How Do You Attach a Train to a Wedding Dress?

If you’re looking to add that “je ne sais quoi” to your dress, a detachable wedding train may be right for you.

By The Zola Team

married couple on mountain
Photo by Mozingo Photograph

The train is to a wedding gown what Tom is to Jerry. Like Jerry, a train can be a pest to deal with, but it’s also irreplaceable. If that signature show-stopping moment when you walk down the aisle is important to you, you’ll want to invest in a dress with a train (or a detachable one).

Detachable wedding trains are often the answer to all of our wedding dress train woes. They can add style and drama to your dream dress, but don’t come with the hassles associated with built-in trains. Here’s what you need to know:

How Do You Attach a Train to a Wedding Dress? Photo Credit // Carla Gates Photography

How to Attach a Train to a Wedding Dress

Below, you will find all of the detachable wedding dress train types, plus learn how to attach and detach each from your dress.

Detachable Wedding Train Options

A Skirt

A skirt can turn anything underneath it into a wedding dress: a jumpsuit, bodysuit, mini… you name it. As if picking out your wedding dress wasn’t hard enough, a detachable skirt can come in just as many styles, but will almost always end up giving your overall look an A-line or ball gown silhouette.

An attachable/detachable skirt attaches at the waist and can cascade out at whatever volume and to whatever length you choose. Some dresses even have coordinating detachable skirts that feature the same beading, applique, or lace, which makes selecting the complementary attachment easy. However, if your chosen gown doesn’t come with a coordinating skirt, you can still add one.

A simple tulle skirt goes well with almost any bridal gown and will give it a whimsical, flowy nature. Layers of tulle will disguise the dress beneath it, while a single, sheer layer will act as a pretty overlay. You can also choose a skirt with a slit to give a tasteful peek at what lies beneath.

In addition to styles, there are also various ways you can attach a skirt to your dress. The simplest styles will wrap around the waist and can be fastened with a ribbon or belt. If you’re going for a seamless look, you can also work with your alterations expert to find a way to hide how the skirt attaches to the dress, such as with snaps or buttons.

When the ceremony is over, simply untie, unsnap, or unbutton the skirt and show off the “second” dress. You may also opt for a more dramatic reveal and remove the skirt as part of your first dance.

Half-Skirt

If a full skirt feels like too much extra fabric or covers too much of your beloved dress, a half-skirt is another great detachable option. A half-skirt is just as it sounds: a skirt that goes halfway around, instead of all the way around the waist. Made famous by Sofia Vergara at her wedding, the half-skirt is a popular choice for brides who want to show off their curves but also have a big train. However, it’s great for more than just fitted-silhouettes. Short dresses and sheaths also don’t typically allow for a long, voluminous train, but a half-skirt lets the bride have both.

Because it’s open in the front, the half-skirt train attachment lets the bride show off the shape of the dress underneath it or her legs. It can be the (very glamorous) mullet of wedding dress trains—business in the front, party in the back—or it can be “party” in the back and in the front.

As far as attaching a half-skirt goes, it can attach to your dress the same way a full skirt would, however, because the skirt doesn’t go all the way around, it looks best when it’s fastened to the waist invisibly. Otherwise, you’ll have a band across your waist that gives the secret away.

Watteau

A Watteau train has a fancy name and a fancy feel to match. It attaches to the shoulders or the back of the wedding dress to give it a cape-like look. It can be tied or pinned in place and easily removed when it no longer serves you.

The look of a Watteau is unique, ethereal, and regal. It trails the bride beautifully while she walks, adding a formal flair to any dress. The beauty of a Watteau train is that it can trail as long as a cathedral length train, but is usually made of a lightweight fabric, such as tulle or chiffon, to give a dress drama in length but not weight.

Cape

While a Watteau will give you a cape-like feel, you can also opt for an actual cape train that wraps around your shoulders and ties in the front. A bridal cape can easily attach and detach from your neck with a ribbon, clasp, or decorative pin. Capes can keep winter brides warm in cold weather, but can also bring an elegant storybook air to any bridal look.

How Do You Attach a Train to a Wedding Dress? Photo Credit // Jennifer Crook Photography

Benefits of Detachable Trains

Detachable trains have become popular for a multitude of reasons, including:

Affordability

Bustles can be expensive to add and difficult to execute. With a detachable wedding train, on the other hand, you’ll pay for the attachment, but the actual dress and its alterations will be less expensive. When trying on dresses, compare the price of a floor-length dress and detachable train with the price of a dress with a built-in train and the cost of adding a bustle (usually around $100 to $300).

In addition to floor-length dresses, jumpsuits and bodysuits are also more affordable options than full-length dresses and look just as great underneath a removable train.

Ease

Beyond just saving you money, a detachable train can also save you time and energy. Simply remove the train post-ceremony or post-photos and—voilá—your dress is reception-ready. You’ll be able to walk from table to table greeting guests, use the restroom, and hit the dance floor without a heavy and cumbersome train getting in your way. Since you can easily untie or unfasten most of these removable train options on your own, you also won’t need to pull your MOH away from the party to help you bustle your dream dress.

Fashion

Removing a detachable train from your dress can completely change the look of it, giving you two looks in one. Depending on the style you choose, the attachment can turn a fitted column silhouette into a ball gown, a sheath into an ethereal style, or a mini dress into a high-low gown with a flowing train. The options are endless—and who doesn’t love that?

What to Do When Your Train Isn’t Detachable

If you decide a wedding dress train attachment isn’t your style, just make sure you’re prepared to care for your train. If your train isn’t detachable and you opt for one of the longer train lengths, such as chapel or cathedral train, you will need to add a bustle to your dress. Knowing what kind of bustle is right, and how and when to bustle your dress are important details to think about and discuss when both shopping for your gown and having it altered. If you cover your bases and add the right bustle to your bridal gown, even an attached train can almost disappear.

While traditional trains will never go away, a detachable wedding dress train is a fun and fresh alternative. It will add the drama you want for the ceremony without taking away from the dress underneath. The best way to discover if one of these styles is right for you is to try them on. Explore the different attachable options, from full skirts to chic capes, when shopping for your dress to find a unique look you love.

Shop Decor, Favors, and More at Our Wedding Boutique