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What is a Sweep Train?

By C. Sadowska
Updated May 21, 2024
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A sweep train is a term used to describe the length of the train on a wedding gown. Its name comes from the idea that the back of the gown should just touch, or sweep, across the floor. The train is generally 3 to 6 inches (about 7.62 to 15.24 cm) longer than the front of the gown’s hemline.

Brush train is sometimes used as another name for a sweep train, although some people consider brush trains to be slightly shorter. The next size longer is called a court train and typically measures 2 to 3 feet (about .61 to .91 m) from the waist of the gown. A chapel train measures approximately 3 to 5 feet (about .91 to 1.52 m) from the waist and is the most popular train length in the United States (US).

All designers classify their train lengths differently, so it is important for a bride to not rely entirely on the names. Some brides will want to have their gowns tailored and the train hemmed to the desired length. A tailor can pin the train in place to show the bride exactly how it will look.

History of the wedding gown train goes back to Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. She wore a gown with a long train that was carried by her bridesmaids. It is generally accepted that the wedding gown with a train and veil came into style in the 1870s. The train was originally seen as a status symbol because an extravagant train required more material and was evidence of a bride’s wealth. It has since become a matter of personal preference with many different lengths available to match a bride’s personal style and vision for her wedding day.

The sweep train became a common style for wedding gowns in the 1970s; around this time many brides began to choose gowns with little or no train. A gown with a sweep train is often interpreted as less formal than a gown with a longer train. Some brides consider a sweep train to be a practical choice because it most likely will not need to be repositioned during the wedding in order to fall smoothly. It can also be a good choice for an outdoor wedding or a wedding that will take place on a beach.

A sweep train may be bustled following the wedding ceremony. Generally, the train requires between one and three bustle points, or places where the train is gathered and attached to the gown’s skirt. A bustled gown usually makes it easier for a bride to walk around or to dance at her reception.

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Discussion Comments
By Certlerant — On Feb 18, 2014

As wedding fashion moves forward, it is interesting to see how the tried and true traditional designs are re-imagined, so to speak, to meet the wishes of brides who value individuality.

This is apparent in shorter-length gowns, gowns in various vibrant colors and a combination of traditional materials with see through corsets or unusual necklines.

Many designers have also been responding to a call for more vintage-themed gowns that are based on 1920s or old Hollywood styles.

By Glasis — On Feb 17, 2014

With the ever-increasing popularity of destination weddings and a tendency away from more traditional church weddings, gowns with sweep trains or no trains and even tea length or shorter gowns are more and more common choices.

In addition, recent trends have favored all-lace gowns. These gowns are more delicate in construction, making long trains impractical.

Conversely, many brides choose longer, cathedral-length veils to give the appearance of a longer train with a shorter-hem dress. This way, the veil serves as a train for the ceremony, but can be removed for the reception and dancing.

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