Mother of the Bride: Getting your outfit right for the big day

So, your son or daughter is engaged and wedding plans are underway. The wedding day is getting closer, yet you have no idea what you should wear to such an important occasion. You are not alone. Many of our mothers-of-the-bride and mothers-of-the-groom go through the same thought process.

Where to start? High street or designer? Hat or fascinator? What colour to wear, bearing in mind the colour has probably already been chosen for the bridesmaids and maybe the other mother? What shoes? High heels for extra height or a classic court shoe with a lower heel? How important is the comfort of your footwear so that you can wear your shoes all day and still be wearing them on the dancefloor in the evening? Which dress? One that covers the upper arms and feels like ‘you’. Not only how to get this hat/dress/shoe combo, but how to create a complete outfit that you will be proud to wear to your son or daughter͛s wedding.

With so many things to think about, and so far from what you might wear in your daily life, not knowing where to start can be a headache! At Beverley Edmondson Millinery, we have a wealth of extensive experience with many of mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom”; from the extrovert and confident to the very shy and not wanting to stand out from the crowd; from step mothers wanting to look their best but not wishing to ‘out do’ the parents of the bridal couple; to simply those who have never worn a hat before and need that little boost so they feel comfortable with their chosen headpiece.

Below we have popped all our advice and our ethos into simple steps to ensure you can achieve the perfect outfit and look you want for the big day! There is no right or wrong thing to wear. The most important thing is that you stay true to yourself and still feel like you on the big day. Don’t feel you have to wear something just because someone else says you should if it’s really not for you… friends can be great for advice on such occasions but always be aware if they are pushing their tastes onto you and not considering you and your tastes. The most important thing is to feel comfortable!

beverley edmondson hats

Hat or dress first? Again, there is no right or wrong place to start. However, if you are an awkward body shape or particularly want a statement or patterned dress, it may be best to get the dress first so that your hat can be designed to complement the outfit. Just make sure you leave enough time – an awkward coloured dress or overly statement dress will hugely limit your options for headwear that can be purchased off the shelf. However, accessories can make an outfit, so the simplest dress with a statement hat, the right shoes and the right bag can sometimes make more of a statement than a patterned dress. Too much going on can sometimes be distracting.

Colour matching: There is such a thing as over-matching! Sometimes you need to decide whether your hat or your dress is going to be your statement as making too much of both can be a recipe for disaster. Colour matching the exact same tone for your hat, dress, bag and shoes can be too much and although it all perfectly matches, it can make an otherwise interesting outfit become rather bland and boring. Also if you are looking for a total one colour look, the different materials of your dress, hat and shoes will never be exactly the same, due to them being made of totally different fibre make up and will all take on dyes differently. An accent colour can be nice to bring in, or if you are not that brave, just different shades of the same colour will add depth, life and interest to an outfit.

Hat styles: There are many shapes and styles to suit all face shapes, statures and personality. At Beverley Edmondson Millinery, we are not big believers in ‘the rules’ that hats shouldn’t be wider than your shoulders and you should wear a round hat with a round face. Most hats will suit anyone so long as you wear the hat, stand tall, shoulders back, put on a smile and believe that you can wear the hat! Ever wondered why some people look great in all hats? It’s because they have confidence in wearing hats.

Now having said this, not everyone is always going to be comfortable, so our job is to find you a style that makes you want to smile, stand tall and feel confident. Some things to consider are: if you are short then a brim or trimming that sweeps upwards to give you the illusion of height will stop you from becoming lost under a hat, whereas if you are tall something with more width may be more flattering. On the wedding day you will be expected to greet and kiss the guests, so consider whether you need something that sits to one side so you are able to offer an available cheek to kiss, or are you happy to have a brim that makes you difficult to access and keep people at arms length!

If you are keeping your hat on for the meal, will you be blocking out anyone at the side of you from joining in the conversation or will you end up tickling their face with a feather? Generally we don’t think these things are necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day if someone else knocks your hat, it at least starts a topic of conversation!

