What Style of Bustle Is Right for Your Wedding Dress?

Find the right type of bustle for your bridal gown.

Though recent years have seen brides choosing to wear a separate dress once it’s time to party, there’s a more traditional way to make it easier to dance on your big day.

Photo: Amy & Stuart Photography

So you’ve picked out your wedding dress, and it has a beautiful train. While you may be excited about how elegant it will look throughout your ceremony, it is reasonable to have concerns about the reception. Though recent years have seen brides choosing to wear a separate dress once it’s time to party, there’s a more traditional way to make it easier to dance on your big day.

Enter the bustle. With hooks, buttons, or ribbons, your seamstress can alter your dress so that the train is out of the way when you need it to be. Be sure to have at least one of your bridesmaids or your mother come along to your final fitting. It’s important that there’s an opportunity for your seamstress to show them how to utilize the bustle properly. You should also bring safety pins to your wedding. Even an excellently sewn bustle can fall apart if someone were to step too hard on your dress. Bustles are made so that the button or hook will pop off if there is too much pressure – otherwise the dress will rip!

There are several different kinds of bustles to choose from. Though a seamstress will know best, the descriptions below should help narrow down which style will make the most sense for your gown.

wedding dress bustle, over bustle, american bustle, one point bustle

Photo by Dear Stacey; Venue: Oheka Castle

Over Bustle/American Bustle
This is generally the simplest style, although there are different varieties. A one-point over bustle is best for lighter fabrics because a heavy train of satin would be too much weight for one hook. A three-point bustle will help with heavier fabric, and allow you to see more of a detailed train spread out over the back of the dress. Any number of points can be added to an over bustle; just keep in mind that the price goes up with each additional button. 

Under Bustle/French Bustle
Unlike the over bustle, the buttons or hooks are hidden in this style. The train of the dress is folded under, creating a pick up. This can be done singularly, or with multiple layers. Gowns with A-line or narrow skirts, as well as dresses without a defined waistline, benefit from this method.

Ballroom Bustle and Train Flip Bustle
These two styles fall under “similar but different.” Both are made to eliminate the appearance of a train entirely, but this is done in different ways. A ballroom bustle features multiple points along the bottom of the bodice. It is an extremely secure bustle and a perfect fit for brides who don’t like the look of more traditional bustles. A train flip bustle does literally that: it flips the train underneath so that the gown ends up having the appearance of a floor-length gown, albeit with bit of a bubble skirt.

Austrian Bustle
This style is less common, but is increasing in popularity – possibly due to how easy it is for bridesmaids to do. A ribbon or cord goes down the middle of the train, to be pulled and tied – almost like a window shade! The effect creates a nice almost-ruched style effect, although admittedly looks better on dresses without a particularly detailed skirt.

For more wedding fashion, click here. Be sure to browse hundreds of images from real weddings in our photo galleries to find inspiration from the wedding gowns worn by real brides, and follow Inside Weddings on Pinterest for more wedding ideas!