On the long list of bridal accessories to shop for to complete your wedding day ensemble, determining the best type of bridal shoe to go with your gorgeous gown—and finding the perfect pair—is a top priority. For some brides, it’s the ultimate fashion quest—almost perhaps even rivalling that of the search for the dress—while for other brides, scoring a solid wedding shoe is as simple as considering comfort (which is key no matter how much you value style).
Whatever your priorities might be, at the end of the day, your wedding-day shoes have a significant role in fulfilling. You have to like them, yes, but you also have to want to wear them—often for long periods of time over a solid, 15-plus hour day (think about that for a moment). So how do you figure out what type of bridal shoe is best for you? We asked a few professionals to weigh in.
Many details go into finalizing your wedding day look—your hairstyle, your makeup, accessories—but second, only to the dress is your wedding shoes. The shoes you opt to wear on your wedding day are a big decision (you will wear them for hours on end), and there’s a lot to consider, such as heel height, style, and comfort level. Whether you’re looking to add a pop of personality to your ensemble or simply avoid aching feet, there are a few key steps when it comes to finding pumped up (or flat) kicks for the big day. Not sure where to start? Here are instructions on how to choose your wedding shoes.
How to Choose Your Wedding Shoes?
Buy Your Wedding Dress First
- Your wedding shoes should complement the style and formality of your dress first and foremost. You can’t guarantee that will happen if you purchase the shoes before finding your wedding dress.
- The length and cut of your dress will determine how much of your shoes will be visible and what type of shoe (and heel height) you should wear. If you’re wearing a tea-length gown, your shoes will get a lot more attention than if you’re wearing a floor-grazing dress with a long train.
Set Your Shoe Goals (and Budget)
- Before you begin browsing, determine how much you’d like to spend on your wedding shoes. Having a budget will help narrow your search.
- Think about what you want to achieve with your wedding shoes:
- Do you want your shoes to make a statement or be more conservative?
- Are you matching shoes with your partner?
- Does style or comfort matter most to you?
- Do you want to wear one pair of shoes all day?
- Do you want to invest in a quality pair?
- Many brides choose to let their shoes serve as “something blue,” while others would rather match their shoes to the colour of their dress or the wedding palette. Think about where you stand on the bold colour vs. neutral or white wedding shoe spectrum.
- Ask yourself if you’re a high-heels kind of person. If you often wear heels comfortably throughout your regular life, then you will probably be fine wearing heels to your wedding. If you can barely walk in heels, however, opt for what makes you most comfortable.
Consider Your Venue
- Keep the location of your wedding in mind when choosing your wedding shoes. Heels likely aren’t the best choice for a beach wedding.
- Be mindful of your venue: Many sets of stairs? Gravel pathways? Slippery dance floor? Consider these key details and how certain types of shoes will hold up in these environments.
Watch The Weather
- In case of inclement weather, have a plan B in mind for your wedding shoes. Wet grass, mud, or puddle-filled sidewalks won’t work well with dainty flats or sky-high stilettos.
- For soggy weather situations, considering wearing a pair of cute, rubber rain boots under your wedding dress—at least during the outdoor portions of your day, such as while taking portraits. If you face snow on your big day, furry winter boots make for fun photos when paired with your wedding gown.
- It can be tempting to purchase the first pair of shoes that you fall in love with, but we encourage you to shop around and weigh all your options before buying.
- Online inventory tends to be broader than what you find in store, so it’s a good idea to begin your search on the web and then shop in stores for your favourite styles.
- Consider whether the shoe will be comfortable enough to wear throughout the day and most of the night, too. Looking back on your wedding day, you’ll want to remember all of the special moments, not how much your feet hurt.
- Try preventative tactics for avoiding shoe pain, like applying liquid Band-aid in sensitive areas or taping your third and fourth toes together (trust us, it works!).
- Have flats or even chic sneakers on hand just in case your arches need to take it easy after a few hours on the dance floor.
Take Them to Your Dress Fittings
- If your dress requires alterations, make sure to take your shoes with you to each dress appointment. The seamstress will be able to tailor your dress to match the heel height.
- Seeing your shoes with your dress will also confirm that you like how they look together before the big day (and while you still have time to keep shopping).
Wedding Shoe Dos and Don’ts
Weddings and shoes: two of my favourite things! But while the idea of wedding shoe shopping (okay, ANY shoe shopping!) makes my heart skip a beat, finding the right shoes can be tricky. There’s more to it than just picking the first pair you see! Considering how much of your wedding day you’ll spend on your feet, the wrong footwear can make a big difference to your comfort and enjoyment. Here are some top tips and a few common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid!
