The train is a signature part of the wedding dress and can make a big impact at every point of the wedding, from the walk down the aisle to the family portraits. Picture yards of lace flowing along a pew lined aisle and tiers of satin sweeping over a set of stairs. Perhaps you think of Kate Middleton entering Westminster Abbey or Carrie Bradshaw running through the streets of New York. These are just a few of the vibrant images that come to mind when it comes to wedding dress trains.
Just like weddings and the couples who plan them, wedding dress train types come in all different styles, and there’s one that’s right for you. If you’re wondering what the different types of wedding dress trains are, you came to the right place. We pooled all the styles together in one place, so you can decide which one feels like the right type.
It’s no surprise that a long wedding dress train exudes a regal feeling. Princess Diana’s 25-foot train made history as she entered St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Kate Middleton’s gown, while much shorter in length, still turned heads with a nine-foot train. It’s only right that these royals wore royally long gowns, but this awe-inspiring train style isn’t only available to monarchs. Even we townspeople can wear a royal train, which can also be called “monarch.” All you need is a train of at least eight feet, but the longer the better.
While available to all, a monarch train begs the right venue. Not all spaces can—or should—accommodate a wedding dress of such length. Outdoor venues on the grass or dirt aren’t suited for extremely long trains, because they will collect dirt, sticks, and anything else in their path. Plus, the more dress, the heavier it will be. If you opt for a royal train, make sure your maid of honor and bridesmaids are ready to carry it all over the place, and that you’ve got a sturdy bustle to tie it up when it’s time to dance.
Cathedral length trains also add jaw-dropping drama to a dress. These trains extend up to seven feet long in stunning sweeping fashion. As its name suggests, this wedding dress train style is well-suited for a cathedral venue where the aisle is long and smooth, but it will bode well in any indoor setting. With a train like this, you won’t miss it, but you also want it to look its best. To reap all its beautiful benefits, ensure the train is splayed out before you walk down the aisle, throughout the ceremony, and in every photo. Your wedding planner and MOH will be your best help in accomplishing this.
Being that it adds extra drama, a cathedral train is ideal for formal affairs. If you opt for this train, you’ll need to allocate ample time between the ceremony and reception (and recruit some help) to bustle it to your dress. With a proper bustle, you can really have it all—a show-stopping train at the ceremony and a party-ready dress that just kisses the floor at the reception.
The chapel length train is the most common, because it usually accompanies the beloved A-line silhouette and because it’s easily manageable. Plus, it will go well with any venue, outdoor or indoor. Unlike other trains on this list, this one measures from the waistline and extends four feet from there, usually falling one to two feet from the bottom of the skirt.
This type of wedding dress train falls somewhere between chapel and cathedral in length, extending around four or more feet behind the bride. If you aren’t satisfied with the length of a chapel train, but are intimidated by cathedral lengths, a semi-cathedral train may fall in your sweet spot.
A sweep train wedding dress style, also called a brush train, just sweeps the floor. This train length extends six inches to one foot behind the bride for a subtle look that makes it ideal for outdoor ceremonies or casual affairs. A sweep train looks great on gowns with a trumpet, mermaid, or similar fitted style, because the drama lies in the silhouette, not necessarily the train.
Similar to a sweep train, a court train extends just beyond where the dress hits the floor. And similar to the chapel train, it’s measured from the waist. Because a court train extends from the waist, it feels a bit more formal than a sweep train and works on a broader range of silhouettes, from A-line, to sheath, to mermaid.
A godet train isn’t a length of train, per se, but rather a style. It’s created with a triangular piece of fabric, typically of a different material, inserted into the train of a dress that adds intricacy, length, and drama to a dress. The godet allows the train to flare out in beautiful fashion, usually showing off a pretty lace pattern or applique. There can be one godet in the center back of the wedding gown or multiple panels that create folds that add volume to the skirt.
Just because your train only hits the floor, doesn’t mean your dress is any less dramatic. A floor-length dress can have as much of a jaw-dropping effect as a royal train. Ball gowns with ruffled, tiered, or tulle skirts are often floor-length and just as eye-catching. Plus, they are usually nice and lightweight, so you can avoid both the need to bustle and carry your dress. If your wedding is more casual, or you really want to show off your shoes, a floor-length dress could be a perfect fit.
If you fell in love with a wedding dress style without a train, you can always wear a veil to add the level of drama you desire. Veils also come in an assortment of lengths such as chapel and cathedral, so you can achieve the look and length of the train with the same name for your ceremony, but not have to worry about it afterward. Keep in mind that if you select a cathedral-length gown, you should complement it with a cathedral-length veil. Also, if your wedding gown has a voluminous skirt, you should complement it with a voluminous veil, such as a blusher veil. When you try on dresses, don’t hesitate to try on just as many veils to find the one that suits your dress, face, and style best.
A detachable skirt can serve as a train during the ceremony and photos, but can be removed for a fuss-free reception. This style is a great option when you want a dramatic entrance without the hassle of bustling your dress later on.
Detachable skirts come in an array of styles that can turn a fit and flare dress into a ball gown or add a train to a floor-length silhouette. They can be sheer or opaque; full skirt or a half-skirt—the most popular option as of late. Wearing a detachable skirt not only gives you a train, but also gives you the chance to wear two dresses in one. Think of a detachable wedding train as your fairy godmother who can make you fit for the ball with the flick of a wand.
A Watteau is a combination of a train and a veil that’s perfect for the bride who wants a unique look. This wedding dress train style creates a cape-like look by attaching to the shoulders or upper back of a dress rather than extending from the waist. Most of the time, a Watteau train is removable, so you have the option to keep it on or wear it solely for the ceremony and remove it for the reception. It can extend to the hem of the dress or far beyond it for a more dramatic effect and often gives a whimsical or ethereal touch to the overall bridal look.
Now that you’ve got a glossary of wedding dress train types and alternatives, you’re prepared to try on the wedding gowns and coordinating trains that will work best for you and your venue. The veil and other accessories will also contribute to the length of your dress, so be sure to try them on to see the full effect. Don’t forget to discuss bustle options for the train, plus consider any alteration costs for adding a bustle.