What is a Wedding Kimono?

Story Amour
Written by Story Amour · Posted in Fashion Last Updated March 18, 2023 · minute read

Weddings are laced with traditions and meanings. Many times, those traditions are displayed via the medium of fashion. Whether that’s and elegant bridal veil or the slightly more ‘hidden’ bridal garter. Japanese weddings are no different and are just as rich in tradition as their western counterparts.

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase `Japanese wedding clothing’ is, of course a kimono. The gorgeous patterns and splendid dyes have made this outfit popular around the world. Not just Japan.

Generally, Kimono symbolizes the elegance of Japanese culture offering the purveyors a glimpse into your way of life.

Want to make a kimono part of your wedding wardrobe? Here is a detailed guide to Japanese wedding kimono outfits.

two photos depicting wedding kimonos

What is a wedding Kimono?

Understanding Kimono’s for Wedding Day

At its core, Kimono is derived from two words – ki and mono. Ki means “wear”, while mono means “a thing”. The cut and richness of the materials have deep meaning.

Kimono is a wedding garment with long wide sleeves. It is commonly spotted in Japanese ceremonies. Both the bride and groom are expected to interchange different Kimono’s for different aspects of the day.

At first, the bride is expected to wear a type of kimono called Uchikake, whereas the groom often wears a `Tomesade’ kimono. The Tomesade Kimono traditionally has a more subdued color palette, while the brides kimono’s feature beautiful, vibrant and extravagant designs. Decoration techniques can include embroidery, dying, and painting.

After the wedding ceremony, the bride changes her outfit ready for the celebratory meal. It should be colorful and decorative, commonly featuring lavish gold and silver threads.

The color of a kimono also has a symbolic meaning. White is considered pure, red can represent power, and pink refers to femininity or vitality.

A wedding kimono is also categorized according to age, gender, and marital status.

Traditionally a Japanese wedding ceremony takes place in a shrine or temple. During this period the groom will traditionally wear Montsuki to pay homage to solemn occasions. A bride will commonly wear Irouchikake, Hikifurisode, or Shiromuku.

What is a wedding kimono made out of?

While a kimono is made of different fibers, silk is the most commonly used material. Traditionally, kimonos feature hand-decorated fabrics like linen or silk. Today, materials like cotton, polyester, and rayon are also favored by designers offering more affordable solutions. A rich fabric like satin is also often chosen as it can include some more beading or elaborate embroideries.

Silk, while preferred by many brides, is difficult to clean, meaning the potential for damage is high. In contrast, polyester is less expensive and becoming more popular in modern times.

How do you tell the quality? Normally, the designs are painted into silk fabric – not dyed. Apart from that, a low quality kimono will often have a seam running along the back of the gown.

A recent update when making wedding kimonos is using organdy fabric. This not only gives a contemporary look but also encourages the robe to feel softer. The robes can still include undertones and pastel colors. Such upgrades allow brides to personalize their look, developing their very own unique wedding kimonos.

Many Kimono’s also traditionally feature four pieces of fabric tied with an obi (belt).

How much do they cost?

On average, a Japanese kimono costs $40 USD (4,000 yen). Those made of wool or silk can go as high as $800 USD.

So, why is the price so high? Natural silk is expensive and the higher end kimono’s are traditionally sewed by hand.

Another aspect that affects the final cost is whether the fabric is dyed or not.

The basic fees for a kimono can include sandals, an obi belt, and other accessories. If you go for more intricate details, you should expect to pay more.

A kimono requires up to three layers. Not to mention, the obi lace also adds to the final price.

Those who design a kimono may have to undergo special training. After mastering, they must prove their skills within hours. This outfit is both an art form and a craft.

Cheaper alternatives are also available with many second hand stores selling kimono’s for less than $100.

FAQs about wedding kimonos

What does Kimono symbolize?

A kimono is a symbol of good fortune and longevity. The actual meaning depends on the color, motif, material, and style.

What’s the difference between a Yukata and Kimono?

A Yukata features one layer of the fabric and is designed to be worn during festivals. A kimono traditionally features a hand-sewn inner lining.

What is the difference between kimonos for grooms and brides?

