At an outdoor wedding site you generally have two things to walk on - grass or concrete. There is the occasional gravel path or stones of some kind, perhaps even good old-fashioned dirt. (in a church or other indoor venue, you have a clean, hard surface that can be easily covered with a satin runner to keep the train clean). This presents some interesting challenges when choosing wedding attire.

Many wedding gowns come with trains - those yards of material on the back of the dress that are supposed to flow behind the bride as she walks up and down the aisle. Beautiful? Yes. Many are beaded and bejeweled on a gown that ranges in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

She also has selected beautiful satin shoes with four inch heels. Her attendants have the same style shoes in the colors that match their gowns. Gorgeous and stylish!

And the processional begins. The officiant is several hundred feet away standing with the groom across an expanse of freshly cut grass that probably has been recently watered. The goal is for everyone to maneuver through the grass in those spiked heels and arrive safely beside the officiant.

The bride's maids, followed by the maid or matron of honor come in and with each step the spiked heels go down into the grass. (As the waiting officiant I often think the gardeners should pay the wedding party for aerating the lawn). It is not only difficult for the women to walk in the grass with spiked heels but also leaves the shoes with green and brown stains from the grass and dirt.

When the wedding party is arranged appropriately on each side of the officiant, the runner, generally made of paper, is rolled down the grassy aisle and the bride comes in, beautiful in her stunning gown with the long train. Her spiked heals sink down catching in the runner and she hangs on to dad to keep from falling. Sometimes the heels sink down through the runner almost tripping the bride and, like her attendants, leaving stains on her shoes. The train, full behind her, is wider than the runner and the outer sides of the train glide across the grass.

If no one removes the runner prior to the processional, the entire wedding party has to navigate the runner on their way out. It is not safe but it does lend some comic relief.

Now come pictures. The train is probably dragged over more lawn, more gravel and more dirt. By the time she is ready for the reception or dinner, the underside of the train is probably quite dirty and grass stained.

This is not made up. As an officiant I see this over and over. The solution? The solution is three fold and very, very simple:

1. Purchase a beautiful gown that has no train.

2. Wear shoes that don't sink down into the ground. (At one wedding the bride and her attendants wore white flip-flops and the groom and his attendants wore black ones. They were dressed elegantly. The flip-flops did not detract from the elegance and everyone walked safely up and down the aisle).

3. Never use a paper runner. (In my opinion these are unsafe both inside and outside).

It seems like safety should outrank high heels and trains but this is just one officiant's opinion. The choice is always the bride's.