While it’s true that suits and sneakers have been trending for men — and sneakers with dresses for women — there are still some situations when traditional is best. And one of those situations is a wedding.
Weddings tend to be semi-formal or dressy casual and that means avoiding traditionally casual clothing — including sneakers. Think of it this way, the bride and groom have spent thousands of dollars on their special day. And that means they are going to expect at least a bit of formality from their guests.
But what if the wedding is being held in a barn or a garden? Can you wear sneakers to a wedding if the venue isn’t formal? The answer is still no. Sneakers are never appropriate unless your invitation specifically says they are acceptable.
Are Sneakers Ever Acceptable as Wedding Attire?
In most cases, sneakers are just way too casual for a wedding. So what should you wear if you’re worried about staying comfortable while still looking stylish and appropriate?
First things first, check your wedding invitation. It should give you a good idea about what kind of outfit — and shoes — will be required. Let’s take a look at what kind of attire you should wear for each style of wedding.
Weddings that require fancy dress include white tie, black tie and formal, which is also known as black tie optional.
White-tie requires tuxedos with tails and a white bow tie for the men and floor-length evening gowns for the women. A black tie affair requires the same attire with the exception of a black bow tie instead of white.
Formal attire requires either a tux or a dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for the ladies.
Women’s shoe examples:
- Schutz Sybil Pumps — Classic pumps always look great for evening wear, especially when they’re enhanced with a bit of bling. If you’re not used to wearing heels, though, these shoes may take some practice to walk in.
- Style & Co. Phillys Two-Piece Evening Sandals — If you want to wear heels, but are nervous about going too high, this more moderate height is a great compromise.
- Jenvey Slingback Sandal — If you’re not used to wearing high heels, a pair of low-heeled slingbacks will still have you looking stylish, but you won’t be out of your comfort zone.
Men’s shoe examples:
- Magnanni Federico Oxford — While some tuxedo-worthy shoes can cost $500 or more, this pair still looks high-end but come in under $300.
- Florsheim Tux Plain Toe Oxford — Not every guy wants to spend a boatload of money on shoes he won’t wear very often. At less than $120, these shoes are a great option.
- Calvin Klein Men’s Bernard Tuxedo Dress Shoes — Smart and stylish, these slip-on shoes come in at $115, making them easier on the pocketbook than traditional tuxedo shoes.
Less formal weddings
Weddings with a more relaxed dress code include semi-formal, which can also be called cocktail and dressy casual.
One of the more popular wedding dress codes, semi-formal requires men to wear a suit or dress pants and sport coat while women can wear a cocktail dress, a garden party dress or a fancy jumpsuit.
Dressy casual is also very popular and allows men to wear a sports coat or blazer with trousers. Ties are optional. Women can wear a dress, a skirt and top ensemble or a semi-fancy jumpsuit.
Women’s shoe examples:
- Reformation Elsie Heeled Sandal — High-heeled, strappy sandals are a great choice for warm weather weddings and will coordinate well whether you choose a dress, skirt or jumpsuit.
- Stuart Weitzman Leather Aleena Metallic Wedge Sandals — Perfect for ladies who prefer a moderate heel, this style of shoe will go with virtually any outfit.
- Dream Pairs Women’s Revona Low Wedge Ankle Strap Flats Shoes — If you can’t (or won’t) wear heels, this type of shoe ensures you stay stylish but comfortable.
Men’s shoe examples:
- Florsheim Cardineli Cap Toe Derby — This style of shoe looks great with a pair of trousers, but you can also dress them down for everyday use.
- Cavalier boots — What’s so great about these boots is their versatility. They can be worn with a suit, trousers, or jeans. So, even if you don’t wear a suit very often, you’ll still get a lot of use out of them.
- Mr P. Jacques Leather Derby Shoes — The thick soles of these shoes are a more modern take on the traditional dress shoe and make them much more versatile.
Not quite as prevalent as semi-formal or dressy casual, a casual wedding permits men to wear a nice button down shirt and khakis or trousers while women can wear a sundress, maxi dress or a jumpsuit.
