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There are a few scenarios I can contrive in which perilous footwear induces a complete nightmare—a graduation, a 2010 Victoria’s Secret runway, and of course, a wedding day. Walking down the aisle is a pretty big deal, so why take the risk of stumbling down it? There’s no reason we can’t buy elegant pumps and comfortable wedding shoes that won’t send brides and wedding-goers hunting for Band-Aids or lidocaine spray by the end of the night.
“Let’s face it. Women love their heels!” declares Dr. Nelya Lobkova, Certified Surgical Podiatrist and founder of Step Up Footcare in New York City. But how can we settle on a pair of wedding-worthy shoes without the style versus comfort trade-off? Lobkova gave us her do’s and dont’s when it comes to picking out special occasion footwear that’s comfortable yet worthy of the best gowns, party dresses, and wedding guest attire. “Look for pumps with a platform under the ball of the foot,” she advises, which will help to act as a shock absorber and decrease stress and soreness after extended wear. Chunky heels and ankle straps also add an element of stability. “If you plan on buying a heel that’s above 3”, I would recommend going with a chunky heel,” Lobkova says.
If you’d rather avoid heels altogether, Lobkova suggests looking at styles like knee-high boots or ballet flats. “Go flat! Pick a fun suede color like this royal blue, or a patent black to elevate elegance.” The thing about selecting the right wedding shoes is that it can be tricky to adhere to a specific dress code, especially during the fall or winter seasons. Find Dr. Lobkova’s tips and our expert picks for the most comfortable wedding shoes below, all based on podiatrist-backed recommendations, customer consensus, and a few editor favorites. And for the bride-to-be: Most styles come in white.
Perfect Pump 85
Follow the advice of Alexa Chung and stick to the classics. Timelessly elegant, you’d never know that this Sarah Flint pump is housing a wide-fitting toe box, contoured arch support, a secure steel stiletto, and 6mm of extra padding. Plus, if leather’s not your thing, these lifesaving heels are also available in white satin.
Colors: 24 options
Material: Calf leather
Heel height: 3.3"
Customer review: “These pumps live up to their name: perfect. I had stopped wearing high heels after spraining my ankle a decade or so ago. I couldn’t bear the idea of wearing flats to my daughter’s, wedding so I bought the Sarah Flint 85s thinking I would switch to flats after the ceremony and photos. To my surprise, I ended up wearing them all night and even for the car ride home. I have never worn a more comfortable pair of heels...comfortable right out of the box.”
Sara Mule Heeled Sandals
JW PEI is picking up steam for its extensive and glorious selection of vegan bags—I can confirm that my Fae Crossbody Bag absolutely rakes in the compliments wherever I go. The puffy cushioning on these fun, abstract mules indicates that the brand does footwear just as well. “Remember, heels can be fun geometric shapes too,” Lobkova adds.
Colors: 16 options
Material: Vegan leather, polyester
Heel height: 2"
Customer review: “I loveeeeee this shoe! The vegan leather is so plush and soft, and the color is so vibrant! The shape is also fabulous, a statement shoe that is COMFY AF!!!”
Belgravia Bow Velvet Kitten Heel
The kitten heel has long been the ideal stiletto alternative for those seeking sophistication without risking sprain. And now that bridesmaids in black is a trend rather than a taboo, it’s the ideal time to pull out these cushioned, velvet slingbacks from Kurt Geiger (which will also look great at any and all holiday parties).
Colors: Black, Gold, Teal
Heel height: 2.5"
Customer review: “Love love love. I’m someone that needs a low heel, and so far I have been able to wear these without any issues because they also have a more padded insole than most other shoes. Plus, they’re sparkly and pretty. Highly recommend.”
Gigi Crystal Pointed-Toe Flat
Sometimes, a wedding look calls for a bit of sparkle. These cream bedazzled flats would look especially impressive with a champagne-colored gown. Reviewers did recommend breaking them in a bit prior to the big day (the sides are known to rub), but once they’re adjusted, these shoes should keep your feet happy and snug all night long.
Colors: Ivory Satin, Black Satin
Material: Mesh, leather, synthetic materials
Customer review: “I can’t get over how comfortable they are!! I thought maybe the little crystals would scratch my skin but not at all! It also doesn’t pinch my feet either. I made sure to walk around with them on with my actual wedding dress and it felt and looked great.”
Weddings are a fabulous opportunity to take trends on a test run, and these strappy Mary Jane pumps are a personal favorite. The low heel and versatile silhouette make them ideal for long-term wear.
