Uchikake is the name for an elaborate wedding kimono in Japan. They are usually red, royal blue, or white and silver in base color. Unlike standard kimono, they are not worn with an obi. Instead, they are worn open over a shiromuku. This is a pure white silk kimono. Because they are usually heavily embroidered, they are very heavy for clothing, usually from 6-10 pounds. There is usually additional weight added to the bottom hem of the uchikake to make it flow more gracefully.

Common uchikake decorations:
Cranes - Because these birds are true to their mates for life, they are a symbol of longevity in marriage and good luck.
Chrysanthemum - A symbol of the royal house of Japan, and of high nobility. They are symbolic of the honor of marriage.
Fans - Long a symbol of good luck in Japan. Usually, they are gold or red in color if on an uchikake.

The Significance of uchikake color:
Red - The most common color. Red is a considered to be a "happy" color in Japan, and one of good luck. Usually this color is embroidered heavily with golds and greens. Common decorations include fans, cranes, and town scenes.
Royal Blue - Usually uchikake of this color are heavily embroidered with whites, silvers, and reds. These usually are decorated with floral motifs or white fans.
White - The least common color. It has become more popular as Japanese brides begin to take interest in the marriage ceremonies of the West. It is usually decorated with silver or white embroidered cranes. Often the crane design is weaved into the fabric.
Black - It was commonly used in the Edo period of Japan, though now it is not widely used.
Purple - Favored by many Japanese-American brides, usually decorated with irises.

Accessories worn with uchikake:
Tsuno Kakushi - A boxy, hood-type headdress. It is also made of white silk. The back is usually shorter so that the bride can wear her hair up.
Kanzashi Hairsticks, in this case very elaborate ones. Usually there are gold or silver ornaments that hang from the ends. These are slid into the hair under the tsuno kakushi as a sign of obedience.

Most Japanese brides hire a kimono expert to dress them in uchikake for their wedding. The process is long, and the gown so heavy you really need another person's help. The bride will attend the wedding in this outfit first, then she will take off the outer kimono to expose the pure white one she wears underneath.