One issue that often comes up in barefooters discussion groups is whether or not it’s appropriate to attend a wedding or a funeral while barefoot.
Being barefoot is no different from any other choice of appearance
To me, asking if it’s OK to be barefoot at a wedding or a funeral is like someone who normally wears a beard asking if it’s OK be at a wedding or funeral with the beard. Or maybe someone with hair dyed an unusual color – blue, for example – asking if attending a wedding or funeral with the blue hair would be appropriate.
Those things are personal choices of appearance or attire which do not harm or affect any other person at a wedding or any other place.
It is true that people are more used to seeing beards, dyed hair, tattoos, etc., than bare feet in public. Bare feet are unusual. The barefoot attendee may get some double-takes or stares from people who may not personally know the person or realize that being barefoot is simply the norm for that person.
Think about it. That would also be true if the attendee had some unusual disability or physical deformity. In other words, someone who does not look exactly like the “average” person is going to be noticed. That notice should never be construed as being negative or judgmental.
Attending a wedding has a totally different significance than attending a funeral
In my opinion, weddings are probably more likely to elicit questions about proper or appropriate attire than funerals. Funerals are only rarely by invitation, and I’ve never heard of one that had a dress code either suggested or implied. So the remainder of this article will be addressed mainly to weddings.
Wedding are usually by invitation, so you wouldn’t be invited if you weren’t wanted there
As a general rule, people attending weddings are invited to attend. Usually it’s a formal written wedding invitation, though it could be a verbal invitation at more casual weddings. If the bride and groom did not know you or want you to be there, you wouldn’t have been invited. If you are a regular barefooter in public, they will already know that.
Some weddings do request that guests be dressed a certain way
Of course, some weddings would like people to dress in a certain way. For those, a dress code will be included on the invitation. That could range from “Black Tie” (tuxedo for men and long dressy cocktail dresses for women), “Semi-formal” (fairly dressy, men wearing suits with or without ties and women wearing cocktail dresses), to “Casual” or something in between those categories. If it’s “Casual,” that may not always be specifically stated on an invitation, though if no dress code is shown, casual may be assumed.
Women’s footwear can vary so much, even on formal occasions, that being barefoot for a female regardless of the formality of her other attire is unlikely to cause much notice or raise anyone’s eyebrows. Menswear is generally much more restrictive as to what kind of footwear usually goes with a tuxedo or suit and tie.
Even for a regular barefooter, whether to don shoes for these formal or semi-formal types of dress is a personal decision which should not be dictated by “what people will think,” but what feels right to you. The decision should represent “who you are,” not who other people might want you to be.
Never ask in advance if your being barefoot is ‘OK’
In these discussions over the years among barefooters about being barefoot at weddings, I’ve occasionally seen the suggestion, “you should ask the bride and groom is it’s OK to be barefoot.”
That’s something you should never do for a myriad of reasons. I would never “ask first.” That would just put the bride and groom on the spot and in an awkward situation, as well as send the message that you think being barefoot may be a bad thing. That’s like asking if it would be OK to smoke at the wedding. Nobody would ask if it’s OK to come with dyed hair, or have a tattoo on their arm, or to wear a beard. Those are all personal appearance choices that harm no one. Barefooting is no different.
There is an important rule of thumb among experienced barefooters, “Never ask in advance,” which applies to any situation, not just weddings. I wrote an article specifically about that a while back, “Never ask in advance if it’s ‘OK’ to be barefoot.”
You should never worry or stress over a decision to attend a wedding barefoot
If the bride and groom know you are a barefooter, they would never have invited you if they didn’t want anyone there who may be barefoot.
If you aren’t a regular barefooter or aren’t known as someone who usually lives barefoot, going barefoot to the wedding still should not be any major issue. What’s the worst that can happen? They ask you to leave? Not likely. Again, if you are invited, you should expect to be accepted as the person you are.
An analogy might be, if you are gay, but nobody knew that until you showed up with your same sex partner. Surprise to everyone? Maybe. But you’re doing nothing wrong, and it’s highly unlikely that anyone will have an issue or condemn you for it at such an occasion.
I’ve personally never had a problem attending weddings or funerals while barefoot
I’ve been to weddings as well as several funerals barefoot. Nobody cared or said a word because everyone knows I never wear shoes. So, if you’ve just started living barefoot recently, and people don’t know that’s who you are, they might be a little surprised or taken aback. But you are doing nothing wrong – just something unusual.
