Best Wedding Shoes

Weddings have a way of mobilizing this hyper-enthusiastic side of ourselves that we didn't even know existed. Underneath the dazzling exterior of romance lies a messy foundation of months spent agonizing over the perfect person-to-passed-appetizer ratio. Even the most easy-going bride is at risk of morphing into an unfamiliar version of herself who spends sleepless nights anguishing over RSVPs (hi, me!) and devising various contingency plans in case it rains (also me!). Then you have the wedding dress and all its fixings to top off this multitiered, fondant-covered stress cake. And as far as footwear is concerned, that's the one ingredient I just can't seem to get right.

With so much of my time put towards assuming the role of fiancée/event coordinator/financial planner extraordinaire since getting engaged, I've found myself struggling to tackle items on my to-do list that normally, under any other circumstance, comes naturally to me. Case in point: despite being someone whose job involves regularly thinking and writing about shoes (the low-heeled kind, the snakeskin kind, and everything in between), I have yet to figure out a suitable style for my own fast-approaching nuptials. In the spirit of love, should I be shopping with my heart or my instinct? My gut may be telling me to prioritize function over fashion, but I can't help feeling enamored with all things feathered and embellished. How high is too high when it comes to heels — and price, for that matter — and should I go for block, kitten, or simply no heel at all? My levels of indecisive sartorial suffering (yep, I'm laying it on thick) have climbed higher than the backs of a 100mm pair of stilettos.

So in an effort to revise my shopping strategy, I've turned to the real experts for help: R29ers who have successfully strutted, sauntered, and waltzed through their wedding days with feet that survived to tell the tale. I’ve picked their bridal brains to better understand their footwear goals and choices leading up to the "big day," collecting intel from some brides who dared to wear lucite heels, others who splurged on designer, and even a few that ended up totally barefoot. And since I know I'm not the only one grappling with these pre-wedding woes, I've compiled my findings along with a selection of shoes inspired by these tips and takeaways (obvious spoiler alert: comfort is key). Ahead, discover the best shoes for the occasion according to the R29 staffers who actually wore them — and with absolutely no regrets.

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Cat Quinn, Beauty Director

Wedding location: Dallas, TX 
Date: Oct. 5, 2019
Shoe choice: Glittered leather sandals by Jimmy Choo

How important overall was the shoe selection process for you? 
It was super important to me, which is why it makes absolutely NO sense that I waited until the very last minute to nail them down. My seamstress couldn't even hem my bridal gown until eight days before my wedding… Don't be like me!

How did you know when you had found the ones?
Comfort. Comfort. Comfort. I wanted them to be pretty and classic, but ultimately I needed something that was well made, well balanced (with a nice pitch between the heel and sole), and didn't cause blisters. I brought three pairs to my final dress fitting and the right choice was clear. Not only did the Jimmy Choos complement my satin ball gown, but I could also stand still the entire fitting without shifting my weight or feeling my toes pinch, even after laps around the showroom and a practice dance session. This was more than I have ever spent on a shoe, but I saved up gift cards from Christmas and birthdays for years in anticipation of this purchase, which made it a little less painful.

Did you switch your shoes at any point in the evening?
I brought my favorite pair of comfy Topshop sandals and a second outfit to the reception, but I never found a moment to tear myself away to the back and change. Luckily, my feet stayed happy and light in my heels all night. I never had to sit down or take them off or use a blister guard. I did finally change into the sandals for the after-party, and stayed on my feet until 3 a.m.

If you could go back and change the shoes you ultimately chose, would you?
No, I love the shoes I wore and I love that I can wear them again. These babies are staying in my closet as a joyful and glittery reminder of the best night of my life.
Photo: Courtesy of A Sea Of Love.

Jimmy Choo Emily Glittered Leather Sandals, $, available at Net-A-Porter

Blue by Betsey Johnson Sage Evening Sandals, $, available at Macy's

Charles & Keith Embellished Block Heel Sandals, $, available at Charles & Keith

Mekita Rivas, Contributing Fashion Writer

Wedding location: Paris, France 
Date: Sept. 21, 2019
Shoe choice: Block-heel pumps by Karl Lagerfeld (in off-white)

How important overall was the shoe selection process for you? 
Similar to dress shopping, I romanticized the process a bit too much. And I severely overestimated how much time I was actually going to have to look for shoes (and accessories for that matter). So my shoes ended up being somewhat of an afterthought. I'm a fashion writer — surely I'd do all this research and give it all this careful consideration and deliberation, right? In reality, I was frantically scouring sale racks a few weeks before my wedding because I'd been so consumed with other wedding decisions (and life in general).

So how did you end up with these?
Since my shoe search came down to the wire, I truly selected the first pair that felt right and spoke to me in some way. Comfort was, in theory, my main priority and I wanted to be able to walk along the cobblestone streets of Paris without tripping or wobbling. Stilettos were out of the question but I wasn't leaning toward flats, either (my husband is 7 inches taller than me!). Plus I just wanted to feel really feminine, and heels do that for me.

Did you switch your shoes at any point in the evening?
Yes, because by the end of the night they were downright murdering my feet. I didn't break them in or wear insoles. But the only backup shoes I had packed was another pair of heels (wedding brain is real), but if I'd given it more thought I would've brought along a pair of Allbirds Breezers to change into. Instead, I just kicked off my shoes and went barefoot on the dance floor!

So if you could go back and pick a different pair, would you?
My instinctual response is no. Even though I didn't have the most thought-out strategy, I ended up finding a pair of shoes that worked for the occasion. Yes, they could've been more comfortable, but overall they were about as close to perfect as I was going to get given the circumstances. 
Courtesy of Minh Ha Nguyen.

Karl Lagerfeld Paris Sabrina Pump, $, available at Nordstrom

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