In Defense of “Bridal Shoes”


Something I thought I knew about weddings even before I got engaged was that “bridal shoes” are a racket and any sensible marrying woman would just buy a pair of dressy heels not marketed to the bride and save hundreds and end up with nicer shoes.

I no longer believe this to be true.

Because as I’ve previously lamented, a lot of “piece of art” shoes worthy of a bride (sorry, I just gagged a little) have monster heels.  Which are not practical for me, seeing as how my dress sweeps the floor with heels somewhere around 2 1/2″, but are also not practical for anyone, seeing as how you will have to be in those godforsaken foot-benders all day, and don’t start with me about how you’ll switch into fast flats or flip flops at the reception because you WILL trip on your hem and you WILL rip your bustle down and I WILL end up with my head up your skirt trying to re-bustle it with safety pins and a 99 cent sewing kit and I WILL fail [see generally, my sister's wedding]

If you try to shop for regular old heels with reasonable heels, your options dwindle quickly. And because we bizarrely associate “hard to walk in” with “fancy”, low-heeled shoes are often much more casual. Which might work for your wedding, and in that case, more power to ya.  But I still want pretty, unmistakeably formal shoes on my feet at my wedding.  Just… with a low heel, and comfort-in-mind design.

You know who sells a lot of options in that category? Bridal footwear lines.  When Zappos.com answered my parameters with just one page of results, and when a trip to Nordstrom yielded comments such as “I’m sorry, we only have those in a 6.5 and an 11.” – Salesperson, and “That shoes was crazy!” – Liz, I knew I had to suck it up and shop for things branded as Bridal Footwear.

Although, now that I’ve re-opened my heart to the possibility of shopping from websites like bridalshoes.com, I still have to, you know, pick shoes.

This is the sole hold-out from the Zappos.com search:

I honestly think half the reason I like this shoe is that the color is called “cosmic dust.”  But I think they might be too plain for me? I more want one of my bridal hootenaneers to wear the nickel variety.

I’m also inherently skeptical of any slingback shoes because I just imagine that strap digging into my ankle until I start bleeding all over the hem of my dress.

These are the tried-and-true bridal shoes that I wore with my dress at my fitting. I know they are exactly the right height, and the gold is tolerable, but I don’t know if I actually like the design of the shoe (I certainly find it snore-worthy in ivory) and I also have no idea if I can find a legitimate retailer that still has my size in stock. [Note to future brides: if you are getting married in the summer, you need to pretend you are getting married in June, or the June brides will snap up all the good stuff before you even look for it.]

Then there are a bunch of shoes that are a variation on a theme: d’Orsay-esque with a little brooch on the toe, too expensive:


That last one is approaching reasonable in price, actually ($82) but it is also the one I like the least. If I were not worried about the heel of the Badgely Mischka one being too high and me having too much trouble walking in a shoe without sides, it would be kind of hard to resist the splurge. Mostly because I love that color (it is called “gold platinum”, or “crack to someone with a mixed metallics as her wedding colors”).

Because I don’t know much about shoes, I feel like I need to try some more styles on my actual feet in an actual store and walk around in them. But I learned yesterday that regular shoe stores don’t really carry the medium-heeled bridal shoes I have in mind. So I think I need to go to a bridal shop and try on their shoes? Doesn’t that sound like the LAST thing a savvy bride should do?  But it feels like the most sensible option I have at this point.

And yes, I am totally, absolutely going to buy those platform flip-flops. I don’t care how tacky they are, I want to DANCE.





    I wore those (in Dime) for my sister’s wedding and they DESTROYED my feet. Because of where the strap was placed across my foot, after 2 hours of standing and 5 hours of dancing (and I wore them for the bachelorette party and barrister’s, mind you), I developed a crazy inflammation of the joint capsule and needed to get steriods injected INTO THE JOINT OF MY FOOT (painful!!!!). I couldn’t wear sandals for the rest of the summer, I had to take 6 weeks off running, I wasn’t allowed to go up and down steps, and oh yeah, it hurt. A lot. Oh, and I spent at least $75 on co-pays for the podiatrist.

    So no. Absolutely not. I don’t care if I’m a freak incident, one of your bridesmaids might be too. Or you might. And a foot inflammation so bad you can’t walk on your honeymoon? Bad News.

    I will say, the back strap wasn’t really a problem.

    Have you tried Aerosoles? You have to go straight to their website, but it’s what I wore – they have reasonably priced low heeled options and pretty much everything on the site goes on sale. http://www.aerosoles.com/product1.asp?P=BOOKOFFAX

    • Thank you for the warning!

