Which Wedding Dress Train Is Right for You? The Experts Weigh In

A break down of the most popular wedding dress trains and which is the best fit for your special day, according to experts.

Some women start shopping for their wedding dress with a clear picture of what they want; others go in with a rough idea, pinpointing a silhouette, fabric, or neckline they like, but open to the options; and others still visit their first bridal salon without absolutely no idea what their looking for. Whichever camp you fall into, understanding some of the more nuanced terminology with help make the process of finding your perfect wedding dress a little easier. One such example? Wedding dress trains. Here, we break down everything you need to know.

Sweep Train

The most casual choice, a sweep train barely touches the floor. Most sweep trains are 12 inches or less and extend from the hemline.

Court Train

Though it's the same length as a sweep train, the court train extends from the waist instead of the hemline.

Chapel Train

Chapel trains are the most popular choice for wedding dresses, and they extend 60 inches from the waistline. Many women love this length because they get the feel of a beautiful long train without one that hinders movement throughout the day.

Cathedral Train

If you're the type of woman who loves a dramatic look, a cathedral train is the right choice. Extending anywhere from 72 to 96 inches from the waistline, this look is best-suited for formal weddings.

Watteau Train

If you're a trendy bride, you'll be a big fan of the Watteau train! Reminiscent of a cape, Watteau trains extend from the shoulders or upper back and are either sewn on or detachable. The length and material can vary.

Royal Train

It's your big day, and if you want to look like royalty, there's only one train option for you: The royal train can reach more than 10 feet in length and provides a focal point that you simply can't achieve with any other shape.

bridesmaids walking with bride carrying her dress
Abby Jiu Photography

How to Choose the Right One for You

There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing which train length is right for you. First and foremost, keep your venue in mind. Is your ceremony a formal church wedding or a casual beach affair? "If you are getting married outside on a grassy or desert field, then it will be harder to manage a train or keep it from getting dirty and damaged," explain Jaquelyn and Ana, owners of Our Story Bridal. Additionally, a chapel length chiffon train might look out of place in a grand cathedral, while a royal train would be too much for a garden space.

Next, think about the fabric of your dress. Some materials don't translate well to certain trains. "When we use a lighter weight fabric for a dress, such as chiffon or crepe, we typically design a smaller train size for the gown," said Shawne Jacobs, president and creative director of Anne Barge. Likewise, a heavier fabric wouldn't lay properly as a chapel length. Jaqueline and Ana agreed, and added that "the lighter the fabric is, the more likely that the train will gather and bunch rather than fan out as you walk down the aisle, so if you want a dramatic train that is able to keep the width as you walk down the aisle, then you might want to go with a heavy lace train."

Last, remember the upkeep required throughout the night. Sure, a long train is beautiful during your ceremony and in pictures, but what will you do with it when it's time to dance and celebrate? This is the time to consider the bustle. "The bustle adds an important feature to the gown," Jacobs explained. "It pulls back the train, making it much more manageable to walk around freely and so that you and your guests do not step on it during the reception."

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