As a day-of wedding coordinator, one of my most common tasks is helping a confused bride figure out her bustle before her reception entrance. While pinning up your skirt train can seem straightforward in theory, managing several layers of fabric while attempting to find fasteners can be stressful in the moment. For many of us, a wedding is the first time in our life when we’ve had a bustle, and there can be quite the learning curve. Thankfully, I’ve reached out to my friend Audra from Posh Bridal who is an incredible wedding dress seamstress and bustle expert! She gave us all of the tips and tricks to mastering your wedding gown bustle, and we’re here to share them with you!
All About Bustles
A common misconception about wedding dresses is that they ALL require a bustle, and that’s not the case! If your dress doesn’t have a train and you can dance the night away without worrying about tripping on your dress, then no bustle is needed. There are also some dresses that aren’t conducive to bustling, in which case you should chat with your seamstress about other options.
However, for most dresses with a train, installing a bustle will help to keep your dress at a manageable length while looking very natural. When choosing a seamstress for your dress, keep in mind that they will have a preferred bustle style, and you can ask to see past examples of their work! Make sure to communicate with your seamstress to decide what your bustle goals are, as well as pass on any pertinent reception information such as complicated choreographed dances or drastic shoe changes.
Keep in mind, even with the best planning bustles may fail on your wedding day. Whether your guests unintentionally step on the dress or the bustle takes too much stress on the dance floor - things can happen. At the end of the day “damage” to your bustle should be seen as having one heck of a good time at your wedding!
There are many types of bustle available for your dress but they all fall into two categories: French and American. However, not all dresses are suitable for all bustles! If you are looking at bustle inspiration online, please make sure you are looking at bustles on dresses that look like yours; similar fabrics, skirt shape, and train lengths.
In a French bustle, the skirt is tucked underneath itself. The fold of the fabric will be visible and can create tiers to the dress. This style is mostly used for plain dresses with either a structured feel or a very soft feel. This bustle can help camouflage the “dogears” of a bustle from showing when you look at the dress from the front.
In an American bustle, the skirt is folded to the front or face of the dress. You will not see the fold of the fabric and it can sometimes add more fullness to the skirt. This bustle style can be folded to any height of your skirt but should be taken to a point that feels natural to the dress and avoids the “tucked into the underwear” look.
In addition to the style of the bustle folds, there are also different options for the fasteners used in your bustle: snaps, ties, buttons, hooks or ribbon loops. In the same way that many seamstresses have a preference for a bustle style, they also will more than likely have a fastener that they are most familiar with. While most fasteners are easily camouflaged into the look of your dress, depending on your dress fabric, or if you need a super secure bustle you may need a more noticeable fastener.
How to Fasten Your Bustle
Once your bustle is pinned and installed it’s time for the instructions! It’s so important to pay attention to the instructions when your seamstress or tailor shows you how to put up your bustle. This is usually done during your final fitting, so I suggest bringing along a family member or trusted friend to learn with you. Some people also benefit from videoing or taking pictures of the process. I recommend getting as much practice as you can and assigning someone the task of bustling the dress on your wedding day to avoid any last-minute scrambles.
At the end of the day, adding a bustle to your wedding dress is about your own comfort and making sure you can celebrate your day without being hindered by your dress. Using a trusted seamstress with experience in wedding gowns is crucial, and it’s important to make sure you communicate your wishes while being open to their knowledge of your dress type. Thank you so much to Audra at Posh Bridal for providing us with her expertise!