Photo by Vanessa & Ivo via Bridal Musings

Ready for some controversial real talk? I'm anti-bustle. That being said, I know most brides are pro-bustle (or bustle-indifferent). So, when I went wedding dress shopping I had plenty of questions, particularly “What do I do if I hate bustles?” As it turns out, plenty of brides out there have a dizzying array of bustle-related questions.

Lucky for me, one of my best friends who came along to my bridal appointments IS a bridal stylist. And lucky for you all, she's our Fashion Editor here at Bridal Musings. (For instance, Christina's currently predicting a surge in extravagant bridal fashion post-COVID-19).

Christina says I'm not alone, and bustle-related questions pop up in just about every bridal appointment she takes. So, for the benefit of all, I asked Christina all of my pressing bustle questions, and what one can do instead. Her advice is so key to any bride about to start wedding dress shopping or about to take their gown in for those fateful alterations.

Which Dresses Need To Be Bustled?

Essentially, any dress with a train that’s going to hinder your ability to party. That includes any gown that has a train that will be stepped on all night, or a gown with a train that’s so long you actually won’t be able to walk around. I find this is one of my number one questions brides ask during their appointments. If it’s long enough to be in the way, you could benefit from a bustle. Don’t let a long train stop you from buying your dream dress!

Which Dresses Don’t Need A Bustle?

Short dresses, dresses without a train, or dresses with a baby train. Slinkier gowns with very little train are super easy to add a loop to the underside of the train. This makes it easy for you to put the loop around your wrist and sort of “drape” your gown without compromising the design.

Photo by Kevin Klein via Bridal Musings

In my opinion, a gown with only a few inches of train should either be left to trail behind you all night or given a simple loop. Adding a bustle to a gown like that almost looks like an accident, and I’d say, enjoy the fact that you’re wearing a wedding gown and embrace the little bit of gorgeous fabric trailing behind you. When else in your life do you get a chance to feel so extravagant?!

Extra note: You know which other dresses don't need a bustle? Your dress if you don't want it! It's true, while these are all ‘best suggestions' for bustle aid, if you don't want to bustle your gown – no matter the train length – you really don't have to! We have a few extra suggestions for keeping your train safe further down the post.

What Style Of Bustle Is Best?

Over-bustle | Photo by Kir Tuben Photography via Bridal Musings

There are two main types: an under bustle and an over bustle. An over bustle has one or more hooks on the top of the train that get lifted up and hooked over the top of the gown.

An under bustle is basically the opposite, with hooks or ties that pick up the train and fold it under itself. So depending on the fabric and construction of your dress, you may need more or less complicated bustling. I’ve heard conflicting rules as to whether certain fabrics should be busted over or under, and I think the most important thing to remember is that you like how it looks.

When Do I Decide My Bustle?

I recommend asking about bustles while you are dress shopping. Your bridal stylist is a valuable resource of knowledge and tips! Odds are, your stylist can show you a couple options and you can see what your dress may look like if you decide to purchase it. Once you’ve found “the one” your alteration appointments will be where you actually choose the bustle. A talented seamstress can talk with you about your bustle options and what style is best for you and the look you want to achieve.

What If I Hate Bustles?

Photo by Yesi & Yiannis Simopoulos via Bridal Musings

Three suggestions: make sure to buy a dress that doesn’t have an extravagant train, have the train shortened, or get a second dress!

But ultimately, it’s what’s going to make you the happiest and most comfortable. I’ve seen a bride hula hoop in a ballgown, so no train should ever get in the way of what you want to do at your reception!

Any Extra Advice?

Photo by Retrospect Images via Bridal Musings

On your wedding day you will be IN the gown – so someone else will need to bustle it for you. I’d recommend having your Maid of Honor or bridesmaids do a test run for you. Have them come to your final dress fitting! That way, they can learn from the expert seamstress, ask questions, and have a very clear idea of how the bustle works and is supposed to look on that day.

Bustles can be super simple or very elaborate, so factor in an additional cost for how much bustle your gown may need. I’ve heard some brides express frustration about how much their alterations cost, and if you’re trying to keep things more simple and less expensive, perhaps a gown with less train is in the cards for you.

Photo by Morgan Renee Photography via Bridal Musings

Thank you so much, Christina!

So what did I do with my own gown sans bustle? Thanks to my gal pal's advice, I opted to have my seamster add a loop to carry my train when I'm dancing through the night (see here). Not only does that mean I didn't have to sacrifice my gorgeous train, but I got to show off a few glimpses of my bridal shoes I love so much.

For more expert wedding dress shopping and fashion advice visit our Style Section.