Reconsidering Wedding Colors

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

Whenever someone asks us what our wedding colors are, it always reminds me of that scene from Steel Magnolia’s where Julia Roberts says her colors are “Blush and Bashful,” And her mother says very flatly in a southern drawl, “Her colors are pink and pink. It looks like the sanctuary was hosed down with pepto bismol”

So when David suggested getting rid of “wedding colors” I was on board. David pointed out that the whole ‘wedding colors’ thing feels like sort of a scam. Why do we have to pick two or three wedding colors? So we can buy matchy matchy bridesmaids dresses? So we can buy ribbon and flowers and chair covers that all match? Somehow that just feels like a excuse to sell us things.

A color palette is sensible, since it gives you a visual theme and prevents people from clashing. But colors? I don’t know. I’m not that focused a bride, I don’t think. I don’t really want to control that many elements of the day.
And we are seeing more and more images from weddings where the couple didn’t make everything match perfectly, and I think they look just lovely. So we are thinking of just going with jewel tones, and not narrowing it down much beyond that.

What do you think, Internets? Is anyone else as tired of wedding colors as we are? Out with the colors in with the palettes? What are you doing for your wedding?

Bottom photo via Snippet and Ink.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit #NASTY

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  • i think picking wedding “colors” can be a superb pain in the butt…especially since i don’t plan on wearing white, cream, ivory or anything of that nature. i was actually aiming towards a caribbean blue, since it’s my favorite color. but then at the same time, i don’t want everything in shades of blue either. so yes, a color palette it is (and also, whatever inspires me at that given time, whether i’m with my moh looking for her dress or designing my invitations).

    plus i’ve never been a matchy-matchy girl. if i suddenly did it on my wedding day, it would be bizarre and out of character.

  • Jenna

    My floral budget should be smaller because of this because not everything has to be pink or green or whatever, just within the color palette.

  • I think a color palette is the way to go!

  • ley

    Yeah…I agree with the palette idea. When people ask, I tell them our colours are Navy and yellow, but in reality, we have a whole board of colours that we are using to make sure the “feel” is right and nothing clashes.

  • yeah, our colors are kind of a spectrum of warm colors. all shades of yellows, peaches, pinks, oranges, and reds. from pastels to brights. i think it can help to know maybe which colors might be more dominant and which ones used more as accent colors. but, otherwise, i’m all for a color palette rather than one or two colors and that’s it.

  • I’ve been looking at wedding stuff for quite some time and i’ve also come to the conclusion that a color palette is more sensible.

    I don’t want my wedding to be too feminine. My favorite color is green so we’re going to use that as a jumping off point. We’re going to pair it with ivory and shades of brown. we’ll try to have as many copper accents as we can, both polished (more pink) and tarnished (to get some green in there!). My wedding dress is offered in both ivory and champagne so i’ll have to decide which one of those looks the best. i’m really exited about it. he seems to really like the colors and extra bonus points for greenery being cheaper than flowers!

  • christena, good choice, I’m also going with tons of different shades of green, but with champagne accents, and chartreuse, and maybe a bit of light turquoise.

    Picking only 2 colors reminds me of school colors or something.

    And I really dislike the matching bridesmaids dresses, I let my girls know the color palette and said get whatever you want.

  • Hmmm.. I guess I missed the boat completely. I always assumed that when people asked about wedding colors, that they were just asking about the color palette. I think that the color thing just kind of adds to creating a cohesive event. The same way you may chose to set your dinner table with matching plates, or deliberately non-matching plates, you are just deciding how you want your party to look.
    And not being locked into anything is especially helpful to your floral budget.

  • Yes, I think when people ask what your “colors” are, it’s perfectly acceptable to respond with however many colors you like, as in your palette. I had friends who chose their “colors” off the invitations that they liked – green, black, ivory. But, at the reception, the flowers on the tables were all different colors, and it was just lovely.

    I’m more of the simple-is-good school of thought, so I just chose 2 colors. Not because everything has to be those colors – but because other than the ivory I’ll be wearing, other than the charcoal or black that the groomsmen will be wearing, and other than the green found in the greenery – those 2 colors are the ones I kind of want to “feature”. There’ll be other elements and different shades, but I just didn’t want to go off the deep end and make my wedding look like a rainbow. (Or Pepto Bismal)

  • I like the idea of having a few central colors that tie your day together. Mine are deep reds and purples that I’m using in my bm dresses, flowers and invitations. I think it will be just enough to keep a visual flow, but not too matchy matchy.

