Pulling together your entire wedding day ensemble might start with the gown but, for many brides, it's the shoes that make or break a look. Finding a footwear option that’s special, comfortable, and aligned with your vision isn’t always easy, which is why some brides choose to make their dreams come to life with a custom wedding shoe.
Also called a “bespoke” shoe, custom wedding shoes are a great option because you can create exactly what you want, explains the co-founder of Margaux, Sarah Pierson. “There's so much thought put into each detail of what you're wearing for your wedding, and that focus shouldn't end with your dress. Shoes are an important part of any outfit, and your wedding day is no exception.”
Meet the Expert
Sarah Pierson is the co-founder of Margaux, a size-inclusive footwear brand that offers custom, made-to-order wedding shoes as well as everyday footwear.
However, before you dive into creating a one-of-a-kind piece, designing a shoe isn’t as straightforward as picking up a pair of pumps. From the cost to the timeline and extra helpful tips, here’s everything you need to know about creating a custom wedding shoe.
Why Go The Custom Route?
There are a lot of different reasons why brides might choose to go the custom route. Perhaps they can’t find a heel in the perfect color to match their accessories, or maybe they picture a style with certain embellishments. “It's such a unique experience to customize the fabric and color to suit what you've envisioned in your mind—or match other details of your wedding, be it your dress or a special design element,” Pierson says. “There's the intangible part of how special it feels to know this particular pair was created just for you and to be worn on your special day.”
And outside of style preferences, custom shoes are a great choice for those with extended shoe sizes, since many options for sizes 11+ are limited. Pierson also notes that you should never sacrifice comfort when selecting your wedding shoes, and opting for a custom pair can help ensure you wear something that feels as good as it looks.
Take Margaux, for example. “By offering a silhouette and construction that we know is designed for all-day wear, and then letting a bride pick her preferred color and fabrication, we're making sure she doesn't have to sacrifice comfort or style,” Pierson explains.
What to Consider When Creating a Custom Shoe
Before you start, Pierson notes that you should have a “clear, cohesive vision” before digging into all the options. Why? Well, the possibilities can be endless and might get a bit overwhelming. “You're the one deciding if you prefer blush satin or suede, or if you'd like the ivory lace or smooth Nappa leather better,” she explains. “There's not just one blush pink or ivory available… [and] those options are exactly what makes designing a custom bridal shoe so special, but sometimes makes your final selection difficult.”
Another helpful tip is to pay attention to the rest of your ensemble and day-of decor. “We've seen that certainty in a visual identity is helpful for brides—you need to know what really speaks to you as the customization process takes time and foresight," Pierson notes.
Once you know exactly what you want your shoes to look like—from color to material to height to embellishments—you can start creating. Many custom retailers will let you select most of the details including the style, heel type and height, color, fabric, sole color, adornments, engravings, and more. And if you’re looking for something super specific, Pierson says reaching out to the company is a great idea, since many will work with you to make your vision come to life.
How Much Does it Cost to Create a Custom Shoe?
Prices can vary wildly depending on the silhouette and special details, Pierson explains, so before you start working with a shoe atelier, you’ll want to take a good look at your budget to see how much you're able and willing to pay for your shoes.
Since bespoke footwear takes more time and effort, you should expect the price to be higher than if you ordered a premade pair online. Typically, custom offerings start around $200 and can go upwards of $1,000. Margaux’s selections are more affordable, with ballet flats around $220 and heels starting at around $380. Just remember: The more bling, the higher the price tag.
The Timeline for Creating a Custom Shoe
Since custom wedding shoes are made-to-order, you can’t expect them to ship overnight, Pierson says. “If you're in a rush or have a wedding coming up soon, waiting a couple of months to receive your finished pair might not be an option.” The process can typically take anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, so it’s a good idea to start designing your shoes ASAP to ensure there’s wiggle room for shipping or manufacturing delays.
“Your shoes can be just as important as the dress, so don't rush the process,” Pierson says. “Be as thorough as you were when dress shopping, from searching through inspiration photos to considering all your options before officially placing your order.” That said, you need to be aware of the timing and avoid starting the process too close to your wedding day. A timetable less than four months from your wedding date could result in the shoes not arriving for the celebration or not allowing you the chance to really break in your heels.
Whether you’re 100 percent set on custom wedding shoes, or you’re still considering the options, here are a few more helpful tips from Pierson to keep in mind.
- Explore different colors and fabrics as you get started. Since bespoke wedding shoes are an investment of your time and money, make sure you get something truly special. Don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and really opt for something outside the box.
- Check the return policy. Since many custom shoes are not returnable, it’s important to ensure you’ve thoroughly factored all your decisions, and paid attention to the dimensions of the design prior to ordering your footwear.
- Compare the shoes you’re designing with your day-of aesthetic. Have your Pinterest boards or planning binder out as you play around with your shoe options. This will ensure every little tweak you make is cohesive with the rest of your look.
- Keep your other accessories in mind. It’s a good idea to be able to look at your dress, veil, and jewelry—whether it’s in person or simply in photos—while designing, in order to ensure your shoes compliment instead of clash. Practice continuity in the color, fabric, or metal hues to tie your entire look together.