What is the name of the back part of a wedding dress that extends beyond the waistline called?

Holidays & Special Events

By Felicity Long

When it comes to wedding dresses, a key element that adds elegance and drama to a bride’s look is the train. The train is the extension of fabric that trails behind the bride as she walks down the aisle, creating a breathtaking effect.

The train of a wedding dress can vary in length and style, with options ranging from a subtle sweep train to a dramatic cathedral train. However, there is a specific term used to describe the longest and most extravagant trains – the “cathedral train.”

The cathedral train is aptly named, as it embodies the grandeur and opulence of a traditional cathedral wedding. This train extends several feet behind the bride, creating a regal and majestic appearance. It is often embellished with intricate lace, beading, or embroidery, adding to its allure.

While the cathedral train is the longest and most lavish option, it is not the only style available. There are also shorter trains, such as the chapel train, which extends about three to four feet behind the bride, and the sweep train, which gently sweeps the floor as the bride walks. Each style of train offers its own unique charm and can be chosen based on personal preference and the overall aesthetic of the wedding.

The Significance of the Wedding Dress Tail

The wedding dress tail is more than just a beautiful and elegant addition to a bride’s attire. It holds great significance and symbolism in many cultures and traditions. The presence of a tail on a wedding dress symbolizes various meanings, which can differ depending on the culture and personal preferences. Here are some common symbolisms associated with the wedding dress tail:

  1. Purity and Virginity: In many cultures, a long and flowing tail is seen as a symbol of purity and virginity. It signifies the bride’s modesty and her commitment to enter marriage as a pure and untouched individual.
  2. Royalty and Elegance: Historically, long and elaborate tails were exclusive to royalty and the upper class. A wedding dress tail can still symbolize royalty and elegance today, representing the bride’s elevated status on her special day.
  3. Drama and Grandeur: A wedding dress tail adds a touch of drama and grandeur to the bride’s overall look. It creates a sense of awe and excitement as the bride walks down the aisle, leaving a lasting impression on the guests.
  4. Tradition and Customs: Many cultural and religious traditions incorporate the wedding dress tail as part of the bridal attire. It is a way to honor and adhere to specific customs and practices that have been passed down through generations.
  5. Uniqueness and Personal Style: The length, shape, and design of a wedding dress tail can vary greatly, allowing the bride to express her unique style and personality. It adds an element of individuality and customization to her overall bridal look.

Overall, the wedding dress tail plays a significant role in a bride’s wedding day attire. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, it carries deep meanings and symbolisms that reflect cultural traditions, personal beliefs, and individual style choices.

Types of Wedding Dress Tails

When it comes to wedding dress tails, there are various styles that can add a touch of elegance and drama to your bridal look. Here are some common types of wedding dress tails:

  • Sweep Train: This is the most popular type of wedding dress tail. It extends from the back of the dress and creates a subtle train that sweeps behind the bride as she walks.
  • Chapel Train: A chapel train is slightly longer than a sweep train and typically extends 4-5 feet from the waistline. It adds a romantic and regal touch to the overall look.
  • Cathedral Train: If you want a dramatic and grand entrance, a cathedral train is the way to go. This type of tail extends 6-7 feet or even longer from the waistline and creates a stunning effect.
  • Watteau Train: This type of tail is attached at the shoulders instead of the waistline. It drapes down the back of the dress and adds a unique and artistic element to the overall look.
  • Bubble Hem: A bubble hem is a fun and playful type of tail. It is created by gathering and sewing the fabric at the hemline, creating a bubble-like effect.
  • Asymmetrical Train: If you’re looking for a modern and unique twist, an asymmetrical train is a great choice. It features an off-center tail that adds movement and visual interest.

When choosing the type of wedding dress tail, consider factors like your personal style, the venue, and the overall theme of your wedding. Remember, the tail can be a beautiful and memorable detail that enhances your bridal look.

The History of the Wedding Dress Tail

The wedding dress tail, often referred to as the train, has a long and fascinating history that dates back many centuries. The evolution of the wedding dress tail can be traced back to ancient times.

In ancient Rome, the wedding dress tail was a symbol of social status and wealth. Brides from upper-class families wore dresses with long trains made of luxurious fabrics, such as silk and velvet. The length of the train indicated the bride’s standing in society, with longer trains reserved for noble brides.

During the Middle Ages, the wedding dress tail took on a new meaning. It was believed that the longer the train, the more blessings and good luck it would bring to the bride and groom. Brides wore trains that trailed behind them as they walked down the aisle, symbolizing their journey into marriage.

In the Victorian era, Queen Victoria popularized the white wedding dress, and the wedding dress tail became a symbol of purity and innocence. The longer the train, the more modest and virtuous the bride was seen to be. Brides wore elaborate gowns with extensive trains that required multiple attendants to help manage.

In the early 20th century, bridal fashion took a more practical turn. Trains became shorter and detachable, allowing brides to have a more manageable dress for the reception. The focus shifted from the length of the train to the overall design and embellishments of the dress.

Today, the wedding dress tail continues to be a popular and cherished tradition. Many brides opt for dresses with elegant and dramatic trains, while others prefer more modest and understated styles. The length and design of the train are a personal choice for the bride, serving as a reflection of her style and individuality.

