Wedding Dress Bustles


Today we're going to talk about a topic I don’t see covered often, and that’s bustling your wedding dress.

Before we get into details, let’s go over what a bustle actually is. Most wedding dresses have a train of some sort, some being longer than others. The bustle is what transitions that train to be the same length as the rest of your dress so you can move around much easier in your dress. It’s typically made up of buttons, hooks, or ties that are hidden into the design of your dress, and are almost always done by your seamstress while they are dong your alterations.

There are many different styles of bustles, some are very simple, and others more elaborate. Generally speaking, the more fabric and layers you have, the more complicated your bustle is going to be. You’ll typically have a few hidden buttons or hooks on the outside of your dress, with loops of thread that you’ll bring up around the button/hook that brings up the fabric. For a French bustle, or for dresses with multiple layers, you may have ties that are under the dress that tying them together brings up the train to be level with the rest of the dress.


One of the most common questions we get regarding the bustle is, do I need to bustle my dress? I mean, you most likely LOVE your train, that’s one of the things that sets a wedding dress apart from any other dress, so why not show it off through the entire reception, right? Simple answer, it’s going to REALLY get in the way if you don’t bustle it. Regardless of the length, you’ll be constantly picking it up to shift it out of the way. Both you and your new spouse will be tripping over it while you walk, and it will be next to impossible to dance with your guests if it’s not bustled.

Now that we’ve gone over the what and why about bustles, let’s chat a bit about the when and who of it all. I recommend that you bustle your dress after the ceremony and formal photos are done, and before you head in to cocktail hour or the reception. When you try to navigate around people, tables, and the dance floor, the train can be a big trip hazard, so it’s best to have that taken care of before you go into the reception. I know some brides like the idea of having their train down for the first dance, but unless you plan on not moving much for the dance, you’ll definitely want to bustle it first.


So who helps you bustle your dress? If you have a planner, they can definitely help you out with this. We’ll usually do this in a bridal suite, or off to the side somewhere, but we’ve definitely bustles many dresses right in the middle of the party while the bride can be chatting with the guests. Planner aside, this is a great job for a maid of honor, or someone in your wedding party. Moms are also a great go to for this task, and sometimes it’s better to have more than one set of hands to make the process go quicker.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let me share some bustle tips that will come in handy on your wedding day.

  1. Even if you have a small train, or really want to leave the train down through the entire reception, I HIGHLY recommend you have a bustle put in anyway. It’s not going to be noticeable, so if you end up not using it that’s fine. But if you do find yourself getting annoyed by all the people accidentally stepping on your dress, yourself included, you’re going to be very happy you have the option to use the bustle!

  2. At your first alterations appointment, ask the seamstress if they are able to number or color code the ties or hooks for the bustle. It’s not always possible without being visible from the outside, but if you have ties or hooks under the dress, having each of the ends numbered or color coded, it will make it so much easier to know the order, rather than it being a big guessing game!

  3. The bustle is usually put in last, so make sure to invite your maid of honor, mom, or whoever will be helping you bustle to that final fitting appointment so the seamstress can show them how it works. Better yet, especially if they are not able to come with you to the appointment, take a video of them demonstrating how the bustle works so you’ll have something to reference on the wedding day.

  4. Having a crochet hook handy might make it easier to get the loop over the button, so I recommend packing one of those with you for the reception. This will also come in handy if your dress has buttons with loops on the back. Your maid of honors nails will thank you!

  5. Make sure that you add some time into your timeline to have the dress bustled. If it’s a small train with a 1-3 loops, it’s not going to take that long. But the more elaborate bustles can definitely take a while. And if you have a lace overlay, it may be a simple bustle, but it can take some time to find the loops hidden in the design of the lace.

  6. And finally, make sure to have a variety of sized of safety pins on hand at the reception. Even bustled, it’s inevitable that someone will step on the dress, it usually happens on a packed dance floor. Safety pins are my most commonly used item on a wedding day, and most of the time it’s to fix a broken bustle. You can fix it from under the dress most of the time, so the pin isn’t going to be visible.


There you have it, everything you need to know about your wedding gown bustle! Now I want to hear from you. What’s your favorite take-away from today? Head on over to the Wedding Planning Collective Facebook Group and let me know!