Most men’s kimonos feature subtle plain colors like brown, black, or navy. However, brides’s kimonos are more colorful. Tones like pink, purple, and red are commonly used. Men’s kimonos tend to have plain patterns, while bridal kimonos come with prints related to nature.

Another notable difference is the length of the robe. Bridal kimonos are longer and are equipped with a large fold over the waist.

Why is the kimono popular?

The unique materials and simplicity of cuts create incredible beauty. This, along with the rich tradition, has made kimonos popular all over the world.

How should you wear a kimono?

You should wear a kimono on the left side over the right side. Apart from that, the collar should have a specific position. Don’t forget to wear your obi on the back.

What accessories go with a kimono brides’s wedding wear?

The most common accessories include a sensu folding fan, a hakoseko purse, tabi socks, and zori sandals. Western brides can wear wataboshi, headdresses, and assorted accessories.

Do Japanese buy or rent kimono wedding dresses?

Most couples prefer to hire rather than purchase due to the expensive nature and lack of use. While Kimono’s can be worn for other events, most couples will only use during their wedding ceremony.

Different types of wedding kimonos

Over the years, the variety of different kimono’s has changed greatly. While the traditions always remain at the forefront, little details often evolve. Below we have listed some of the most popular kimono’s.


This is a long-sleeved Kimono, traditionally worn by brides during ‘coming-to-age’ ceremonies. Some brides choose to wear it to mark the last step of a milestone. Being a popular type of kimono in the 21st century, the material is embroidered in Gold and silver threading.

The edge of Hikifurisode (fuki) is stuffed with cotton to ensure it doesn’t become tangled while walking. This type of kimono is only worn by single brides-to-be before they begin their married lives. You can combine it with either a traditional Japanese hairstyle or the more western styles.

Hikifurisode was popular for the upper class during the last half of the Edo period. While black remains the Hikifurisode signature color, the outfit can be dyed to give radiant and elegant color contrasts. Today’s designs are a work of art.


Shiromuku is a white ensemble originally worn by Samurai families. Today, it’s the most formal Kimono at Japanese weddings. The white color symbolizes pureness and cleanliness. Another meaning is that the bride is ready to accept the idea of the groom’s family.

This kimono consists of four parts: a large white hood (wataboshi), a ceremonial fan, a headband (tsunokakushi), and ornamental hairstyle. The outer robe borrows its design from medieval Japan.

Shiromuku features a kekashita – a trailing hem. This type of kimono is commonly seen in pagodas, temples, and other religious places.


This kimono comes as an all-white outfit. It’s of the same rank as a Shiromuku. The patterns on this outfit are elegant roses and motifs colored in purple and pink shades. This gives the kimono a refreshing feel.

Irouchikake is worn during a wedding reception. Depending on your taste and preference, you can choose beautiful designs like gorgeous flowers, cherry blossoms, and other auspicious Japanese images. Such garments have a refreshing beauty and are better than the traditional styles. The world’s top wedding designers feature a blend of both Japanese and western styles in their pieces.

Some brides use a non-traditional hairstyle when wearing Irouchikake. Instead of the usual headdress or wig, they use a large corsage. The freedom to choose is the major factor behind the allure of this type of kimono.

In the past, Irouchikake was the formal attire for brides during the fall season. It was preferred by rich merchants and aristocrats.

Irouchikake is a symbol of prosperity and longevity.


This is the groom’s Kimono. It’s usually black but can be embroidered in white. Kuromontsuki is designed to bring a neat figure during a glorious day. Montsuki only fits formal occasions like graduations and weddings.


This is a plain covered kimono that usually comes in simple colors. The simple monochromic appearance keeps distractions at bay. Although it’s common in younger women, mothers wear it during family occasions.


Houmongi is considered more formal and the design extends toward the seams to create an unbroken design.


The patterns of the Tsukesage are dyed in a special way such that they don’t come across the seams. Although this kimono looks like Houmongi, the background can take any color. However, it’s not designed to be worn during ceremonial occasions.


Japanese wedding kimono’s remain a wonderful traditional undergarment for your big day. Even to the untrained eye, its clear the traditional techniques have been passed down over the generations. Today, some designers are now blending traditional and contemporary elements to fuel young brides’s dreams of having a beautifully styled kimono wedding.