Shoes to get married in. What I wore for the big day, and what makes a perfect wedding shoe
What makes a good weeding shoe? Well, ideally something with high, cushioned ankles I suppose - you'll need a thick material in case of any thorns or brambles. I know a lot of people will use wellington boots, but I find them a bit hard to kneel in and -
Oh sorry, wedding shoe. Right.
I got married last year. I had planned on being able to say that exact sentence last year, but Covid came along and made delaying weddings the cool thing to do.
Unsurprisingly, given the nature of this blog, I spent a long time considering what shoes I'd want for the big day. Given the timescales of delays involved, I ended up going through about five pairs before I settled on the pair I ended up wearing. So this is a walkthrough of that thought process, as well as an overview of what you, as a reader of this blog and a lover of fine shoes, will be looking for in your own wedding shoes should you have such an occasion on the horizon.
What makes a good wedding shoe?
A men's wedding shoe is traditionally going to be relatively formal - this isn't hard and fast, and of course you might want something less traditional and more flamboyant.
In descending order, the most formal shoes are:
Patent wholecut or oxford > wholecut oxford > captoe oxford
Black shoes are considered more formal than brown, but for many people black shoes just aren't as useful in the rotation as dark brown or even burgundy shoes.
For my money, I've never loved the tuxedo look for a wedding (though it seems to be a more common American thing) so patent shoes are out. More broadly I find patent leather shoes of any kind to be far too niche to earn a place in a shoe collection.
You may find a wholecut oxford a good option - they are undeniably elegant, though I would say that the use-case for them is rapidly shrinking. If you are going to spend a lot of money on your wedding shoes, you probably want to wear them on other occasions, right?
So for many, the captoe oxford is the best compromise. They work well with varying levels of formality, and can arguably (though not by myself) even sit well with some smart, dark jeans.
There are aspects of a wedding shoe that are (shockingly) more important than the aesthetic appeal, namely the comfort. Unless you are planning on changing into a pair of trainers post-dinner, you will need a pair of shoes that you can wear all day (on what will be the happiest but also most stressful day of your life), walk a good distance in, and potentially also spend the night dancing in.
You may also want to consider the cost. Many people simply don't wear that many formal shoes these days, so an extravagant expense is potentially a waste. Wedding shoes are also likely to have drinks spilled on them, get stepped on during dancing etc. so it's up to you what you feel the most you want to spend on a pair on that basis would be.
My first pair were my "safest" - a pair of 5-tie black derbies from John Lobb St James - a rare instance of a successful second-hand bespoke shoe bought through eBay. They continue to be beautiful and comfy shoes, but I felt black shoes with a dark grey suit just came across as a bit funereal.
The second pair were rather more flamboyant - a stunning pair of Hayes from Gaziano & Girling, purchased from their pre-Covid sample sale. Gaze upon their stunning Deco last and beautiful lizard-skin facing details. Tragically, they simply did not fit well enough - one shoe was fine, the other a bit too roomy, and as mentioned previously, you need a good fit for a wedding shoe.
Next. a solid option - a pair of dark brown Saint Crispin's austerity brogues. A beautiful shoe, without doubt, unexpectedly ruined by some careless shoe care by myself - I damaged the shoe's finish with some poorly applied shoe cream (they are currently off being re-finished by a patina artist) and so they were taken off the table.
Fourthly, a very close contender - Edward Green Dovers in classic Dark Oak an unusual Lavagna suede panel. These are great shoes, but I thought the grey of the suede with the dark grey suit material was going to look a bit "matchy matchy", and I was also concerned about the not inconsiderable chance of some drink being spilled on them - I'm fine with that on calf leather, but the suede added an extra risk of damage.
The actual pair I wore
So, via a rather circuitous route, the actual wedding pair were these Crockett & Jones Audley Handgrade oxfords. The leather is a dark brown, which went well with the suit. They were (and still are) extremely comfortable. They are rather more mid-priced than Gaziano & Girling or Edward Green, which saved my neurosis about them being damaged or having drinks spilled on them. I would highly recommend them if you have a similar life event coming up.
This exact model is still available to buy as part of Crockett & Jones Handgrade collection here for £580. The Handgrade collection is a clear price notch above the maingrade, but I think still offer good value as you'd expect from C&J.