That’s right, as it should be. I personally participated in my life (now I am 62, retired) at 4 weddings and 12 funerals in bare feet (being warm seasons). But only once was I asked to wear shoes, or to leave immediately. The moment was in a crematorium, when there is “a more sober place than in a cemetery.” So put again the “lifebuoy” – the flip-flops from the bag. Then, after the ceremony, I went outside and took them out immediately. The lady was already smoke !
Having spent my childhood/adolescent years in Saint Louis learning all about the daily functions of a mortuary there were many occasions when I was in my baggy short pants/long-sleeve shirt & tie & Barefooted. Often I spent the night there & primarily took care of floral arrangements placement. No one ever seemed to be bothered by my bare feet. I have always been very dark tanned so perhaps that helped. Even though I was in this outfit my demeanor was still caring & professional.
Dear Kai, first of all, please forgive me for this late reply. I just wrote that comment because I liked the title of this page “Born to live barefoot”.
Now I saved the link and put it on my YouTube page.
Well, now I have become a pensioner (after 37 years of work as a pharmacist). So now I say with conviction that life is too short to wear shoes!
I thank you and wish you all the best, with lots of health and happiness, in peace and quiet!
Sincerely, Dinu, barefoot hiker from Romania.
It was the best situation in Hawaiii where the weddings were on the beach and the bride and groom were barefoot so most of the attendees were also.
I’m rarely invited to weddings or funerals so I don’t feel as if I need to decide what to wear on a regular basis. In such events, as a guest you’re not the main person. A wedding is all about those getting married; I’d decide depending on how they think about walking barefoot. A funeral is for family and friends of a person to come together after their passing and upholding the memory; the deceased isn’t there any more but if this person had a positive view on walking barefoot or enjoyed it, I’d certainly come as I am. If… Read more »
“In such events, as a guest you’re not the main person.” What does that have to do with anything? Are you implying that your being barefoot will somehow make you the main person and take all the attention away from the bride and groom? That’s just ridiculous. Sure, being barefoot may be a little unusual at such events – or anywhere in public. But most people couldn’t care less what kind of footwear some guest at a wedding is wearing or not wearing. Your implication is that being barefoot is somehow a bad thing – like smoking – and you… Read more »
You might be right and I’m too afraid of drawing attention towards myself. For example it wouldn’t feel right to be the only one barefoot at a big business event such as a trade fair, I have that feeling that my bare feet would be distracting and confusing to people. (One barefoot youtuber of Germany, Emmanuel Bohlander, says he avoids going barefoot to shops because he’s tired of people talking to him and bringing it up …) Then again – Sometimes I wonder how many will even notice. When it takes me a moment or two to realize whether another… Read more »
Yes, “what will the others think?” is a thought process that most of us have to deal with, especially if just beginning public barefooting. It crosses my mind as well on occasion, and I’ve been doing this a long time. I know I’m doing something very unusual, and it’s just natural for people to take a longer look or a double-take at someone who is different from the norm in some way – whether at a wedding, funeral, or any other place where other people, especially strangers, are present. “What will they think?” is a thought process that we just… Read more »
This is an interesting topic because of the varying degrees of dress associated with funerals and especially weddings. I have attended weddings in both shoes and barefooted. I wore shoes at the more formal dressy venues and was barefoot at the more casual ones. As one that is almost always in bare feet, I don’t personally see an issue with bare feet at any venue but have compromised when I was expected to be formally dressed. Tiptoe, you may be afraid of drawing attention to yourself but don’t be. If you are more comfortable being barefoot then do it. As… Read more »
So… after scrolling through the aftermath of comment wasteland here, I am going to kinda have to somewhat agree and somewhat disagree. I, myself, love being barefoot whenever possible. And I am not in the least opposed to bare feet paired with anything from denim to a tux. It’s truly a really great and sexy look for a guy. However, that being said, a dress code is still a dress code… think of it as a uniform. Those of us who have served in the military will understand that a uniform is comprised of standard issued items determined by the… Read more »
Of course. If a wedding or funeral specifically requests a certain type of dress, any reasonable person is going to take that request into account when deciding how to dress when attending. That topic was addressed under the subheading, “Some weddings do request that guests be dressed a certain way.”