"The train plays such a powerful role, both at the ceremony and at the reception. It can completely transform your bridal look," says Morilee designer Madeline Gardner, and we can't help but agree with her.
We all remember that jaw-dropping moment when, on her wedding day in 2011, Kate Middleton stepped out of her Rolls-Royce in Westminster Abbey and, for the first time, the world saw her Alexander McQueen dress which, of course, was absolutely breathtaking. But we would argue that her 9-feet cathedral train was crucial to the entire look—it basically elevated the gown to a royal level.
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As Gardner put it, "a train should always give a bride her magic moment." So before you set your heart on a dress, think about what kind of train you'd like to have and whether it would be appropriate for the type of wedding you're having. To get you started, here are designers' best tips on choosing a wedding train.
Types of Trains
In general, there are four distinct types of wedding trains: sweep, watteau, chapel, and cathedral.
The sweep train is the shortest one of all—about six inches—making it an excellent choice for an outdoor or casual wedding."If you want to keep things simple without the hassle of a bustle [Ed. note: more on that later], the sweep train may be right for you," say Moonlight Bridal designers Valerie and Stephanie Chin.
"The detachable watteau train is an unconventional take on the traditional wedding dress train and can be considered a combination of a veil and a train," they explain. "It attaches to the shoulders or upper back of the bodice to create a whimsical look without the commitment of an actual train."
That's what makes it perfect for a destination wedding, for example, because it gives more casual wedding dresses some formal flair, and you can easily remove it after the ceremony.
The chapel train is the most popular train of all four. It measures approximately five feet from the waist and it gives the dress some formality without being too over-the-top.
The last one, cathedral, trails about six or seven feet from the waist, and is the most formal one. "It adds a dramatic look to any gown and enhances that fairytale feel of ball gown wedding dresses," add Valerie and Stephanie Chin.
"Keep in mind that cathedral length trains, while gorgeous, require a fair amount of attention—make sure your bridesmaids are aware of their responsibilities on the big day like keeping the train properly situated and bustling."
Which Train Is Right For Me?
To answer that question, you'll have to take into account a few things: the setting, the bustle, and your body type.
If you're planning a smaller celebration in your parents' backyard, then a cathedral train would be too much and look out of place. But if you're getting hitched in an old English castle (like Ciara), then you can get away with a longer, more elaborate train, according to Valerie and Stephanie Chin.
The bustle, which pulls the back of your dress so you don't step over it, is important because if you opt for a cathedral or chapel train, you'll definitely need one added to your dress so you can move freely during the reception.
And, finally, body type—while designers agree that most trains look good on anyone, if you are pear-shaped, you may want to avoid shorter or sweep trains. And if you have wider shoulders, then stay away from watteau trains.