Say “I Do” to the Hat!

by Miranda Hilderbrand

It’s that time of year when wedding bells are ringing – for many brides, June is the perfect month for a wedding.  Historically, mid-April to mid-October is wedding season for many American couples, with the height being in June.  With the popularity of last year’s Royal Wedding, more and more brides and wedding attendees are setting their sights on hats to accentuate their wedding day attire.

The traditions of wedding hats started with the veil.  In ancient times, warriors would steal their brides and carry them away from her family. In an attempt to hide the woman’s identity, her face would remain covered by heavily layered wool or muslin veils until the couple had their first child and hopefully the blessed arrival would wash away any bad feelings. Talk about sweeping a girl off her feet! Oddly, the veil did become a symbol of transferring a bride from her family home to her husband’s home as well as being a symbol of the bride’s purity.

By the 1500s, veils became more fashionable in design and were shorter with a lot less layering. These veils were more transparent and shimmery and actually allowed the groom to see his bride.  This step forward led to veils being replaced by elaborate hats in the 1700s and beyond. Feather-trimmed, beaded and jeweled bridal head coverings became a visual symbol of family wealth.

One question that tends to pop up during wedding season is in regards to wedding etiquette. What are proper manners, which styles of hats are appropriate and so on. One thing to keep in mind in terms of hat and wedding etiquette is that many are based on old traditions.  You know the bride and groom far better than we do and are a much better judge on which traditions you should uphold and which styles you should chose. The main rule of thumb that we strongly believe should always be upheld by all guests is to never upstage the bride and groom – it is their day, let them be the shining stars.

There are some basic tips you may want to consider in regards to hat wearing at a wedding.  For men the main thing to keep in mind is when to wear your hat. If the wedding or reception takes place indoors, it is proper to remove your hat while in a building. However if the groom and the bridal party are wearing their hats at all times, take the cue from them.

For the ladies we have a few more tips, but as mentioned, many of these are based on old tradition. For many years in the UK, it was custom that ladies are not to remove their hats unless the mother of the bride does so, doing so would be considered disrespectful. Luckily today’s etiquette is a bit more flexible.  For instance, if you are wearing a specifically “daytime hat”, you may want to remove it as the sun sets. Also, when picking your hat for the event, try to find a style that will not obstruct anyone’s view.

With wedding season approaching it is the perfect opportunity to don a hat that is a bit more formal, take a chance on something you would not normally wear and add an aire of sophistication to your wedding day attire. As a side note: in America we tend to be more conservative than the Brits on formal occasions regarding hat styles. They have a tradition that allows more flamboyance than is the norm on this side of the pond.

By today’s standards, a bride can go all out with elaborate headwear or keep it simple with a lovely, sheer veil.  At Hatbox, we can meet all of your wedding hat needs – we will be offering custom work for brides, wedding party, mother of the bride and anyone else who would like a special piece for the big day. We will build your headwear from the ground up with care taken to incorporate your personal wedding fabric, colors, embellishments or anything that will complete your vision. We do recommend that you give us at least 3 months advance to complete your custom pieces.  Also, Hatbox is very honored to offer the beautiful work of Vivien Sheriff – a favourite milliner to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge formerly Kate Middleton along with Austin’s own Laura Del Villaggio of Milli Starr.