On the long list of bridal accessories to match your wedding dress, wedding shoes are probably at the top. For some brides, finding the perfect wedding shoe is equally exciting to falling in love with the perfect wedding dress—they’ve been dreaming of the picturesque pair to add to their shoe collection since they were little. For other brides, scoring a solid wedding shoe is as simple as considering comfort (which is key no matter how much you value style). At the end of the day, your wedding shoe has a big role to fulfill. You have to like them, yes, but you also have to want to wear them—for a solid 15+ hours (think about that!). So how do you find the perfect wedding shoes? Here, we asked top bridal stylists to share the major dos and don’ts of choosing a wedding shoe.
Do: Find your dress first
Even if you’ve stumbled upon the wedding shoes of your dreams, halt, if you’ve yet to find the wedding dress of your dreams (though if you really love them, you can buy them “just in case”). The reason why is that you want your wedding-day shoes to complement your dress in every aspect—style, color, detail, etc. The length of your dress matters too. If you have a shorter dress, your shoes can serve as a statement accessory—adding color, glitz, glam, whatever you feel your ensemble is missing. If your dress is on the longer side, your shoes can serve more of a comfort purpose, and how seamlessly they match might be less important. Another reason to buy your dress first is that you’ll need your shoes at each of your dress fittings. “This gives your dressmaker or tailor the exact height of your wedding shoes, so he or she has the information in their records,” says Devoreaux A. Walton, style expert and consultant at the Poise Pursuit. “Your dressmaker or tailor will adjust the length of your dress based on your wedding shoe height for the perfectly polished look!”
Don’t: Wait until the last minute to find a shoe
While it’s ideal to find your dress before buying your wedding shoe, you should be considering them around the same time—not just because you need to figure out how to match, but because you will need the shoes for dress fittings and alterations. “How high your heel is and how much of the shoe you want to show will be important information for the seamstress or tailor to adjust the length on your dress,” explains Burju Perez of Burju Shoes. “If you start your search for the perfect shoe early enough you will also have options to customize to your liking.”
Do: Shop around
To avoid both waiting until the last minute and finding your wedding shoe too early, you’ll want to set aside a lot of time to browse the websites of large-scale retailers like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Nordstrom. “Many stores carry far more inventory online compared to in store and, by shopping online, you can access a wider range of shoes to start paying attention to details you like and dislike,” Walton says. Once you find potential suitors, you can narrow down your search to a select few that may or may not be available when it comes time to make your purchase.
Don’t: Buy online
While online websites are an easier way to explore styles and get a feel for what’s available at your local stores, experts warn against purchasing a wedding shoe online. “This is a pair of shoes that you’ll be standing in for hours, so it’s imperative to try out the shoes first and feel how comfortable they are to stand and walk around in before you swipe your card,” says Jessica Chen, wedding expert at WeddingDresses.com. “Buying your wedding shoes in-person also allows you to check where the hemline of your dress would fall when you wear them, so you can avoid stylistic faux pas.”
Do: Know your venue
Just as you check the weather to make sure you’re wearing the appropriate footwear before venturing outside every day, Chen urges brides not to forget to consider their venue when selecting their day-of shoes. “This is especially true if you’re holding the event outside,” she says. “Your wedding venue will influence how much heel you should wear, since trying to look graceful while walking through sand on a beach is much more difficult in heels than strolling down an aisle in a church.”
Don’t: Be afraid of colors aside from white
Like any other style decision you make for your big day, what color shoes will depend on what kind of bride you are. For example, if you’re more classic and traditional, you’ll likely be drawn to traditional whites, champagnes, ivories, and nudes, but if you’re slightly less traditional, don’t be afraid go outside the box in the color department. If you want to step it up a little more, Perez suggests considering metallics like silver, gold, or rose gold, which can enhance the embellishments on your dress or the jewelry you want to wear. “Metallic shoes add a little more glitter and shine to catch the eye,” she says. Some want to add that “something blue” factor and may consider anything from pale to royal blue as a shoe option.
For those who want to be bold with color, there are a number of ways Perez suggests tying it in so it all makes sense. “If your bouquet has a color you can match your shoes to it—for example, some red shoes to go with those red roses or yellow sandals to match those yellow tulips.” You can also match your groom. “If he has a color for his suit, tux, vest, or tie, you can add that color to your shoes as a way to match your hubby to be,” adds Perez.
Do: Keep your style consistent
Since it’s unlikely that you’re buying your shoes and dress in a set, maintaining a consistent style (and keeping this in mind while shopping) is important if you want to look your best, says Chen. “If you’re going for a more vintage or retro look, make sure to match the style of your shoes to the same era.” She also urges the importance of maintaining consistency in regards to detailing, specific materials, and any shape used for the shoe that recall a certain time period.
Don’t: Forget to prioritize comfort
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget about comfort. “We always focus on the style, which is of utmost importance, but if your feet are so in pain that you need to get those shoes off in order to enjoy yourself…well, what is the point of having them?” says Perez. Your first consideration, where comfort in concerned, should be heel height— the higher the heel, the more pressure goes on the ball of your foot. Perez suggests considering a slightly lower heel height or a chunkier heel that will take some of the pressure off the balls of your feet and keep you standing and dancing a lot longer. Next, try to find a shoe that has some, if not a lot, of padding. Lastly, consider width. “Some of us have wide feet, some narrow and unfortunately for some, they suffer from the dreaded bunions,” explains Perez. “Shoes that have laces or buckles offer adjustability in width which allows a perfect fit for anyone who suffers from any of the aforementioned issues.” Bottom line: On a day and night when you’ll likely be on your feet twice—if not three or four times—as long as you normally would, you need comfortable shoes.
Do: Try even after you buy
As long as your shoes are returnable, try them on at home (preferably indoors on a clean, carpeted surface). Perez recommends keeping them on for at least an hour while standing. “If you are not able to stay standing on your feet with them for at least an hour, they are probably not a good option for you,” she says. “They will not be comfortable during your whole wedding ceremony, photography sessions, and reception.”