wedding theme idea

How do I choose my wedding colours?

Knowing how to pick your wedding colours is sometimes easier said than done, but it’s an important step in your planning process. In addition to being an extension of your styles as a couple, a carefully chosen colour palette can make all the difference when creating a cohesive wedding aesthetic. It’s a good idea to start thinking about your wedding colour palette shortly after you’ve set a date and chosen a venue, but how should you begin? By considering your basic wedding details, such as season, location, and theme, you can start to narrow down the colours that will play into the look you want. Once you’ve decided on your colours, all of the other decorative details will fall into place, from flowers and stationery to wedding party attire, table linens, and more.  

Establishing a colour scheme is among the most important big-day decisions. And doing so early—as soon as you’ve settled on a venue—makes choosing all your other details, from invites to flowers, easy. The quickest path to finding your wedding colours? Balance your favourite shades (think about the ones that decorate your home and populate your wardrobe) with those that complement the location and season. Follow these suggestions for dreaming up a combo that delights—and speaks to your style as a couple. 

Picking your wedding palette isn’t exactly as easy as choosing your two favourite colours and making them the foundation for every wedding detail. You should start by nailing down your general aesthetic (take our fun Style Quiz from our All-In-One Wedding Planner app for help), and then follow the below tips to ultimately choose your hues. 

Get Inspired by Your Setting

First things first: location. Have a colour palette in mind as you start your venue search. Think about what colours you’d like to use, and whether you’d want to prioritize finding the perfect venue or having your perfect colour palette. If you find a venue that you love, but it doesn’t work with your colours, you’ll want to switch up a hue or two so you don’t bust your budget on trying to cover up or distract from the fact that it doesn’t match. Venues like converted warehouses, lofts and tents are all blank slates, meaning you can add as much or as little as you want to carry out your vision for colour and style. If you’ve already found the perfect venue, use the space to help you come up with your colour scheme. The colours of your reception space and its surroundings, whether it’s the vintage Persian rug in the dining room or the view of the ocean, can spark an idea. And that way, you won’t have to work against a clashing colour palette, and your colours will enhance what you love about your venue.

Next, visualize your venue and its surroundings. Are you getting married in an open-concept warehouse with empty white walls, or an ornate ballroom featuring patterned wallpaper and glamorous gold accents? The existing (or non-existent) details of your venue should influence your colour palette. “Blank slate” venues, such as tented receptions, barns, outdoor areas, and other neutral spaces will make it easier to pick your wedding colours from scratch since you won’t have to worry about clashing with existing decor. For other types of venues that are already decorated, such as hotels, country clubs, restaurants, and museums, look at what colours are currently in the space, and use those to determine your palette.  

Keep Your Priorities In Mind

While the venue is usually the biggest choice, you have to make in your wedding planning, and sometimes there are other details to consider that might come before choosing your colours too. If you’ve always dreamed of having your wedding overflowing with purple dendrobium orchids, then you should use that as a starting point for your palette, instead of trying to figure out a way to work it in later. You don’t want to choose a colour scheme only to find that a must-have, like your grandmother’s ivory table runner, looks out of place or may get lost in the décor rather than standing out as you want it to.

Think about your wedding season

While there’s nothing written in stone that mandates your wedding colours match up with your wedding season, we can’t argue that some colours lend themselves naturally to certain times of the year. If you’re feeling stuck when choosing a colour palette, look to your wedding season for a bit of inspiration. Dark jewel tones, such as emerald green, plum purple, navy blue, and marsala red, for example, tend fit in better with cold weather surroundings, like changing foliage in the fall or white snow in the winter. Bold and bright colours are generally more appropriate for a summer celebration, while pastel hues are traditionally associated with springtime weddings. 

Just like your wardrobe, your wedding colour scheme can be inspired by the time of year you’re saying “I do.” Think about the shade you want to use to bring out the season in your colour palette. Rosy pink is perfect for spring, while a brighter coral is a summer staple. For fall, a rich fuchsia pair well with other jewel tones, and blush and silver are a pretty wintry combo. Don’t shy away from colours you love though just because of seasonal colour “rules,” which have pretty much gone the way of wearing white after Labor Day. Light pastels and barely there hues, like buff, can work for a fall or winter wedding. The trick is to concentrate on texture and maybe even bring in a stronger accent colour.

If you’re saying “I do” on or around a holiday, why not incorporate the associated colours into your wedding day aesthetic? Blush and pastels for Easter, green for St. Patrick’s day, black and gold for New Year’s Eve the list goes on. The key here is to not take the colours too literally — they should serve as your basic inspiration, not a hard and fast rule. If you opt for a holiday-inspired colour palette, avoid using an abundance of themed decor. The colours will be enough!

Set the Mood

Your wedding colours can also help create a vibe for your wedding day. If you’re going for a lot of drama, then a dark or jewel tone palette, like ruby red and black or emerald and gold, is a better choice than, say, light pastels. Think about the style and atmosphere you want to have, whether it’s relaxed or nostalgic, and what colours put you in that mindset.

Look to What You Love

The colours that inspire your home décor are ones you know you can live with for a long time (and it’s an extra perk that leftover items like Moroccan lanterns will get used after your wedding day). Open your closet: What colour clothes and accessories are you drawn to? Use that as a starting point for choosing your wedding hues.

Pinpointing your wedding style or theme is also an essential step when choosing your wedding colours. Just like seasons, some wedding colours are best suited for specific styles — for example, a swanky 1920s, Gatsby-inspired theme wouldn’t mesh with bright blue and fuchsia, while metallic gold and purple would look out of place at a nautical soirée. Need some style inspiration? Take a look at these wedding theme ideas. Once you’ve chosen your wedding style, you can do a process of elimination to help decide which colours will be the best fit. 

