Wedding dress bustles are a pain in the… uhh… general area of your dress bustle. They’re necessary for anybody with a long dress but they usually aren’t easy to handle.
On the bright side, you’re not the one who has to bustle your wedding dress! On the other hand, you’re the one who has to deal with your bridesmaids when they don’t know how to fasten the bustle.
For the unacquainted, a dress bustle is what’s used to pick up the back of a large dress with a train. You’ll want your train long and flowy for your ceremony but it needs to get out of the way for dancing and fun at the reception. That’s where the bustle comes in, typically getting handled between couples portraits (that’s after the ceremony) and before your introduction at the reception.
Bustles are difficult. Since it’s typically the bridesmaids’ job to bustle the dress, they should plan to attend your dress fitting after it’s been altered. The seamstress is the one who puts the bustle(s) on the dress and she’s the one who’ll teach everybody how to use them.
Let’s take a look at the different kinds of bustles. Even though you won’t be the one doing it, having the knowledge of them and how they’re done can allow you to give instructions and micromanage from above. This’ll allow you to yell at your bridesmaids: “Get your ish together ladies! They’re color coded for god’s sake!” (On second thought, don’t do that, bridezilla.)
Single button: This is the easiest by far. There’s a single loop that can get picked up and hung on a single button. That button can be sewn onto the dress separately or you can use one of the buttons that are already on your dress (if it fastens with buttons). The problem with this type is bustle is that they’re known to break because the entire weight of the train is hanging from a single button.
Ribbons: This can be fairly complex but it’s possible, and encouraged, to cheat. With this bustle, you have a series of ribbons on the top and a series of ribbons on the bottom. They all need to be tied together in the right order. That’s where the cheating comes in. Your seamstress can number or color code these ribbons to make it easier for your bustlers.
Buttons and loops: This is the hardest option because you can’t really cheat. There are a series of buttons, usually on the inside of the dress, and a series of loops to go with them. Your best bet is to start from the middle and work your way out. It’s really easy to miss one button or one loop and then have to undo and redo some of them.
Now do you see why it’s so easy for bridesmaids to forget how this is done? It’s pretty complicated. Try not to take your “get your ish together!” frustrations out on them.
Two quick suggestions on how to make this easier. First, wedding planners are pros at this stuff. If you have a planner, try to have them supervise, reteach the bridesmaids, or just do it themselves. (That is, if they’re not running around like crazy directing the caterer, DJ, your parents, etc.) The other is to have one of your bridesmaids take a cell phone video of your seamstress explaining how to do it. It’s impractical to re-watch a 5-15 minute video when you’re in the moment, but they can have it handy for reference or, if they’re really dedicated, have them re-watch it a few times before wedding day.
Good luck with your bustle. It’s a pain to deal with it, but you know what else is a pain? Dragging your dress train around the dance floor all night. Good luck!