Colors: Dark Ivory, Black, Washed Teal
Material: Textile and synthetic
Heel height: 2"
Editor review: “I bought these in the black patent color, and I could not be more thankful for them. A cute, comfy little block heel that goes with all my jeans and sweater dresses this season and is classic enough to withstand yearly trends. I did have to break them in a few times to soften the area around the heel, but now I rely on them constantly. Plus, I’ve been forever searching for a good faux leather Mary Jane style like this.”
Zina Pearl Sneakers
A sparkly pick for the glitter-inclined among us, these statement-making Dolce Vita sneakers feature faux pearls and metallic accents that make them wedding day-worthy.
Colors: Vanilla Pearls
Material: Leather, synthetic, pearls
Heel height: 1"
Customer review: “Was looking for a fun sneaker suitable to wear under with my wedding dress but that I could wear again. These were perfect [to wear with] my wedding dress and a t-shirt and cropped jeans.”
Esther Mesh Lace Beaded Kitten Heels
Ethereal and enchanting, these heavily padded, fantasy heels from Bella Belle are adorned with handbeaded floral lace and a removable tulle bow at the heel. If you feel like you need to take things up a notch, they’re also available in a 4” heel.
Material: Silk, mesh, leather
Heel height: 2.5"
Customer review: “Oh goodness did I feel beautiful with these shoes. They just pulled my whole outfit together and I felt absolutely stunning...I even incorporated the shoe into my reception just so I could show them off!”
Ariel Block Heel Pump
While notably more precarious than a flat, these block heel pumps are super sturdy and well-made enough to withstand much more movement than your average dinner party. And the soft, patent pink enables you to make them a favorite staple amongst your shoe collection.
Colors: 6 options
Material: Faux patent leather, synthetic materials
Heel height: 3.5"
Customer review: “A fun color and beautiful style—goes with many things and at a great price!”
Avaline Faux Pearl-Embellished Satin Sandals
A bridal shoe doesn’t get any more classic than this all-white satin Kate Spade heel, topped off with faux pearls.
Material: Textile, leather
Heel height: 3"
Customer review: “I purchased these shoes as my wedding shoe. They are stunningly elegant and the perfect height. Wearable all night!"
Pointed-Toe Kitten Heel Boots
Bonus points for the durability and versatility of these sock boots—you’ll be able to wear them with numerous post-wedding outfits.
Colors: 7 options
Material: Faux leather
Heel height: 1.5"
Customer review: “These boots exceeded my expectations. Not only are they gorgeous and flattering, they are comfortable. The heel gives just enough height and these can be worn with pants and skirts or dresses.”
If you’re a boho bride (or bridesmaid, or guest!) and heels aren’t your thing, these elegant closed-toe flats are comfy enough to slip on and slip off as you float from one event to another.
Colors: 9 options
Material: Glitter-coated fabric, jewel embellishment
Heel height: 15mm
Customer review: “Such a beautiful and comfy shoe!! It’s perfect for the days I still want to be dressed up but don’t want to wear heels.”
Begum Crystal-Embellished Pumps
The next best thing to a true, princess-inspired glass slipper, this Amina Muaddi pump features a sculptural heel for a sturdier base, and a tiny crystal bow that adds just the right amount of sparkle for happily ever after.
Material: PVC, crystal embellishment
Heel height: 3.8"
Customer review: “I absolutely love these shoes...perfect for a nice formal event. They are snug at first and run small so I sized up a half size...more comfortable than other PVC style pumps. I got so many compliments when I wore them for a wedding in the summer! I have the clear and they go with everything.”
Sacred Bow Pump
A pump fit for a princess, these pale pink satin heels are embellished with a tulle and crystal beaded bow.
Colors: Blush, Soft White, Azure Blue, Black
Material: Textile and synthetic, leather
Heel height: 3.5"
Customer review: “These are beautiful, beyond my expectations, and are comfortable. I’ve had the Mach and Mach’s, I’ll save a coin and get these going forward!! They are beautiful!”
Adalena Slingback Heel
If it’s comfort you’re after, look no further than Vionic. The brand is a favorite amongst podiatrists, and this particular style holds the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance for its cushioning, stability, arch support, and flexibility.
Colors: 9 options
Material: Leather, synthetic materials
Heel height: 4"
Customer review: “For a heel these are my go to. I have arch issues and I can wear these without being in ball-of-foot pain.”