Pick colours that flatter you

Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish when deciding how to pick your wedding colours! Depending on your attire, you may be wearing at least one of your wedding colours on the big day, so it can be helpful to think about the hues that are most flattering for your skin tone. For example, if you’re wearing a suit, accessorizing with a tie or pocket square that matches your colour palette is traditional. If pale yellow isn’t doing you justice, it’s totally fine to knock it off the list of potential wedding colours. Even if you’re wearing a white dress, you’ll want to consider any colourful details of your ensemble, such as your wedding bouquet and accessories. Don’t forget about your wedding party members’ attire, either! Not only will you be standing next to them in pictures throughout the day, but there’s a chance that the people in your wedding party have a variety of skin tones, hair colours, etc. Consider universally-flattering colours — medium and darker shades, such as eggplant, powder blue, navy, and red are some of the best options — and try adding at least one to your palette to keep everyone (including you) looking their best. 

Play up your palette with gradients

Can’t decide on a collection of colours that look good together? Keep it simple by sticking with one colour and opting for an ombré-inspired palette instead. You don’t need an assortment of different colours to create a gorgeous palette — for example, a wedding with three or four shades of blue (or whichever colour you like best!) can look just as beautiful as one with a rainbow of colours. This option is also excellent for creating a more modern, monochromatic look with your wedding decor. 

Do Your Research

Magazines, art galleries and friends’ weddings are all great sources for inspiration. While you wouldn’t want to choose a colour combo just because it’s on-trend, looking towards art and design may help you see colours you already love in a new way.

Consult the Color Wheel

You don’t need a degree from art school to pick your palette, but there are some basic principles to follow. Typically, colours that go well together are ones that are opposites because they pair a cool and warm (examples include orange and sky blue and turquoise and coral). Other colour pairings that work are “neighbours—they’re similar to each other and share a primary colour (think: sunshine yellow and melon orange or fuchsia and blush). A classic way to build your colour palette is by pairing a bright, saturated colour with a neutral, like violet and grey or blush and gold.

Choose a base colour

Your base colour will be the one that’s used most prominently throughout your wedding, and you can’t build your full-colour palette without it. The base colour can be anything from soft blush pink or peach to elegant navy blue, punchy yellow, or even dramatic jade green, depending on the overall vibe you want to create. Most importantly, it should be a colour you genuinely love! Once you have your base colour, the next step is to choose a handful of complementary “accent” colours — generally two or three of them. These accents will round out your wedding palette, adding dimension and variation to prevent the colours from being over-the-top matchy-matchy or kitschy. Your accents can be anything from bold, contrasting hues on the opposite side of the colour wheel, to neutral tones like grey, white, black, or beige. No base colour yet? Keep reading for more advice on how to pick your wedding colours from scratch.

Let go of obvious colour combos

No need to go with the status quo says planning expert and educator Kawania H. Wooten of Howerton + Wooten Events. “When selecting colours to complement a theme, let go of the obvious colour combinations,” she advises. “For example, nautical-themed weddings don’t need to have a navy, red or baby blue colour palette. We recommend keeping the colours light and summery, but consider selecting colours such as greens, oranges, and browns instead.”

Don’t feel like you have to stick with the obvious colours of each season. Geomyra Lewis of Geomyra Lewis Weddings & Events suggests picking whatever feels most natural and organic to the couple. “For a summer wedding I recently planned, our bride was excited to use rich and bold colours like cranberry and navy,” she explains. “I typically see the light, airy colours like blush, ivory, and green during the summer, but it’s okay to step outside of the box and focus on what you’re drawn to instead.”

Stay away from trends (if you want to!).

If you’re hoping for a unique wedding, know that you can break away from the current trends. Despina Craig of Despina Craig Events says, “As a nontraditional wedding planner, I believe there is no need to follow the trend or the season. Think of the wedding venue, location, your favourite flowers, colours, hobbies, favourite movie, designer, formality, and time of day your wedding will take place. Then begin incorporating your colour or theme from the very beginning, starting with your invitation.”

Additionally, St. Louis planner Maureen FitzGibbon of Kate & Company suggests staying away from trends entirely. “The trendier your wedding is, the sooner you’ll date yourself,” she explains. “No one wants to look back on their wedding in a year or two and find they already wish they had gone a different route. We’d recommend staying classic and timeless with your look, but pulling in small, fun, whimsical details of you into your paper.”

You can pick more than two.

If you’re attracted to multiple colours and hues, no need to pick just one or two, event designer Nancy Park of So Happi Together asks her couples to be open to a range of colours. “We pick a palette of two or three focal colours and three or four supporting colours and tones,” she explains. “If you do this, just keep in mind the types of materials, textures, and metallics that you may want to consider as a part of your palette.” In turn, you’ll have a multi-dimensional and textured design.

Don’t Overthink It

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to have a strict wedding colour palette. If you’re early in the planning process, you’ll probably get asked, “What are your colours?” a lot by friends and family, and that can put pressure on you to pick the “right” hues. But colour doesn’t have to play the major role that it’s sometimes made out to be. While your palette will inform a lot of your wedding decisions, like your flowers and your bridesmaid dresses, you should use it as a guideline instead of a rule. Not every part of your wedding has to match perfectly, so don’t stress on having every detail colour-coded just right. Instead, think of your wedding planning in terms of style, formality, texture and mood, in addition to colour.

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