DON’T assume they have to be white. Tradition might call for white satin wedding shoes, but these days, many brides are opting for shoes that express their style. That includes bold colours, unique shoe styles or intricate details. Let yourself fall in shoe-love! Pick a pair you will want to wear again and don’t be afraid to think outside of the white/ivory box. (Hint: They don’t even have to be heels!)
DO buy shoes that match your dress. While you’ll want to wear shoes that feel like you, it’s also important that they match your dress. The best thing is to find your wedding dress before buying your shoes. That way, you can make sure that the style, colour and detail are cohesive. Or – consider the opposite. While you don’t want a formal pair that mismatches a formal gown, going to a festive sneaker in a formal dress can be fun if that’s your style. Either match or completely un-match on purpose!
DON’T forget to include shoes in your budget. If you love designer shoes as much as I do, then they can be an expensive extra if you don’t account for them in your budget. Of course, there’s no need to spring for those Manolos or Louboutins if you’re on a tight budget. You can find some gorgeous shoes for less. Even so, you should still allow some room in your budget to find a pair you love and are comfortable in.
DO buy them before your first dress fitting. You’ll need to take your wedding shoes to your first (and all subsequent) dress fittings. That way, your dressmaker can get the exact height of your shoes and adjust the dress length accordingly as the alternations are done.
DON’T choose uncomfortable shoes. No matter how pretty they are, you will live to regret a pair of painful shoes. Think about everything you’ll need to do on your wedding day: walking down the aisle, standing and walking during your photo session, mingling and greeting your guests, dancing. You want to be focused on enjoying every moment, not the pain in your feet! Whether you choose flats or heels, choose something that you feel comfortable wearing for an extended period of time.
DO try them on before you buy them. For this reason, buying shoes online is a big no-no. You should be able to try them on and walk around in them before buying. Feel how comfortable they are, and if you’re able to walk in them without stumbling. Of course, if you’ve already tried a pair on and you know exactly what you want, there’s nothing wrong with buying online, but do some in-person shoe reconnaissance first or prepare to return in mass.
DON’T forget to break them in. Another common mistake brides make to only put their wedding shoes on, on the day of their wedding. Of course, you want to keep them pristine, but do wear them around the house or the office to break them in a bit. If you’re taking dance lessons, wear them there too. You’ll be able to get comfortable dancing in them and look like a pro for your first dance!
DO pack a second pair. Whatever your choice of wedding shoe, I would recommend purchasing a second pair as well. Even the most ardent heel wearer might find herself in need of a pair of flats to keep dancing in. Whether it’s something with a lower heel, a pair of pretty flats, or some sparkly flip flops, make sure you have a footwear Plan B. Heaven forbid you to break a heel!
Why change into a second pair of wedding shoes?
The concept of switching into a second pair of shoes for the wedding reception isn’t necessarily new, but it is growing in popularity. Depending on the style, having a second pair of wedding shoes is also practical, which will be much appreciated on the big day.
A certain shoe might look fabulous in photos but feel excruciatingly painful the minute you start moving. Having two pairs of wedding shoes gives brides the freedom to use one pair for portraits and the ceremony, followed by a more functional style for the reception when they’ll be doing the most walking and dancing.
If you can rock a pair of five-inch stilettos and still get down on the dance floor, then good for you! But if your wedding shoes are cumbersome or painful to move around in, it’s a good idea to opt for a more comfortable pair. If your dress is long, you probably won’t see them in photos, and you’ll be glad you didn’t spend the entire evening worrying about blisters and the like.
If you can’t see them, consider comfort first
If you really won’t see your shoes at all, to worry less about style and focus on total comfort instead. That doesn’t mean you should wear your everyday gym sneakers, though. Our advice is to pick a more comfortable shoe that you love and can wear them again and again after the wedding. It should be something that you find special it is your wedding, after all!-but that you know you can wear for hours and can get used to for years to come.
Be true to yourself
Comfort is important, but so is expressing your style and choosing something you love, the pro says. “If that means rocking out a stiletto, booties, or sandals, then do it. You should love your shoes and feel good in them!”
Think of it as an investment
If you’ve been eyeing a specific pair of shoes for years, this might be the time to splurge. If you can invest in a pair that you can see yourself wearing forever, then now is the time to do it whether or not they read as “bridal” is irrelevant. Tons of women wear nontraditional shoes on the big day since they’re hardly seen. If you love them, find them comfortable, and will wear them in the future, then they’re the perfect pair for your wedding.
Whether you lace, strap, slide, or shuffle into your wedding shoes, make sure they complement your wedding venue and formality, the length and style of your dress, and your level of comfort. Most of all, make sure your wedding shoes reflect your personality. Then make sure to show them off in proper style, and have a toe-tapping good time getting married in them on your big day.