Photo by Alan Viau
Wedding dresses have come with trains since the 1500’s. A train is the long back portion of a skirt or dress that trails on the ground behind the wearer. Weddings during the Renaissance were often a union between two families, two businesses or two countries. Being a matter of politics rather than love, brides were expected to dress in a way that cast their families in the most favorable light and befitted their social status. Brides from wealthy families often wore rich colors and exclusive fabrics including bold colors and layers of furs, velvet and silk. As part of this display of wealth, the wedding dress train reflected the bride’s social standing and indicated the extent of the family’s wealth to wedding guests.
Today a wedding dress train is a matter of style. A bride considers having a wedding dress train as part of her vision for herself. However, a bride needs to practice walking around with a train to avoid having disasters happen.
As compared to the Renaissance period, we are not used to the large amount of fabric that hangs around a floor. We are not watching for it and it gets stepped on. Often, actors rehearse with practice dresses to get a feel for the space needed by the costume. Even so, as a seasoned performer, I continually tramp on a fellow actors dress trains as we exit the stage.
One bridesmaid put her spiked heel through the bride’s dress train. As we were moving around to sign the register, I heard a rip, a screech from the bride and saw a piece of fabric being carried away by the wind. You can see in the picture that the train was not that huge but enough to cause a disaster.
Only by practicing walking around with a train, especially during the wedding rehearsal, can you avoid a nasty accident. Obviously, a bride won’t want to reveal her wedding dress at the rehearsal. As a replacement, she can use the crinoline if the dress has one. A bed sheet that is pinned in the size and shape of the wedding dress train and tied around the bride’s waist is an excellent alternative.
A bride should practice walking around using the bed sheet train in her shoes as much as possible before her wedding day. It helps her become aware of the amount of space she will need to move around. She will become confident in walking up and down stairs and negotiating around people and objects… and avoiding a disaster with her dress.