Can the Mother of the Bride wear a Fascinator

In Weddings by Joni

Am I too old to wear a fascinator?

Lots of the first questions that came up for me when I started thinking about my role at my daughter’s wedding had to do with what was appropriate for my age. 

So, at 70, can the Mother of the Bride wear a fascinator?  A fascinator adds fascination to your head and face.  It is light-weight and fun.  So, yes, there are no upper age limits for when a fascinator is appropriate.  If it’s a dressy event then a fascinator is ideal for women of all ages.

Styles have changed since I married.  But I don’t want to wear anything too modern that would make me look silly as an older woman.  I want to look aware of contemporary styles but not ridiculous.  And I want to wear the headgear, not the headgear wear me!

Older woman wearing a bright pink wedding fascinator
Trying on the Jess fascinator with my hair down

So I tried on a few fascinators. You can see the results of my fascinator try-ons here: Jess, Amy, and Eva.

I’ve made a short video of each try-on too. Pretty poor quality, I’m afraid, but I’m learning. They will improve!

Jess fascinator video.

Amy fascinator video.

Eva fascinator video.

I hope these help you decide if a fascinator is right for you.

Here are the questions I had before I tried a fascinator on.

  • What keeps the fascinator fixed in place?

A small fascinator might simply be attached to a comb.  Push the comb forward into your hair to keep the fascinator high up on your head.

Larger fascinators will have attached to a hairband or hairband and comb.  The trick is to conceal the band but keep the fascinator clearly on show.  Choose a narrow band with a colour similar to your own hair.  If you are using a hairdresser tell her about the fascinator in advance and ask her to style your hair so that it covers the band as far as possible.  Push the hairband deep into your hair against your head and ensure it sits comfortable behind your ears.

Some fascinators have an elastic strip instead of a hairband.  This strip needs to tuck behind your ears and under your hair at the back.  So this limits what hairstyle you can have as you do not want the elastic at the back of your head to be noticeable.

  • What hair products should I use when wearing a fascinator?

You need to make your hair less smooth otherwise the fascinator will slip out during the hours you are dancing and chatting.  To achieve this, wash your hair 24 hours in advance, never on the same day.  Use products on your hair that give it lift.  Put your fascinator into your hair before the product is completely dry.  This way the hairband gets locked into position. 

Backcomb the top of your hair if you have sleek hair.  Backcombing forms tangles that will help to trap the hairband.  Once your hair is styled and the fascinator in place use hairspray.  This makes your hair sticky enough that the styling doesn’t drop out and that means the fascinator stays in place too. 

Much as you may love your smooth hair this is not the day to say no to hairspray.  The smoother your hair is naturally the easier it is for the fascinator to slide out taking your style with it. 

A ribbons and feathers fascinator in navy worn with neatly tied back hair is ideal for a Spring wedding.
Amy fascinator with medium length hair drawn tightly back from the face

I’m not keen on hairspray but hey, you’re at the Oscars.  Normal rules don’t apply.

  • What are the best hairstyles with a fascinator?

All hats and fascinators look really good with short hair.  That’s because the shape of the headgear is clear and noticeable. 

If you have mid length hair, either take it back cleanly from your face and secure it at the back of your head, or at least tuck one or both sides of your hair behind you ears.  In this way your neck, face and fascinator are given prominence.

If you have long hair twist it into a low bun or chignon.  You will probably need help from a bridesmaid for this unless a hairdresser is available on the day.  It’s worth practising this style a few times to know exactly how to do it and secure it and to check you look good once the fascinator is in place.

  • Which side of the head do you wear a fascinator?

Traditionally women’s headgear sits to the right so that the man on their arm can wear a feather in his cap, should the mood take him, to the left.  As feathers for men are not a big fashion statement these days you don’t need to worry which side the fascinator sits. 

The best way to decide is to establish which side of your head your parting appears and wear the fascinator to cover the parting.  This evens up the volume of your hair and means the roots are not (much) on show.  Obviously if your hair doesn’t have a parting, or is parted in the middle, you can position the fascinator either side.

