(ARA) - The man of your dreams, a stunning dress and the most darling shoes to go with it - you have everything you need to ensure your wedding is perfect in every way. But at the end of your big day, will you be left with something less welcome than beautiful memories? Will you be sporting sore - or possibly even injured - feet?
"Brides may think that aching feet at the end of their wedding day is just something they'll have to put up with," says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, a doctor of podiatric medicine and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). "But while dancing the night away at the reception can tire their feet, brides shouldn't end their big day with sore feet. The right shoe choice can help protect them from foot pain."
Most women consider comfort over style or price when selecting a shoe, according to an APMA survey. Yet brides may be tempted to put looks over comfort, thinking they'll wear their wedding shoes so briefly a little discomfort won't make a difference. Wearing shoes that irritate your feet can cause long-term injury, however, and make existing problems, like bunions or hammer toes, worse.
When you're picking out wedding shoes, keep these tips from APMA in mind:
* Lower heels are better. You may love how your legs look in those 5-inch stilettos, but very high heels can put a lot of pressure on your feet and even cause misalignment of the spine. If you know you'll be on your feet for hours (and what bride isn't?), consider choosing a lower heel of no more than 2 inches.
* Can't go without your very high heels? Consider keeping a second, lower-heeled shoe on hand to slip on during down times. Wear your hot high heels for the ceremony and photos, and switch to the more comfortable, practical (but still pretty) lower heels for the reception.
* Shoes with wide, rounded toes tend to be more comfortable. Pointed or tight shoes pinch the toes into unnatural positions, and can cause or contribute to a number of foot problems. A good rule of thumb - if you can't wiggle your toes in your shoes, they're too tight.
* Opt for materials that have some "give." White patent leather pumps may look great, but those satin shoes may actually be better for your feet if they have a bit of stretch. Never wear plastic or vinyl shoes, which don't allow feet to breathe.
* Whatever shoe material you choose, the shoe itself should have a flexible sole that allows your toes to bend naturally when you walk, and have a rigid, cushioned heel counter to keep your foot from slipping around inside the shoe. Consider purchasing inserts for your shoes to help cushion the heels, arches, and balls of your feet.
* Don't buy a gorgeous but uncomfortable pair of shoes thinking you'll "break them in." Any shoe you buy should be comfortable immediately, and you probably won't want to wear them before the wedding day and risk getting them scuffed or dirty. If it rubs or chafes in the store, time and wear will not improve how the shoe feels.
* Everyone's foot expands throughout the day, so go shoe shopping in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Even if you plan a sunrise wedding, choosing your wedding shoe based on your end-of-day size will help ensure you get the best fit.
* Flip-flops are a hot trend for brides, especially if you're marrying during warm months. Flip-flops can be very comfortable; just be sure to choose the right style. Flip-flops with soles that bend freely and twist easily offer no support or stability. Look for a style that bends only at the ball of the foot, and that provides arch support, cushioning the foot and providing stability. The thong part of the shoe should be made of high-quality, soft leather to help avoid blisters.
"Sore feet should be the last thing on your mind on the biggest day of your life," Sutera says. "Some wise choices in footwear can help brides ensure their feet feel as great as they look on their wedding day."