One of the most transformational decisions that you’ll make about how your big day will look is choosing your wedding palette—AKA color scheme. Oftentimes, this is one of the first aesthetic decisions that a couple will make once they put their wedding planning hats on. It’s certainly not a decision that should be taken lightly. In fact, as Kylie Carlson, owner of The Wedding Academy, points out, wedding colors lay the entire foundation for your wedding and dictate nearly everything, from your design and wedding attire, to your invitations and day-of paper goods. “Not only does a color palette set the tone of the day, but it paints a picture of your style and personality as a couple,” she adds. “Everything comes down to this decision, and it’s a wonderful way to play up the details and connect all of your design elements through the use of color.”
Where did the concept of wedding colors come from?
Although the origin of wedding colors can be left up to interpretation, according to Carlson, the history of selecting an actual palette is rooted in religion, as well as a little superstition. “For instance, white has always been viewed as a color of purity and innocence, blue holds a similar meaning and was thought to symbolize eternal love and fidelity and pink has been said to be complementary to a variety of complexions,” she says. “In today’s age, however, most modern couples simply base their selected colors on current trends or timeless designs.”
Are wedding colors a must?
Of course, it’s important to point out that, as wonderful as it is to have an actual color palette that goes along with the theme of your wedding, it is certainly not a must. This, however, won’t mean that there won’t be any colors at your wedding, but rather that there will not be finite consistency. “It’s fairly difficult to avoid choosing colors in general, unless you’re looking to stick to an all-white event or something similarly monotone,” says Carlson. “Neutral colorways are certainly still classified as a wedding palette but in a more muted sense.”
How to pick your wedding colors
Coming up with a wedding palette can be a lot of fun. If you’ve hired a wedding planner, they will likely help you make your decisions and incorporate current trends along with what feels unique to you.
Take a peek at a color wheel:
“You do not need a degree in design to figure out what works well together,” says JoAnn Gregoli, NYC wedding planner and owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli There are some basic principles she recommends following. “Typically, colors that go well together are ones that are opposites because they pair cool and warm (examples include orange and sky blue and turquoise and coral),” she says. “Other color pairings that work well together are the ones on the wheel that are wheel neighbors—they’re similar in tone to each other and share a primary color.”
Factor in who you are as a couple:
Of course, the color scheme that you select should ultimately be a reflection of who you are as a couple. It shouldn’t feel out of place in any way, and should be some of the colors that you incorporate into your home decor, especially if you share a home. “If you’re someone that loves rhinestones and all things shiny then you should absolutely have some sparkle in your decor,” says Laura Maddox, owner of Magnolia Celebrates in Atlanta. “If you and your groom are outdoorsy and hike for dates then you should probably stick to more neutral tones that remind you of your happiest dates.”
Think about what will look good on your bridesmaids:
Your bridesmaids will set the tone for your wedding immediately, since they are the background singers, so to speak, to you being the star of the show. They will complement your wedding dress by utilizing the colors you select and will be the key focal point for your big day. “There are just some colors that do not fare well on certain people, for example, redheads don’t tend to wear pink because it washes them out and blondes usually avoid yellow for the same reason,” says Maddox. “Keeping this in mind will help your pictures to look stunning and your most important people feel most comfortable on the day.”
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Opt for timeless wedding colors:
It’s important to remember that your wedding day will be something that you will look back on fondly as time passes. As such, Carlson points out the importance of considering a color scheme that will last beyond the current trends. “Something that’s stylish this year may not be as flattering in your eyes in 10 or 20 years to come,” she says. For this reason, she urges couples to start with a classic base and weave in various pops of colors to ensure that the color scheme will transcend through the years.
Consider the season of your wedding:
When picking your wedding colors, Gregoli recommends considering the shade you want to use to bring out the season of your wedding in your color palette. “Rosy pink is perfect for spring, a brighter coral is a summer staple, jewel tones are perfect for fall, and blush and silver are a beautiful wintry combo,” she says. “The trick is to concentrate on the texture and maybe even bring in a stronger accent color to make your colors stand out.”
