The leaves are turning, apple cider is brewing, and you're beginning to reach for a sweater. It's finally fall — the season of pumpkin spice and cozy clothes.
But it's also the most popular season to get married. As the weather gets chillier, the autumn wedding season breaks into full swing, and outdoor ceremonies are more popular than ever. But finding the right footwear for an outdoor fall wedding can be a challenge — they have to be cute, comfortable and practical, able to walk to the ceremony and dance at the reception. The last thing you want is your striking stiletto heel sinking into the grass as the couple says "I do."
As you put together your fall wedding ensemble, don't worry — we've got you covered. In this guide, we've listed some general fall wedding fashion tips, as well as shoe ideas for nine types of outdoor fall weddings. Whether you're attending a rustic barn wedding or a vineyard ceremony, you can find the perfect shoe to keep you dancing all night long.
General Tips for Outdoor Fall Wedding Footwear
Before we dive into specific shoe ideas, here are a few style tips to get you started.
- Opt for closed toe: During the colder fall months, opt for a pair of closed toe shoes. While open or peep-toe shoes can be cute and classy, they tend to work better in warm-season weddings than autumn ceremonies. In addition, you will probably be thankful for the extra coverage at an outdoor wedding — with open shoes, damp grass can quickly soak your toes.
- Think long-term comfort: The terrain of an outdoor wedding is more unpredictable than an indoor ceremony. You want a pair of shoes that will allow you to comfortably navigate the outdoors for a few hours, so choose a pair that is broken in, supports your feet and fits you well.
- Say no to skinny heels: Slender heels may be stylish, but they are a disaster waiting to happen in outdoor weddings. Shoes with thin heels don't offer the same support or comfort as their wide-heeled counterparts, and the narrow heel is sure to sink into the ground as you try to walk to and from the ceremony.
- Go with the vibe: The most important factor in your footwear decision is to go with the vibe of the wedding and the couple. If they are throwing a casual beach-side wedding, you might be able to wear open toe sandals without a problem. Alternatively, if you know the couple loves formal affairs, pull out your fancy footwear.
With these tips in mind, let's explore the most common outdoor wedding venues, and the shoes best suited to complement each one.
1. Barn Weddings
Whether the ceremony is at a barn, ranch or farm, rustic weddings are more popular than ever.
If you are invited to a barn wedding, expect to see a ceremony or reception in a high-ceilinged, warmly-light barn. Mason jars and chalkboard signs will point the way, bales of hay might serve as overflow seating, and wooden barrels could function as refreshment tables.
As a guest, let your footwear match the tone. For an outdoor barn wedding, choose a shoe that is relaxed and comfortable — formal footwear would more than likely look out of place. For flats, try a pair of charming leather loafers or ballet flats. Avoid velvet for a barn wedding — while the luxe fabric is a popular trend, a farm venue might have a lot of dust. The debris will cling to the fabric and put wear on your shoes, turning a once-stunning pair of black heels a dusty and patchy gray.
Channel the venue and slip on a pair of knee-high leather boots — for a subtler cowboy flair, opt for a black pair. Wear some chic heeled ankle boots with a jewel-tone shift dress, or put on a pair of pumps with a wide heel for a subtle lift and a streamlined silhouette.
2. Backyard Weddings
The ultimate in casual, intimate charm, a backyard wedding is a lovely autumn trend.
If a couple plans a backyard wedding, the odds are that they are low-key and no-fuss. Expect to see lots of natural greenery and warm lighting — at a small backyard wedding, you'll probably feel like part of the family.
The best shoes for a casual backyard wedding are comfortable and sturdy. Look for a classic black wedge or a wide-heeled bootie — shoes with a wide base will keep you from wobbling as you navigate a soft lawn. Black shoes are a timeless choice and go with just about any outfit, but casual brown shoes can also fit the tone of a backyard wedding. Try a western-inspired bootie for a fun, laidback look, or a charming leather flat for maximum comfort.
When looking for outfits to pair with your shoes, dark florals are a lovely choice. An elegant floral frock is a perfect balance of casual and on-trend, and the pattern takes a nod at the natural venue without being obnoxious. For a fall backyard wedding, avoid floor-length dresses — the formality of a long gown probably won't fit the tone of the wedding.
3. Beach Weddings
Who says summer is the only time to say your vows on the shore?
Autumn beach weddings may not be as warm as a spring or summer ceremony, but it can still be a beautiful, relaxed venue. But it's important to dress appropriately — while a hot beach wedding typically has a casual and breezy dress code, an autumn ceremony needs a little more preparation.
When attending a fall beach wedding, sandals may be a good shoe choice depending on your location. If the wedding occurs on a warm and sunny beach, a more summer-inspired ensemble could be a perfect fit. But if the ocean breeze is expected to be a little chilly, you're best choosing a closed toe shoe that won't be damaged by sand. Try a pair of cute neutral flats — an added benefit is how easy it is to slip them off and enjoy a moment of barefoot-on-the-beach bliss.
At an autumn beach wedding, don't be afraid to play up the season. Wear a jewel-toned dress if it suits your style, and don't forget to bring a shawl or scarf if the reception lingers after dark.
4. Formal Weddings
Just because a wedding is outdoors doesn't mean it will be casual.
A formal garden wedding has all the sophistication of a sophisticated indoor ceremony, but with the added beauty of an outdoor setting. Don't be surprised if one of your fall wedding invitations calls for a formal dress code — these chic ceremonies often come with all the details of an elegant, traditional wedding.
