Mother of the Bride – Choosing a Hat

Choosing a hat for your daughter’s wedding is an absolute joy!  Of course the age-old question is ‘What comes first? The dress or the hat?’  If the dress comes first, the decision on the colour of the hat is made easier. There will only be a few hats available in the shade you require, so trying them on will be a pleasure and a choice made fairly quickly.

It got me thinking, was this always the case? When my great grand-Aunt Charlotte heard her daughter, Maud Beatrice was to be married, did she worry about choosing a hat? Her sister, Fanny was a Milliner, maybe she helped with some advice.

On seeing the photograph of the wedding, I can’t help but focus in on Charlotte’s hat!

Wedding of Maud Beatrice Crocker and Arnold Carnegie Heron 20 October 1914

Wedding of Maud Beatrice Crocker and Arnold Carnegie Heron
October 20 1914

Charlotte Harriet Dinnis

Charlotte Harriet Dinnis

chd3 - Copy (3)

Wedding guest with a feather in her hat and an exotic boa around her shoulders.

It’s very feathery, and some of the other ladies in the photo also have prominent feathers in their hats.

I assumed this must have been the fashion in 1914, but it never hurts to check, so I got out one of my favourite books, ‘How to get the most from Family Pictures’ by Jayne Shrimpton.


How to get the most from Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton Published by Society of Genealogists Enterprises Limited, 2011

How to get the most from Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton
Published by Society of Genealogists Enterprises Limited, 2011











This book mentions “An appearance of luxury was accentuated by the exuberant style of Edwardian women’s clothing and accessories, especially the vast hats of the era” and goes on to say “the vogue for sweeping feather-trimmed hats and exotic boas and stoles lending an exotic air to regular garments.”

The Edwardian era officially ended with the death of King Edward VII in 1910, although it is generally considered to have ended with the beginning of WWI in 1914.

All this talk of hats took me back to my own daughter’s wedding, three years ago.  I went shopping with my daughter in Milton Keynes. I had already bought my dress, so it was just a case of matching the colour to the hat.

I loved it the moment I saw it, tried it on, and it was the perfect match.

cropped pic of me in hat

Looking at the photo of Charlotte at her daughter, Maud’s wedding I suddenly feel such empathy. The wedding of your daughter is so special, and although it’s not about you at all, the fact remains that you don’t want to spoil the photos. You know that these photographs are going to be looked at for … generations.

And great grand-Aunt Charlotte – I just wanted to tell you that from here in 2015, you look great! The hat is terrific, the outfit sublime, you did your daughter proud. I just wish the photographs were in colour.




About Jackie Dinnis

Welcome to my blog where I am enjoying meeting my family - past and present - one at a time. Join me as I learn who my ancestors were, where they lived, what their occupations were and what everyday life was like for them.
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5 Responses to Mother of the Bride – Choosing a Hat

  1. Becky B says:

    Hats make weddings – I asked everyone at mine to wear a hat and about 90% did. Was marvellous – fortunately though no real feathers these days.

  2. paulaacton says:

    I think historically the hat itself was probably quite plain but spent lots of time being ‘done up’ with feathers and lace, if you think about Pride & Prejudice were the younger sisters meet up with Lizzy as she returns from her visit to Charlotte where one of them asks what she thinks of their new hat and says it is plain but she shall make something out of it. I notice in your photo lots of the hats seem to be a similar basic hat but all decorated differently, I love the idea of them pulling out the hat and rearranging it for each different occasion, adding and taking away as fashion and outfit dictate 😀

    • I think you’re right Paula! I’m just reading a book about the diary of a Milliner from the 1860s and she talks about people coming into the store with their old bonnet and having it ‘done up’ regularly. Which seems like a sensible thing to do! I’ll be blogging more about this once I’ve finished reading the book 🙂

  3. Pingback: Review of My Year | Meeting my family

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