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How to Make Heels More Comfortable Before the Wedding

Whether you're going open-toe or stiletto, Zola knows how to make heels more comfortable before your wedding. Read on so you can dance the night away, pain-free!

By The Zola Team

Shiny wedding high heels
Photo by Zola

Getting married is one of the most magical moments in life. So, of course, you don’t want some minor aspect—like the heels you’re wearing—to turn into a major pain point (pun intended). Whether you’re about to go shoe shopping or you’ve already found the perfect pair of heels, figuring out how to make wearing heels more comfortable is a smart idea before the wedding.

Keep reading to learn three ways to find the most comfortable high heels, plus ten tips to make the heels you have feel the best they can.

How to Find the Comfiest Heels

If you’re wondering how to make heels more comfortable, the answer starts with knowing when you should go shoe shopping and what you should be looking for.

Typically, people find that buying shoes that are larger than their actual size is a good way to stay comfortable for longer periods of time. It’s always recommended that you try the shoes on before you buy them, but if you don’t have that option, here’s a good guide to help decide your size, based on heel height:

  • For heels between two to four inches high, consider getting a half size larger than your original shoe size.

  • For heels between four to six inches high, consider getting a full size larger than your original shoe size.

  • For heels higher than six inches, consider getting up to one and a half sizes larger, depending on the height of the heel.

Finding high heels that are comfortable enough for your big day can take a while, so if you’re still on the hunt for the perfect shoes, don’t worry. Here are three easy tips for finding heels that provide comfort, without sacrificing style.

How to Make Heels More Comfortable Before the WeddingPhoto Credit // Zola Inc

#1 Go Shoe Shopping After a Full Day on Your Feet

Just because shoe shopping is at the top of your to-do list doesn’t mean it should be the first errand you run at the start of your day. Consider this: try on your heels after a day of being on your feet. Why? Because it’s normal for feet to swell a little after prolonged periods of standing or walking (which you’ll be doing a lot of), so trying on heels when your feet are vulnerable is a great “trial by fire,” so to speak.

#2 Look for Wider Heels, Platforms, and Ankle Straps

You may think stilettos when you’re envisioning your wedding attire, but times are changing—chunkier heels and platforms are very “in” right now. And, thankfully so. A shoe with a chunkier heel will better distribute the pressure you feel on the heel of your foot. While you will have plenty of options for a chunky heel with no platform, the extra height underneath the ball of your foot will help distribute your weight even more, and put less strain on your arch.

Pro Tip: Believe it or not, ankle straps also play a big role in making heels more comfortable. The extra reinforcement will keep the back of your shoe from digging into your skin, and has the added bonus of protecting you from rolling your ankle on your big day. Thus, when it comes to how to make strappy heels more comfortable, you might not need to.

#3 Try on Rounded Toe, Open-Toe, and Square-Toe Heels

If your feet are on the wider or flatter side, heels with extra toe space will make a huge difference for you. Wearing closed-toed or pointed-toed heels can get uncomfortable for anyone—and even more so when you’re on your feet all day.

But, how do you keep your precious toes from feeling squished while wearing closed-toed heels?

Look for a rounded toe. You’ll get extra toe room with open-toed heels, even if they come to a point, but choosing a square-toe heel will give you even more space.

How to Make Wearing Heels More Comfortable

In case you’ve already purchased your wedding heels, or have a gut-feeling that your dream shoes are also feet prisons, there are still a ton of ways (10, to be exact) to tweak your heels so you won’t be suffering on your special day.

#1 Break Them In

If you’ve ever asked someone how to make high heels more comfortable, their first answer was probably “Break them in.” That’s standard practice for just about any shoe. And, while it’s true that you’ll stretch out your shoe’s stiff fabric, properly breaking in heels takes a little more skill than just walking around your home every day until the wedding.

Here are some easy tips to break in high heels:

  • Wear thick socks – Break in your heels quicker with a thick pair of socks. Not only will this protect your feet from blistering, but it’ll also create more “give” in the material.

  • Practice your walk – At the risk of sounding silly, practicing your gait means building the muscles you need for support, and stretching your heels in all the right places. Focus on keeping good posture, engaging your abdominal muscles, and stepping with your weight on the outside of your feet.

  • Don’t wear your heels the day before – Hopefully, by the day before your wedding, your heels will be broken in and comfortable. But, if they’re not, don’t risk compromising your feet the day before your wedding. Give your feet at least 24 hours to heal, breathe, and rest before the big day.

