You have picked out the perfect, beautiful wedding dress. You have visions of this long train behind you going down the aisle for the ceremony. Once the ceremony is done, now what?

The problem

The problem is that the long train makes it difficult to move around freely and comfortably for other events commonly held with traditional weddings. For example, it is hard to dance and mingle with the long train all wrapped up in your arms or you end up dragging it everywhere with people stepping on it. 

The solution

The solution to the long train is to bustle it up.

A wedding dress bustle is created a variety of ways by adding buttons, hooks, or ribbons. Doing this makes it easier to walk around post-ceremony.

With a bustle, the dress is doing all the heavy lifting and holds all the extra fabric off the ground for the post-ceremony events. This leaves you to simply enjoy your own party with friends and loved ones.

Keep in mind that the bustle is for more than ease of moving around. Bustles are used to protect the wedding dress from normal wear and tear during the wedding festivities.

Wedding Dress Bustle Styles

Now comes the hard part before going to your fitting appointment. You need to decide on what type of bustle you want. There are so many different types of bustles to choose from. The style should depend on the look you desire and is largely a matter of personal preference.

I highly recommend that you take a look at the wonderful online resources to find the numerous styles of bustles available. Having this knowledge will help direct the conversation you have with your seamstress and will help you get the perfect bustle design to fit your personal style. This will help you trust your seamstress if you have a basic understanding. This will help you make an informed decision when they recommend one style versus another. It is important to get the overall function of the bustle along with the desired look that will hold up for the event with style and grace. 

Popular Styles for Wedding Dresses Bustles

The most popular bustles used include:

  • American Bustle
  • Traditional Bustle
  • Ballroom Bustle
  • Bow Bustle
  • French Bustle
  • Royal Bustle or Victorian Bustle

American Bustle

The American Bustle is designed where the fabric comes up and over the back of the dress. It is secured to the dress back anywhere from the waist down.

Traditional Bustle

The Traditional Bustle is similar to the American bustle except all hooks are at the waistline. The hook placement creates a cascade of pleats.

Ballroom Bustle

The Ballroom Bustle completely hides the train leaving the overall look and feel of the dress untouched. The points of the train attachment are on the underside. This results in a finished look of a floor-length ballgown.

Bow Bustle

The Bow Bustle is where the train fabric is gathered together at the waistline and a bow is placed over the points of attachment to hide them. This creates a seamless appearance of belonging and helps improve the visual flow of gathers down from the bow.

French Bustle

The French Bustle requires a little more attention to how the train is attached but this style creates an under-bustle. The hooks are under the back of the dress. This attachment creates a look of multiple layers. There are many points of attachment that help create a fold in the back of the dress.

Royal Bustle or Victorian Bustle

The Royal or Victorian Bustle creates a look that can be simple or quite dramatic. This largely depends on the desires of the wearer and what they are looking for. It uses one or more hook points and creates folds to add dimension to the back of the dress.

Getting to know the bustle of your wedding dress

Before your consultation or fitting session with your seamstress, familiarize yourself with the many styles of bustles.

You should designate 1-2 people as your bustle pros for the wedding festivities. They should come with you to your fittings to learn how to properly bustle the dress. This will give them an opportunity to practice with expert help available to get the correct attachment quickly. It is important to allow time and space on the big day for these bustle pros to correctly get the dress ready for the additional wedding activities. There is nothing worse than a badly hooked bustle, especially in pictures. An improperly hooked bustle can also increase the risk of tripping while walking or while on the dance floor as well.

Have a backup plan!

Bustles can break just like anything else. Hooks can come loose, ribbons can fray or come undone, etc. You need to have a backup plan in place for the big day just in case. Discuss any repair methods with your seamstress during your consultation and practice sessions so you are prepared. Backup attachment methods may include safety pins and a sewing needle with a clear fishing line or thread. These may save the day when all else fails.

Wedding Dress Bustle Costs

It is important to budget extra for the bustle if your wedding dress does not already have one in place. These do not come cheap. There is a large range of costs depending on the original style and materials of the dress as well as the style of bustle you select. A bustle can easily run you $75-350 so make sure you include this in the budget for your dress along with any other alterations you may need to have completed.

  • Ann Walmsley

    Owner & Master Seamstress

    As the owner, master seamstress, designer, and instructor of elegant Annswers, she has been sewing for over 30 years. Always learning and taking classes to stay up to date on new techniques in the sewing world to be able to offer new services to better serve my clients.