Bridal Footwear Gets Greater Focus as Brides Swap Tradition for Personalization

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Jenny Packham x L.K. Bennett

Traditional bridal shoes may be giving way to customized Jimmy Choo stilettos, whimsical Sophia Webster heels and sparkly Keds x Kate Spade sneakers, as brides look to more unconventional options for their big day.

That trend has also influenced the way brides spend on their weddings and what they’ll tap into their funds for. According to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Survey, U.S. couples spend an average of $33,391 on weddings, excluding honeymoons. Brides in Manhattan and Long Island spend the most on their wedding gowns ($2,504 and $2,347, respectively), compared to the average $1,509 across all types of brides. Brides living in Pennsylvania’s Poconos and New Mexico brides spend the least, at around $1,100.

While head counts are getting smaller and formal weddings are on the decline, The Knot found that most couples are placing an emphasis on personalization. Sixty-four percent of couples surveyed said planning a wedding that’s a true reflection of who they are as a couple was the most important consideration.

That desire for personalization carries well into footwear. While David’s Bridal continues to offer brides and bridal party members more than 50 styles of dyeable shoes and more than 60 colors to choose from, fashion magazines and social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are inundated with images of brides walking the aisle in designer heels, personalized footwear and offbeat silhouettes that show off their personal bridal style.

Designer brides

Weddings are a time for splurge purchases and footwear is often the one item brides feel they’ll wear more than once. High-end brands understand this and are revamping their bestselling styles for bridal.

Christian Louboutin’s bridal assortment plays with white leather, lace and jacquard, as well as crystal-embellished nude mesh, rose gold leather and edgy spikes. Stuart Weitzman meets bridal demands with its signature Nudist sandal in silver lame, silk satin mules and sandals embellished with crystal fringe.

Casadei’s iconic Blade, a 4.5-inch stiletto made with a lacquered steel heel, is offered in bridal satin. The brand also includes metallic ecru pumps, strappy silver sandals and blue stretch satin mules in its bridal collection. For Fall ’18, Casadei offers wedding stilettos embellished with long plumes of feathers or ruffle ankle bracelets,

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For fall, Jimmy Choo offers a mule kitten heel drenched in pearls. The shoe complements Jimmy Choo’s main bridal line, which spans glittery blue and white ombre heels to white lace and satin ivory peep toe booties. Additionally, the designer’s made-to-order program allows brides to live out their Cinderella dreams with a range of stiletto pumps and flats drenched in Swarovski crystals. The shoes retail for over $4,000.

And nearly a decade after Mr. Big proposed to Carrie Bradshaw for a second time in their ill-fated Fifth Avenue penthouse and sealed the deal with Manolo Blahnik’s blue satin Hangisi pump, the shoe continues to be fashionista brides’  go-to “something blue.” So much so, that the jewel-embellished shoe was (and continues to be) the centerpiece for Blahnik’s year-old bridal line.

The British influence

The upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is bound to throw British bridal fashion back into the spotlight.

British designer Charlotte Mills is known for the hidden nods to tradition in her line of bridal footwear. The designer adds an original silver sixpence to the left shoe in every pair of bridal shoes to bring brides good luck and prosperity throughout their married life.

Mills recently debuted the Meghan shoe, a leather and crushed pearl glitter block heel sandal designed in honor of the future royal. “Meghan has a great style, and it would be a dream to design her shoes,” the designer said.

U.K. footwear brand L.K. Bennett’s recent collaboration with British designer Jenny Packham is the quintessential collection for Anglophiles. The brands—both favorites of Kate Middleton—combine their shared love for Old Hollywood for the Spring ’18 collaboration.

L.K.Bennett X Jenny Packham

The collection, which retails for between $295 and $525, blends lace and satin alongside Art Deco-inspired jewels and whimsical organza flowers. Silhouettes span braided T-strap stiletto sandals and classic pointed-toe pumps trimmed with mini pearls, to lacey block heel slingbacks and star embellished sandals.

Meanwhile, a host of offbeat British designers has said “I do” to bridal footwear for years. Tabitha Simmon’s $995 rose satin bootie is a play on the designer’s popular suede boots. Simmons adds a glamazon look to bridal with rose-colored satin and jewelry-like gemstones.

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Brides can expect pin-up style platform pumps and heart-embellished pumps from Charlotte Olympia. Floral cut-out uppers, tassel detailed heels and scallop trim call for wedding dresses with shorter hem lengths.

Sophia Webster’s fantastical designs include her signature Chiara butterfly shoe in white and blue/white colorways, while her $995 Selina features a beaded heel and swirls of embroidery and beading. Each one of Webster’s bridal designs are topped off with “Wifey for Lifey” on the soles.

Irregular Choice stays true to its quirky British design sensibility with its popular line of bridal shoes.

Launched in 2012, Joshua Sewell, sales and marketing manager, Americas, said the brand’s wedding collection has been a hit with brides that want to buck tradition. “We’re known for special shoes, so it was an organic move for us to add bridal,” Sewell said, adding that customized bridal options are in the pipeline.

Irregular Choice’s bridal assortment includes pumps, Mary Janes and T-strap heels with ultra-girly embellishments like bows, glittery hearts and leather flowers. The brand’s popular vintage-inspired Abigail bootie gets the bridal treatment with with chunky lace overlays and romantic satin laces.

For Fall ’18, the collection offers more mid height kitten heel and flat options, as well as glitter, satin bows and soft pink and purple satin rosettes.

Something special

Something Bleu knows how to dress brides and their entire entourage with statement footwear—and at attainable prices. The brand’s core business takes place at the department store level with retailers like Nordstrom. “Our niche is our price. There’s nobody doing $350-$400 with Italian fabrics,” said co-owner and designer Lynn Comeau.

The brand’s bestsellers include 2.5-inch d’Orsay heels and 4-inch strappy sandals decorated with mini pearls. However, Comeau said embellishments are becoming bolder and more decadent.

For Fall ’18, Something Bleu introduces clusters of large pearls, metallic brocade fabrics, florals trimmed with glitter, rose embroideries and bows that resemble blooms. The brand also expands its use of feather flourishes—a trend Comeau said is pulled straight from the bridal runway—mixing the trim with crystals and fancy fabrics.

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A touch of Marie Antoinette fashion comes into play. One of Something Bleu’s most popular styles for fall is a low heel with a vintage-inspired floral blue, pink and gold brocade upper and gossamer tie. The fabric resembles lush wallpaper from Versailles.

Romanticism and brides—sounds as original as florals for spring—but Comeau said expect to see more fantasy and romance in bridal fashion. “There’s a Victorian feel, lots of feminine silhouettes, roses and bows, or bows that look like roses,” she said.

Nina Shoes knows how to make women’s special days extra special. With a business that spans online, to specialty bridal stores and department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s, the brand is a reliable source for timeless yet on-trend special occasion footwear.

Bridal party members, in particular, buy their footwear online, Lyn Fleming, Nina senior director of sales-international division, said.

For Fall ’18, the brand is dabbling in a number of bridal trends. “Anything goes in heel heights—from flats to pointed toe shoes with sexy thin heels to booties,” Fleming said.

Nina dresses up footwear with dreamy ruched tulle uppers, filigree designs, jewel ankle straps, lace overlays and classic satin. The brand sprinkles in metallic silver and gold, while jewel tone satins like cranberry, teal and plum are key for bridal parties for fall. Fleming added that navy continues to be strong and is no longer just for Mother of the Bride.

Nina Shoes is also seeing interest toward coordinates. The brand offers handbags and jewelry that complements its footwear. “It’s nice to have a matching stone or color carried throughout the whole look,” Fleming said.

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