From sweep and fishtail to statement-making monarch styles, wedding dress trains are back in a major way. But is a wedding dress with a train right for you and your wedding day? There are a lot of factors that come into play when considering dress trains and styles. Everything from your dress's silhouette to the formality of the day to the venue setting, and even the photography mood you're looking to achieve, can play a part in the decision. With so much etiquette embedded in that extra fabric, we've consulted our experts to break it down and help you choose what’s right for you.
What Is a Train?
A train is an extra length of fabric that extends from the back of your wedding dress and trails behind you as you walk. It may be part of your skirt, could be a detachable piece or overlay that connects to your waist, or could be a Watteau style, which attaches at the shoulders like a cape.
What Are Common Train Styles, and Why Should You Choose Them?
Sweep: Around six inches longer than the rest of the skirt, a sweep train is a subtle way to add an accent to a wedding gown’s skirt. This style is a great choice for brides getting married outdoors and looks fabulous on trumpet or mermaid-style gowns.
Chapel: A chapel train is between 12 and 18 inches long and is the most common choice for brides. It adds just enough drama to an A-line gown without being too fussy. A chapel train looks beautiful in a ballroom.
Cathedral: At 22 or more inches long, cathedral trains are totally formal and great for a black-tie wedding at a dramatic venue. They look beautiful on ball gowns and A-line dresses, or as a Watteau train extending from a column gown.
Royal or Monarch: The longest of the trains, this option extends a yard or more on the floor (and often requires the assistance of flower girls to get around). You’ll recognize a monarch train from the likes of Kate Middleton (whose train clocked in at nine feet) and Princess Diana (who had a train that was a whopping 25 feet in length).
How Do You Get Down the Aisle?
Whether your train is long or short, ask your planner or coordinator to help you fluff it (and adjust your veil, if you’re wearing one) before you head down the aisle. Pause before you reach the last row of seats, giving her time to straighten your skirt and make sure your train is perfectly laid out.
Then start your walk toward the altar. Once you’re there, your maid of honor should step out of line to arrange your train before the officiant begins.
What Do You Do With It After the Ceremony?
Once you’ve made your grand entrance (and exit), all that extra fabric can be a lot to handle, which is where bustles come in. A shorter train or a simpler dress may have just a few buttons or ties to tuck up the extra fabric and make it the length of the rest of the skirt, while longer trains will have intricate bustles that get each layer properly folded and fluffed before the next is addressed.