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Tips and Tricks for Bustling a Wedding Dress

Bustling a wedding dress can be equal parts function and fashion. The simple alteration creates a train attachment on the dress, allowing easy movement and adding new design to your dress.

Not every dress needs to be bustled. If your dress doesn’t have a train, bustling is not something you will need to do. Even with a train, a bustle is not a must, though it certainly makes greeting your guests and getting down on the dance floor easier. It also prevents damage from your train being dragged through dirt and spilled drinks or caught under dancing feet.

Most brides opt to leave their train trailing for the ceremony and for all formal photos. Some keep their train for the first dance. The opportune time to bustle falls before or during the reception when the priority is mingling with guests. You want to be uninhibited when moving from table to table, doing the cake cutting, listening to the speeches and of course, dancing.

Knowing you will likely bustle before the reception, keep in mind that the process can take anywhere from three to 10 minutes, depending on the intricacy of the bustle. Designate one or more people to assist with bustling your dress. It’s important that your helpers attend a fitting to understand the technique. If they can’t be in attendance, have the seamstress take a video to explain the process.

Often the maid of honor, a bridesmaid, the mother of the bride or mother-in-law assists with the bustling. This can also serve as a special photo moment.

Photo courtesy of Sarah and Paul Photography

As a precaution, pack safety pins, a sewing needle and clear fishing line or white string in your day-of kit in case of a bustle-point break. Where seamstresses do their very best to ensure a strong connection, sometimes a bustle can break under the weight of a heavy dress or snag when moving or dancing.

It’s important to note that, because a bustle is an alteration, it will be an additional charge. The price depends on the amount of bustle points added and the style of bustle you select. Prices typically range from $50 to $250.

Your bustle should enhance your comfort. At the fitting, sit and move around to ensure that nothing is uncomfortable. As well, a bustle shouldn’t detract from the style or form of your dress too drastically. If it does, consider asking your seamstress about the variety of bustle styles.

Below are five of the most common bustle styles, although more options exist.

American Bustle

Photo courtesy of Cedar Relics Photography

The American bustle, also referred to as the over bustle, consists of several hooks positioned near or at the waistline. This enables the train to be lifted and hooked over top of the dress. This style is popular for ball gowns or any skirt with a lot of fabric.

Ballroom Bustle

Much like the American bustle, the ballroom bustle is ideal for full skirts. This style seemingly makes the train disappear. In this style, bustle points are sewn at various points around the bodice, and the fabric is folded in on itself. The result gives the illusion of a floor-length gown. Because of the many bustle points sewn in, this is the most expensive option.

Train-Flip Bustle

Similar to the ballroom bustle, the train-flip bustle makes it appear as if there’s no bustle at all. The difference is the train of the dress flips under the fabric and is pinned into itself.

Austrian Bustle

With this rise of ruching in fashion, the Austrian bustle is being utilized more often. This look gathers the gown’s fabric down the middle of the gown at the back, creating a vertical illusion much like ruching. To many, this is the easiest for helpers to put into place.

French Bustle

For brides with A-line or mermaid dresses, the French bustle is suggested. The French bustle takes the opposite approach of the American bustle — hooks pick up the train and take it under the body of the dress. Typically, ribbons are attached to connect the fabric. You’ve likely seen this style on your favorite Disney princess.

Feature image courtesy of Mandi McElroy

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