March 17, 2023 11 min read
We know why you’re here. The big day is nearly here and you’re less than 100% confident your shoes will make the cut to honor the union of somebody’s life - it might even be yours!
How to pick the best wedding wedding shoes doesn’t have a cookie-cutter answer, but we can give you all the tools you need to piece together the perfect wedding outfit whether it’s a summer beach wedding or formal evening event. Let’s dive in and find the pair that’s right for you.
When deciding on wedding shoes, you’ll have several guidelines to assist with making the best choice:the type of wedding and dress code, the outfit you plan on wearing, the season of the event, the venue, and your role in the wedding.
Most invitations come with a dress code: think formal, semi-formal, cocktail, or black-tie. This is the best launching point, and if the invite isn’t clear, it’s always best to get in touch with the wedding party and ask.
The most formal weddings are the easiest. Black-tie events necessitate a black tuxedo with minimal, black leather shoes. For a formal dress code you’ll also want to keep in conservative with a classic oxford. Stick with black and darker browns to compliment the color of your suit.A good rule of thumb is to keep your shoes darker than your clothes. This keeps the focus on the clean lines of your dress instead of drawing too much attention down to your feet.
Casual or semi-formal dress codes give you more freedom to play around. You’ll be able to bring out more patterns and lighter colors with your clothes, and you can match with more casual style shoes. Lighter shades of brown like cognac and tan perfect. Dark brown suede is also an option.
More embellishments on a pair of shoes make them more casual. Wingtip and semi-brogue shoes - brogues are the perforated designs in the leather - make for versatile and more casual options for these events.
Either penny or tassel loafers are great picks for semi-casual to casual weddings. We recommend avoiding sneakers for most weddings, but if you know it’ll be exceptionally casual and opt to wear them, keep them simple with minimal flash and logos.
Consider your outfit first before picking shoes. Will you be wearing a suit? A tuxedo? Lighter, breezy linen or a pastel button-up?
If you’re wearing a suit or tie, keep the classic style for your shoes and opt for a cap-toe oxford in black or dark brown. When you’re wearing chinos and skipping out on the jacket, a derby or semi-brogue oxford is a great pairing.
A key rule to follow is toalways match your leather accessories. Make sure to pick up a matching belt with your shoes and aim for a close match on your watch strap should you wear one. In our collection, we have a full-range of matching belts that use the exact same leather as our shoes for the perfect match.
First, a quick tip:your shoes should be darker than your suit. Here are our quick recommendations for matching your wedding suit to your shoes.
Black suit: Black shoes - always!
Gray suit:Black or brown shoes
Blue suit: Black or dark brown shoes
Olive suit: Black or dark brown shoes
Brown suit: Brown shoes - darker than the suit.
Tan suit: Brown shoes - almost any shade will do here.
Charcoal suit: Black shoes
The season of the wedding makes a difference. Bring out lighter colored shoes and suedes for warm weather weddings. Loafers are an excellent summer look to play into the spring and summer.
For winter wedding shoes, darker colored browns, blacks, or navy will be ideal. Dress boots - leather soles and darker colors - will complement the season well.
Where is the wedding taking place? Is it a traditional wedding in a historic church? A seaside beach wedding? An afternoon at the brewery downtown?
Again, you’ll find yourself matching the formality of the location to your shoes. For formal churches and intimate venues, stick with tasteful cap-toe oxfords in black or dark brown. If the wedding is in a low-key venue, leather derbies or boots are expressive choices that won’t look sloppy.
The only hard rule we’ll give is don’t wear flip-flops to any wedding, even on the beach. You can go sockless, wear a loafer, or opt for a minimal dress-style sneaker, but unless the dress code is bathing suits and ball caps you should avoid flip-flop weddings at all costs.
The groom is expected to be the best-dressed man in the room. Don’t think that means you need quirky patterns and flash. Make an impact through classic, striking shoes that match well with your suit. A cap-toe oxford in a polished full grain leather will always serve you well. A wholecut oxford, a shoe made from one piece of leather, is an elegant oxford that stands apart in a crowd through its minimalism.
Shoes for a groomsman should take a note from the groom. They should generally match the formality and style of the groom’s pair without standing out. Don’t be stubborn with your favorite pair if it’ll make you an eyesore among the wedding party! Ask the groom what color and style they’ll wear, and lace up a similar option.