Shoes and handbags: Shoes, bag and hat do not need to all match as long as your outfit coordinates as a whole then all three can be different colours if you wish. Often we recommend two items in a colour is enough to coordinate, again, you can over match! Bags are often left on a pew or under a table so it is worth considering how much attention you need to give to the precise colour when a toning colour will work just as well. If the wedding is held at your home, or in a hotel where you are staying, do you really need a bag?

Saying that, bags can make nice props to hold when photographs are being taken, or if you are nervous and fidgety, they give you something to do with your hands and to store tissues for teary moments. Finding a shoe in the right colour, style and fit can be a nightmare with many people settling for two of the three.

Here at Beverley Edmondson Millinery, we offer the Rainbow Club shoes and bags dying service. Not only is there a huge range of styles, from low heels to high heels with platforms, peep toes, lace and/or sparkle detail and optional shoe clips, but Rainbow Club are renowned for their comfortable fit. In the five years we have stocked them, we have never had a negative piece of feedback on the comfort of this shoe brand… even with the highest of heels! They are padded inside both at the sides and on the sole and some of them feel like putting your feet into a pair of slippers!

Not only that, they can be dyed to literally any colour under the sun! You are not limited by a colour chart, just bring us a fabric swatch of the colour you desire, or we can provide a colour from the hat we make and we will do the rest for you! We also stock heel stoppers to stop you sinking into grass and wobbling on uneven surfaces and heel sleeves to protect from scuffing.

Classic or contemporary? There is no right or wrong here, as fashions may change, but they also come back round again. Be you and be comfortable. A timeless look will always be classic and in style, but can limit you from having fun with your outfit. If you do choose something very contemporary, it may go out of fashion…think 80’s shoulder pads and Princess Diana’s wedding dress. But this doesn’t mean it is wrong; the event is being held at a moment in time, so why not dress for the time? As I always say… what do you want to see in the photograph on the mantelpiece in 20 years time? At the end of the day, that will be the only long lasting part of what you choose to wear beyond the wonderful memories of the wedding day itself.

Places we recommend to look for your dresses include Phase Eight, Hobbs, Jacques Vert and LK Bennett; all high street but carefully selected, and these brands offer a great range of fits and styles at reasonable prices. Alternatively, Suzannah Fashion,  Caroline Charles and Belulah are higher end brands but known for its great cuts and workmanship with stores in London and online. More locally, and for something slightly different or very traditional mother of the bride outfits and excellent customer service, we would recommend visiting Serendipity Fashions near Guildford, Melita of Cobham, Mulberry Silks in Farnham and Experience in Fleet. And if your buying online we love Bombshell and Gina Baconni.

For shoes, LK Bennett and Hobbs do a great selection, as does the shoe hall at House of Fraser. But if you are struggling for a colour, style and comfort all in one, don’t forget that we do offer the Rainbow Club shoe and dying service in store.

hats and fascinators

How long do you keep a hat on for? The tradition is that everyone should keep their hat on until the mother of the bride removes hers… so if you are the mother of the bride, do whatever you want! It really is each to their own. We endeavour to make all our hats, hatinators and fascinators fit you and be as comfortable as possible (the larger and heavier the style is the harder this is to achieve as we always have gravity to contend with!).

So, if you wish to leave your headpiece on well into the night, go for it! If it is an early spring wedding, hats may be designed to wear with a coat so may be perfect for the ceremony and outdoor photos, but may not work once you are inside at the reception and the coat comes off. In these situations we can make a small fascinator which still complements your outfit, is easy to wear and continues your desired look into the evening. Ultimately it͛s up to you, but no one will frown upon you if you take the hat off after the ceremony, after the wedding breakfast or if you don’t take it off until you go to bed!

Why not make the most of the opportunity to wear a hat or fascinator and keep it on as long as possible! Don’t worry that etiquette says that women should only wear hats indoors before 6pm and men should never wear hats indoors!