Period Description
Ancient Rome Symbol of social status and wealth
Middle Ages Symbol of blessings and good luck
Victorian era Symbol of purity and innocence
Early 20th century Practical and detachable

How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Dress Tail

Choosing the perfect wedding dress tail is an important decision for any bride-to-be. The right tail can enhance the overall look of the dress and make a bride feel even more beautiful on her special day. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect wedding dress tail:

Consider Your Wedding Venue: The first thing you should consider when choosing a wedding dress tail is your wedding venue. If you are having a formal ceremony in a grand ballroom, a dramatic and long train might be appropriate. On the other hand, if you are having an outdoor or beach wedding, you may want to opt for a shorter and more manageable tail.

Think About Your Personal Style: Your wedding dress should reflect your personal style and aesthetic. If you prefer a more classic and timeless look, a cathedral-length train might be perfect for you. If you prefer a more boho or modern style, you might consider a detachable train that can be removed after the ceremony.

Consider Your Body Type: It’s important to choose a wedding dress tail that flatters your body type. If you are petite, a short or medium-length train might be more proportionate. If you are tall, you can pull off a longer train with ease. Take your body type into consideration when making your decision.

Try Different Styles: Don’t be afraid to try on different styles and lengths of wedding dress tails. What might look amazing on a model or mannequin may not be the best fit for you. Visit bridal salons and try on different dresses to get a better sense of what works for you and your desired look.

Consult with a Professional: When in doubt, consult with a professional. Bridal consultants have years of experience and can provide valuable advice and guidance when it comes to choosing the perfect wedding dress tail. They can help ensure that you make the right choice and feel confident on your wedding day.

Remember, the perfect wedding dress tail is a personal choice. Trust your instincts, take your time, and choose the tail that makes you feel your most beautiful on your special day.

Alterations for the Wedding Dress Tail

When it comes to preparing for your wedding day, finding the perfect wedding dress is often at the top of the list. While the tail of the wedding dress adds an elegant and sophisticated touch to the overall look, it is important to ensure that it fits and flows effortlessly.

Wedding dress alterations for the tail are a common practice to achieve the best fit possible. Here are a few alterations that can be made to the wedding dress tail:


One of the most common alterations for the wedding dress tail is hemming. Hemming involves shortening the length of the tail to match the height of the bride. This alteration is important to prevent the bride from tripping or stepping on the tail while walking down the aisle or dancing.


If the wedding dress has a long and elaborate tail, bustling is a popular alteration. Bustling involves creating a way to lift and secure the tail, typically using buttons, hooks, or ribbons. This allows the bride to easily transition from the ceremony to the reception without the tail hindering her movements.


Tapering is an alteration that involves narrowing the width of the wedding dress tail. This alteration can be done to create a more fitted and streamlined look. Tapering is often preferred by brides who want a more modern and sleek silhouette.


On the other hand, some brides may want to add extra fabric or layers to the wedding dress tail. This alteration can create a more dramatic and voluminous effect. Depending on the design of the dress, additional fabric can be seamlessly incorporated into the existing tail.


If a bride wants to enhance the length of the wedding dress tail, lengthening alterations can be made. This alteration is recommended for brides who desire a more dramatic and regal look. Skilled seamstresses can add extra fabric to extend the length of the tail while ensuring it matches the overall design of the dress.

It is important to consult with a professional seamstress or tailor who specializes in wedding dress alterations to ensure that the tail of your dress is tailored to perfection. By making the appropriate alterations, you can ensure that your wedding dress tail enhances your overall bridal look and provides you with the comfort and confidence to enjoy your special day.

Caring for the Wedding Dress Tail After the Wedding

Once the wedding ceremony is over and all the celebrations have come to an end, it’s time to think about how to properly care for the tail of your wedding dress. The tail, also known as the train, is a beautiful and delicate part of the dress that deserves special attention to ensure its longevity.

1. Cleaning: The first step in caring for the wedding dress tail is to have it professionally cleaned. Wedding dresses often get dirty during the ceremony and reception, especially if you had an outdoor wedding or were dancing the night away. Take your dress to a reputable dry cleaner who specializes in wedding dress cleaning. Make sure to point out any stains on the tail so they can be treated properly.

2. Storage: After the dress has been cleaned, proper storage is crucial to keep the tail in perfect condition. Avoid storing it in plastic bags as they can trap moisture and lead to mildew or discoloration. Instead, use a breathable garment bag made of acid-free materials to protect the dress from dust and light. Hang the dress in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

3. Repairs: If the wedding dress tail has any tears or loose threads, it’s important to get them repaired before storing the dress. Contact a professional seamstress who specializes in wedding dress alterations and repairs. They will be able to fix any damages and ensure that the tail is in pristine condition.

4. Preservation: If you plan to preserve your wedding dress as a keepsake, consider using a wedding dress preservation company. They will carefully clean, repair, and package the dress in acid-free materials to prevent yellowing and damage over time. This will not only keep the tail safe but also preserve the dress for future generations.

5. Documenting: Finally, don’t forget to document your wedding dress tail. Take high-quality photographs of the tail to cherish the memories of your special day. These photographs will also be helpful if you ever need to replicate or alter the dress in the future.

By following these steps, you can ensure that the tail of your wedding dress remains in beautiful condition even after the wedding. Proper care and maintenance will allow you to enjoy the memories associated with your dress for years to come.


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Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

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