Flower girls aren’t the only ones capable of rocking Mary Janes. These cutesy flats feature a heart-shaped Swarovski buckle for an extra dose of glamour. “The Mary Jane pointe shoe is super trendy, and it’s actually a reasonably comfortable alternative shoe that can be dressed up for a wedding,” Lobkova shares.
Colors: Dove, Maya, Yoko, Midnight
Customer review: “Really nice leather, classic look and a nice bit of flair with the crystal embellishment!”
Emory Rhinestone Western Boot
Introducing the maximalist’s cowgirl boot—a match made in heaven for all of those Nashville bachelorette parties or country themed weddings. With a stacked and stable heel, these blinged out booties will also pair great with dressed-down denim or make for a shimmery concert shoe.
Colors: White, Silver, Dark Brown, Black
Material: Synthetic and fabric, rhinestone embellishment
Heel height: 3.5"
Customer review: “These are so dang cute. I cannot wait to wear them for my bachelorette party...I ordered a full size up from what I typically wear.”
Maryna Off White Pointed-Toe Mules
Lulus has an exceptional selection of affordable, swoon-worthy wedding shoes, but the understated lure of these cushioned slip-ons makes them a top contender.
Colors: Off White, Black
Material: Vegan leather
Heel height: 3.5"
Customer review: “I'm getting married in November and the hardest part of picking my outfit out was the shoes! I have wide feet and I wanted something closed-toe since my wedding is outdoors. I tried on so many pairs of shoes and they were all so narrow. I was so happy when I received these mules and put them on because they were the first pair that fit perfectly!”
Ines Velvet Pump
Color me obsessed. There are one-use-only, single-occasion shoes, and then there are these rich, red-wine velvet slingbacks from Larroude that exude French It-Girl aesthetic. Thanks to the adjustable ankle strap and memory foam cushioning, you can get years of day-to-night versatility out of these as well.
Colors: Wine, Black, Ivory, Silver
Material: Velvet, leather
Heel height: 2.5"
Customer review: “I spent years in four-plus-inch heels, and while I no longer have to—or even could if I did—on occasion I miss wearing a cool, chic, elegant pair of shoes. These are all those things, without being stiff or formal, and the heel height and shape is hot without being daunting.”
“Cheat with a block heel and platform under the ball of the foot,” Lobkova discloses. These chunky platforms may look intimidating, but the platform base makes the heel-to-toe difference significantly smaller. Plus, the front ankle strap adds extra insurance for secure wear.
Colors: Nude, Black, Red, White
Heel height: 4"
Customer review: “High heels but comfortable to wear because of the platform!”
Air Force 1 ’07
Sneakers go with almost anything in 2023—more and more brides are slipping into Converse or Nikes shortly after the ceremony, so it’s becoming a necessity for modern nuptials. If your affair is laidback enough to allow sneaks throughout the day’s events, you can’t go wrong with the Nike Air Force 1.
Colors: White, Black, White/Blue/Green, Mantra Orange
Material: Leather, textile, synthetic
Customer review: “I’ll admit that I bought these because they are a super popular style. What I didn’t expect was the comfort and the fit of these shoes...I can wear these all day at work and come home and my feet aren’t in pain. I like the height boost they give me.”
Low-Heel Pump Sandals
Don’t count out Amazon for wedding attire. These simple, straight-to-the-point block heels have 4.3 stars from over 10,400 reviewers who have attested to their captivating comfort and style versatility.
Colors: 21 options
Material: Polyurethane, rubber, latex
Heel height: 2.25"
Customer review: “I did not expect to find my perfect wedding shoes on Amazon, but alas—I wore these babies to my wedding last year, and I didn’t take them off once from 3 P.M. to midnight. After multiple hours of walking, running, skipping, and dancing, I suffered not one single blister.”
Adirondack III Waterproof Boot
If you’ve opted for a winter wonderland wedding (perhaps the snow-covered Alps, or the streets of NYC à la Phoebe Buffet), you’ll want appropriate footwear that still feels lavish enough for the big day. These cozy-yet-chic waterproof boots from Ugg come equipped with wool rich-lining for added luxe.
Colors: White, Black
Material: Leather, wool and wool-blend
Heel height: 1"
Customer review: “I literally tried 5 other boots and this one stole my heart! I wore this to Vail and it was 5 degrees at one point...these kept my feet super warm with just one sock! Also these are so comfortable it felt like walking on clouds.”
