Shoe In

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

April 17, 2009 5 min read


Find the perfect pair to comfortably fit your feet

Vicky Katz Whitaker

Creators News Service

If you run around in flats all day, donning high heels for that walk down the aisle can be intimidating -- not to mention painful.

Yet that's what many brides do, experts say, putting fashion before feet and paying the price.

"Whenever you try to dance or walk for long periods in a new shoe, you are leaving yourself open for the unexpected, which is something that you want to avoid on your wedding day. Dancing in heels can lead to stress fractures, inflammation of small bones under the big toe joint, bursitis and various other problems," warned Lori S. Weisenfeld, a New York City podiatric medicine and surgery specialist.

"Many women lose the padding on the ball of the foot, making walking in heels a challenge. Wearing heels thrusts your body weight onto the ball of the foot, where the knuckles can be vulnerable if your padding is too thin," she explained.

Finding that special pair of bridal shoes can be a challenge, whether trotting through the mall or ordering online. Experts like Weisenfeld recommend going shopping later in the day, when your feet tend to expand or swell. "This will mimic a day of standing at the altar and smiling for the camera," she said.

Aaron Goodnough, a board certified pedorthist and owner of For Feets Sake in Milford, Mich., believes the first step in finding a shoe that fits is getting your feet measured. He pointed out that "there is nothing uniform about how shoes are constructed any longer. No two shoes fit the same these days."

Don't leave shopping for the last minute -- you may need those bridal shoes weeks before the ceremony if your gown needs alterations. The seamstress will expect you to don the same shoes you'll be wearing for that walk down the aisle.

When it comes to style, it depends on your gown. Floor-length wedding gowns often conceal footwear, making ballerina flats and even decorative sneakers an option. You can even buy white satin flip-flops -- ideal for a ceremony on the beach.

"If you want to be able to walk easily and dance, it's very important to pick a comfortable shoe with a heel height you can confidently walk in. Slides tend to be harder to keep on, so look for pumps or sandals that have ankle straps or wraps," suggested Regan Rose, a buyer for Missouri retailer TJ Formal.

If you want your shoes on the high-tech side, Emily and Jessica Leung's new line of Hey Lady bridal shoes employ cutting edge technology in the name of foot comfort.

All Hey Lady bridal shoes -- from three and four inch high heeled re-embroidered lace covered silk satin pumps to rhinestone-encrusted sandals --feature full insoles made of a NASA-developed memory foam, PORON, a material more commonly found in athletic shoes. The shoes also have an extended arch support to evenly distribute weight on the foot. Hey Lady shoes start at $220.

For some brides, shoes like those worn by ballroom dancers offer the prospect of comfort and customization. Best Ballroom Shoes, an upstate New York dance shoe manufacturer and distributor, offers 17 styles in 11 heel heights that can be made up in a variety of materials, including dyeable white satin and white satin embroidered with pearls.

What makes ballroom dance shoes special? "Dancing shoes have more padding on the bottom, better arches and are made better than what you'd find in a store," said Patti Hogan, customer service manager for the family-run business. But while they're perfect for the ceremony and for gliding on the dance floor, because of their suede soles "you can't wear them outside."

For a special pair, have patience -- between manufacturing and shipping, give yourself eight weeks for custom-made bridal shoes.

Off-the-shelf bridal shoes can run anywhere from under $50 to several hundred dollars, or more for custom shoes or couture fashions from designers such as Stuart Weitzman or Jimmy Choo.

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