Women’s shoe examples:
- Lulu’s Fallyn Naked Mocha Mules — This style of shoe is perfect for a casual wedding. The heel isn’t too high, making it more comfortable for standing, walking and dancing.
- LuLu’s Welma Vanilla Leather Studded Flatform Ankle Strap Sandals — These casual wedges are ideal for women who want a compromise between heels and flats.
- Dream Pairs Summer Gladiator Sandals — Worn in champagne, gold or silver, these flats would work perfectly with a summer dress.
Men’s shoe examples:
- Clarks Men’s Bushacre 2 Chukka Boot — If you’re not a dress shoe kind of guy, this style of boot is just the ticket. It will work with jeans for your everyday life, but also khakis or trousers for work or special events.
- Keen Men’s Targhee Iii Slip-on — If you’d rather not deal with laces, this style of slip-on shoe is sufficiently versatile to wear with almost any pants you own. While they wouldn’t work with a suit, they’re perfect for trousers or khakis, not to mention jeans.
- ECCO Men’s S Lite Moc Classic Driving Style Loafer — Deck shoe fans will enjoy this style of shoe which is comfortable and easy to wear but still looks great with a pair of khakis.
Exceptions to the No-Sneakers Rule
While sneakers are a major faux pas for most weddings, there are always a few exceptions to the rule. While not the norm, some couples could opt for a theme that makes sneakers acceptable.
Does that mean you can wear Converse or Vans to a wedding?
Let’s take a look at some casual shoes that you may be able to pull off at an informal wedding.
The first thing to consider if you’re thinking about wearing Vans to an informal wedding is the color. White is a major no-no bordering on tacky. You could, however, pull off Vans in more appropriate colors.
You should also avoid Vans that look like traditional lace-up sneakers. There are a few occasions that simply demand a bit of effort when it comes to attire — and weddings are one of them.
Here are some acceptable Vans for men for a super-casual wedding:
- Black Vans Slip-Ons — With dark pants, the all-black Vans slip-on shoes would be a great choice.
- Heavy Textures Classic Slip-Ons — If you’re planning to wear tan or light-colored pants, these Vans in golden brown are a good option.
If you’re a woman who’s thinking of wearing Vans to a wedding, please don’t. Even super casual weddings call for a sundress, skirt or a jumpsuit — and Vans just don’t work with any of those options in that kind of setting.
Again, just like with Vans, you should avoid choosing white or any shoe that looks like a traditional sneaker. After all, you’re not going out to run errands or grab a coffee, you’re going to a wedding, and that deserves a little extra polish.
Most Converse shoe options are simply too casual, even for a very laid-back wedding. But, the One Star CC Pro Suede Slip is a decent option for men.
There aren’t any Converse shoes that are wedding-appropriate for women.
If you’re really attached to the idea of wearing sneakers — or something as close to sneakers as possible — here are a few options for men and ladies for less formal weddings.
- Women’s Keds by Kate Spade Triple Decker Glitter
- Blossom Avery Crystal-Studded Slip-On Sneakers
- LuLu’s Cassay Light Nude Crocodile-Embossed Platform Slip-On Sneakers
- TOMS Women’s Alpargata Cupsole Slip On Sneaker
- FeverSole Women’s Fashion Slip-On Sneaker Casual Flat Loafers
While there is white on these shoes, the sparkle-detailing makes the first two pairs appear more silver than white. The second pair is mostly nude, also making it an OK choice while the TOMS are almost completely metallic.
If you do choose to wear slip-on sneakers, however, put careful thought into your outfit so you have a cohesive look for the wedding.
- TOMS Alpargata Terrain Slip On
- TOMS Navi Boot
- COSIDRAM Mens Casual Sneaker Loafers Comfort Walking Shoes
- Skechers Men’s Equalizer Persistent Slip-On Sneaker
- CO&MODA Mens Fashion Sneaker
When choosing your slip-on sneakers, make sure the color coordinates well with your trousers so you can be stylish as well as comfortable.