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What Is A Wedding Dress “Bustle”?

Put simply, your wedding dress bustle is when the beautiful train of your dress is buttoned up to floor length when you enter your reception. This is done so you can dance and move about freely without it getting stuck or caught, or stepped on!

In our bridal appointments we often have girls ask, “How does this dress bustle?” Depending on the dress, the fabric, the length of the train, etc., there are a number of different ways to do this. The video below tells you in detail!

This is a very important part of your dress alterations because for your entire reception the back of the dress will be pulled up and secured. It may be fastened by hooks/eyes, buttons, ribbons, or a combination of them.

Many bustles look beautiful when done properly, but others can look messy or even fall out if done incorrectly. You must know what your options are when having your final fittings done.

Let’s look at the different types!

Over bustle done two ways as shown, lower at the flare of skirt and higher up at the waist

The most common is the the ‘over bustle’. This one will use hooks or buttons either at the waist line of the dress or at the start of the skirt flare on a fitted dress. Depending on the length of your train and fullness of the skirt, you may only need one hook or button, or you may need many to keep it up and floor length the whole way around.

Ballgown with over bustle at waistline
Over bustle on a plain skirt where hooks are visible when train is fanned is not advised

Next is the French bustle. This is buttoned underneath forming “pick ups” or tiers to the skirt. It also should be done when the skirt is plain, satin, silk, crepe, etc., or the button/hook will be visible on the outside of the skirt. (See photo above.)

French bustle buttoning underneath for beautiful tiers and volume on A-line or ballgown
5-point bustle on a mermaid dress

Watch this quick and informative Bustle video by our own Suzanne who will illustrate and explain these two further!

You can also skip the buttoning altogether and use a wrist loop as the bustle. This is simply a band around your wrist that holds your train up as you twirl the night away! This works best on simple trains, chapel or sweep length, and fewer layers.

Wrist loop simply goes around your wrist to hold up the train

If you are not a fan of the train or bustling concept, consider buying a dress with a short (or no) train or have it altered to floor length. Add a dramatic cathedral or royal length veil to give you the incredible drama for the aisle walk and photos, and remove it for the reception! No extra buttoning or hooking needed! See photo below:

When you say yes to your dress, make sure you know your bustle options! Your stylist will show you the various ways and your seamstress will pin them so you can see before committing to the one you want!