“Pretty flats and even tennis shoes have been gaining popularity among brides for several years, and while those styles may not be to everyone’s taste, the concept of comfortable wedding shoes is good for everyone,” says Dr. Crystal Holmes, a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
While an APMA survey indicates that most women do emphasize comfort over looks when choosing dress shoes, brides may consider comfort less important than style on their big day. “Brides may think that since they’re only wearing their wedding shoes for a day, it doesn’t matter if the shoes make their feet hurt,” Holmes says. “But shoes that hurt your feet can cause long-term problems, and make existing ones even worse. Sore feet can put a damper on your wedding, reception and even honeymoon.”
The APMA offers some advice for choosing the most comfortable options in some popular wedding styles:
Pumps – A classic wedding shoe, bridal pumps come in a wide variety of styles, colors and heights. When choosing a pump, be aware that pointy shoes place pressure on the toes and can aggravate problems like hammertoes and bunions. Choose pumps with deep, wide toe boxes that give you plenty of room to wiggle your toes. Keep in mind lower heels are better, especially if you’ll be in your wedding shoes for several hours.
Ballet flats – Flirty, feminine and fun, ballet flats can feel more comfortable than heels. But very flat shoes can actually be harmful to your arch and heel. Opt for a flat that has a bit of a heel, a thicker sole, and plenty of cushioning and support. Avoid flats that bend in half or easily twist.
Kitten heels – When it comes to good looks and foot-friendly design, kitten heels are the cat’s meow. Typically lower than one inch, kitten heels add a touch of height without placing undue pressure on the ball of the foot that higher heels can cause. They also tend to be a bit wider than the average heel, making them more stable and comfortable.
Platforms and wedges – Towering platforms and wedges provide height, style and endless options. But wearing these higher styles requires brides to take extra caution. Platforms and wedges may compromise your balance and stability, and very high shoes can lead to ankle rolls and falls. Look for lower platforms and wedges that feature secure ankle straps. Cork bottoms provide some shock absorption and traction.
Peep toes – Popular among brides who want to show off their pretty pedicures, peep toes range from towering heels to functional flats. Regardless of heel height, peep toes may cause your toes to slip forward or overlap, or may even push nail edges into the skin to form an ingrown toenail. Avoid peep toes that are too tight, and be sure they are free of seams near the toe area, as seams place further pressure on toes.
Sling backs – Showing a flirty flash of heel, sling backs are dynamic and sexy – perfect for walking down the aisle and kicking up your heels during the reception. Look for a sling back with a lower heel that will be more comfortable for extended wearing. Straps should be snug but not too tight to avoid chafing on the back of the heel. Too loose straps may cause the shoe to slip off your foot, so a proper strap fit is important.
Whatever style you choose, some advice is universal:
* Very high heels place pressure on your feet, shifting your entire body weight. If you plan to wear your heels throughout the entire ceremony and reception – likely more than two hours – consider choosing a heel of no more than two inches. Or, save the very high heels for the ceremony and switch to a lower, more comfortable heel for afterward.
* Brightly colored or patterned wedding shoes are in vogue now, and while color doesn’t affect comfort the material might. Materials that provide stability and stretch may be better for your feet. Avoid plastic, vinyl and other materials that don’t allow feet to breathe.
* Shoes should have a flexible sole that allows toes to bend naturally when you walk and a rigid, cushioned heel counter to keep the foot in place inside the shoe.
* Inserts are a great way to help cushion heels, arches and the balls of your feet. It’s easy to find inserts that work with virtually any style of wedding shoe.
* When shopping for your wedding shoes, keep in mind that – like any shoe – they should be comfortable immediately. Never buy uncomfortable shoes thinking that you’ll “break them in.” And shop for your bridal shoes at the end of the day. Not only do most weddings take place later in the day, your feet swell to their largest in the evening. Buying your wedding shoes at that time of day will ensure you get the best fit.