Asthe father of the bride or groom, you have a little more freedom but should still keep it tasteful - remember, it’s your child’s special day. We generally recommend something conservative to match your suit or shirt, typically a cap-toe oxford in a darker color.
If you’re a guest, keep to the dress code and don’t take a wedding as a sign to have your own fashion show. Let the bride and groom have the attention, stick to the dress code, and make an effort to polish your pair before arriving at the wedding.
Different types of shoes come with different levels of formality to fit the occasion. Knowing the best occasion for each is a powerful tool for dressing well. Even if other guests aren’t aware of the “rules”, they’ll pick up that you’re dressed well without even having the words for it. Trust us.
Oxfords: An all-time classic, oxfords are the kings of mens footwear. Everyman should have an oxford ready to go. These are ideal for the wedding party or guests in nearly any occasion. They’re timeless and safe options.
Derbies: A versatile option for guests, derbies are versatile alternatives that are generally more casual than oxfords. Unless it’s an especially formal option, like ourNoah two-eyelet derby, it’s not a common choice for a groom. Guests, however, can comfortably wear a derby with a suit down to more casual weddings.We love these since they’re easy to wear outside of events as well.
Loafers: A low-key alternative, loafers have a massive range of uses, including weddings. Tassel loafers are considered more formal than penny loafers and pair well with a suit. Penny loafers will serve you well if you’re simply wearing a button up and a sports jacket. We wouldn’t recommend loafers for the groom or the groomsmen in most cases, but they’re a tasteful choice for guests.
Monkstraps: A Stylish, Contemporary Option, monks, known for their unique buckle closure, are an excellent alternative to oxfords if you want to express more contemporary style. Whether you’re the groom or a guest, you can pull a pair of these out and smash your wedding style out of the park. They look great sockless during summer weddings and will take you from a suit to chinos without a problem.
Boots: Dressing up Americana. If you adore boots, there’s no reason not to bring a pair out for a wedding. Boots are typically reserved for colder weather, so be mindful of the season. We recommend leather soles and tapered toes that elevate the look into a formal fashion.
From groom to guest, there’s a shape and style to look great on the big day.
When piecing together your look, there’s a few quick guidelines to follow.
Start with your suit, match your belt to your shoes, pick complementary socks, match your tie to your pocket square, and pick a conservative shirt color lighter than your suit.
Here are a few wedding outfit ideas.
Black is an all-time wedding look. It’s also very easy to match with shoes and accessories.:
-Black cap-toe oxfords
-Black thin wool or cotton socks
-Black leather belt
-White cotton or silk shirt
-Black silk tie
-White linen pocket square
Dark blue is most common, but a more vivid or lighter blue will pair well with these options as well:
-Dark brown cap-toe oxfords
-Dark blue, gray, or burgundy wool or cotton socks
-Dark brown matching leather belt
-White cotton shirt
-Dark blue or burgundy grenadine tie
-Dark blue or burgundy pocket square
If you’re skipping the suit and the tie, you can still look great by making the details matter.
-Light colored pastel shirt - a light blue or yellow oxford are our favorites
-Dark navy pants
-Cognac oxfords or a brown loafer
-Matching cognac or brown leather belt
A matching shoe and belt set in either cognac or nearly any shade of brown will give you endless combinations with shirts and pants.
Between oxfords and derbies, the rule of thumb is that oxfords are more formal and derbies are more casual. Thus, oxfords will pair well for the groom and the wedding party, and derbies are great options for guests.
Check out ourguide on the differences between oxfords and derbies if you’re still not sure on which is which.
Oxfords, especially cap-toe oxfords, are quintessential mens formal wear. They are sleek, minimal, and in different colors will always have a place no matter your role in the wedding. If you pick up one pair, make it a cap-toe oxford that matches the color of your suit.
If you’re skipping the suit, you should still consider an oxford. Go with a dark or cognac brown and a matching belt for endless combinations of pants and shirts.
Derbies have a different lacing system that makes for a less formal, and generally more versatile shoe option.
We would generally suggest the groom wear an oxford, but a derby will cover a guest in nearly any venue. They’re slightly more casual, but a black or dark brown leather will never be out of place in suiting. Avoid these if you’re wearing a tux, but you’ll find plenty of use in and out of wedding season with the right pair.
