Does the Mother of the Bride have to wear a Hat?

As weddings become more unique and modern and taste rapidly change, it can be hard to know the level of formality required for your daughter’s big day. In the past, it was understood that, on the whole, the mother of the bride should wear a hat – but different times mean different traditions.

So what are the unspoken rules today?

In reality, there’s no one commandment to follow, but there are arguments in favour of either decision that should be taken into account when deciding whether you ought to choose a hat – and if so, what style to choose.

When to wear a Hat

Many say that wearing a hat adds an extra level of elegance to an outfit, as well as completing the elegant look you’ve put together as an important member of the bridal party. The bride will have spent months carefully planning her outfit, headwear and make-up, so once the photographer brings everyone together for a family photo you want to be able to complement her look. And anyway, when else are you going to get the chance to get spectacularly dressed up in fabulous clothes and accessories?

What’s more, a hat or fascinator is a clever way to make most outfit choices look more spectacular. There are a number of choices – wide hat, cocktail hat, or fabulous fascinator – that add a certain finesse every time to any dress or two-piece outfit you choose to wear.

When not to wear a Hat

Don’t worry if you’ve tried a range of headpieces and just can’t find one to suit you. Your chosen mother of the bride look is second only to the bride’s choices in terms of importance, and people will be taking their cue from you. Liaise with the groom’s mother to come to a decision about not wearing hats at all – as etiquette generally dictates that if you choose no headpiece, your counterpart should not either.

When it comes to more up-to-date wedding plans – such as single-location events in a hotel, an outdoor wedding, or a simple ceremony at an alternative licensed venue – there’s no reason why you can’t also choose to break from tradition in terms of hat choices too. At a modern wedding, nobody will expect the mother of the bride to look like she’s just stepped out of a Victorian church service, so feel free to make a decision that suits you.

How to choose Headwear

You might never have worn a hat or fascinator before, so how will you be able to know which best suit you, as well as to find out which are the most appropriate for the event? For those with broad shoulders, try a wide-brimmed hat to balance your look. If you’ve got an oval face, choose a cocktail hat for the forehead, or hat with a wider brim. On the other hand, small faces suit half hats that only cover part of the head.

All adornments for your hat or headpiece are traditionally worn on the right-hand side of the head. This is because men tend to have any decorations on the left. What’s more, remember you will have to be meeting, greeting and welcoming new people to the wedding. Make sure your eyes and face aren’t obscured by an over-large or low-brimmed choice – and if you can see yourself doing lots of cheek kissing and hugging, you’ll need to make sure your hat has a smaller brim and is positioned high on the left side and lower on the right side.

Think about the Hair

If you settle on the hatless look, you can certainly make an impression with your choice of hairstyle. Nowadays, hairdressers can create a style that looks like a statement headpiece in and of itself – such as bow shapes, fully-braided up-dos or accessorised buns. Why not also try a jewelled hair slide, which adorns a great haircut and adds flair and style?

You will need to consider how much time you’ll be spending on your feet and enjoying the day, and whether you’ll have any moments at all to attend to your hair. Make sure you use enough product to maintain body and any texture that’s put into it. The same goes for if you do choose to wear a mother of the bride hat, as both headwear and time will gradually flatten your style throughout the day. Read our guide to perfect hairstyles for wearing a hat.