A Photographer’s Take
A couple of days ago, a very dear friend bought me a ticket to join her to see John Butler Trio. Totally my kind of thing. Another very dear friend decided to join us. This is not her kind of thing at all. We love her because she’s our group diva. Strong, brilliant, totally boss at anything she sets her mind on, and always looks beautiful and well manicured doing it.
I know, this post is supposed to be about wedding shoes. Bear with me. I’m leading up to that.
So there we are, the gorgeous lovable blonde, the sexy diva ginger, and me – the make-life-happen-and-I’ll-just-roll-with-it brunette. It was reminiscent of our younger days. Beer in hand, rocking out to good tunes, giving no thought what so ever to standing for hours on end in the same spot.
Except this time, it was texting pre-concert reminders to wear comfortable shoes, red wine in hand for them and healthy hydrating water for me. And hoping, as we left my place, that our footwear choices would last us the night. We were all in flats. We’re not even old yet.
This got me to thinking about wedding shoes as I sat down to my computer to work. And I decided to pass all my sagely wedding shoe wisdom on to you. I have photographed so many shoes. Every bride is totally different in her style. From the gowns, make up, hair, decor, flowers. I’ve never seen two weddings mirror each other. And the same goes for wedding shoes.
Let me tell you about what I have seen. I have seen sinking brides. Limping brides. Oh my goodness, that was not on purpose, but it sounds like a Dr. Seuss story. That’s staying in the post, As is. Aside from sinking and limping brides, there have been blisters, brides getting stuck in cracks and shoes getting wedged in between rocks. It’s even worse when the foot is still in the shoe. I always tell my brides that if they’re wearing heels, bring flip flops to walk in. And how many do you think listen? Almost none *sigh*
Now when I’m not working or at a meeting, I’m a barefoot or flip flop wearing kind of girl. However, I do love a nice pair of shoes and where there’s occasion to rock a pair of heels, I do. I got married in 2016. As a wedding photographer, I have seen plenty of sore feet horror stories. But I thought I had more foot stamina. I was sure I could rock those killer 4 inch red heels all day and all night. Boy was I mistaken.
Normally I don’t wear heels that high. They’re not practical or comfortable but my gown was a little long and if I just opted for that one extra inch of shoe height, I wouldn’t have to bother getting my dress hemmed. That totally suited me. I’m all about keeping it simple. So I did break in my shoes, and even so I only lasted until shortly after the ceremony before kicking them off and letting my dress drag the rest of the night.
I have photographed many a brilliant bride who opted for cute flats, low wedges, sandals and even cowboy boots. But if your heart is set on wearing heels I have some practical tips for you so you don’t have to endure the pain. While it’s true that there is much to do in preparation for your wedding day, your wedding shoes should be more than a last minute thought. With a little pre-planning and a little bit of well spent time, you can have a pain free wedding and reception.
10 Tips for pain free (or at least endurable) wedding shoes
Less Height. For me personally, three inches may have been doable. Maybe. Four inches was definitely not. It’s your wedding day and you can’t underestimate the value of balancing your style with comfort. Nothing puts more of a damper on such a happy occasion and all your effort in looking gorgeous than enduring a day of sore feet.
Break them in. This should be a no brainer. If you wear new wedding shoes, you’re asking for a world of pain. What girl doesn’t know this? Yet I see bride after bride pulling new shoes out of the box on their wedding day. Inevitably and unsurprisingly, I see that sore feet wince of pain shortly thereafter. You’ll be standing for your ceremony and family photos. You have to be mobile and spending a lot of time on your feet for your formal wedding photos. You have to make it through your first dance, at least.
And sure, you’ll have breaks in between to rest your feet. But then, you have to stand up again! Why is it that feet hurt even MORE after you have a rest, and then have to get back up? A cruel trick of the human body, to be sure.
The tip is not so much about breaking them in. We all know we need to break in new shoes. It’s more to make the time to break them in, amidst all the other things you have to do. And I don’t mean throwing them on your feet for a couple of hours the night before your wedding.
Wet newspaper. Yup, this is a weird one. It’s a grandma trick. And it works. Take newspaper and wet it. Ball it up and squeeze the excess water out of it. Shove it as far as you can into the toe of your shoes. Just stuff it in there, piled high. As is dries the paper expands just enough to soften the shoe and mimic that pre-worn give.
Paper towel doesn’t work and neither do shiny magazine pages. If you don’t have newspaper laying around (hello digital age) find a flyer. It will give your toes a little wiggle room, and they won’t rub like new shoes. Leave the shoes stuffed overnight. You should still make sure you wear your wedding shoes around before the wedding, but this does like 80% of the breaking in work.
Beat the backs like a pinata. Not just a regular pinata. Like a pinata that owes you money. A pinata that owes you money and is waiting to rub a blister into your heel. You can do this just before you stuff your shoes full of wet newspaper. To avoid damaging the shoe, take a piece of folded wet paper. Again, make sure you squeeze excess water out of it. You don’t want it dripping. Fold it a few times to create some cushion so you don’t do any damage. Then wrap it around the back part of the shoe, covering the inside and outside. Then take a hammer, and start beating. Give each side about 15 hits. You’ll be able to tell the difference right away without even trying them on.
Yup. Also a weird one. But I can promise you that every time I neglect to do this to new shoes I end up with a blister. This trick is like stepping on the heels and trying to soften them – you know, how you do after you already have a searing hot spot on your heel. But without any damage to the shoe. It also does double duty as stress release if you’re having a day.
Reduce friction. A little clear or spray deodorant is all you need. Also, sweaty feet will slide around don’t add any comfort whatsoever, so this helps. Add a touch of talcum powder and you’re good to go. If your heels are quite high, get a silicone shoe stickie to put inside the ball of the shoe. It will give you cushion and help reduce friction from walking.
Make sure your shoes fit right. If they’re a touch big, then use silicone stickies along the heel to make them fit right. Don’t just hope it will be alright. The extra friction and sliding out of your shoes all is not fun at all. And if your gown is long, you will add to the already present danger of tripping.
If your shoes are too snug, don’t. Just don’t. Just wear a different pair.
Outsmart the nerves. Tape your third and fourth toes together. This takes pressure off the nerve endings and reduces foot pain significantly. This also helps to keep your feet from swelling.
If you don’t normally wear heels, learn to walk in them. There are a few tricks. First, remember your posture. Stand tall even if you feel like a giant. Be a tall giant. Own the height. Relax your shoulders, engage your core. Good posture will keep you from tipping over or doing a weird forward lean. Take small steps. Feminine shoes, feminine steps. Finally remember heel – toe. This is a little tricky to master in heels. You have step gently, but if you try to step flat placing your heel and ball of your foot down together, it is harder to walk and you will last less time in those shoes..
The key is practice. Remember that walking on carpet is much, much easier than on hard flooring or concrete. Also, a lot of flooring can be slippery in heels.
Bring flip flops and heel cozies for the shoot. They’re easy to carry, easy to slip in and out of, and will give your feet a little reprieve in between. And bring a pair of backup shoes for the reception just in case. To keep you from sinking into the earth when you’re outside, you can slip on high heel protectors. If you’re not sure what heel cozies are, you can check them out here.
Go shoe shopping in the evening. Your feet will have the days’ worth of swelling to help you find a good fit.
There you have it. Take my advice, as a wedding photographer and former bride. I promise you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare your footwear.
And what photographer’s wedding shoe post would be complete without a little inspiration? So here are a few different wedding shoes that I have photographed at some amazing weddings with amazing brides for your viewing pleasure.