How to Choose Bridal Accessories – the Headpiece, Veil & Tiara: Advice from a Master Milliner

To find out what headpieces a bride should wear, we sent ace reporter Cindi Pearce to interview extraordinary milliner Ellen Christine. Here is what Cindi found out . . . .

1st Point: Big Gown / Small Headpiece
Brides sometimes forget that they are, perhaps for the first time ever, donning a formal gown, which can swallow them up if their bridal ensemble is not proportionate. Ellen explained that the headpiece “provides balance to all that skirt.” A full on gown with a little headpiece on the head doesn’t work because the bride looks bottom heavy and not balanced.

2nd Point: Change it Up
Ellen recommends that brides wear “transformers”, which means that there are several elements to the headpiece that can be removed. Detachable Veil - Bride “Wear something during that ceremony that can be changed for the reception. The elements that are integrated into the design can come off.”

On David Tutera’s bridal show, My Fair Wedding, Ellen created a “transformer” by presenting the bride with a lace cap combined with a short veil and fascinator (a small trimmed artistic hair accessory ). Then at the reception, the bride wore only the fascinator without the lace cap and veil.

  • Here’s a Tip in case it’s a Windy Day:
  • Keep the headpiece in place with a looped braid passementerie sewn underneath for bobby pins to go through. A comb and a band that goes around the head would also work as a finish to keep the headpiece in place.

3rd Point: Veiling as Trim
Ellen Christine suggests wedding fascinators may have a cage veil, which is, technically speaking, French veiling. “It is veiling, not netting.” Veil on Side of Head “I recommend a smidgeon of French veiling in the headpiece, even to the bride who won’t wear a veil, so that the headpiece is part of the ritual and tradition of wedding ceremonies. The veil does not have to come over the face.”

4th Point: Imagination Rules
Ellen pointed out that buying a bridal headpiece online works because, a bridal headpiece will fit everyone. Yet to make an outstanding headpiece requires imagination, creativity and an the ability to think outside the box, she explained. The hat (design) comes out of the brain. She would not produce the basic: crown/ brim /flower hat for everyone.

Presently, Ellen Christine is working on a floral bridal coronet featuring beads and petals. “We make all the flowers ourselves and get to incorporate a lot of different elements (into the design.) It looks like a floral collage.” She so much enjoys hat making that what she is working on is often her favorite at the moment. Ellen also loves working with brides. “Contrary to popular opinion, the bridezilla does not exist for me.”
Cindi notes that it is “a glorious time for hat connoisseurs to access the coveted, hand constructed designs of the ingenious and imaginative milliner Ellen Christine.“ Vanity Fair magazine just stated that the hat is the ”most coveted accessory for Fall” (p. 168, Sept 2012)

5th Point: Bridal Trends Change
The current trend in bridal headpieces is swinging back to the traditional veil after passing through the nothing-on-the-head stage, the fascinator with little flowers and feathers phase and the bird cage veil stage. As noted above, Ellen Christine suggests a transformation option: a traditional veil that can be removed after the ceremony with a French bird cage veil, which can be left on for the reception. Wearing a tiara was once very popular and some brides still opt for them.

Ellen Christine predicts beads are strong this year. She does hand-beading at her studio: “We love beading! It gives an element of distinctive couture to a headpiece. . . . We do a feather and flower combination that complements but doesn’t mimic the (bridal) bouquet. Above all you do not want matchy-match. That’s so 1963.”

6th Point: Which Comes First? The Bridal Gown or The Headpiece? Answer: The Shape of the Gown.

Ellen’s non-bridal customers generally choose their headwear first and then their outfit. However, with brides, she recommends that the woman try on various bridal gowns in different silhouettes. “When the bride has made a decision on the silhouette, although she may not have picked her dress yet, then she can concentrate on picking out a headpiece. The bride needs imagination, and to know what her face can take, know how she is going to wear her hair and what accessories she will be wearing.”
When the headpiece is chosen, Ellen said this is a special moment. “As soon as you put the veil on the bride’s head it’s THE moment because she knows she’s going to get married.” And tears are often shed.




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2 Responses to How to Choose Bridal Accessories – the Headpiece, Veil & Tiara: Advice from a Master Milliner

  1. Gerry says:

    A bridal headpiece is an essential part of wedding accessories, and you need to buy it carefully, so that it matches perfectly with the bridal gown, and help you provide a beautiful look on the wedding day.

  2. Donnas Robet says:

    The blog were great i how to choose the wedding accessories