It’s 2016: A woman can wear what she wants to her wedding. Don’t care for the Disney princess look? No problem—there’s a wealth of understated options on the market right now. More of a pants person? You’re in luck: Bridal jumpsuits couldn’t be cooler these days—and who’s going to stop you if you want to wear jeans? (I mean, your mom might try…)
One of the most persistent myths that’s due to be quashed, however, is that to look your best, you need to be teetering around in heels for the entire night. Even if most people will barely glimpse them under a floor-length gown, the accepted wisdom is that high heels make you stand straighter, look slimmer, and feel more confident—and while those things may ring true for some women, they’re by no means universal truths. When you think about it, wedding flats make total sense—and for many brides, they’ve ended up being the perfect choice for their big day. Read on for their reasons why:
Pragmatism may get short shrift in a culture of Pinterest-planned fantasy weddings, but there is so much to be said for mitigating the likelihood that you’ll end up in pain by the time the reception rolls around. “I knew that I would be on my feet all day, and I wanted to be comfortable all the way from photos to the ceremony through dancing at the end of the night,” says Janet Caputo Karp, an advertising executive in New York. Plus, she adds, “I ended up with J.Crew ballet flats in pale slate blue with a silver cap toe, so they also served as my ‘something blue.'”
For some brides, a stiletto heel may be too risky of a choice for a particularly perilous train—and don’t forget that not all aisles are created equal. “I had to walk down some very steep crazy stairs as a part of my walk down the aisle, so I couldn’t imagine having done that in heels,” explains Ann Brady Gorran, an editor in New York, who chose a pair of glittering gold Aquazzura lace-up flats to match her gown on her wedding day.
While no one is saying the bride can’t be taller than the groom, couples that are on a relatively even playing field, height-wise, may take this into consideration. Flatter shoes can ensure no one has to crouch down during the whole “you-may-now-kiss-the-bride” thing, and if you tend to wear flats in everyday life, the height differential in photos may be closer to the one you’re used to seeing.
Brady Gorran, for one, says she met her husband on Tinder and didn’t know how tall he was until she arrived at the first date, in heels, and found she towered over him. “We’re the exact same height—like, exactly back-to-back the exact same height,” she says. “We just fit together when I’m in flats.”
3. Feeling like you
Of all the occasions to feel really and truly like yourself, your wedding day is right up there. If you already wear heels on the regular, by all means—wear them down the aisle. But if they’re just going to make you feel like you’re wearing a costume picked out by some bridal-salon stylist, there’s no need to feel pressured into going with the four-inch option.
“I wear flats constantly, and I wanted to feel like myself on my wedding day,” explains Caputo Karp. “I didn’t really consider other options.” Plus, of course, the modern definition of a bride is no longer as narrow as it once was—there are LGBT brides, gender-non-conforming brides, differently abled brides—and if Cinderella did teach us one useful thing, it’s that shoes are never one-size-fits-all.
Ahead, shop 12 pairs of wedding flats that you’ll actually want to keep on till the last dance.