How to Break in Bridal Heels, According to a Fashion Expert

Dance the night away without any discomfort.

bride walking in heels

Photo by Erich McVey

Though every bride may dream of walking down the aisle, no one ever wants to be stuck in a pair of uncomfortable heels for the entirety of their wedding day. Like finding the perfect dress, finding the perfect pair of bridal heels is an important task; but with so many gorgeous options to choose from, you may come across a shoe that's uncomfortable or even painful to wear.

So, how do you ensure that your day-of footwear is cozy enough to wear all night long? The answer is simple: make sure they fit well before buying them and, most importantly, ensure they're properly broken in ahead of the big day. In general, most heels are made from a somewhat stiff material, so breaking in your shoes will allow the fabric to mold to your feet, alleviating any tightness or discomfort you may feel while wearing them for long periods of time. 

For brides who need a bit of help with breaking in their heels, though, we asked fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff to share her best advice on how to achieve perfectly worn-in wedding day shoes. Ahead, here are all the tips and tricks you need to know to ensure a pain-free night of dancing, love, and laughter.

Meet the Expert

Rebecca Minkoff is a designer and entrepreneur who founded her eponymous clothing line in 2001. Today, Rebecca Minkoff is a global brand with a wide range of apparel, handbags, footwear, jewelry, and accessories. She also runs The Female Founder Collective, a network of businesses led by women that invest in women-owned businesses.

How to Break in Wedding Shoes

Before you start breaking in your wedding day shoes, it's important to make sure they fit well and are the correct size. More specifically, you want to have enough room at the front of the shoe for your toes to wiggle, without your heel slipping and sliding all over the place in the back. And once you've found the perfect pair of bridal heels, you should be all set to start breaking them in.

“First, I would scrape the bottoms to ensure they are not slippery or spray them with a clear hairspray if they are white,” says Minkoff. The sticky hairspray will increase your foot’s grip on the inside of the shoe, while also collecting a thin layer of dirt and dust on the bottom which can reduce traction. However, before you freak out about getting your brand-new shoes dirty on purpose, hear us out. No one will be looking at the bottom of your heels, and since new shoes can have frustratingly slippery soles, the last thing you want when walking down the aisle is to slip or trip.

“Then I would walk around inside for a few hours or find a good treadmill and take a little stroll,” Minkoff continues. “Once you start walking, you should notice where the pain is and see what you can do to mitigate it, be it band-aids or sole inserts.” It's also important to note that it may take more than one session to really break in your heels. If they’re really uncomfortable, start by wearing them around the house for short periods of time and gradually increase the length of time you wear them each day. But don’t overdo it! If your feet are in pain or start to blister, take them off and give them a break for a few days.

For heels that are just a hair too small or tight, you can also try stretching your shoes by putting on thick socks, slipping your feet into the shoes, and blasting them with a hairdryer for a few minutes. This will increase the elasticity of the fabric, allowing your footwear to conform to the contours of your feet. You should then walk around while the shoes are still warm and keep them on until they’ve completely cooled. Repeat this process two to three times to really stretch out the material, if needed.

How Long Does It Take to Break in Wedding Shoes?

Breaking in shoes is an individual process that varies in length from person to person and shoe to shoe. For that reason, the best thing you can do is listen to your feet. “Each person is different, so it truly depends!” says Minkoff. “Some have fairly strong feet that don’t blister easily, while others may need to spend more time breaking in the shoes prior to the big day.”

In some cases, you may find that your shoes are broken in after a couple of short wears, and with little damage done to your feet. In other instances, people with especially wide or narrow feet may have a more difficult time breaking in their heels. You’ll know your shoes are fully broken in when you can walk around and wear them for long periods of time without any discomfort. Of course, bridal heels are still heels, which means that they are inherently uncomfortable to some degree, but your feet shouldn’t ache or sting on your special night.

Minkoff also adds, “It’s as simple as testing them out and seeing if they are less tight and feeling more comfortable. If you can wear them around the house and not be in pain, then you should be in the clear!”

Why Should You Break in Your Wedding Shoes?

From the start of your ceremony to the end of your reception, you can expect to be wearing your bridal shoes anywhere from four to 12 hours. And while you will have some breaks, overall, it’s a very long day on your feet, so you want to be comfortable in your shoes. “A wedding is such an important and busy day for any bride, the last thing you want is to have blisters or sore feet,” says Minkoff. “Getting those gorgeous wedding shoes broken in ahead of the big day is definitely key.”

Additionally, breaking in bridal heels gives you the perfect opportunity to practice walking in them, and it'll help you get used to the height of the heel, which can prevent any embarrassing instances of tripping or stumbling during the ceremony or reception.

What to Do If the Shoes Won't "Break"

Everyone’s had that one pair of heels that won’t “break," no matter how many times they try, but what’s a bride to do when her bridal shoes won’t budge? “Personally, I would consider wearing them for the ceremony and then planning to change into something more comfortable for the wedding,” says Minkoff. “It’s a great opportunity to try out a cute pair of white sneakers or flats!”

Another option? Consider lining the interior of your shoes with a thin, soft fabric, or investing in a part of cushioned insert. Heels with especially aggravating straps or restrictive designs can be made more wearable with the addition of moleskin or an equivalent material. The best part is that there's an array of insert options available to choose from, so select a style that works best for your particular needs.

If your shoes are giving you blisters or rubbing your skin raw, but you still really want to wear them, you can also try applying moleskin or blister pads to the affected areas to see if that helps alleviate any pain or irritation. What's more, if your primary problem with your wedding shoes is that the straps rub your feet the wrong way, consider lubricating the skin irritated by the shoe with deodorant. Just as oil buffers the interaction between machinery cogs, so too will deodorant provide a cushion between your feet and your footwear of choice. This is a great tip to help avoid any potential blisters and will save you the trouble of having to find a bandaid to cover any sore areas.

In any case, it never hurts to bring a backup pair of shoes just in case your footwear isn't as comfortable as you think they are. “Find similar shoes of different heights, that way you can change to a lower heel as the night goes on,” says Minkoff. “Or give them up, and embrace dancing barefoot!”

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