    • Holy pajamas. I was definitely a frontrunner for “wearer of those shoes” in the hootenany. Thank you for saving me pain and steroid injections!

    • I have those naturalizers and agree with every word Ellie wrote. Also, I got Nina Culver d’orsays with a 2.5 in heel that I loved and were affordable. I had to add an insert to stop slippage (petals) and seriously – it felt like heaven all day. I was so pleasantly surprised. (Note I also broke them in a few times, but didn’t have trouble those nights either.)

    • Oh good, someone else gave you that warning–I do think I have a pair of these for the company holiday party a couple years ago and yeah, totally destroyed my feet! Not friendly for the wide of foot for sure.

  2. I bought my wedding shoes at DSW, which had a little wedding section I’d never noticed before (probably had about 30 pairs of shoes to look at). Maybe another option to check out if you have near you?

  3. Yes! Wedding shoes are hard, for all the reasons you mention. Also hard on the bridesmaids. I had to talk my MOH down from some amazing shoes with 12cm heels. She loved them, but I knew she would be in agony after an hour.

    However…I did manage to find some non bridal shoes, that I’ll be able to wear again, by going slightly off piste and choosing coloured shoes that match my bridesmaids dresses There are some kitten heel shoes around that are pretty and non-wedding. You might find them too informal though. My dress is pretty formal and I am wearing these: http://www.kurtgeiger.com/online-shop/199187-kg-adalia
    I love them, and crucially, they are really effing comfortable.

    Have you thought about shoe clips? You could transform some otherwise too plain or too informal shoes for the wedding, and then voila, post-wedding you have some wearable shoes.

    • I was going to say pretty much the same thing. Wear the heels you had on when you tried on your dress, but fancy them up. Either with shoe clips OR find some costume jewelry brooches you like and glue them on. Maybe paint the shoes a more interesting color if you’re feeling saucy.

  4. Go visit your local dance wear store (Bloch, Capezio etc) and look at ballroom/dancesport and chorus shoes, ballroom particularly as you will get your metallic colours (and they won’t all be black). Those babies are MADE to be comfortable and worn for hours and fit your foot amazingly. They wont be cheap, no, but I know people who now wear nothing but Salsa shoes because of the comfort factor (even with 10/15cm heels!).

    • Wow, going to a dance store is a BRILLIANT idea. Also, definitely go try on the shoes. You HAVE to. You need to see how they look ON you and feel how they fit. I’d agree on checking DSW, too.

      Tip: You could try looking for a shoe that has a higher heel than you want but with a platform, so that the heel doesn’t feel as high. I pretty much don’t even look at shoes without the platform anymore. It just makes sense!

  5. I wore these gold-dusted wedges for my own wedding:


    (apologies for such a messy link). They are by dolce vita and called “Ivan”. Pricey, but really different looking, and super comfortable. And I will wear them again and again. Even if this shoe isn’t your style (it’s a subtle metalic!) a wedge heel might save the day.

    P.S. This is my fist comment, but when I found your blog I went back and read every single post. I love your writing!

  6. I used the wedding to buy a kickass pair of frye sandals that I couldn’t justify spending $$ on before. They are the top ones:
    definitely on the more casual side but I wore them dancing all night without any pain or blistering. I also wore them non-stop on our honeymoon and now wear them to other people’s weddings (sneaky…right?).

  7. These are all so pretty that I just had a girlsplosion. (I can’t define that, but it involves glitter and happiness.)

  8. Endless.com has bridal shoes with free shipping to you and free return shipping. My best friend bought a bunch of shoes from there to try on for her wedding, had them shipped to her house, she tried them all on, and sent back what she didn’t like.

    • I did this with DSW, Zappos AND Endless. I ordered over $600 in shoes and returned them all immediately (minus the wedding shoes I kept.) I searched their bridal and non-bridal sections by color and height. It was so easy and helpful.

  9. Yikes. I bought my dress yesterday (eek!) and the lady who will be making it told me I need my shoes by August. That’s all well and good and seems a lot of time, but my wedding is a December summer wedding (Australia!), and guess what’s in the stores now? Winter boots. What’s a girl to do? Sigh…

    Good luck with your search. That heel height is an evasive thing.

  10. DO NOT wear any shoes with those skinny strappy straps. PAINFUL.

  11. I think it just goes to show that each pair of shoes needs to be tried on – I own those Naturalizers, and they’re the only high heeled pair of dress shoes I can wear for an entire night. I have a wider foot, so that’s a big moment for me.

  12. Pingback: Things I Have Learned About Shoes | HitchDied

  13. definately keep the price tag at $60 so you know i’m getting these!!!! asap befroe sale is over

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