1. Life & Culture

Many brides shop for shoes first

Brides love their shoes. So much so that many of them are shopping for their wedding day shoes first and then using their chosen shoe style to help determine which wedding dress is the one.

When Megan Stec got engaged, it was her shoes she focused on first. Specifically, she was looking for a pair of Christian Louboutin ruby red shoes that she had seen months prior and that echoed her love of The Wizard of Oz. She spent two months looking for the pair, even searching internationally.

During her search, she found and fell in love with a different pair of Louboutins.

"It was like the Horse of a Different Color," says Stec, referring to the differently hued sparkly shoes. "Buying my shoes was just as special as buying my wedding dress. When I tried them on, I knew they were the one." Fashion merchandising expert Stec spent just one month, half the time of her shoe search, looking for and choosing her wedding dress.

The trend is picking up, with more brides dreaming about their wedding shoes, in addition to their wedding dresses. They're creating Pinterest boards devoted to their shoe inspirations, and they're talking with friends about shoes as well as dresses, cakes and other wedding topics. Years ago, bridal shoes were commonly plain and white. Now, they're sparkly, brightly colored, designer named and fabulous.

According to the Wedding Report, the top trends in brides' shoes are colors (especially green and blue), lace and rhinestones. In addition to the designer high heels worn during the ceremony, brides are also opting to slip into comfortable, stylish flats for the reception hours. It is, however, the ornate ceremony shoe that brides appear to be fantasizing about for their wedding days.

Here are reasons more brides are shopping for shoes first and dresses second:

• Gorgeous images, on Pinterest and in bridal blogs, of brides and bridesmaids wearing amazing, colorful or glittery shoes resonate with them. It's the look they want for their big day. If brides buy a gown first, the style and length of the dress might limit the subsequent shoe selection.

• Some brides are willing to devote a larger amount of money to their shoes, to enjoy that celebrity feeling of wearing something designer. If they can't afford a designer dress in the thousands-of-dollars range, then designer shoes for a few hundred dollars are readily available. Before other wedding plans and purchases chip away at their available funds, they can devote some time and money to their high-priority footwear. Then, they may be happy wearing a dress in a more moderate price range.

• Unlike their once-in-a-lifetime gowns, brides can plan to wear their wedding shoes in the future, dazzling with the designer style.

• If a bride wants to show off her shoes on the wedding day, trendy knee-length dresses and high-low dresses, with the front hem reaching knee length, then extending down like a curtain on each side to a longer length in the back, afford her the opportunity. The result is a "frame" of her legs and shoes.

• Wearing wedding shoes has long been a tenet of gown shopping, specifically for alterations. Instead of wearing different shoes during alterations, hoping for the perfect height, having the chosen pair handy takes the guesswork out of the equation. The bride gets a better look at the whole picture.

• Trying on shoes is often a purely enjoyable task. Shoe size is nowhere near as much of an emotionally loaded, self-esteem challenging issue as trying on wedding gowns. Some brides with concerns about body size or self-esteem would rather begin this magical process with a relaxing shopping trip.

Of course, the reasons vary with each bride, but the fact remains: Going shoe shopping is fun, and this may be the bride's one time to truly splurge on a dream designer style.