Wedding Traditions Explained: The Wedding Train

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A big decision when choosing a wedding dress is whether or not to have a train. There are so many different lengths, styles and fits it can be difficult to make a decision. But where do wedding trains originate form?

What is a train?

When talking about clothing, a train is a piece of fabric that trails behind the main body. Trains aren’t exclusive to wedding dresses; you’ll find them on evening gowns, royal outfits and even some formal academic dress. Wedding dresses however have their own terminology to describe the styles and lengths of the train.


Trains have been around since medieval times. At weddings they were used to wow the guests, and to give an outward sign of wealth. As a train is an extra piece of material that serves no practical function, it was seen as elaborate. They longer the train, the wealthier the family must be.

The different styles of train could also be used to indicate how close to the royal family the bride’s family were. Historically there have been rules about the style of train non-royals were allowed to wear which changed with rank. This was mirrored in the wedding industry to show off the bride’s family status and ties.

As fabrics became more affordable brides began to have more choice with their wedding gowns. Now, having a train is a decision that any bride can made without her families wealth or status being questioned.

Styles of train

Wedding dress trains come in all sorts of styles. No matter which you choose, it’s important to consider whether it is appropriate for your venue and wedding style.

Sweep: A Sweep is around 6 inches longer than the skirt of the wedding dress. It’s the shortest train style, and works well for relaxed or outdoor weddings.

Chapel: A Chapel is the most common train style. It is usually between 12 to 18 inches long. It’s not over the top, but adds a certain amount of drama to a wedding dress.

Cathedral: A Cathedral train is around 22 inches long, sometimes more. It’s perfect for a grand venue and they look amazing moving down the aisle.

Royal: A Royal is the longest of the trains. They’re over a yard long and are commonly worn by royal brides. They’re extravagant, and not to be chosen for a low-key wedding.

And finally, there’s always the option to have no train at all.

For more wedding inspiration take a look at our Wedding Tips Section of the blog.