Comfort can be subjective, but here are the top three recommendations we can give you for choosing a comfortable wedding shoe.
Break in your shoes before the wedding
Don’t get caught in a stiff new pair on a long evening with no alternatives. Make sure you’ve worn your pair for at least a week before committing to them for the wedding.
Even if you’re the groom and want a pristine shoe, please give your pair a few wears before the big day. Any scuffs can be quickly fixed up with shoe polish and you’ll be thankful you did.
Wear rubber soles
Rubber soles are forgiving for long evenings of dancing and celebrating. Some options, like lightweight rubber sole options from ourGoodyear Lite Collection, can have a sneaker-like feel without losing an elegant look.
Get the right size shoes
It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s always worth getting feedback on the fit of your shoes if you’re not 100% confident. A shoe should never cause discomfort, even on the first wear. If you’re between sizing down because you like the look or sizing up because it feels better, always, always, always go with the pair that feels right.
Especially as the groom, we understand wanting to be the star of the show. Essentially, elegant shoes come down to this: a tapered and elongated shape, a dark conservative color, minimal to no embellishments.
Many would agree the most elegant wedding shoe would be a wholecut oxford in black calf, likeour Miquel. They’re sleek and minimal in a way that’s striking when paired with the right suit.
A cap-toe oxford will also always be an excellent, elegant dress shoes on account of their classic heritage as well.
If you want to keep your personal style without causing your relatives to sweat, here are a few styles that put a unique twist on classic.
Blue is an underrated shoe leather color. It can be worn as a stylish alternative to black calf. Pair it with blacks, grays, and dark blues for a navy undertone at the bottom of your fit.
Oxblood is a dark burgundy colored leather that can be an alternative to any occasion you’d wear a black shoe. Even if you’re in a full black or charcoal suit, oxblood leather shoes can be an awesome pairing. The only exceptions are black-tie weddings or if you’re wearing a tuxedo.
With its striking combination of leathers, a spectator is a vintage throwback. These are best used for summer weddings. They’ll make an excellent combination when paired with seersucker suits and light colored linen.
For something more easy-going compared to a cap-toe oxford, opt for brogues in either a wingtip or semi-brogue cap-toe oxford.
Brogues, the perforation patterns in leather, tone down the formality on an oxford or derby. Remember, the more embellishments the less formal, so some broguing across the cap-toe is considered more formal than a full wingtip shoe.
You can find Chelsea boots everywhere. They’re easy to slip on and the combination of minimal style and cut makes them extraordinarily versatile.
If you’d like to bring a pair to the big event, go for a leather soled option with a smooth leather instead of suede, like our Benjamin Chelsea boots. This will bring out the dressy nature of the boots for an elegant wedding look.
The short answer: yes, of course.
The long answer: yes, but go for a style that leans more formal dress instead of yard work. Leather soles are preferable to balance out the style, and an elongated or tapered toe will read much better than a blunt rounded toe.
Boots on the groom have become more and more common in recent years. It’s a great way to express the personality of the wearer while remaining elegant.
You should be prepared to step into the venue with confidence. We’ll leave you with a quick cheat sheet of dos and don’ts to check yourself on.
DO follow the dress code of the invitation, or ask the wedding party as soon as possible if you’re not sure.
DON’T wear whatever you want because you don’t agree with the dress code.
DO make an effort in your dress to show the wedding party your appreciation for the invitation.
DON’T wear damaged clothes or tattered shoes because they’re you’re favorite pair.
DO pick up some shoe polish and a brush to keep care of your shoes. Check outour article on shoe care if you need a little help getting started.
DON’T show up to a wedding, no matter where, in flip-flops or athletic sneakers.
DOpick out shoes and styles that you can wear more than once - think neutral clothes and brown shoes.
DON’Tbuy a pair of shoes you can only imagine yourself wearing one time and chucking.
DO seek out feedback if you’re unsure of your clothes or shoes. Tap on friends, family, other guests, and of course the wedding party for help.
DON’Tlet picking out an outfit stress you out. It might not be what you always wear, but that’s what makes the tradition of marriage special. It’s a celebration, and standing in a room among loved ones who all made the effort is one of the best parts of the day.
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