DIY Bride
by Sheila Scobba Banning

The first hat I ever made was the one that I wore to be married. There are plenty of frothy bits of net and feather on the market now, but in 1993, the only bridal hat available was plain white straw with a flipped up cowboy brim. Since my wedding would be held on a beach in Southern California, that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

I wear hats most days, and always for special occasions, so it was unthinkable that I would be hatless for my own wedding. Hats and fascinators are more than accessories to me, they are a celebration of life. People who know me are perplexed and disappointed any time my head is unadorned. From my childhood daisy-covered Easter hat to the black beret with ostrich plume I wore for my college yearbook photo, hats have always been with me.

Channeling Scarlett O’Hara, I decided to use the pieces left over from the alterations on my wedding dress to make a matching hat. The foot of tulle and ribbon-trimmed train cut from the bottom of my dress and the crocheted lace trim I had removed from the sleeves provided most of the material. I began with my vision of a medium-brimmed portrait-style hat set at an angle with a partial veil that could be lifted. Pinning the white sinamay oval to a styrofoam head, I started building, using the lace to outline the open-weave base, adding a ruffle and fan at the back and crafting a tulle rose for the up-tilt side.

For the ceremony, I added a fresh pink rose beside the one in tulle. At my musical cue, I adjusted the hatpin and walked toward my husband, the veil ending just above my smile.

PHOTO: Here comes the bride. Newport Beach, California, 1993. Photo by Figge Photography.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love hats! I collect both vintage and modern hats, and I make fascinators and hats for weddings, parties, and charity events. I really do wear a hat or fascinator almost every day, with enough in my closet (or spilling out) to fill out nearly a full year without repeating. This was a tough prompt mainly because of all the hats I might have chosen to write about.


Sheila Scobba Banning
 is the author of  Terroir,  Intersections, and the YA Carter Bros mystery series as well as award-winning short fiction and  essay. She throws fabulous parties, wears vintage clothes, and creates and collects hats and fascinators. Sheila lives in California with her husband, sons, cats, reptiles, and the occasional stray.