How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Dress Train Length

Erin's bridesmaids spreading out her custom wedding dress train

Choosing a wedding dress is one the most important decisions you will make as a bride-to-be. From the neckline to the silhouette, every aspect of the dress should reflect your personal style and complement your body type. 

Another important consideration is the length of the train, which can add elegance and drama to your bridal look. It can also affect the practicality and functionality of your gown on your wedding day. 

In this article, we will take a look at everything you need to know about the length of your train and help you choose which train is right for you.

Chelsea posing in her custom wedding gown
Breigh wearing her custom wedding gown from Angela Kim Couture

A Bridal Designer’s Guide to Wedding Dress Trains

A train is the fabric that extends from the back of the gown and trails behind the bride. The length and style of the train can range from a small bustle just a few inches long to a dramatic cathedral train several feet in length, and it can be attached to the dress in several different ways.

The following are the train options you will encounter when shopping for your wedding dress:

Sweep Train

A sweep train is a shorter train that extends beyond the hemline by less than a foot. It is a popular option for brides who want to add a touch of glamour to their dress without overwhelming their look. The sweep train is perfect for outdoor weddings or for brides who want a practical and versatile train length.

Denika in her custom wedding dress with a seep train
Casey wearing a lace wedding dress with a sweep train

Court Train

A court train is slightly longer than the sweep train train and extends one to two feet behind the dress. It is a great choice for traditional weddings, as it provides a touch of elegance and formality without being too cumbersome.

Masha's wedding dress features a court train
Hannah's wedding gown features a court train

Chapel Train

The chapel length train is a longer train that trails the dress by three to five feet. This type of train is a popular choice for traditional brides going for a classic wedding look.

Morgan's custom bridal gown features a chapel train
Masha's custom wedding gown features a chapel train

This train length is perfect for creating a dramatic look without going overboard, and it works well with ball gown or A-line dresses. 

Cathedral Train

The cathedral length train is even longer than the chapel train, typically extending six to nine feet behind the dress. It is a suitable train for brides wanting to make a dramatic entrance and is a good option for more formal and extravagant weddings. It looks particularly stunning with ball gowns.

Breigh walking the aisle in her cathedral length train
Erin's custom wedding dress train

Royal Train

The royal train (also known as a “monarch train”) is the longest train available, often extending up to 15 feet behind the dress. This train is also a popular choice for royal or celebrity brides, as it is sure to make for a memorable entrance and exit.

This dramatic train is ideal for very formal and grand weddings, and it works well with ball gowns and A-line dresses.

Detachable Train

A detachable train can be removed after the wedding ceremony, allowing the bride to dance and move more freely during the reception. This type of train is a practical and versatile choice for many brides, as it allows you to switch between a dramatic and more relaxed look throughout your special day.

Evelina's wedding dress features a detachable train
Lauren's custom wedding gown features a detachable train

Watteau Train

Named after the 18th century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, this train is characterized by its long, flowing fabric that gracefully cascades down the back of the gown. It is typically attached at the back, near the shoulders or upper back, and falls down the bride’s back in a series of soft folds or pleats. 

The train can be made from a variety of fabrics, including tulle, chiffon, and lace, and can be adorned with intricate beading, embroidery, or lace appliques to enhance its beauty. 

The length can vary, from a subtle floor-length sweep to a more dramatic train that trails behind the bride as she walks down the aisle.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Train Length

When choosing the perfect train for your wedding gown, the most important factors to consider are:

Natalia wearing her custom wedding dress from Angela Kim Couture

Comfort and Functionality

Comfort should be the top priority when choosing a train.

A short train will usually be more functional and comfortable, but might not have enough drama and impact for your wedding vision. A long cathedral train might look stunning, but it can also be difficult to maneuver, making it challenging to dance or navigate stairs. 

When deciding on the length of your train, consider all the activities you will be engaged in on your wedding day, like dancing, eating, and walking.

Longer types of wedding trains will usually require a bustle, so be prepared to handle them appropriately.

The Venue

If you’re having an outdoor wedding or a beach wedding, a shorter train can be more practical, as you won’t have to worry about it getting dirty or in the way. For more formal indoor wedding venues, a longer length can add drama and elegance to your dress.

Aleksa wearing her custom wedding dress from Angela Kim Couture
Morgan walking through her Italian wedding venue

The Style of Your Dress

A ball gown or A-line dress, for example, can handle a long train, while a sheath or mermaid dress may not be able to support the weight of a longer train. Additionally, some styles of dresses, such as boho or beachy, may not pair well with a long train. It’s important to consider the overall look and feel you want to achieve with your wedding gown.

Your Body Type

If you are petite, a long cathedral train can easily overwhelm you. If you’re a taller bride, a short sweep train might not be enough to balance out your proportions. It’s important to try on dresses with different train lengths to see which one flatters your body type the most.

Your Wedding Theme

A train length that is in line with your wedding theme can add a cohesive and polished touch to your bridal look. For example, a more traditional formal wedding may call for a longer length, while a bohemian wedding may be better suited for a shorter length.

Caroline running up a mountain in her wedding dress
Rrin and Kevin kissing romantically

Your Budget

Long wedding trains usually require more fabric and detailing, which can increase the cost of your dress.

Tips for Wearing a Wedding Dress with a Train

The longer the train, the more the following tips will be useful to you. Pay attention to these details:

Chelsea and Fernando dancing
Natalia dancing in her custom wedding gown

Practice Walking and Dancing

If you choose a train, it is important to practice walking and dancing in your dress before the Big Day. This will help you become comfortable with the length and ensure that you can move freely with the train without tripping or stepping on it.

Add a Bustle

A bustle is a way of organizing the excess fabric of a gown to make it easier to move around. There are several types of bustles, each with its own unique look and functionality. If your dress doesn’t come with a bustle, you can have a seamstress add one.

Oksana's wedding gown features a chapel length train
Masha in her wedding dress with a court length train

Find a Dress Handler

If you opt for a long train, consider hiring someone or asking a bridesmaid to assist you with handling your dress. A dress handler can help you navigate steps, doorways, and crowded spaces, and ensure that your train is positioned correctly and looks beautiful in all your wedding photos.

Plan for Storage

When the ceremony is over, you may want to remove the train for the reception. Make sure to plan for a place to store the train during the reception, such as a room or designated area, to avoid any damage to the train.

My Expert Advice

Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you want to make sure you feel confident and beautiful in your dress. As a custom bridal gown designer, I always recommend that my clients try on different train lengths and choose the one that feels right. You’ll look and feel your best when you are the most comfortable, so make that the top priority when making considerations about your dress.

Custom wedding dress designer Angela Kim

Angela Kim has worked in fashion internationally for over 20 years. She created Angela Kim Couture in 2017 and now specializes exclusively in custom wedding dress design.