bustles, photo by DeLane Robinson Photography, WeddingLDS.com
Photo Courtesy of Delane Robinson Photography

Bustles for Every Kind of LDS Bride

A bustle is a gathering of fabric at the back of the wedding dress, formed by drawing the train up off the floor to hem-length. They allow brides to enjoy the look and feel of a train but still have the freedom to move and dance at the reception afterward. If you are being sealed in the LDS temple, you’ll also need some mechanism for removing or drawing up your train since they are not allowed during the sealing ceremony.

Pulling your wedding gown’s train into a bustle is a simple way to add a romantic feel to a wedding dress, fullness to the skirt, and visual interest to the back of the dress. Bustles also have the added bonus of making the bride’s waist appear smaller and lending balance to those with broad shoulders or narrow hips.

Bustles reached the height of popularity in the Victorian era of the 1800s. Though they are not seen as often today, they still remain a very popular choice for drawing up the train of the wedding gown for many brides in the 21st century.

Wedding Gown Bustle Terminology

When referring to bustles, those in the industry will refer to them as a “5-point bustle” or similar. This refers to the number of hooks or loops from which the bustle will hang.

Most bustles have between 3 and 15 contact points. The more points, the more fullness, roundness, and width there will be to the shape of the bustle.

French bustle, photo by DeLane Robinson Photography, WeddingLDS.com
Photo Courtesy of DeLane Robinson Photography

Types of Bustles – French Bustle vs. American Bustle

Wedding dress bustles come in almost as many sizes, shapes, and styles as do wedding dresses! Nevertheless, they can be roughly categorized into two broad categories: the French bustle and the American bustle.

French bustles, also called Victorian bustles or under bustles, are drawn up from the bottom, folded underneath themselves, and secured by means of hooks or ribbons sewn to the dress. They give a full, “tiered” look. In fact, many seamstresses and retailers will name a bustle according to the number of folds or layers there are (“a three-tiered French bustle,” for instance.) More tiers equals more fullness. French bustles look best on “fairy tale” ball gowns that have a relatively plain skirt.

American Bustle, photo by Perez Sisters photography, WeddingLDS.com
Photo Courtesy of Perez Sisters Photography

American bustles, also called over bustles, are drawn up to the waistline and pinned in place overlying the wedding dress. The train flares out beneath the contact point, looking like an elongated triangle. The American bustle creates a slimming illusion of length helpful for short-waisted or thick-waisted brides. It also shows off fancy detailing on the train better than a French bustle which hides it.

Choosing a Wedding Dress Bustle

The use of a wedding gown bustle dramatically alters a bride’s silhouette and her profile (both from the front and the back.) In general, slim brides can choose either style of bustle, but full figured brides look better in American over bustles.

Aside from personal preference, the type of bustle for you also depends on the fabric of your dress, the silhouette and bustle shape you like, and the length of the train you are drawing up.

Most store bought dresses do not come with bustle attachments already in place. The addition of the necessary hooks and loops is done afterward by a seamstress, meaning the you have a lot of say in how your bustle turns out. Choose an experienced seamstress to help you choose the right look for you.

Choosing your bustle is the hard part, but it’s also fun. Have a good time looking at all of the options available to you and remember that you can have your bustle custom-made any way you like it. On your wedding day, all you’ll need is one or two helpers to pull up your dress and secure it into a bustle at the appropriate time.

♥ Jenny Evans
Exclusively for WeddingLDS.com
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