them to remove their hats because they are an integral part of their outfit and not classed as an accessory, although if someone requests that a lady removes her hat because it is obscuring their view, then it is polite to oblige.
The Mother of the Groom should always ensure that the hat she buys is smaller than that of the Mother of the Bride, as social etiquette dictates that guests should never out-shine their hosts. It is also the Mother of the Bride who will dictate when it is acceptable for ladies to remove their hats at a wedding, as when she removes her own hat, then it is alright for other female guests to remove their own.

resize portrait hatA rather quirky rule of thumb for wedding hats is also the time of day at which they are worn; Large brimmed hats are considered inappropriate and extravagant for morning or evening weddings, as it was considered there was little or no need for them when the sun was not at its strongest. The adornment on hats is also of importance, where traditionally ladies hats are decorated on the right hand side and men's on the left.


Everyone wants to look their utmost best at a wedding, especially if you are having photographs taken in beautiful wedding castle grounds, so confidence in selecting the style of hat to suit you best, where you feel comfortable, but look glamorous, is imperative. If you are tall, a hat with a wide brim will look much better than any tall creation, but if you are small in stature, select a hat which is a small structured affair, or even a fascinator.


Wedding photographs can sometimes be spoiled by guests wearing large brimmed hats which block out half of the other guests faces in the group shots, so do not be surprised if the photographer requests your hat be removed if it is causing a problem.


The Groomsmen also should be aware of the etiquette surrounding the wearing of top hats, these should be removed during the wedding ceremony, replaced for photographs (unless otherwise instructed by the photographer) removed again once entering the reception venue and left off for the duration of the celebration.

Wedding head-wear has changed over the years and one of the most popular items for ladies today, is the fascinator; these are decorative arrangements on a hair-band or clip, sometimes designed to resemble a miniature hat which is usually worn at an angle off the top of the head. These items can be extremely elaborate, incorporating lace, crystals, beads, etc; and are less conspicuous than a large formal hat, but elegant enough for even the most prestigious wedding castle venue.

Selecting the style and colour of your wedding hat can be as important as choosing your entire outfit, try mixing and matching shades, colours and styles; a wide brimmed hat looks far better in a contrasting rather than matching colour, but ensure to try on your entire outfit to make certain that the finished look is complimentary.
Look in magazines and milliners shops to get an idea of what you would like, and remember there are specialised outlets where spectacular designer hats can be hired rather than bought for the day.