Hats don’t suit me: How many times do we hear this? Probably every day and several times over! As we get to know our customers we often find that they do in fact suit hats. Many are just a little afraid of them as they have never worn one before; they think they look like their mother in a hat, the only connection they have to hats is an old school hat, or, they have only ever tried on hats in department stores with a collection that has been made for the mass market with no assistant to help them. Let me assure you that millinery for weddings is a completely different ball game than any of the above.

Choosing your hat should be an exciting experience, not a daunting one. We are here to guide and advise you about hats, ease you in gently and give you the confidence to feel fantastic in them. Funnily enough most people who come into store saying that they don’t suit hats always leave with a hat… as we like to say, wearing a hat is all about mindset. “It’s what’s in your head, not what’s on your head” that is stopping you from wearing hats. That is what the team and I are here for. We truly believe that any hat can suit anyone if they have the right attitude to carry it off. With shoulders back, a smile and positioned correctly, you’ll be amazed what suddenly looks great on you if you just give hats a chance!

Designing your hat with Beverley Edmondson Millinery: For us to give you the very best service, we do advise making an appointment. There is no charge for appointments. An appointment allows you our one-to-one time and expertise and enables us to be prepared for your arrival as well as offering you guaranteed use of our fitting room and changing area to try your outfit on with any hats, to really understand  what shapes and styles not only suit you but also work with the shape of your outfit. Please get in contact to enquire on upcoming availability. Phone us on 01252 715039 or email

Appointments mean that you get the whole showroom to yourself and an hour of dedicated time with Beverley. You will have time to try different shapes and styles and look into colour matching with the intention of finding your perfect hat either from stock or produce a design and quote for a bespoke piece as well as looking into shoes, bags and other accessories if required. Appointments also give you access to a changing area if you wish to try your outfit on.

Alternatively, as always, you are more than welcome to pop in  during our browsing hours without an appointment. (See website footer for our current drop in hours)

All our appointments are free of charge and have no obligation, so please do make the most of this service. It is there to allow us to give you the best customer service and experience that we can and ensure you have the time and expertise to allow us to make you the best hat or headpiece that we can. We advise bringing everything that you have for your outfit so far along to consultation. This is to avoid any doubt on how well it will match, styles and shaping.

This should include dress, jacket, jewellery, handbag, wrap, shoes etc. If you don’t yet have some of these items that is ok. But if you have already purchased them we strongly advise you to bring them with you, so we can style the hat perfectly without having to guess how it would work with the other elements of your outfit! At the consultation we will go through the shapes and styles, narrowing down from your input and our expertise, from there we will look into colours and trimmings until you are happy with everything, from head fittings to a final quote.

For made to order hats and fascinators, we ask for a minimum 6 week lead time, but where possible, longer lead times are appreciated and allows you to have your piece completed and safely at home with you long before the event. Any hats in the boutique can be purchased off the shelf and taken away with you immediately, though many pieces in the shop can be tweaked and edited, or a secondary colour added at short notice to make them work for you if there is not enough lead time for made to order. So don’t panic if time is short!

Once your hat has been made, we invite you back into the shop to try it on and check you are happy with everything. Once you are happy, you can take it away, otherwise any tweaks or adjustments will be made until you are completely satisfied with your order.

Don’t forget that hats are a talking point! People will remember your hat or headwear over any dress or shoes for years to come as they are the crowning, but often much under considered, part of an outfit. As the wedding evening turns into a party, everyone will be wanting to try your hat on… dresses and shoes will never get the same attention! Hats complete an outfit and encourage you stand tall improving your posture, which in turn makes for better photographs. There are too few opportunities to wear hats these days so seize the opportunity and make the most of it! Enjoy creating you special outfit! It should be a fun and relaxed experience, not a stressful one! Plan early, book an appointment and let us take the worry off your shoulders!


Updated March 2020