Select 3-5 wedding colors:
Instead of picking one or two colors, Samantha Leenheer, creative director and planner at Samantha Joy Events in Dayton, Ohio, recommends selecting 3-5 tones that speak to the style, formality, and experience you’re creating for guests. “Usually, two of them will be focal colors with 2-3 accent colors to sprinkle in throughout the wedding day,” she adds.
Factor in your venue:
Just as you want to show off the best features of your wedding party you want to do the same for your venue, points out Maddox. “If your venue is a neutrally beige space you may want to consider a more vibrant color in your decor plan to make the room have some dimension,” she says. “Conversely, if your room is decorated with more color you may consider a more neutral pallet so as not to fight with the already present aesthetic.”
How to incorporate your wedding colors into your wedding
Now that you’ve selected your wedding colors, it’s time to weave them into every facet of your big day. Here are some areas of your wedding day that experts recommend including your wedding palette.
If you are using a website for your day, Renee Miner, owner of Empyrean Events and Catering, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, recommends ensuring that the color story you’ve selected is shown throughout the graphics, in the tones in your photos, and overall aesthetic of the site.
When selecting the florals for your wedding, it’s definitely a good idea to clue your florist into your color scheme. “If the flowers don’t have a color palette to work within, you might run into an issue with being able to direct the florist and could end up with a wide array of colors,” says Amanda Hudes, event planner, life coach, and author of Smiling Through the Chaos of Wedding Planning. “Having such a wide array could result in a look of wild flowers, and that’s beautiful if that’s the look you want, but if not, it could ruin the entire style.”
A great way to incorporate your wedding colors is in the linens that you use on your wedding day. “Maybe you pick the same type of linen for every table, but you have 2-3 colors of the same linen and place them in a pattern around the room,” suggests Miner. “Perhaps your estate table and cake table really make a statement and you leave the rest of the room neutral.”
“Whether through favors, signage or sentimental pieces, those extra touches can really make the difference in creating a unique and special event,” says Hudes. “It may seem trivial to care about the color of something added last minute, but believe me, it can change the entire look of a table when someone throws an additional into the mix.”
Food and beverage:
Carlson recommends incorporating your colors in the most unexpected ways that are sure to surprise and delight your guests. “Food and beverage is one of the top missed opportunities in doing so, but that doesn’t mean that your entrees should be purple or blue,” she says. “Consider crafting cocktails that go along with your color scheme, or even cutlery or dinnerware that complements your theme.”
Expert-recommended wedding colors for 2021-2022
Looking for some expert ideas for what color palettes are trending right now? Here’s what the pros have to say.
Blue and gold:
If you’re hosting a seaside wedding Gregoli recommends making blue and gold the all-star cast members of your big day. “To pull off an upscale nautical vibe, focus on the details of stripes, seersucker, and gingham to stay on theme,” she says. “If you’re going for a more traditional style consider deeper shades of blue and metallic gold for a wedding color palette that’s as regal as can be.”
Green and ivory:
“What is trending now, which is perfect for a more natural and organic feeling, is green and ivory, which lends itself well to everything from a wedding in a rustic barn or on an industrial rooftop,” says Gregoli. “If you prefer plants or succulents over flowers, trade traditional blooms for modern garlands of long, wispy greens for a wedding color theme that’s minimal and chic.”
Deep plum with marigold or saffron:
This is one of Carlson’s favorite color combinations in recent years. “Something about this feels so rich and romantic, and it’s one of the few palettes that I think could be left as a pair or even extended into 4 to 5 complementary colors,” she says. “One pop of purple against a backdrop of cinnamon, burnt yellow, tan, or even eggshell is incredibly attractive.”
Yellow and blush:
If you are going for a romantic boho vibe for your big day, Gregoli recommends considering shades of yellow and blush. “You would use shades of pink, yellow and white will feel bright and summery, while darker, muted shades of daffodil, salmon, and mohair will create a palette that feels boho chic,” she adds.
No matter what color scheme you choose, don’t let the pressure of the planning process take away from your big day. “ I often have people come to me with an idea of what colors they want for their wedding, but the most successful results come from a place of starting with an open mind,” says Hudes. She recommends starting with a few ideas and a few “likes” and then working together with your wedding vendors to make your original concept a beautiful reality. “Know what you like and what you don’t and keep an open mind—that will allow for such creativity,” she adds