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What is a Wedding Kimono?

By Lisa Mohr
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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A wedding kimono is a formal bridal garment that originated in Japanese culture for wedding ceremonies. Generally, kimonos are popular in Japanese culture not only for weddings but for most formal events and functions. Physically, kimonos are loose floor-length robes with long, wide sleeves. There are several variations of the garments that fall under the category of wedding kimonos.

The shiromuku, is one of the most highly regarded and the most traditional type of wedding kimono. Shiromukus are entirely white, and the entire ensemble the bride wears with this kimono is white, from her outer robe, called the uchikake, to the kimono worn beneath the robe, called the kakeshita. The bride also traditionally wears a white sash around her waist, white head coverings and white footwear. Shiromuku wedding kimonos are usually created in a rich fabric such as silk or satin and often include elaborate embroideries and beading.

More modern kimonos provide an updated version of the classic shiromuku and are becoming popular in modern day, even for Western cultures. The shiromuku irouchikake is a take on the classic wedding kimono and is an unbelted, padded robe with a train that comes in a variety of colors and designs instead of plain white. New fabrics and variations on the traditional wedding kimono have highly increased the range of kimono options and have led to the traditional garment’s recent rise in popularity.

Another take on the wedding kimono is the furisode. The furisode is a colorful, long-sleeved kimono traditionally worn by single women, especially during Japanese coming-of-age ceremonies. In present day, many brides choose to wear a Western style wedding dress to their marriage ceremony and later change into a furisode for their wedding reception. The brides choose to wear the furisode one last time to mark the end of their single lives.

A wedding kimono similar to the furisode is the hikifurisode, which is a kimono with long, flowing sleeves and a long, padded train. Hikifurisodes are the most popular type of kimonos in the early 21st century, with black being the most popular and most common color for the garment. The material of the hikifurisode is embroidered in gold and silver threading and often worn with non-traditional and elaborate hairstyles.

Another update to kimono style is making wedding kimonos with organdy fabric, which allow the robes to have a softer, flowing look to them. This more contemporary look separates these newer robes from traditional styles and often incorporates Western undertones, such as pastel colors. This has allowed both Japanese brides and brides worldwide to personalize the look and feel of classic wedding kimonos.

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