Are you standing in front of a cooler in a floral shop or an endless rainbow of bridesmaid dresses hanging on a rack? Are there just too many color options to choose? Here are a few pointers for picking the perfect palette for your wedding day.
1. Be open to change. You may have had a color scheme in mind since childhood, perhaps born out of some now-out-of-date movie? While what you had in mind might just be a terrific color scheme for your big day, don’t feel married (pun intended) to the choice just because it was what you where planning. Plans change. If something catches your eye and leads you in a different direction, let it!
2. Seasonal considerations. While you can certainly do whatever you want, it is after all, your wedding, there are some seasonal “rules” that guide color selection for weddings. You already know these rules even if you think you don’t, rusty orange would seem a bit out of place in April, pastel lavender might seem odd in October. It’s just one of those things. And while you may scoff at the idea of having to bend to these types of “rules,” one consideration is that the types of flowers and bridesmaids dresses available in a particular season (or the appropriate cut for a certain season) may be somewhat limited by these rules. Jewel tones, oranges, reds, greens, look great in the fall. Pastels, greens, yellows, blues look lovely in spring. Summer is a bit of a free for all, a great season for bright bold colors. Winter is a little tricky for some, but a great time to do black and white, red, gold, silver, etc. There are many variations and much flexibility here but, as mentioned above some seasonal constrictions may guide your selection.
3. Pick one item and branch out. It can be daunting to try to consider an entire wedding color scheme, dresses, favors, flowers, décor, ribbon, tablecloths. Instead, start with one item and work from there. Perhaps you know you want roses. Great! There are a number of different rose colors and tones available, but certainly not limitless. You could review ideas of roses online or at a floral shop and pick a color. This would be a great starting point to branch out to select the bridesmaid dresses that will be the backdrop to those roses, or the tablecloths that will support the centerpieces. Do you want linens or dresses and flowers to be different colors or the same colors, perhaps different tones or shades? Once you get started, it will seem much more doable!
4. The science of colors. You may not have thought about it since some school science class, but considering the color wheel is actually a great idea when it comes to wedding color selection. There are, in fact, scientific reasons certain colors work and don’t work. Complementary colors-those directly across from one another on the color wheel (red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple) provide the most contrast possible. This makes them terrific for drawing attention, but perhaps better aligned with creating a billboard in advertising than an entire wedding scheme. Too much contrast can be just that, too much. This kind of contrast can be better served in small doses (like bright contrasting berries in a bouquet). Analogous colors, on the other hand, those next to one another on the color wheel (green and yellow, blue and purple, red and orange) can provide a super way to do shades and tones that stretch across two or three colors of the color wheel. While not providing contrast, these colors always go together as they are often combinations found in nature. One upside to doing different tones of analogous colors is that different tones and shades of similar colors lifts a little of the pressure of finding items that all match exactly within one another which is a tricky task. A split-complementary color scheme uses one color as a base and then follow that across the wheel to the complementary color but, instead, uses the colors on either side of the complement. So, for example, you might have green, magenta, and orange (colors on the sides of red). This is an interesting option for weddings because it allows for contrast but is not as overwhelming as a direct set of complementary colors might be. One final note here is of course warm versus cool colors which might need to be in sync with the venue, season, etc.
5. Venue issues. This one can be a bit tricky. Sometimes the venue presents an issue that cannot be changed and may influence your color choices. For example, your church could have bright red carpeting throughout. This might make it tough to choose red bridesmaid dresses or green, or orange. Similarly, if the reception venue has very specific carpeting or wallpaper other color selection issues may arise. Be sure to consider these things as you make your choices.
6. Taste, taste, taste. Ah…here’s the really tricky part! Choosing a tasteful color palette. While it might seem pretty straightforward- certain colors go together and others do not. So you would think! With my Creative Director hat on for a moment, I can tell you that we photograph many, many weddings where colors are genuinely problematic. Best advice is that loud contrast can be really unruly to handle large scale for an event like a wedding (see number 4). Even when fabrics and décor are of the best quality, this high contrast can really cheapen the overall look. Opting for colors and combinations found in nature is always a safe bet!
In the end, there are a million details to consider and choosing a color scheme is a very important. Your color scheme will be the backdrop to every wedding photo you’ll take and will set the vibe for your guests as they celebrate with you.