Some women wear a fascinator perched on the front of their hair.  This is a difficult look to achieve without feeling a bit foolish so personally I would council older ladies to pop the fascinator to the right or the left. 

A small fascinator such as a flower covered with a tiny piece of net veil can look very chic pinned just above one ear or a little higher.

  • Can I wear a fascinator if I also wear glasses?

I’m going to say that simple word ‘No’ to this idea. 

If you need to keep your glasses on all the time, or if you will be wearing them quite a bit during the day, then just don’t go there! 

A fascinator will cause you no end of hassle as the hairband needs to sit neatly out of sight behind your ears.  But that’s exactly where your glasses sit too. 

Be warned, they will fight for position and if the glasses win then the fascinator will start to slip off.  If the fascinator wins the day, you will find your glasses are sitting at an odd angle with the arms or ‘temples’ sticking upwards.  Neither look is what we want the roving photographer to catch. 

So, sorry ladies, fascinators are best not attempted if you wear glasses.

Pale pink net or crin fascinator worn by an older woman for a wedding
I’m trying on the Eva fascinator in the same colour as my dress
  • What’s the best colour fascinator to wear for an older woman?

If you have dark hair almost any colour will look good.  But many of us have grey hair and should therefore avoid headgear with a yellow tinge. 

For a modest look choose a colour the same as, or toning with, your dress. 

For a more confident look choose something in a bold colour or black, that contrasts with your dress. 

Fascinator, bag and shoes all in the same colour have a matchy-matchy look which is ideal at a 60’s retro wedding but, depending on how confidently you wear them, either looks very up to date and fun or alternatively looks as if you haven’t noticed we’re in the 21st century now.

  • Can I wear a fascinator in church?

Whereas a hat is (reasonably) easily removed, a fascinator definitely is not.  It’s there for the duration.  Stop thinking about it.  As mother of the bride you will sit in the front row during the service.  Sure, a jittering feathery fascinator can be a bit of a diversion to those immediately behind you.  Too bad.  They’ll move until they get a good view of the bride and groom.  This is the one day you get to wear the most striking hat of all the guests.  Enjoy.

  • Can I wear a fascinator at the wedding meal?

Large hats are removed while eating but fascinators are not.  Part of their continuing popularity is that they are light enough to wear for hours.  They do not make kissing (whether on the lips or the cheeks) difficult and you can read the order of service and see what you are eating without impediment.

  • Are fascinators expensive?

Worried that you might be wasting money on something you never wear again? Don’t think twice about it. One of the really great things about fascinators is their low price. I’m sure you can buy very upmarket expensive ones from designers but, if you are like me, you’d rather give the happy couple a nice cheque than spend a few hundred on a hat.

The fascinators I have tried on all come from John Lewis & Partners. That’s a UK based store famous for its quality and ‘never undersold’ pricing. It ships worldwide and you can pay in most local currencies without any surcharges. Coming in at an average of £35-40/ $40-50/ E40-45 you can still give your daughter a nice cheque too.

Choosing your first fascinator

Try lots of fascinators before you make the final decision of what to wear on your head.  You will not be the only woman wearing one on the day   If your fear of fascinators is that they will make you look like Rudolf at the office Christmas party, stop worrying.  Try some on – you will be pleasantly surprised how elegant you look.

Other questions you may have:

 Can I wear a fascinator with long hair?  As long as you balance the look then you can definitely combine long hair with a fascinator.  A mid to larger sized fascinator will look best and should be worn to one side to give an interesting diagonal line to interrupt the vertical look when you wear your long hair down.

Can I wear a fascinator with an updo? This is less simple than you might imagine.  A low bun or chignon will be a much better style because then the fascinator gives the height your updo would normally provide.  If you build on top of an updo there’s a risk you will look like a queen in a coronet.  Your head might just become too high.