Instead of wearing replicated footwear as-is, brides, grooms and their attendants are adding some flair. Accessories such as clips, rings, chains, sneaker laces and decals showcase personality, contribute to wardrobe consistency and generate distinctive looks. Functional accessories, like plastic attachments beneath the shoe, help maintain balance.
Brooke Askins, 28, a flight attendant from Little Elm, Texas, managed to turn a pair of shoes, gift from her husband, Shane Askins, 36, before she was even engaged, into her wedding shoes.
The wine-coloured, 3-inch heels from Apt. 9 Shoes had sat in her closet, untouched. Then she realized they would perfectly coordinate with her bridesmaids’ dresses for the couple’s 200-person wedding at the Brooks at Weatherford, in Weatherford, Texas, on Jan. 21.
“I wanted to wear them as my wedding shoes,” she said, “but I was looking for something to make them more formal and bridal.”
Her husband’s sister suggested shoe clips, and so, a Google search followed. The bride found and bought a pair of 2-by-1 1/2-inch rhinestone art deco-style shoe clips with crystal-like stones ($16.95) from Absolutely Audrey, an online retailer specializing in shoe accessories.
“They clipped on really easily and stayed on the whole night,” said Askins, whose clips were secured to the vamps (the material on the top) of her shoes with a snap-on function similar to clip-on earrings. “They changed my shoe. They made it more special.”
Crisa Barriball, an owner of Absolutely Audrey in Plainfield, Illinois, said her 15-year-old business sells 1,500 pairs of shoe clips each month, and 90% of orders are for brides. Varying from glittery bows to classic pearls, sets can be fastened to shoes’ vamps, collars (sides) or counters (backs), and retail for $8 to $20.
“In the first few years, a lot of the brides were coming to me for the cost element,” Barriball said. “Adding up their expenses with the flowers, and the venue, and the dress, the shoes tend to be more last minute. So it was more, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t think I can get these pretty shoes to match my gown. Is there any way I can save some money?’”
Since 2014, Barriball has noticed priorities shift. “I’ve seen more brides looking into the personalization aspect,” she said, adding that brides often say, “I’ve found a really nice pair of pumps that are comfortable, but they didn’t come in the style I was really hoping to get, to match my gown.”
This is where Barriball and companies like Stuart Weitzman, Steve Madden and the Dyable Shoe Store step in. “This is an opportunity for everything to be perfectly matching — to have different types of bridal shoes,” Barriball said. “We can add a little ornament.”
There are about 65 styles of shoe accessories on the Absolutely Audrey site, including pearl shoe clips, crystal rhinestone heel rings ($13.95 for three pairs) and heel chains ($19.95 a pair). But brides, grooms and their wedding parties aren’t limited to chunky attachments.
Stickers stating “I Do,” “She’s Mine” and other matrimonial phrases can be placed on the shanks (outside-facing arches) of shoes. Decals range from 95 cents to $5.50 at the Wedding Outlet.
For a more informal vibe, some couples and wedding parties upgrade sneakers by subbing out standard laces. Vibrant shoestrings provide an accent of colour, while Happily Ever After Ribbon Shoe Laces ($8.50 to $10.50, depending on length, Etsy) and personalized wedding shoelaces ($6.69 a pair, Etsy), create day-specific sentiments. Custom copper, brass, bronze or stainless-steel shoelace tags that slide over laces ($18 to $26 a pair, Etsy) offer another layer of personalization.
Add-ons also serve as a safety measure. Solemates heel protectors ($10 a pair) in gold, silver and black, as well as clear Starlettos ($10.95 a pair), increase stabilization while they guard shoes. Both heel-focused products prevent damage caused by uneven surfaces and resist sinking into lawns during garden ceremonies and receptions.
When Mary Kinney, 33, of Pelham, New York, put on her 4-inch stiletto Michael Kors Becky Sandals for her April wedding, she applied Grasswalkers ($8.99 a pair) to the bottom of her shoes. The recyclable polycarbonate strips — flexible, flat and transparent — extend the lengths of each foot, and helped her and two of her four bridesmaids pose for photos.
“The other two had platform shoes, so they didn’t need them,” said Kinney, who was married at Hollow Brook Golf Club in Cortlandt Manor, New York. “Our pictures were all being taken outside on the course. Getting married in April, the ground can be softer because it usually rains. I really don’t like getting my heels stuck in the grass.”
Not having to monitor one’s steps (to prevent wobbling and tumbles) is ideal, but safeguarding shoes from mud and grass is a priority, especially when so much money, detail and attention have gone into buying, styling and coordinating footwear.
“Shoes are really expensive, and they just keep going up,” said Sheryl White, president of Grasswalkers in La Jolla, California, which sells 10,000 pairs annually. “It’s about not sinking, protecting your ankle and protecting the shoe you’ve invested in.”