Wediquette Wednesday: Is it OK to go barefoot at the reception?
Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’ll be a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. Today, we’ll discuss an observation from a venue manager regarding the all-too-common practice of people taking their shoes off at the wedding reception.
Question: Not really a question, just a peeve I have seen at many receptions — ladies taking off their shoes and running about barefoot in a venue. It is dangerous, and it is unsightly. Ladies come in [wearing] high, platform, beautiful shoes and after 10 minutes they are barefoot.
As a venue manger, it is unnerving to see this, as you never know when someone [might] drop a glass and someone steps on it. Plus, it is just kinda gross to have people barefoot in a restaurant. I have not seen any blogs about this, but in conversation with other wedding professionals it comes up a lot. Is there a wedding etiquette [rule] on this topic?
Answer: The short answer is no, it’s not OK to go barefoot at a wedding, unless it’s on the beach or poolside. But, when it comes to throwing caution and footwear to the wind, we’ve all seen it and — if we are being honest — many of us have done it. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we are reminded to wear comfortable shoes to a wedding or any event in which there is a lot of walking, standing or dancing, most of us will still opt for our most impractical and fabulous footwear, even if it’s guaranteed to give us blisters and prompt us to take our shoes off at an elegant soirée. Or worse, walk barefoot in the French Quarter (we aren’t naming names, but this is a true story).
This venue manager has written in with two valid points. It is of course unsightly and also the barefoot individuals are opening themselves up to not only a cut on broken glass or some other sharp object, but also a possible viral infection. Not to be uncivilized, but what if another shoeless guest struggles with a foot fungus?
But as we are well aware, where there are uncomfortable shoes and freely flowing adult beverages, there likely also will be bare feet. This is one of those times when rather than try to beat ‘em with a pointless educational awareness campaign, we recommend acknowledging there is a problem and offering solutions.
Brides, as a fun and practical gift to your bridesmaids, why not include a pair of adorable little foldable ballet flats? The handy flats come in a variety of colors and will look much more fashionable than flip-flops. Sandals are also a stylish pick.
That said, flip-flops are a decent, albeit much more casual solution and one made to us by the New Orleans Bride Magazine etiquette columnist, Dee Lane. She happened to be in the office the day this question was posted in the comments and recommends that near the doors of the reception hall couples place a couple of baskets of flip-flops in a variety of sizes. Guests with tired, aching tootsies can help themselves to the baskets; no one has to worry about spreading or getting germs or infection; and venue managers can stress less about at least this particular liability. I’ve heard of this being done, but have yet to see it become a reception staple.
So, until the trend of providing alternate footwear to the entire wedding party and flip-flop baskets for everyone else becomes de rigueur, take it upon yourself to be a great guest. Prepare ahead by wearing stylish, yet comfortable shoes or, if the thought of sensible footgear makes you shudder, bring your own alternate footwear.
Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email me at Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.
For more wedding etiquette, check out the most recent column from New Orleans Bride Magazine etiquette columnist Dee Lane in the new Winter/Spring 2015 issue.