Guide to Japanese Wedding Dresses – Traditional & Contemporary Brides
A Japanese wedding ceremony is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Steeped in history and rich with tradition, it’s a celebration that includes the soon to be newlyweds, their families, and culture as a whole.
Like many historical traditions in Japan, wedding practices have grown and altered over time. At one time, the majority of Japanese wedding ceremonies were conducted in line with Shinto tradition taking place at a religious shrine. Though this is a traditon still practised today after over 100 years, many Japanese weddings now follow a Christian, Buddhist, or sometimes non-religious form.
That means many couples are now choosing to combine time-honoured tradition with more modern practices to create a bespoke day that reflects all aspects of their lives and religious beliefs . This shift has influenced the clothing aspect of the day, with a great number of brides now opting for a more western style white dress as opposed to a traditonal Uchikake (see below).
Select A Dream Japanese Wedding Gown
Wedding Gown Or Uchikake?
If you’re unfamiliar with Japanese wedding attire, let’s first get an understanding of Uchikake!
Uchikake is a formal style of wedding robe worn by the bride for the wedding ceremony itself. Its long sleeves are made from silk, which is heavily embroidered with a padded hem in order for it to trail on the floor. Unlike more familiar kimono styles, the Uchikake is made to be worn open over the brides kimono rather than fastened.
You often find them embroidered with traditional Japanese plants flowers and animals much like this breathtaking vintage example exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum Of Art. Many include depictions of a phoenix (a symbol of good fortune and immortality) or crane (associated with happiness and longevity).
Whether you opt for a traditional Uchikake Kimono or a more modern take on bridal wear, there’s no denying that Japanese wedding dresses are simply breathtaking. I’m sure my Japanophile (now) husband would have loved to see me strut down the wedding aisle in a classic kimono!
How to Decide?
Deciding between a traditional kimono or a contemporary style of dress can be a difficult decision. A time-honoured kimono style gown is steeped in tradition, yet you may wish for a crisp, contemporary white gown to glide down the aisle. Consider what is important for your wedding ceremony when it comes to making that choice. Whether it’s a traditional Shinto wedding, a Christian ceremony, or a Buddhist blessing, your dress should reflect your day.
That being said, you may be planning to incorporate a blend of two or more faiths. In that case, why not plan for a change in your day in true Japanese style? Wearing one look for the ceremony and another for the reception could be the answer. In fact, that’s what I did at my own wedding, not so long ago!
With so many incredibly beautiful kimonos and elegant white dresses available you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Styling & Traditional Wedding Kimono
Adequately matching the opulence of a bridal kimono with your styling for a Shinto ceremony is no easy feat. However, contending with such rich and vibrant colours is the perfect opportunity to embrace tradition and be playful with your hair and makeup.
A traditional makeup look includes a white base, defined eyebrows, and brightly coloured lips. You can also wear vibrant flowers or kanzashi in your hair.
Kanzashi – small ornaments made specifically for the hair, meaning they come in a huge array of shapes and colours. Use them to highlight the colours in your kimono or even choose a colour that’s especially meaningful to you and your spouse.
Styling & Modern Gowns
If you’ve chosen a more contemporary white dress, your styling is likely different from that of a traditional Japanese bride. In this case, a sleek, minimal hair and makeup look works best. Natural-looking make-up and soft curls, or a chic up-do with a few delicate flowers placed throughout the hair, is a simply stunning and timeless choice.
Japanese Wedding Dress Designs
Okay, my attempt at Japanese for seriously stunning inspiration … Sugoi desu ne!!!!!
My husband lived in Japan for a while and says it basically means, “Isn’t that awesome!”
I’m sure there’s a better translation — any Japanese speakers want to weigh in?
Below is our list of top Japanese wedding dresses including a mix of traditional kimonos, more modern dresses, and gowns subtly inspired by Japanese bridal wear. And just like every bride to be, each is undeniably beautiful in their own special way!
1. Japanese Designer Wedding Dress
by Yumi Katsura
Finding the perfect dress for one of the most memorable days of your life is a whole lot simpler thanks to Japanese designer Yumi Katsura. Yumi Katsura was born in Japan, studied haute couture technique in Paris and, in 1964, launched the first bridal collection show ever shown in Japan.
From then until now it’s safe to say each and every one of her bridal designs is a unique masterpiece. With its delicate floral appliques, detachable sleeves and voluminous full skirt, this showstopping creation is incredibly beautiful and amazingly versatile.
2. Modern Japanese Wedding Dress
The Tenly lace gown by Japanese designer Tadashi Shoji, is truly beautiful. It offers a timeless, supremely chic high neckline and long lace sleeves whilst the close fit column silhouette provides a decidedly modern vibe.
Tadashi Shoji is widely adored for his impeccable attention to the fit and shape of each every design and this dress is no exception. You’ll certainly make an elegant and memorable statement in this ethereal bridal gown.
3. Traditional Japanese Wedding Kimono
For a truly breathtaking Japanese wedding kimono, look no further than this vintage 1990s red, pink, and gold Uchikake kimono.
Your entrance will be unforgettable, as will your wedding photographs. After all, it’s not every day you can wrap up in such a luxurious and opulent garment! This amazingly vibrant and celebratory gown incorporates the most traditional and breathtaking aspects of Japanese bridal wear.
4. Japanese Inspired Wedding Dress
Japanese cotton lace is the star of this beautiful low back wedding gown. It’s a much more fitted style and perfect for a contemporary bride wishing for subtle Japanese influences. The elegant boat neckline and full-length skirt with en extended train create the perfect balance to the low lace-up back. Meanwhile, delicate eyelash lace edging on the sleeves accentuates the shapely fitted edges of the bodice.
5. Inexpensive Japanese Wedding Dress
This dreamy satin gown truly captures the essence of traditional Japanese bridal wear in a subtly contemporary way. It’s safe to say, the results are spellbinding and we have fallen in love with this floral dress. The addition of the beautiful pink obi sash around the waist makes this dress subtly evocative of a full kimono.
There you have it – our favourite recommendations for both traditional and subtly inspired Japanese bridal looks. Has your heart been stolen by a firey red kimono or are you swooning for delicate Japanese lace and a dramatic train? Two hugely varying styles, both of which are simply dreamy and incredibly memorable.
Combine the old with new and you’ll find a look that’s perfect for you.
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