How to Wear Flats to a Fancy Wedding

Because dancing in heels is a literal pain


You know how the saying goes: love is patient, love is kind, love is a piece of embossed card stock instructing guests to come dressed in elegant attire. That’s why RSVP’ing “yes” to a wedding invitation also often means RSVP’ing “yes” to sliding your toes into a pair of pumps or stilettos.

I think weddings are great. I love the roasty toasts and gooey new-spouse eyes and crowd-pleasing tunes. I don’t even mind the fish course. The high heels unto which I am compelled to forsake my feet for such occasions are the one thorn in this rose bush of matrimony spectatorship.

I can usually make it through the ceremony (sitting) and the dinner (sitting) and maybe even the first couple of songs once the dance floor starts getting revved (slow twirling), but by the time “Uptown Funk” comes on (full-on sweaty grooving), my toes are mid-mutiny and my lower back feels like a toaster with a fork in it.

Let me be clear: I’m not bashing heeled footwear in general. I’m a fan! There are few sartorial pursuits more enticing than this pair of rhinestone PVC kitten mules, for example. I’m just raising the point that high heels aren’t the ideal vehicle for pain-free, uninhibited frivolity, and it kind of sucks they are the unequivocal go-to when it comes to wedding-guest attire. I want to demonstrate my dance floor enthusiasm for freshly grated love and still feel my feet at the end of the night. Is that too much to ask?

I don’t think so, which is why I am making a case for wearing flats to weddings. Heck, you should wear them if you’re the bride, too, but today I’m catering to regular attendees with three outfit ideas for three different types of weddings, each of which seamlessly (I hope) incorporates a unique flat footwear silhouette into the overall look.

Outfit #1
The scene: Intimate yet élégant courthouse affair in Brooklyn
The shoe: Slide sandals

Flats to a Wedding Sasha Frolova April 2017 Man Repeller--2

Monse shirtdress, Brock Collection skirt, Aquazzura sandals, Mola Sasa handbag, Erickson Beamon earrings

Have you ever tried doing the worm at a wedding reception while wearing a pencil skirt and balancing a rum-spiked kombucha on your head? Highly recommend.

Outfit #2
The scene: West Coast shindig at a contemporary art museum
The shoe: Loafer-mule hybrid

Flats to a Wedding Sasha Frolova April 2017 Man Repeller-2962

Topshop dress, Olivia Von Halle robe, MR by Man Repeller satin loafers, Jennifer Behr tiara

Replete with a crown to compete with your surrounding finery and a silky robe moonlighting as an evening coat just in case you fall asleep under a Koons balloon animal.

Outfit #3
The scene: Non-denominational destination wedding on Kangaroo Island
The shoe: Classic ballet flat

Flats to a Wedding Sasha Frolova April 2017 Man Repeller--7

Rosie Assoulin trousers, Chloé top, Zara ballet flats, Zara box bag, Adam Selman x Le Specs sunglasses

Too niche? No such thing. There’s a reason the Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be Prepared.” Bust out your coolest humidity goggles in the form of cyborg sunglasses and a tiny clutch for collecting sea glass. If the dancing spills over onto the beach, no biggie. Your capacious pants pockets have more than enough room to store a pair of ballet flats — the envy of every four-inch stiletto in sight.

Modeled by Sasha Frolova, follow her on Instagram @sashafro and via her website here. Styled by Harling Ross. Photos by Edith Young.

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  • Suzan

    I’m with you, Harling! Weddings can be such a long affair that I think flats are almost a necessity, especially – like you said – when it’s time for the dancefloor. I’m not a heel person in general so I find it a tiny bit frustrating that almost every outfit can be elevated (ha. ha.) to a wedding-guest-outfit with the simple addition of heels. When you want to wear flats I think the whole shebang needs to be wayyy more carefully curated to be properly festive. So thank you for this inspo! I especially love the first look!

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I’m with you. My daughter wore Toms flats at her own wedding! She said she could have never managed her wedding dress if she had worn heels. I wore low-heeled black patent sandals. As the wedding was outdoors, heels would have sunk into the ground. There are many cute dressy flat shoes available, so you don’t have to be miserable. I don’t know how women wear really high heels in the first place. I know I couldn’t.

    • Harling Ross

      Toms!! I love that.

  • Kay Nguyen

    I personally have never been to a wedding but I can’t imagine it’s a long ceremony so heels aren’t the best options! I love flats or even kitten heels, they are adorable and so much more comfortable than pumps <3

  • Hilary

    Harlingggg I love this!!! Your styling is always so on point + inspiring. Adore lewk #1 especially. Also, drooling over the MR satin loafers.

    • Harling Ross

      THANX! I know those loafers are soooOoo gewd right?

  • jennifer

    Love this! Who styled this shoot? <3

    • Jennifer

      Nevermind! I see that Sasha did. Her website is fierce! Wow!

      • Harling Ross

        I actually styled the shoot 🙂 Sasha was our vErY excellent model

    • Amelia Diamond

      Harling did!

  • Lola

    the second look is crazy and if you came to my wedding looking like that i’d. e like “leandra medine is not a lifestyle, she’s a person. and are you going to the club or what!? because i don’t understand this look for a wedding”

  • HARLING!!! These outfits are AMAZING. You are a true stylin’ genius.

  • I love all of these layers that are ankle or shin brushing, but can someone who is 5’2″ get away with it without drowning in a sea of fabric? I love the robe in the second one!

    • Harling Ross

      if it helps, our model was actually quite short! — would guess 5’1″ or 5’2″

  • omg love all the looks!! great job harling you’re amaze

  • Rheanonn Perez

    i’m not going to a wedding any time soon, i’m just here for the looks. the third is my fav! super untraditional with the big ol’ trousers AND flats!

    • Harling Ross

      aren’t those trousers just !!!!!!

  • Amelia Diamond

    I love this so much Harling

    • Harling Ross

      that’s what i say to ppl about your face

  • jiggahava

    2 of the last 3 weddings I’ve been to I’ve worn flats, no regrets. At my own wedding I wore one inch Liudmila pumps and it was the best decision ever.

  • marina

    I love this article! I’m 1.87m (6 foot 2,maybe? I don’t understand imperial, I’m sorry), wich makes me taller than all of the girls I’ve ever met in my life and most guys I know (my boyfriend included). I just don’t wear heels ever.

  • dtjb

    Yesss! I just purchased some ballerina-ish slingback flats from a Zara that are 100% my wedding attending shoes for this 3-wedding season. Pairing with some coppery silk, high-waist pants to lean into the fancy, but v comfy old lady lewk.

  • ASK

    Love the pics!

  • Caitlin Crow

    V.v. serious question, Harling: do I have to wait for a wedding to try any/all of these looks? (beautiful and inspirational styling, btw)

    • Harling Ross

      abso-fruit-ly not

  • Senka

    Great styling in each and every look Harling! Editorial level stuff. Really enjoyed it.

    • Harling Ross


  • The Rosie Assoulin trousers … I covet!

  • Anastasia Lisovceva

    I just lovvvve it all! Amazing MIX

  • I. LOVE. Sasha Frolova. THAT HAIR