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.