The Essential Guide to Men's Wedding Shoes

If your big day is coming up, make sure you know which shoes to choose. Keep reading for our guide to men’s wedding shoes.

By Jennifer Prince

Men's Wedding Shoes
Photo by Just A Dream Photography

When it comes to menswear on the wedding day, the suit is often the first thing that comes to mind. Although you don’t want your guys to show up under—or over—dressed, there are other pieces to consider beyond suiting. Accessories such as the tie, pocket square, socks, and shoes will ensure the men are dressed their best from head to toe.

Although there are many variations available, there are a few basic styles for men’s wedding shoes. Being familiar with the terminology can help the guys determine what to wear. So, guys, get ready to learn how to put your best foot forward on the wedding day and beyond.

The Essential Guide to Men's Wedding Shoes Photo Credit // Unsplash

Guide to Men’s Wedding Shoe Styles

  • Oxford: These are perhaps the most classic style of men’s wedding shoes. Depending on their construction, oxfords are appropriate for both weddings and daily wear. One defining feature of this style is that they have what is referred to as closed lacing. As a result, the area where the laces are attached is closed and is in a “V” shape.
  • Monk Strap: This style bears the name “monk,” because monks originally wore these laceless shoes. Instead of lacing, a strap with a buckle enclosure keeps the shoes tight to the foot. Often made of leather, fabric, or suede, these shoes make a statement due to their uniqueness.
  • Derby: Strikingly similar to oxfords, the only difference is that Derby shoes have open lacing, which creates a more casual look for the groom. Although they aren’t quite as formal as oxfords, they can also be appropriate as men’s wedding shoes. However, the materials determine what shoes fit with particular dress codes. For example, a brown suede shoe is more casual than a black leather shoe.
  • Loafer: Another laceless shoe, the loafer has two defining features, namely a prominent strap—think penny loafers—that runs across the top of the shoe and seaming. These can be worn as casual shoes or suiting, depending on their color and construction.

Guide to Men’s Wedding Boot Styles

  • Dress Boot: These are oxford's taller cousin and are not to be confused with work boots. Dress boots are well constructed and stop right above the ankle to create a sleek appearance.
  • Chelsea Boot: Chelsea boots tend to be very plain and lack embellishment. Consequently, they can accent an ensemble without taking anything away from the overall look. Most are constructed of leather with a noticeable elastic gusset on each side to allow the boot to stretch easily.
  • Chukka Boot: The oxford is to the derby what the dress boot is to the chukka—it comes down to lacing. Chukka boots have open lacing. However, there are only two or three eyelets on each side, taking the focus off of the laces. If you’re thinking about wearing chukkas to a wedding, ensure that the requested wedding attire is on the casual side.

How to Choose the Right Pair of Men’s Wedding Shoes

Know Your Materials

Suede and fabric are best suited for a more casual look. A leather shoe is more formal, with black patent reserved for the most traditional, formal occasions. However, plain black leather shoes are appropriate for a black tie optional event. In short, material matters, so don’t ever wear brown suede shoes with a tuxedo—they’re more suitable for a casual affair.

Condition Is Everything

Footwear is something we tend to slip on and off daily without effort. Besides outerwear, shoes are the last thing we put on before we head out the door. As a result, they get neglected and can fall into disrepair. Even if you love those trusty loafers, don’t wear them to a wedding unless they look new once polished. Having your men’s wedding shoes in pristine condition is a must, and that includes the sole of the shoe.

The Essential Guide to Men's Wedding Shoes Photo Credit // Unsplash

Take New Footwear for a Test Drive

If you spring for a new pair of shoes, be sure to wear them a few times—even around the house—to acclimate your feet. After all, you need to dance the night away, which is almost impossible if you’re sporting a fresh blister.

Wear Socks

If you’re attending a black tie event, it’s best to leave the superhero socks at home. However, fun patterns and colors have become the norm for those in the wedding party. Don’t be afraid to experiment with socks that subtly grab attention. Oh, and as for that black tie event? Wear over-the-calf black dress socks to complete your look.

Consider Color

There are a few color combinations that work well together, and the converse is also true. The dress shoe you choose to pair with a blue suit should be different than the dress shoe you would pair with a tuxedo. Avoid being a fashion “don’t” by following this quick guide of which shoes go with which wedding suit style. Again, if you’re wearing a tuxedo, always go for a black patent leather oxford.

  • Black: Black or dark gray shoes work well. Please avoid brown.
  • Gray: Black or maroon work, as does brown, although it’s not our favorite.
  • Navy: Wear brown, gray, maroon, and possibly navy if they match well. If you adore white shoes, these may also work depending on your other accessories.
  • Brown: Burgundy, tan, gray, or navy work well. Don’t wear brown, as the tones most likely won’t match.
  • Maroon: Wear gray, tan, white, or navy, but avoid burgundy shoes.
  • Olive Green: Navy, burgundy, and tan work nicely.

As long as your men’s dress shoes match the wedding’s formality and are in perfect condition, you’re good to go. Whether you’re the one getting married, walking the bride down the aisle, or a treasured guest, get ready to dance the night away—hopefully without two left feet—in the proper footwear.

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