Sweep train: Named for the way it "sweeps" the floor, this train is the shortest of them all, it is only a few inches longer than the length of the dress itself. It's most appropriate for an informal setting like a beach wedding. It's also the easiest to manage in terms of mobility.
Court train: A bit longer than the sweep, a court train is usually three feet from the waist. One of the more common trains, it's also not too difficult to navigate. It works for both formal and informal settings, making it quite a versatile train.
Chapel train: The next longest train, a chapel is about 4-5 feet from the waistline of the dress. A chapel train is appropriate for more formal settings like church weddings. While the chapel falls in the middle of our list, it's far from neutral as a statement. Choose a chapel train if you want to make a grand statement.
Cathedral train: Definitely the more grand style of trains, the cathedral usually extends about 6-7 feet from the waistline of the dress for a very bold statement. For the bride who wants to make a grand entrance, the cathedral train is the choice to make. Along with the chapel train, it requires a great deal of assistance to keep it in order, but that's what bridesmaids are for. Bridesmaids are also there to help you bustle a train this long, which would probably require a double under-bustle.
Royal train: (Think Princess Diana) This train extends 10 feet or more from the waistline and is rarely worn except in the most ostentatious weddings. A bride who wears a royal train is likely marrying royalty or is royalty herself. In addition, if a bride chooses a royal train, it is likely the rest of her wedding- ceremony, reception, and all accouterments- is just as rich in presentation.
Watteau train: The watteau is also a fairly uncommon train choice due to the placement. A watteau extends from the shoulders or the upper back of the bodice of the dress and extends either to the same length as the dress or as long as the bride likes. A watteau train can add a touch of formality to a more casual dress, or a touch of softness to a fitted column or sheath dress. Another nice feature of the watteau is that it is often detachable.
All trains eventually need to be bustled, and once again you'l need hep from a bridesmaid to do so. There are three basic styles of bustles: ballroom, English (over bustle) and French (under bustle). Each dress is as unique as the bride wearing it, so wedding gowns don't actually come with a bustle installed. Your seamstress helps you determine the style you prefer and then will install the appropriate fasteners to make that style possible. Buttons, ribbons, beads and snaps are all involved and since there are so many different options, I'm not going to really cover it. Just make sure you are working with a qualified bridal seamstress when you have the work done and you'll be fine.
This concludes our "Bridal Fashion 101" series, but if you have any questions, please leave a comment for me. I'll do my best to answer, but if you're shopping for a wedding gown, the best advice I can give is to visit a professional bridal salon where the experts can help you navigate through all the options to find the one dress that's perfect for you.