Tips and Tricks for Shopping for a Wedding Dress Train

When prepping for your wedding day, there are so many decisions you have to make. There’s the venue, the caterer, the flowers, and the most important one of all… your wedding dress (or whatever you plan on wearing—bridal jumpsuit, anyone?). But even after you find The One, there’s still one detail to cross off your list: your train. Do you go short or long? Lace or silk? What exactly is a train, anyway? We’ve got all the answers for you ahead of your big day. From what to look for when you’re shopping to how you should handle the billowing fabric at your ceremony, in photos, and at the dance party that follows, our tips and tricks will help you navigate the tricky task that is finding the perfect wedding dress train.

What is a train?

A train is the length of fabric that extends down your back and billows behind you as you walk. While some choose to shop a dress that’s cut to incorporate the length, others opt for versions that detach for post-ceremony ease.

What are the most common train styles?

A sweep is only six to eight inches longer than the skirt of your gown. While it trails behind a bit, it’s a much more manageable silhouette when navigating the actual wedding party.

A chapel is about a foot longer than a sweep, measuring out at 12 to 18 inches longer than the rest of the bride’s gown. Arguably the most common choice, these trains are statement-making without being over-the-top.

A cathedral-length train is often fit for a black-tie or evening affair. A more dramatic choice than the two options that came before, it definitely makes for an entrance.

A royal train, sometimes referred to as a monarch, extends at least three feet (and often more) behind the bride, and as the name suggests, it’s a common choice among royal brides.

How do you navigate the ceremony?

Before you begin to walk down the aisle, make sure someone (most often a wedding planner) fans it out just so, ensuring a seamless stride to your partner-to-be. Walk slowly, as you don’t want it bunching or catching, and ask your maid of honor to readjust the train so that it fans out gorgeously as you stand to read your vows.

What about the party?

It would be a nightmare to try to navigate a dance floor, let alone the cocktail crowd, with a long train behind you, so most brides choose to bustle the fabric. If you haven’t opted for one that’s removable, most longer-trained dresses come with an easy ruching or button-up solution.

And now, some gorgeous gowns with trains: