Wedding planning brings many different and difficult decisions to the forefront of your relationship. As a wedding planner and designer, one of the first conversations I have with my couples about their wedding is how they want it to feel. This generally starts with creating an ambiance through visuals, like your wedding color palette. It can be confusing, difficult, and downright exhausting trying to find the right color palette that will sing your specific love story song. So I invited my new friend Collette from Golden Summer Designs to share her stationer knowledge when it comes to turning difficult color combinations into the perfect wedding color palette.
Want to hear a scary story? Picture this: you’re newly engaged and feeling on top of the world! You’ve made the ever-important Instagram announcement and you are ready to start planning. You’ve basically known what you wanted since you were 5 years old, and now your fabulous fiancé has the audacity to tell you, “I think it would be really great to use our college colors in our wedding. It’s where we met, and that place means so much to us!” So sweet, and such a beautiful way to incorporate your story, right? Here’s the catch, the two of you went to University at Albany. And your school colors? Purple and yellow…
Now, before you start to reconsider whether you can really spend the rest of your life with this person, take a deep breath! With a little creativity and a whole lot of color theory, I’m going to show you not only how to make that color palette work, but how to make it WERK!
If you’ll allow me to get technical for a moment, color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual effects of a specific color combination. Hopefully I didn’t lose you there! To put it simply, color theory teaches us how to manipulate colors in a variety of ways to get the result you want.
In our case, we want to find a way to make a purple and yellow wedding color palette not look like a frat party. For this, you’ll want to know a few key terms. Grab your color wheels and let’s get started!
Value – the relative lightness or darkness of a color; how much white or black has been added to a color
Intensity – the purity of a color which determines its relative brightness or dullness
Tint – the addition of white to a color
Tone – the addition of grey to a color
Shade – the addition of black to a color
Monochromatic – Using any tint, tone or shade of just one color
Analogous – Using colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel (such as blue, blue-green, green)
Complementary colors – colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (such as green and red, orange and blue, purple and yellow)
Congratulations! You just learned the basics of color theory. Let’s head back to our couple to put it in practice!
Using what we learned above, we know purple and yellow are complementary colors. Complementary colors bring out the intensity in each other, making both appear very bright. We have two options when it comes to this type of color scheme: tone everything down to create a muted less intense look or really lean in for a bold statement. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling bold!
When creating a bold complementary color scheme, proportion is key. First, choose your main color. In our case, we have a rich, high-intensity yellow, and we’ll accent it with pops of its compliment. Here we’ve chosen a red-violet hue and a blush as our accents. By selecting colors adjacent to purple, we keep this palette from becoming too aggressive on the eyes while still grabbing your attention at every turn.
Armed with gorgeous invitations and a wedding color palette that tells their story, our couple is ready to create their dream day! Go forth you beautiful alumni and enjoy your wedded bliss!
Ready for another? Let’s imagine that you and your fiancé met at your office’s holiday party and had your first date on Christmas Eve. You moved in together the following December and got engaged the following Christmas. You’re starting to realize your fiancé is a Yulephile and you’re terrified of what this means for your wedding. The wedding color palette your fiancé chooses? Big shock! Red and green…
Iconic color pairings can be difficult to work with when you trying to avoid an association.
Black and orange? Halloween.
Red and Yellow? Fast food restaurants.
Red and Green? Christmas.
To break these unwanted connotations, we’re going to tone down our reds and greens and get some good neutrals in there to break up the holiday party.
For this wedding color palette, we toned down the red and green to make the contrast less dramatic, creating a beautiful, jewel-toned palette. Burgundy is the focus with a touch of olive green as an accent. The addition of warm neutrals – in this case, tan, off-white, and copper – help break up the overt holiday feel and add a bit of balance. Now that we’ve created your perfect wedding color palette, it’s up to you to keep the reindeer out of the reception!
Color pairings don’t have to be iconic to be problematic. One sure-fire way to create a color palette that sets your guests on edge? Using colors with different intensities. For this example, let’s use turquoise and olive green.
Turquoise is a high-intensity hue (think no white, grey, or black added) while olive green is a much more muted tone of green. While technically analogous colors (remember, that means they’re next to each other on a color wheel), their vastly different intensities have them competing for attention. My head hurts a bit just looking at them together! The solution? Let’s tone that turquoise down and add a neutral to bridge the gap!
Feels better right? Muting the turquoise to bring it down to the same tone as an olive green makes this combo feel more cohesive and much easier on the eye. Neutrals and proportions are, once again, key in this color combination.
When it comes to choosing your wedding color palette, the sky is truly the limit which can make the process feel overwhelming. To keep you from going crazy, I’ll leave you with these tips:
-Complementary colors naturally have a ton of contrast, proceed with caution and integrate lots of neutrals.
-Analogous colors (think yellow and green, green and blue, blue and purple) are easier on the eye but still provide a lot of impact.
-Monotone colors (light and dark versions of the same color) are the easiest way to use lots of color without the fear of clashing.
-Balance and proportion are your best friends. You can make almost anything work if you do it in the right quantities.
And the most important thing to remember? This is your wedding, so do what makes you happy! Color is a great way to express yourself and tell the story of how you got you to this day. If that story happens to be extra colorful, embrace it! Now that you know the rules, they are yours to manipulate and break however you choose. Get out there and make those color choices with confidence you little rebel you!
Owner of Golden Summer Designs, Collette Geers is a stationery designer and sender of beautiful mail.
With a background in color psychology and theory, Collette uses color to tell the story of her clients and set the tone for their events through modern invitation suites.
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Sarah is a Los Angeles wedding planner ready to
elevate all your relationships through small and intimate weddings.