Color Theory

By DiAnne Crown

June 21, 2018 4 min read

Are you more of an island paradise girl, a smooth champagne and wine lady or a primrose bride? Do you envision a glamorous setting, or something more edgy? Whatever your style may be, the colors at your wedding will set the stage.

Selecting a wedding color palette can be as easy as knowing what colors look best on you, or perhaps picking a color scheme that evokes a certain mood. Or it could be much trickier; it isn't always easy once you've wandered into the world of color hue, intensity and value. Yes, there is a science behind the lovely art of color choice.

*Color Theory Basics

--Hue. What color is it? Think of the distinctly different tones of red, blue and yellow; or orange, green and purple.

--Intensity or saturation. How vivid is it?

--Value. How light or dark is it?

So, a color might be deep and dark, light and bright, and so on. Then you have to decide whether you prefer contrasts or complements?

*Contrasts and Complements

To select a pleasing palette, first select your favorite hue, and then consider your "drama" level. Certain high contrast colors opposite each other on a color wheel can be vivid when paired. Similar shades next to each other on the color wheel can be soothing. One or two rich colors alongside a neutral white or black can be evening elegant, whereas several bright colors can create a sense of festivity in the afternoon.

*What's Trending?

Just as decorators browse color chip fans and paint department displays, wedding designers and other party planners can consult color generators to begin a design for invitations, attire, flowers and place settings.

Click through a variety of color palettes in the color generator at, where you can browse color palettes, generate your own palette and modify color shades. For other color generators, visit the Elegant Themes online blog, where you'll find a collection of recommended sites for web designers that are also useful for anyone creating a color scheme.

Simone Hill's "8 Steps to Choosing Your Wedding Colors" can be found on The Knot's website. There, Hill walks readers through setting, season, mood and more. And wedding flower sites by Teleflora and Martha Stewart offer a beautiful way to coordinate a color palette with the flowers of your choice.

*Seasons and Textures

Consider your wedding season, says Rachel W. Miller's "4 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Colors" but don't let it limit you. "Each season has obvious choices, but that doesn't mean it's limited to those colors, or that you can't use seasonal colors any other time of year. One trick I love is to think of the colors associated with certain seasons throughout history or in different countries. For example, a December wedding doesn't have to be red and green; in the 1950s and 60s, winter pastels and metallics were all the rage for the holidays. Or consider a citrusy palette; oranges have long been associated with Christmas in different regions."

And texture may make a compromise color work for you and your partner, Miller continues. "A wedding with beige calligraphy and white silk accents looks far different from a wedding with rustic cotton bouquets and neutral wood accents. If you love a color and aren't sure if it's right for your wedding, think about how you can use texture to make it work."

Finally, though...

It really is a day to do what you please. You can decide whether or not you follow tradition or make everything match. With one eye toward the look you want in your photos and another toward the spirit of your day, make it whatever you will enjoy and celebrate!

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