#2 Sandpaper the Soles

Sometimes, the thing that’s making your heels uncomfortable is not the material of the shoe. Rather, having a slick sole can make it so your feet are constantly shifting, not only causing you discomfort, but making it difficult to balance. Using sandpaper on the soles of your heels will improve traction and make it easier for you to hold your ground.

#3 Line With Adhesive-Backed Cushions

Making strappy heels more comfortable poses a slightly harder challenge, simply because there are more individualized spots for your feet to get used to. Thankfully, there are a lot of products made specifically for this purpose that you can buy at department stores or from big-box retailers. Here are some products you should look for (and, make sure they have adhesive backing):

  • Cushioned strips
  • Gel strips
  • Moleskin tape

#4 Try Inserts and Insoles

If the inside of your shoes are causing you the most trouble, insoles or inserts can mitigate or eradicate the problem. While insoles are made for your whole foot, inserts are for specific pressure points, such as the ball of your foot, arch, or heel. Either way, you’ll be able to find them at department stores and big-box retailers, but just make sure that you have your shoes handy when you’re shopping, so that you can avoid buying anything that’ll be visible once applied.

#5 Widen With a Hairdryer

Widening your shoes with a heat source is an easy solution that works wonders. By increasing the temperature of your shoe, you’ll increase the ductility of the fabric, allowing your shoes to shape to your feet when you put them on once you’re done. You’ll need your heels to be warm for this to work, but avoid overheating your shoes or putting your feet in while they’re too hot.

Disclaimer: This method only works with leather or suede shoes. Man-made materials can be highly flammable, so be sure to check the material of your heels on the box before giving this a go. If your shoes aren’t made of natural materials, you’ll want to consider the next option, instead.

#6 Widen in the Freezer

The best option for widening high heels that aren’t mainly leather or suede (or, if putting on hot shoes feels a little too risky for you) is to widen them by freezing a bag of water inside each shoe. As the water turns to ice, it’ll stretch out the material. This is a simple and low-effort method, although you’ll have to forgo breaking in your shoes for a few hours.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Fill a plastic bag with water.
  • Make sure it’s securely closed and place it in the shoe.
  • Put your shoe, with the bag in it, in the freezer.
  • Wait at least five hours (ideally, leave them overnight).
  • Check out the results.

#7 Use a Friction Block Stick (or Deodorant)

In the same section of a store where you’ll find insoles, inserts, and cushions with adhesive backing, you should be able to find a friction block stick, made specifically to prevent blisters (if not, they’re easy to order online). Additionally, if you can’t find a friction block stick to rub on your feet, a simple stick of deodorant is a great alternative that’ll give you similar results.

#8 Tape Your Toes

If you happen to have a ballet background, you’re already well aware of this trick. Taping together your third and fourth toes (counting from your big toe) with nude medical tape will help alleviate pain in the ball of your foot. This may sound a little weird, but there’s science to support its benefits.

Between your third and fourth toes is a nerve that can cause you a lot of pain when pressure is applied to it. Taping the toes together removes the strain from the nerve, allowing you to stand (and dance) much longer than you’d be able to otherwise.

#9 Go to a Cobbler

When all else fails, go to a cobbler or a shoe repair professional. They are masters of the trade for a reason, and they can lower your heel height, widen your shoe, and come up with creative solutions you wouldn’t be able to do from home.

If you’re wondering if you’ll be able to get the results you want from home when it comes to making your shoes more comfortable, consider the heel height to shoe size recommendation from earlier. If your heels are four inches or higher, and you’re not having much luck with these DIY remedies, your best bet is to bring your shoes to a professional.

#10 Celebrity-Approved Craft Hacks

This last tip is a bit of a wildcard, but if your feet keep sliding around in your high heels, these crafty hacks may solve your problems. According to Glamour magazine, Jessica Alba keeps her feet in place by using double-sided tape in her heels. Designer Marc Jacobs has been known to use an even crazier method on runway shows in the past, by attaching models’ heels to their feet using wig glue. Sure, these options are a little out there, but when it comes to your wedding day, it just might be worth it.

Don’t Let Your Heels Keep You from Enjoying Your Wedding Day Hopefully, now that you know how to make heels more comfortable, you’re feeling confident in your ability to make your ideal high heels a part of your wedding day. Of course, you want to look good, but you also don’t want something like a pair of shoes to keep you from enjoying your special day.

How to Make Heels More Comfortable Before the Wedding Photo Credit // Robert Metz Unsplash

If your wedding date is around the corner and your heels still aren’t feeling perfect, don’t give up on them altogether—just keep a spare pair of dancing shoes ready for whenever it’s time to show off your amazing moves. And, while you prepare your wedding heels, here at Zola, we can take care of your website, registstry, and matching invite suite.

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