For a formal outdoor wedding, pull out a pair of shoes that have maximum class without sacrificing comfort. Unless the ceremony and reception are in a paved space, thin heels are out — instead, go for sleek suede pumps with a block heel or stylish ankle boots with detailing. Black shoes are a posh choice, and neutral or metallic colors add sophistication to your look.
Depending on the wedding, the invitation may stipulate exact dress code expectations, like "black tie" or "formal." Try wearing an elegant cocktail dress with a shawl or scarf to add a little extra warmth in case the breeze gets chilly. Go with colors that invoke the season, like deep plum and burgundy.
5. Vineyard Weddings
Bring out the wine and Tuscany charm — vineyard venues are consistently popular, and you'll likely get an invitation to one this fall.
A vineyard wedding is a combination of laidback winery charm and romantic sophistication. In fall, the grape leaves turn a gorgeous gold and fiery orange, providing a perfect complement to clear blue autumn skies. Pair the natural rustic beauty with local wine and you have all the ingredients for a gorgeous and fun reception.
For a vineyard wedding, look for footwear in between dressy and semi-formal. Black or neutral-colored heels with an ankle strap are elegant and feminine, or for a slightly more casual look, try on a pair of quilted velvet loafers.
Play up typical vineyard attire with your wedding look. Flowy dresses and classy, abstract prints make a lovely and trendy outfit. Another option is to channel the green colors of a vineyard, but with an autumn twist — deep olive or khaki-colored dresses are a beautiful look for a fall vineyard wedding.
6. Traditional Weddings
Get ready to go to the chapel — traditional weddings typically have the ceremony in a church, but more and more couples are opting to combine their traditional service with an outdoor reception.
A traditional outdoor wedding combines an indoor ceremony with an outside after-party, either under a tent or in the open air. For one of these autumn hybrid weddings, you have to be prepared for both worlds — while you could wear a variety of shoes to a chapel ceremony, if you choose stilettos, you might have a hard time navigating the reception.
Instead, think for the long-term. Especially if you have to walk to the reception venue, wearing stable and comfortable shoes is a priority. For a traditional outdoor wedding, consider wearing some stylish and streamlined ankle boots with a knee-length dress. If a portion of the reception venue will be paved, you could get away with wearing a thinner-heeled shoe like a trendy slingback pump. Take advantage of this season's love of luxe fabrics — materials like satin, silk and velvet have seen a strong comeback. A wine-colored velvet dress is an on-trend option that will be sure to get compliments.
7. Woodland Weddings
Dreamy and bohemian, woodland ceremonies are an up-and-coming trend in the wedding world.
If you attend a wedding in the woods, you can expect to see rustic logs, elegant candles and lots and lots of greenery. In autumn, the backdrop becomes even more gorgeous — with dappled golden sunlight and sunset-colored foliage, a fall forest is a unique and unforgettable venue.
When it comes to dress code, the exact tone of the wedding will vary from couple to couple. While some woodland weddings are decidedly bohemian and filled with lace, burlap and tassels, some go for a more classic look. Regardless of whether the event is dressy or more casual, one thing remains the same — the importance of wearing sturdy shoes.
For traipsing through the woods in fall, you need shoes that will support you and give you a wide foundation. Boots are a chic and stable choice — pair dark knee-high boots with a draping floral dress for a charming look. Brown leather ankle boots are another cute choice or choose some stylish mules with a stacked heel for an urban look.
8. Park Weddings
Park weddings take advantage of the high-end landscaping and amenities of lush urban parks for their ceremonies.
These outdoor weddings have the advantage of both pavement and turf. If you're invited to a park wedding, rejoice — you don't have to put away your favorite heels.
For most park weddings, you can get away with navigating on sidewalks for the entire event, which means you can rock your best pair of slick stiletto pumps. But consider wearing something a little more versatile — if the dancing starts on the grass, you don't want to be stuck watching from the paved sidelines.
To make sure you're able to enjoy every part of an autumn park wedding, consider some shoes that still have a slim heel but provide more support than stilettos. These warm mid-heel pumps won't get as stuck in the soft ground as their higher-heeled counterparts. Pair your stylish footwear with a long-sleeved shift dress that hits just above the knee for a charming and effortless look.
9. Holiday Weddings
In warmer-weather climates, some couples opt for an outside, late-fall wedding. And as you reach the end of November, festive holiday themes are front and center.
If you're invited to an outdoor, late autumn wedding with a holiday theme, get ready for sparkling decorations and a glitzy tone. Holiday weddings are all about the sparkle — to match the luxe vibe, opt for metallic-toned shoes that will add glamour to your outfit. These pumps add a golden splash to your look without compromising outdoor-prepared comfort. For a more subtle shine, try a slim flat with elegant lines. Deep, rich colors like emerald green are a guaranteed success — pair with an off-the-shoulder neckline and velvet or brocade material, and you have a perfect look for an outdoor holiday wedding.
Some late autumn weddings have a vintage feel. Embrace the jazz-era tone with art deco-inspired shoes and a swing dress to complete the glamorous, holiday-ready look.
Find the Perfect Fall Wedding Shoes
The right shoes can make or break your wedding experience.
Don't compromise style for comfort. At Shoe-Inn, we have an extensive selection of designer shoes at affordable prices. Shop this season's hot trends to find the perfect pair of comfortable, fashionable wedding shoes, whether you're walking through a romantic forest or an urban park.
Browse our new arrivals today to find your next favorite pair of shoes!