Taste The Rainbow: Choosing Colors

You know, this probably should have come earlier, but for Tim and I our color choice was obvious, so it didn’t even occur to me that I should make a post about it…my apologies!  Afterall, before you can pick much of anything you need to know what color scheme you’re trying to fit into.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be like we were and know off the bat what color(s) you want, but for a lot of people this can be a relatively daunting task.  There is literally an infinite range of colors you can pick, and if you’re picking a whole palette the number of combinations available to you might possibly break some law of physics.  Seriously, have you seen the number of paint chips in Home Depot?

The obvious first thing to look at is what your favorite colors are.  What colors do you like to wear?  What color is your room?  What colors make you happy?  Are there colors associated with whatever special meaning the date you picked might have that you want to incorporate?  Pull items and pictures that inspire you, and yes it is okay if you have a wide range of colors to begin with.  It’s actually easier than you think to narrow them down.  If you’re still struggling, raid the aforementioned paint chip section of Home Depot (or whatever your local home paint supply store may be) for colors that tickle your fancy.  Remember, the shades don’t have to be exact (and it’s better if they aren’t, which I’ll get to in a bit).  There are a few different ways you can go about actually choosing colors…

If you’re going for a bold look, a monochromatic theme can be very striking, especially against a white backdrop.  For example, you can choose red as your theme and concentrate on red accents, but varying shades of it (since trying to match everything exactly can not only start to dull the impact of the color choice but can prove stressful if you have trouble achieving a particular shade in all parts of your wedding).  Choose a saturated color as your main, go-to shade for the larger, more noticeable items in the wedding.  A pastel color as the inspiration for a monochromatic theme can very easily go lack luster.  Red is a popular choice, as is purple.  Blue can look nice, but finding blue flowers can be very difficult (and as such very expensive), so most brides tend to stay away from it for a monochrome feel.

The classic move is to choose one central color and then one or two accent colors.  If you plan on a fairly equal representation of each of the colors, you won’t want more than one saturated hue for fear of overloading the senses.  A good formula to follow is to choose one bright color, one pastel/subdued that compliments it, and either a third pastel or a soft metallic.  Picking colors on the same end of the color spectrum is pretty safe, though if you want something bolder you can mix it up with multiple bright colors on different parts of the rainbow.  A mix of bright colors can look fun and exciting, but it has to be executed sparingly with plenty of space between them so that it doesn’t start to cause eye seizures in yourself and your guests.  You’ll find a lot of suggestions for brighter and more daring color combos on websites like The Knot, and they do a pretty decent job of giving you picture examples of how to pull the combos off without blinding your guests with the craziness of it.  Lime green and tangerine orange are a popular combo as of late (although I’ll be honest, I don’t really understand why), but they are done with plenty of white space in between.  Please don’t try to put your bridesmaids in lime green dresses and have them wear orange shoes.  Please.

Whatever you choose, keep in mind that it will affect almost everything in your wedding (and keep in mind how the colors will fit in if you want a specific theme).  The flowers, invitations, bridesmaid dresses, groomsmen suits/tuxes, centerpieces, you name it.  That sounds like a lot of pressure, but the more leeway you give yourselves in your exact shades of colors, the easier it will be.  Keep in mind your color choices when you’re looking at reception venues.  If you choose blue as your main color, a reception room with bright red walls can be a bit of a mismatch.

Tim and I knew our main color was going to be blue (like royal or azure, not light by any means).  Tim loves his blue.  9 times out of 10 when you see him he is wearing a blue button down shirt.  That 10th time?  It’s because it’s laundry day and all of his blue shirts are in the wash.  And me?  I’m a sucker for blue.  For years that was the color of my room (or rooms plural I should say with all the moving we did…my mom definitely got tired of painting all my walls blue every couple of years).  So blue it was.  The hard part was choosing an accent color.  I’m partial to purple, and my favorite flowers are usually the purple ones because of their brightness.  So, we eventually agreed (or Tim just gave up on changing my mind, I still haven’t figured out which way it went) to go with purple as our secondary color.  Because I loved the brightness of the purples and am not a fan of the pastel versions, in order to avoid breaking my own rule, we’re splitting the colors up a bit.  Blue is our main course, if you will, and is what we’re basing our invitations and bridal party clothing choices on.  Purple is going to make an appearance in a few places (exactly where is being kept a secret in case some of our guests manage to stumble onto this page…I don’t want to ruin the surprise!), but I’m getting it in the places I want it, so I am perfectly happy.

A general word of advice: don’t be afraid of black!  Black and white themed weddings are gaining popularity, and if you incorporate a color to accent them it can be quite elegant.  Sarah (my friend who got married in January) choose black as her main color with olive green and white accents, and it was absolutely beautiful.  We bridesmaids wore black dresses and had pashminas in the green (a gift from Sarah to keep our shoulders warm for the outdoor pictures!), while the groomsmen had black tuxes and shirts with green vests.  There were purple flowers in the bouquets to give them some balance, as well as in the centerpiece vases, and the whole thing just had a classy vibe to it.  Just don’t go overboard with the black lest your wedding start looking like a funeral.


Posted on October 3, 2011, in To-Do, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. our colors are sage green, ivory and brown…perfect to match our venue in the late summer!

    Your colors sound beautiful! (if you need inspiration on how to pull off color combos I highly recommend Pinterest…there are so many DIY and professional ideas and inspiration)

    • That sounds like a beautiful combo! Do you know what you’re planning on doing for flower colors?

      And I completely second your Pinterest comment. I LOVE that website.

      • We are doing white and “neutral” colors of flowers. Actually, my maids are going to carry white mixed with queen anne’s lace that we pick the day of. My bouquet will probably be whatever is in season (I have a really awesome local organic small flower grower that I am going to work with) that is pastely/orange/pink/white/green. Not sure! Whatever comes up! We should find each other on pinterest and you can see all my inspiration!

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