Wedding Planning 101

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Wedding Planning 101: Bustling

What Wedding Dress Bustle is Right for You?

There is a pretty good chance that before you started wedding planning, you didn’t know what a bustle was. There’s an even higher chance your fiancé definitely doesn’t know what a bustle is. Now that you have started wedding planning, there’s still a chance you haven’t heard the word bustle before, and I want to make sure we are on the same page first. A bustle is when the train of your dress is buttoned up to floor length before you enter your reception. There are different types of bustles out there and different ways to connect a bustle. There are some key things to know before we dive into the types though. First, your wedding dress does not come with a bustle in it, and your seamstress needs to install one with your alterations. Second, your seamstress will often make the best choice of bustle based on your dress style and material. That doesn’t mean their recommendation is your only option though. So, let’s jump right into to what the different styles of bustles are.

American Bustle

Ballroom Bustle

Bow Bustle

French Bustle

Royal Bustle

While looking through those, there may be some you like the look of better than others. Remember, not all bustles can be done with all dress styles. Sometimes, a specific style or material won’t work with a specific bustle. Start out your alterations appointment by asking what types of bustles are possible with your dress.

In order to install your bustle, your seamstress will choose between ribbon ties, buttons, or hooks.

  1. Let’s talk ties first. If you do a bustle on the outside of your dress like the bow bustle or the American bustle, ties are not an option. If you do a bustle on the underside of your dress, however, make sure your seamstress knows you want ties. Insist on having ties. Ties are the only bustle installation option I have seen hold through an entire reception. Because they are installed on the underside of your dress, the seamstress can reinforce them with lots and lots of sewing to make sure they don’t rip off. Then, when they are tied, you can double knot them so they don’t come untied. They are the safest, most effective way to bustle your dress. If installed a certain way, they are also the easiest, most intuitive way to implement.
  2. The buttoned bustle. I don’t hate buttoned bustles. They work most of the time, and it’s nice that they work with any type of bustle you choose. When choosing a button bustle, however, make sure to ask your seamstress to reinforce the buttons with LOTS of strong thread AND a loop that goes around the button. If a button bustle breaks, it’s when the button threads break, and the button comes off completely. Or the loop that goes around the button breaks, and then, there’s no way to connect that part of your dress to the button. I have noticed button bustles don’t typically come undone throughout the evening, but they don’t stand up well to dresses with really heavy fabric or long, heavy trains because they just can’t get reinforced enough to keep from snapping at some point during the reception. Also, installing the bustle with buttons is sometimes more difficult because finding the right loop to connect to the right button can be a challenge to people not familiar with bustling dresses (hence the reason I usually end up bustling the bride’s dress).
  3. Lastly, the hook. Avoid the hook option like the plague. I know, I know, that seems dramatic, but seriously, they are TERRIBLE. They are my least favorite bustle installation because as you move around your reception, they come unhooked SO easily. You sit down and push your bustle up even the slightest bit…unhooked. You bounce one time busting a move on the dance floor…unhooked. Your hubby picks you up under your butt to give you a cute little spin…unhooked. A little kiddo runs up and hugs you around the thighs…unhooked. Seamstresses say that after you hook the bustle to pinch the hook closed to keep it from coming unhooked, but if you don’t have a pair of needle nose pliers, this is SUPER difficult to do. The metal used for these hooks does not easily bend. Plus, it’s difficult to know which hook goes to which loop and finding where the hooks/loops are when bustling your dress.

Now that we know the pros and cons of each bustle installation, I also want to add that sometimes dresses need more than one type of bustle connector. If you have a dress with lots of disconnected layers, it may be necessary to do ties for the bottom layers and buttons for the top layers. I have found this works really well if you like the look of an American/bow bustle but have a really heavy train that you don’t want to risk breaking with the button installation. The American/bow look can still be achieved with the top layers of your dress because those layers are lighter weight and can easily sit on a button for the evening. Then, your heavier under layers are tied up under the dress and can’t be seen under those top layers. Still, ask for the buttons and button loops to be reinforced.

FINALLY, the last suggestion I have with your bustle is to make sure it’s all the way off the ground. I see so many bustles that still have a foot of the dress dragging behind the bride. This is really pretty and still shows the train off a little while moving around the reception, however, you are going to hate it when people KEEP stepping on your dress. If you plan to dance at all, this is going to happen a LOT because those dance floors get crowded! Not only is it annoying and jerks you back a little, but that is typically how the bustles end up breaking. The sudden force all harnessed onto that one point of contact multiple times in one evening will eventually rip that button right off your dress. Then, you’re left with 2 feet dragging behind you until the second button gets ripped off. By the end of the night, you’re having to throw your whole train over your arm to do anything, and you will be super annoyed with it.

When you have your alterations appointment, bring this up with your seamstress. So many times, the seamstress does your bustle in the easiest, prettiest way they know how, but that doesn’t always translate to a bustle that stays and works for you the whole evening. It’s probably safe to say they never see their bustles in action at a full reception. Therefore, they don’t realize that hooks NEVER stay hooked; buttons sometimes break; and ties are the everlasting gobstopper of bustles. There’s no way for them to know that so let them know these secrets, and I guarantee they will make one you think is beautiful AND stays for the whole evening!

If you’re looking for a great seamstress, I love recommending Leah with The Perfect Fit Alterations! She’s my go to girl and always does amazing work!

I’m a Knoxville Wedding Photographer that loves to travel. I shoot anywhere! Click here to contact me with any questions you have about pricing or booking! If you liked what you saw above, go ahead and follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see my daily updates of the latest sessions!

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