Walk down the aisle in sneakers

An employee at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York applying decorative elements to running shoes (left) for a bride to wear under her wedding gown.
An employee at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York applying decorative elements to running shoes (above) for a bride to wear under her wedding gown. PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK • Brides who once may have looked forward to walking down the aisle dressed to the nines are now bouncing down it dressed to the eights, or maybe a 7 1/2 (narrow).

Many wedding guests glimpse sneakers under traditional gowns. And not just plain white tennis shoes. Some are brightly coloured, others are embroidered with names and dates or decorated with beading or lace to match the dress.

Mr Ronnie Rothstein, an owner of Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, thinks the bridal sneaker is not so much a fashion statement as a lifestyle statement, with fashion in general being more casual these days.

And pairing sneakers with wedding dresses fits with the overall easing of dress codes, at work and at leisure.

Millennial women, in particular, are about comfort.

I couldn't find the right ones and then I thought, 'Anyway, they would kill my feet.' So I said, forget it. How cute would it be if I wore purple Converse sneakers?

MS CASSANDRA ARELLANO on choosing sneakers over heels when she got married in 2012

"If a girl wears jeans to work, she's wearing sneakers to the wedding," said Mr Rothstein.

The fashion industry is helping by making sneakers as glamorous as possible. At a Karl Lagerfeld 2014 haute couture collection, a model wore white running shoes with a bridal gown.

Now brides have an expanding choice of comfortable yet stylish sneakers from sources such as Etsy, Bill Blass online, Keds and Converse. Tory Burch is also showing dressed- up sneakers and there are high- heeled Chuck Taylors, if the bride is looking for height, said Ms Cathy Schroeckenstein, editor-in-chief of weddingbee.com.

"You have to assume you'll be on your feet for 12 to 15 hours on your wedding day," she said, and "most women are not comfortable in high heels".

Mr Rothstein said that in his workrooms, 17 people bead dresses and now also embellish many pairs of sneakers each week with beads or lace to match the gowns. "If the dress is heavily embellished, the sneakers get the same embellishment."

In 2012, Ms Cassandra Arellano was married in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She said: "I really thought I would wear gorgeous heels and since I was engaged for two years, I had plenty of time to search for them.

"But I couldn't find the right ones and then I thought, 'Anyway, they would kill my feet.' So I said, forget it. How cute would it be if I wore purple Converse sneakers?"

She ordered her shoes online from Converse. She said the 100 guests could not see them under her long dress until she got onto the dance floor and showed off her footwear.

Mrs Jennifer Contreras was wearing customised Converse sneakers when she was married in June 2014 in San Diego. "I wanted to be comfortable," she said, something her mother was all for.

The shoes were hidden under her dress at first. "No one sees your shoes until you show them off," she said. "The back of my shoes was embroidered with 'Mrs Contreras'."

All her bridesmaids wore grey Converses. And the groom wore sneakers from Vans.

"My husband isn't super tall and, in heels, I am taller than he is," she said.

But for Mr Randy Fenoli, a host on the TLC show Say Yes To The Dress, a pair of sneakers with a wedding dress is appalling.

"They depreciate your look and the look of the gown," he said. "Wedding gowns are not for comfort. PJs are for comfort, sweatsuits are for comfort. Sneakers are a cop-out.

"Walking in heels is so much sexier. Sneakers make you walk flat.

"Call me old-fashioned. I'm a traditionalist. At some point, you just have to say no."

Mr Marshall Cohen, chief retail market research analyst with the NPD Group, disagreed. "It's about, 'This is my day,'" he said, speaking for the brides.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2016, with the headline 'Walk down the aisle in sneakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe