Something Old, Something Borrowed

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

When I first started wedding planning, I’m not sure I consciously realized how much pressure their was to buy All New Things. I mean, I’m not dull, I was aware that the pressure to spend was unhealthy, but there were things I took for granted. Wedding shoes, for example. Every blog I read, every magazine I read, every thing I read no matter how indie or how mainstream talked at length about wedding shoes. I obviously was not going to wear some traditional ugly-as-sin white ‘bridal’ shoes, but, considering I was wearing a short dress, I figured shoes would be key. And *everyone* cares about wedding shoes, right?

But here is the thing. I’ve been keeping my eye out for fantastic wedding shoes for six months now. My requirements were that:
1) They could be expensive-ish as long as they were still in my realm of spendy-but-sane.
2) They had to be fabulous.
3) They had to make my dress look even hotter than it already did.
4) If they were spendy, they had to be something that I would realistically wear again.

Reasonable rules, no? Well, here is the thing, six months later, I still haven’t found anything that fits the bill, or even comes close. My dress is hard to match, I’m very particular, and I’m a terrible shoe shopper because I have no patience.

I didn’t have a big lightbulb moment, over the past few weeks the light slowly started to turn on. “What if,” I thought, “What if I wore those fabulous silver shoes that finally found after years of looking‌ the shoes I’ve been wearing every time I try my dress on. What If I just wore those?” So I asked my friend Lauren, indie-bride-extraordinaire, and her advice was basically this ‘Wedding shoes are overrated, and any shoes that I would like to love and cherish for the rest of my life are not the kind of shoes that would go with a wedding dress. Just wear the shoes you’ve got.’

Right. (Shakes head hard as if getting water out of ones year). Yes, that makes SENSE.

Once I crossed the Rubicon and considered wearing *shoes* to my *wedding* that I already *owned,* was like there was no looking back. Dress for our Aufruf? Well if I happen upon something cute, great. If not? Cute black dress in the back of my closet. Outfit for our welcome picnic? If I find something cute, awesome. If not? Cute top I got on sale for 60% off. And clearly, if I find the worlds most awesome shoes between now and August, we will become friends, but until then, I’m not worried. I’ve got a killer pair in my closet.

We all know the rhyme about our wedding day, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” But I think most of us think about it as, “Well, everything will be new, so I need to figure out my something old/borrowed/blue.” But maybe we need to reconsider the order of things. Maybe lots of things will be old or borrowed, and we need to figure out our something new.

I’m not a martyr (trust me!) I just happen to have a closet full of things that I’ve painstakingly selected over the years because I love them. Why let all that sense of SELF go to waste so I can have the hot shoes of the moment? There are advantages to shopping my closet – I already like what’s in it.

And heck, we’re already letting our attendants shop theirs.

Picture: the shoes in question at David’s brothers wedding. And yes, I wear vintage 50’s cocktail dresses everywhere. The short wedding dress was a obvious choice, no?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit

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  • I think that you are right to consider wearing the frankly beautiful pair of shoes in your wardrobe!

    I think I get excited about buying new things for all sorts of events (I suppose I am a consumerist at heart…. who desperately tries not to be) so it has been particularly hard to avoid this aspect of wedding planning…

    I think I am diverting myself into making things for the wedding (though it is the same problem just a different (and not always cheaper) solution!) as a way of avoiding this…

    But good sense, such as this post, is the best way to put yourself bank on the path of reasonableness!

  • Doing this is liberating, isn’t it? I totally bought new shoes because I had nothing fancy and…I love shoes, but I agree that it’s easy to get caught up in superfluous shopping, such as the many “dresses” women feel they need to buy (shower dress, rehearsal dinner dress, etc.) There’s something taboo about just…wearing what you’ve got in your closet. Consumerist culture at work!

    I think once we realise we don’t need to buy buy buy it’s really liberating!

  • LPC

    I’m distracted by how much I like the dress in the photo…

  • Those shoes are gorgeous! And free, in the sense that you paid for them in the past.

    I don’t know where I’ll end up with shoes and jewels and hair-stuff, but I seriously doubt it’ll be “new” even if it’s new to me.

  • K

    You know what’s also awesome about wearing things you already own or buying things for the wedding that are not overtly wedding-y? You get to wear them again and again, and each time there’s a little pang in your heart that goes, “I got married in these!”

  • Killer shoes, Meg!

  • Well put! I bought a new dress for my rehearsal dinner and I loved it, and I have already worn it to two other parties. For me, feeling okay about a wedding purchase was hugely connected to how easily said purchase could be reused, reworn, lent, given away…

  • Oh, yeah, and I am wearing my wedding earrings today!

  • Meg

    Vintage, LPC. Cocktail dress from the 1950’s. I tried it on at a consignment shop and this little girl saw me and gasped. Since I shop mostly for my inner 5 year old, I figured that meant it was a go.

  • Yes, yes! And you don’t have to trot around the house breaking them in! And K is totally right about the little nostalgic pang that says, “I got married in these!”

  • I agree with the everyone who has said those shoes are great! I was just telling my friend last night that I really like the idea of being able to a) reuse things after my wedding as small reminders of the day and b) incorporate bits and pieces from other people’s day into mine.

    For example,there is a very good chance that I will be refashioning my mom’s veil (I probably will not go with the Juliette cap she used), and should I decide I need hair accessories, I fully intend to ask my sister-in-law who was an “everything new” bride, and has not one hair comb, but two.

    Again, I am reminded how happy I am that such practical ladies are around!

  • I just bought a pair of green slingback heels at Nine West for $40 for my wedding in September. Almost every shoe I wear is from there since they fit my foot perfectly. I wasn’t going to pass up that deal. I’m wearing them to every wedding this summer to break them in and to give them a little bit of marriage magic.

  • Meg, I’m so jealous! I have a beloved pair of silver sandals that I first bought to be a bridesmaid (note: we got to pick our own shoes, thank you, B!!). I wore them to so many formal and semi-formal occasions that when I had the bright idea of wearing them with my wedding dress, I took them out and discovered that the strap is so stretched out that they don’t fit properly anymore :-(

    I completely agree with your friend. If I were to spend a large-ish chunk of change on shoes, I’d want them to be a fabulous, re-wearable wardrobe essential even after the wedding. But I doubt I can find anything that fits that bill *and* matches my dress. (And doesn’t that kind of say it all about weddings — that most of the stuff we’re encouraged to buy for them isn’t meant to last beyond the day?)

  • I’m so happy you posted this. It makes me feel more confident in my shoe decision, haha.

    I’m borrowing my sister’s shoes she wore for her wedding…they are already broke in, very pretty and I’ll probably lose them after the ceremony for flip flops or ballet flats anyway. So they are old and borrowed :)

  • Oh, and there are 5 weddings this summer before mine! What gives? 22-years-old was a decade ago!

  • I’m with LPC – I wish we could see the top half of the picture (even if you kept your heads out of it) just to see the rest of your dress!

    I will admit that I’m searching for the perfect pair of green shoes with the intention of wearing them at my wedding, but green is my favourite color, and I have every intention of wearing the shoes a million times after the wedding. If they last that long. Really, I’m just using the wedding to justify buying green shoes, since it’s so easy to use the wedding to justify buying nearly anything these days. Until I think that I may just end up wearing my worn-in Frye boots that I love (and my mother hates).

  • I just want to give you a big hug. you rock.

  • MLE

    I bought new shoes for the wedding ($30 at DSW)- but they were strappy printed fabric sandals that I’ve worn about 20 times (in everyday situations) since the wedding last year. (I do have the little “I got married in these!” pang.)

    If you have shoes you like that go with the dress, wear those! No reason to buy new just to buy new.

  • Awesome! Because at the end of the night, your feet won’t ache from new shoes. I wore my wedding shoes to work in the weeks leading up to the wedding, and I still wear them :) Everytime I do, they make me smile b/c I wore them on the best day of my life (so far!)

  • Oh phew. Sometimes I feel badly about shopping for my inner five-year-old.

    Sassy kicks, Megaroo.

  • Wow, I love your outfit from the wedding. The shoes are definitely a “shoe-in” for your wedding outfit (so cheesy, sorry).

    I totally agree and never bought into the shoe thing. I have amazing shoes I bought to wear with a bridesmaid dress and am happy to wear with my dress. If my mom had a dress, I would have gladly updated it for me.

  • K

    brilliant! i am so picky when it comes to shoes – impossible to find anything simultaneously COMFORTABLE AND cute. so i think if you have something that meets the bill, why not!?

    (Also, love the “hatch match dispatch” post. amen sista!)

  • oooooh, the dress you’re wearing in that picture is my perfect vision of my future wedding dress. I keep practicing making old 50’s patterns fit my not so 50’s body and I’ve made some great looking potato sacks so far….. Someday, I’ll find that fabric and figure out how to adjust patters and I’ll have my own version of that dress!

  • Meg

    I must clarify: these shoes are not comfy, worn many times or not. The heels are hiiiigggghhh. But… none of the shoes I’ve considered to go with the dress are comfy so far, and it’s not like I’m going to keep them ON after the ceremony or anything, please. Girls gotta dance.

  • I love your shoes! I keep trying on my dress ($150 bargained down to $120 because it had a smudge on it) in a particular pair of silver shoes and have sort of assumed that I might end up wearing them on The Day. But I should probably still look for a substitute, since the clear heel makes them a little strippery for a church wedding.

  • the little-girl-at-the-consignment-shop story just made me giggle. that’s a sweet story. :)

  • I think that the WIC does exploit our natural desire to want shiny new pretty things. Getting married gives us an excuse to indulge that impulse, and it’s amazingly hard to fight, even for a devoted nonconsumer like me. I’m with ya on the shoes…my dress is borrowed, if my SIL doesn’t finish making my shrug in time I’m borrowing a wrap, my jewelry is stuff I already have, and that just leaves the shoes. Haven’t made a final decision yet, but they’ll either be a thrift store find, something borrowed, or some that I already have…

  • sam

    I’m making the something old/borrowed the theme of our wedding, and using new/handmade to supplement. I love it! It gives every element of the wedding so much more meaning. I’m wearing my mom’s dress – reworked to fit me in style and size- and a pair of white shoes I wore in a good friends wedding. How much better can it get?

    And Meg – totally love the 5-year-old shopping experience. I once bought a dress in a consignment shop because of a little old lady’s reaction when I stepped out of the dressing room.

  • i can fully relate! i have a brand spanking new wedding dress, but i’ll be wearing my gorgeous teal suede slingbacks with it — i bought those shoes 5 years ago and they’re still fabulous.

    and for my bridal shower, i’m thinking i’ll be wearing an $8 dress i picked up from goodwill a few months ago. it’s a little 80s looking, but you’d find the same thing on shopbop for $200 these days!

  • I love those silver shoes! Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

  • I love those moments when you realize you have it already. I ended up buying new shoes just because I fell in love with them. Bonus is that I’ve worn them already for work stuff. People always look at me funny when I mention that I’m getting married in them, but whatever. I’m excited for it. :)

  • Ellie

    I bought a pair of white sandals for this summer that I have every intention of wearing to our wedding. I bought them with the wedding in mind, but I needed white sandals now so I figured why not? It’s likely that I will find the perfect shoes between now and the wedding, but since I refuse to spend more than $50 on shoes I wear every day, I don’t think I’m going to find comfortable shoes I can wear for 7 hours for that.
    I actually decided to forgo the short dress because I knew that shoes would be key, and that it wouldn’t look as cute with flats, and I can’t wear heels. So I’m wearing a long dress with my ugly white sandals that nobody will see. I’m fine with it. I’m probably going to wear a dress I already own for our engagement party and rehearsal dinner – I like what is in my closet, and I never have any luck when I shop with an occasion in mind. I buy clothes I like when I find them, and then wear them later. Nothing wrong with it.

  • LPC

    Anyone gasping would probably do it for me…except maybe my mother who might gasp for other reasons and then try to conceal it because she is after all quite nice.

  • pw

    Love your shoes :)

    I’d do a similar thing if my shoe collection weren’t composed entirely of cute, but casual flats (heels make my feet cry). Not that a cute casual flat wouldn’t work with my wedding dress but I’m already terribly disadvantaged height wise with my FI (he’s 6’1″, I’m 5’4″) and I’d like to be a wee bit taller for him that day. I ended up finding a totally cute pair of $10 dollar shoes off ebay that were 1. the right color (red), 2. the right height for a daylong event (a demure 1.5 inch heel), and 3. the right look for my wedding and dress (a vintage-y looking pump). And they’re $10. Yeah. I was pretty proud of myself :)

  • nice. good job. love the shoes. those are simply fab.

  • Meg

    Oh, PW, enjoy it. My fiancĂŠ and I are close to the same height (he’d want me to emphasize that he’s 5’7″ to my 5’5″. But that doesn’t stop me wearing heels as high as I can teeter in. Life is too short…

  • i am having the same problem! good idea…i’ll have to look through my closet :)

  • Cate Subrosa

    Oh that’s YOU in the picture! And there I was thinking that a pair like that would fit the bill just perfectly!

    Great post. I think you’re absolutely right about the old/borrowed/blue thing. Imagine a time when everything was old or borrowed and brides only had to think about what should be new and blue. Kinda throws everything.

    Oh and I doubt I’ll wear my wedding shoes again. They were perfect for my dress, my whole outfit, for me, and I totally loved them, but they’re patent cream 5-inch stilettos… rarely does an occasion require such madness.

  • Wonderful shoes, and even better thought. I looked for a long time for the perfect blue sequined flats….spent a good $30 in return shipping….and then got annoyed. Found a $50 pair of silver flats at a real, in-person store and wore those – except for that part of the ceremony when I slipped them off, right before the vows. I wanted to say the vows barefoot so that I felt all grounded and there. I had meant to take my shoes off pre-walking down the aisle, but forgot, and so people giggled when I stopped in the ceremony to take them off – but we were feeling relaxed and it was ok. Anyway, the point is — you should totally wear the shoes that make you feel like you. For me, that was comfortable even if not stylish (i.e., flat). And sometimes, being me meant I was barefoot. No matter what footwear you have – just make sure to MEG it out!

  • awesome shoes

  • i have the opposite situation – the only perfect shoes i found were white bridal shoes – and i am very anti white bridal shoes. i thought i could dye them grey, and i couldn’t, but i liked them way more than any other shoes i saw… so i’m wearing white shoes.

  • IF those are indeed your feet and your dress, you are even more fabulous than ever. wear those gorgeous silver sequined shoes. new shoes are over-rated.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    You’re so cute! I love that you shop for your inner five year old. I do that too. It’s fun to buy things thinking of when I was five and loved something but wasn’t allowed it.

  • As much as I loooove shoes and shoe shopping, I think that I would totally be cool with wearing something I already own. It would just be another unnecessary thing on the plate.

    And those silver shoes are fantastic. Why would you need a new pair when you’ve got a pair like that?

  • Sara

    I had a dress made for me because I knew I wouldn’t be able to find something I liked, but I wore a pair of reproduction victorian heels that I bought more than 10 years ago with it because they were perfect for the dress (and no one saw them anyway because the dress was so long). I was so comfy in them since I have worn them all day and danced into the night with them. Though I did take them off when it was time to bellydance!

  • I totally wore shoes that I owned to my wedding! People were INCREDULOUS, but I was like, they match, they already are worn in and battle comfortable, and I love them. Seems so simple.

  • bamagirl3525

    A girl from my hometown bought blue Manolos for her wedding, which I thought was a bit obscene anyway (especially given that her dress completely covered her shoes), but then I saw the pics her photographer took, and the shoes are way too big. I’m thinking that if you’re going to spend $900 on a pair of shoes, they should fit, right?

    Mad props for wearing fabulous shoes you already own. I swear, I am so glad that I have found this and similar blogs… I thought I was the freak for not wanting to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding, and yet, here y’all are!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You make me feel sane, and then I can point to those of you who have done this before and go, “See, Mo, I’m not crazy, this all makes sense, because others are doing it, too!”

  • Meg

    OF COURSE that’s me silly.

    You bellydanced at your wedding? We need to *talk.* You have my email….

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Every time I come to your blog I feel like I’m talking to an old friend. Thanks for being a voice of reason in this wedding world of crushing extravagance.

  • The shoes I am wearing for the wedding would be in my wardrobe and have been worn a thousand times aleady if I weren’t saving them for the wedding.

  • I wore shoes I already owned – black mary jane flats which I wore with black and white striped thigh-high stockings with skull and crossbones on them. So comfortable, and so me :)

    I got the perfect dress, and my amazing circlet and those were my something new. I kind felt buying lots of extra things took away from the specialness of my dress. People were so busy ooohing over the dress and giggling about my crazy stockings, no one asked about my shoes :)

  • Oh heavens, I am so with you! I haven’t found a pair that sings to me, and I have been thinking the same thing. Word.

  • Anonymous

    While getting ready for the wedding, one of my bride’s maids asked “where’s your something new?” That was when I realized all the craigslist/craft/cleaning-things-from-parents/grandparents had paid off! My $18 bright blue shoes from were my only “something new”, and they were also my “something blue”.

  • Tara

    Ah the shoes! I wore a short, 60s style dress and the shoes were such a worry for me. I spent at least 6 months trolling stores and the internet, never finding quite the right thing. Then, 4 weeks before the wedding I bought two pairs, neither worked so I returned them. Next, I found the “perfect” pair online. I ordered them, and after a week of waiting for them to arrive (it’s now a week till the wedding) I call the company and find out that the shoes are pre-order and won’t ship until 3 weeks after my wedding! So, in a panic, I ordered two pairs from Zappos. Not only did they upgrade me to free next day shipping because of my panic, but one pair turned out to be perfect! They also happened to be the cheapest pair I bought! We had our ceremony on one day, and our reception on another, so I wore some of my favorite pumps I already owned with my reception dress. I also didn’t buy any new jewlery. Wore my grandma’s pearls and my own earrings one day, and my sister’s pearls and my own earrings the next.
    Sorry, long story. But, I just got married on the 7th and I have a lot to say!

  • YEA! I already have the shoes I want to wear in my closet too. They are my fave pair of dress shoes–dark, metallic green with a short kitten heel. For some reason though everyone I talk to thinks I shouldn’t wear them. Honestly, if I bought a new pair, I would want them to look just like those! My mom will have to just get over it!

  • I had a similar experience. When my dress first arrived in the mail I used a pair of metallic turquoise pumps I already owned to try it on.
    Well when I sent the pics to a few friends they all commented on how great those shoes looked with the dress.
    So guess what I’m wearing as my wedding shoes?
    Honestly, one of my main evaluations when making wedding-attire purchases was rewearability. I’m even planning to re-wear my dress. The only thing I probably won’t ever use again is my $50 feather hair piece. Perhaps for a costume someday.

  • I really liked putting on a sparkly, jangly new pair of shoes. Just saying.

    But man was the perfect pair hard to find.

  • Meg’s Mom

    A year ago, I bought what I thought was the perfect “mother-of-the-bride” dress: a sapphire blue satin sheath dress. A month after that, I found what I thought were the perfect pair of shoes: sapphire blue, slightly sparkly (I’m a sparkle girl), and gorgeous. I put on the dress and the shoes the next time my daughter was home. There was only one problem with the shoes. I have spent my adult life in things like berkinstocks and J-41’s. The cute shoes in my closet are either flats or *very* low heels. The gorgeous blue sparkly ones had 4″ heels. My daughter pointed out that there was no way I would be able to stand for a 45 minute ceremony in those shoes without incredible pain. I realized she was right. (Very big sigh.)

    So… Here’s where we are a year later: The blue dress is a return, because I decided I didn’t like it well enough to pay for the alterations it would need. I now have a fantastic, fits-me-perfectly, flowy, muted purple dress, and will probably wear either a pair of understated low-heeled gold sandals, or a pair of flat, silver, Grecian-style sandals, both of which I bought on sale last summer, and have worn many times. There is a lot to be said for shopping in your own closet!

    PS: The 4″ blue sparkly heels are just too pretty to give up. I wore them to the theater last night. They weren’t comfortable, and I could barely walk in them, but they sure did look terrific!

  • Go with what you love….even if that means wearing something you already own.
    I bought a pair of shoes last minute and literally kicked them off halfway through the ceremony. Afterwards I put on my boots that I had joked for months about wearing for my wedding. They were fun, I was comfortable and really nothing else mattered.

  • Pingback: “I’d Like To Die With My Boots On” | Bending the Rules()

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