Stylists have known for a long time that the secret to a perfect outfit is planning it from the shoes up. Your choice of footwear can make or break even the best suit, so if you are getting married this year it’s important to carefully consider the options when it comes to men’s wedding shoes. Choose a pair of shoes that look fantastic, match the style of your outfit perfectly and are comfortable enough to wear all day long.
Even if you're simply attending as a guest, it's wise to invest in a good pair of high-quality shoes for a wedding. Choose the right pair, and they can be worn again and again. The range of men's options are a little more streamlined than women's, but there are still a wide variety of choices out there.
When choosing shoes for your wedding, it certainly pays to do your research – after all, you're likely to have at least one photograph of the big day on display for many years, so you want to look and feel your best.
Here's everything you need to know about choosing men's wedding shoes.
The kind of shoes that you choose depends on your personality, your wedding venue, and the rest of your outfit.
The classic choice is a good pair of men's Oxford shoes. These are the most popular style of men’s shoes for formal wear, and will serve you well anywhere. Their timeless style looks great with any suit and means that after the wedding they can also be worn to the office or to other formal occasions.
Choose black Oxfords for maximum versatility (shined-up if you'd like to go the full Fred Astaire), or brown for a more casual look. When it comes to choosing footwear for weddings, you really can’t go wrong with a high quality pair of Oxfords, which makes them the default choice for a lot of grooms.
For a traditional countryside wedding, or something a little more relaxed, you may want to opt for a pair of well-made Derby shoes. Derbys are similar to Oxfords but feature an open laced design which lends them a more robust, rosy-cheeked and smart yet slightly less formal feel.
Another popular choice of shoes for a wedding is a pair of men’s brogues. The brogueing - small holes punched in the leather - adds some extra detail to your outfit and are great as a slightly more casual choice. Brogues are available in a range of styles including Oxfords and Derbys and work well with all but the most formal of suits.
If your wedding venue is a little offbeat, or you'd like to make a style statement at a more traditional wedding, footwear options include bold-buckled monk strap shoes, rock'n'roll-inflected Chelsea boots, or luxurious loafers which provide a great way to transition into a party mood come the evening.
When choosing your shoes, there are some important colour matching rules you need to be aware of. This is not to say you need to adhere strictly to specific rules; it’s your wedding and you are of course free to wear whatever you like. However, understanding the basic principles of formal wear enables you to put together an outfit that will look great, whether you choose to break a few rules or not.
Firstly, a black suit should never be worn with brown or tan shoes. This rule holds up for darker grey suits until you get to the lighter shades of grey, when brown, cherry, or maroon shoes can work well. It’s also worth noting that for formal occasions, black shoes can be worn with almost any colour of suit other than perhaps very light cream or beige.
Blue suits should be worn with black or brown shoes, in any shade. For navy or darker blues, black or darker brown shoes generally work best. Lighter brown or tan shoes suit being paired with lighter blue suits. Burgundy or shades of brown with a more reddish hue also look great with blue suits.
Green suits may be unusual, but should always be worn with brown or tan shoes (never black). Cream or off-white suits tend to look best with brown or tan shoes, but can also look very dapper with two-tone footwear.
Traditionally, your shoes should be darker than your suit and this is generally a good rule of thumb to follow. But for more relaxed weddings, flipping this the other way around will create impact and focus attention on your outfit.
The colour of your shoes also depends on the style of suit you choose. Three-piece suits are more formal, and black or darker browns are generally more appropriate for these. Two-piece suits can work with black or brown shoes, depending on the colour of the suit. Tweed or donegal suits are typically slightly more relaxed and match well with brogues. Similarly, for warmer months linen suits with a little less structure lend themselves to being paired with a more casual loafer style of shoe. Whatever your suit style, however, if you wear a belt it should always match your shoes. The same goes for your watch strap if it is leather.
If you are the groom, make sure to take into account your venue, your outfit, and your wedding party's outfits when choosing a shoe colour, including bouquets and bridesmaid's dresses. Groomsmen should take their cue from the groom, and wedding guests should choose a shoe colour according to the time of year, venue, and formality of the event.
Men's formal shoes tend to be longer, narrower, and with a more pointed toe than casual styles. This balances out any potential for top-heaviness which a suit may confer and makes your legs appear longer and more elegant. The only exception to this rule is if you're wearing a tuxedo, with which a round-toed shoe is traditional.
A general rule to follow: the more simple the shoe shape, the more formal the shoe. If your wedding is very traditional, and your suit is formal, choose a whole cut style, where the uppers are crafted from one single piece of leather.
Toe-caps, wingtips, and brogue details (full brogue, semi-brogue or quarter brogue) render shoes a little less formal, and more versatile; for example, Oxfords with a cap toe are equally appropriate for an office setting. Fringing and kilties (a fringed leather tongue covering the laces of a shoe) are best treated with caution, and tend not to be formal enough for a church wedding.
When deciding how formal your shoes need to be for a wedding, be guided by the venue and the theme of the day. For example, a traditional and formal church wedding will require a more formal footwear style than a wedding taking place in a less traditional venue such as a field or beach.
When choosing shoes for a wedding, quality is crucial. High-quality materials will ensure that your shoes are comfortable, look good, and will last for many years to come. Supple, buttery leather is a must, whether you opt for a glossy shine or an elegant matte finish.
High-quality construction is what will elevate your outfit from drab to debonair – the clean lines and restrained design of men's shoes means that there's little room for error, and shoddy construction will show. However, the versatility of most styles means that it's an investment that's worth making; a well-chosen pair of men's shoes will last you for many years to come.
While there are some basic rules when it comes to formal occasions such as weddings, contemporary trends have relaxed these somewhat. What’s more, many weddings these days don’t necessarily follow a traditional format or take place at a traditional venue. Therefore one of the most important factors when choosing shoes for your wedding is to pick a pair that you love. They will help you feel confident during the day and in turn aid in the smooth running of the celebration.