Maybe you’d prefer to go totally heel-less at your next fête. In that case, these embellished pastel flats nail the balance between pretty and practical. They’ll be a staple in your wardrobe regardless of whether or not you’ve got a wedding to attend.
Colors: 8 options
Material: Faux leather
Widths available: Medium, Wide
Customer review: “Great fit and classy dress flat for any special occasion. Plan to get a lot of wear out of these during the holidays.”
Sleek 60 Loafer
To complement more casual styles or pantsuits, consider a loafer over a boot or a pump. The 2.3” block heel on this sophisticated Stuart Weitzman style adds a bit of dimension to a classic.
Colors: Dune, Black
Material: Spazzolato leather
Heel height: 2.3"
Customer review: “These shoes look so professional yet are surprisingly comfortable! The patent leather allows the shoe to keep shape but not compromise on comfort.”
Aria Pointed-Toe Block Heel
Now you can avoid changing shoes once it’s time to hit the dance floor, because these have pressure relief insoles that promote heel rebound and all over foot support.
Colors: Navy, Almond, Bordeaux, Black
Material: Knit materials
Heel height: 2.4"
Customer review: “Most comfortable heels I have worn. I need wide shoes that provide support. These heels are the first pair of closed toe heels I have...staple for a capsule wardrobe.”
Carina 60 Canvas Wedge Espadrilles
Castañer espadrilles are beloved by Kate Middleton, so they have the royal seal of approval. This particular style is so gorgeous you can pack them for both your beach wedding and your honeymoon. The closed-toe canvas is ideal for keeping sand out of your shoes, and the lace-up detail is effortlessly elegant for a boardwalk jaunt.
Colors: Ivory, Black, Navy
Material: Fabric, leather, rubber
Heel height: 3.25"
Customer review: “Wow! My favorite espadrilles ever! They are well made and SO comfortable. I had another pair from another brand in the past, but they hurt really badly after just a few hours of walking. These fit well and I can walk the entire day without any pain.”
Duke Crystal Strap Toe Mule
Sustainable brand Rothy’s has transformed its office-appropriate flats into a sparkly metallic pair perfect for wedding season. Your feet (and Mother Earth) will never feel happier.
Customer review: “I was super concerned with how comfortable my shoes would be on my wedding day, these are perfect and just the right amount of casual, comfortable, and a touch of dressiness with the sparkle!”
Colors: 34 options
Material: Recycled/sustainable materials
Penny Knot Mule
These gorgeous sandals are dainty, so they might not hold up well if you’re prone to raucous raving or breakdancing, but reviewers stated that they stretch well and pair great with everything from jeans to bridesmaid gowns.
An embellished alternative to the Dream Pairs above, these block-heel sandals from Kelly & Katie feature a pearl-adorned front strap and a high heel that’s thick enough to prevent any ankle wobbling.
Customer review: “Bought these for my wedding, and they are perfect. So comfortable with the chunky heel.”
Colors: Off White Pearl
Material: Satin, synthetic materials
Heel height: 3”
Customer review: “I love this shoe—it’s like a fairy godmother’s slipper, without the drama! Beautiful and goes from day to night. One thing—it runs 1/2 size large, so definitely order it accordingly.”
Colors: White, Light Pink, Beige/Silver, Black, Grey
Material: Mesh, faux suede, synthetic materials
Wedding Shoe Do’s & Dont’s
Decide on the style you’ll feel most confident in. If you are opting for high heels, a block heel or wedge is a safer bet compared to sky-high stilettos. “When we wear very high heels [above 3"], the natural fat pad in the ball of the foot is displaced towards the toes, minimizing the shock absorption under the ball of the foot,” Lobkova notes, and adds that “the common tendons that cause hammertoes—flexor tendons—are favored and overpull the toes.” This can exacerbate various foot conditions and provide an anatomical explanation behind your stiff, sore feet, so the cushioning and padding in a shoe is critically important.
Lobkova also advises to be aware of your gait when walking with heels (in other words, make sure it’s working for you and not against you). “The tendency is to lean back, however this may cause falling and injuries,” she warns. “The ideal posture is slightly relaxed at the knees with a slight forward tilt...it is advised to stretch and massage the Achilles tendon before and after wearing high heels...this tendon gets contracted or shortened after long periods of high heel wear.”
This should go without saying, but don’t decide on any shoe you don’t feel comfortable in. Weddings should be a fun occasion, and nobody (least of all the bride) wants to worry about debilitating foot pain all night. If you have a specific podiatric concern, try getting a custom orthotic or gel insole made in advance to address any footwear fears.
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