  • I’ve chosen a swatch of material that is my absolute favorite. It has multi-colored sugar skulls on it. That is my palette. People ask and I just point to my swatch of material and say, “Think fiesta meets day of the dead.”

  • Our wedding is outdoors in the mountains so I’m focusing on kelly green and espresso brown- but I love all colors- I can’t discriminate. So I’ve kind of been throwing in different colors here and there and everywhere.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    I always think of that bit in Steel Magnolias too!

    We’re not having wedding ‘colours’, we’re just using colours we like and things that we love and they kind of tie together. We’re going for a vintagey, country garden feel and I guess we have a colour palette that reflects that as our collection of images and inspiration looks quite cohesive. Here it is if you fancy a look. I think it all goes together quite well but it really wasn’t intentional. We just bought things we liked the look of!

    I find ‘wedding colours’ a bit tedious. While I admire the work that went into creating something so polished, when I see pictures of weddings where the bride’s shoes match the flowers perfectly which match the invitations which match the brisemaids dresses which match the monograms on the napkins I just feel like something is missing. Like soul, or personality. But that’s just me, I really don’t like matching. I’d much rather ‘coordinating’.

  • No one has asked me what our colours are… but I guess as I’m the first of our friends to get married no one really has a clue about the wedding world.

    I was keen to pick colours as I naturally like things to match and probably didn’t have the confidence at the start of this planning / design journey to go for a palette. It is a great idea though and I think makes for weddings that look more natural, like they evolved organically.

  • We’re getting hitched in an Edwardian mansion- the carpet is read, the walls in one room are dark wood, the walls in the other room are patina green with peach, and there’s stained glass in a variety of colors everywhere. Our color scheme is “try not to clash with the location, and try to work in amber yellow”. Not because yellow is “our color”- its not on the invites or my shoes or anything, but because with all the dark wood and the black-clad attendants, it lightens things up a bit. That’s it. I always sort of thought that having 2 to 3 colors is good for 1) starting out and 2) decorating a big blank banquet hall when you don’t trust your sense of color. Since we aren’t having a big blank banquet hall and we do trust our color sense, we didn’t need to go there.

  • I’m doing all color, not just one or two. I want the don’t want to limit the color scheme. It should be vibrant and lively-for me.

  • We’re getting married on a historic ship on the water, so I’m doing “waterish” colors like blues and green, though I don’t want to stick to the matchy-matchy thing of weddings. Really boring. So I told the florist to go with something in a similar color family with soft shades. Way more aesthetically pleasing than set colors.

  • Go with it! Two colors are bor-ing.

  • I agree- I hate the thought of having 2 or 3 set colors. I used to work in a bridal salon and I can’t tell you how often people would come in with a fabric swatch aisle runner wanting to match it too their dresses and shoes and informing me that the flowers would also be that color. Good Grief! For our wedding, I think we’ll follow your path and choose a palette of colors. That way there is no matchy matchy to worry about and it feels a lot more luxurious and personal anyway.

  • colors vs palette… I never thought of it that way! And I call myself an artist… sheesh.

    Once I get an idea in my head it sometimes runs rampant and things get too matchy-matchy. I like the idea of a family of colors to make everything a little softer. Good point!

  • Anonymous

    From the get-go wedding colors were out for us. I never envisioned them and didn’t even think about them until I was asked. Our colors are: ‘Warm and Romantic’ tones…that’s it. And so far we LOVE it! No stress and everything looks fabulous!

  • Stephanie

    Yes! All of the vendors keep asking, “what are your colors?” and my response confounds them – “Whatever my sister wears.” Their heads then explode when I tell them she’s in the UK until 3 weeks before the weeding. I’ve tried to make it easy on folks that can’t handle this by saying “Autumnal” which I then have to explain…

  • hehehe – again, I know this post has been out for a while so I am pretty late in commenting – but I just read it! First off – I love that movie and those quotes. Secondly, I agree that having colors can be restrictive and might be a bit old fashioned. That being said – my colors are Aqua and Ocean = blue and blue! =) I (and i am sure/hope) many others, use the “colors” to reign us in and keep up from having every clashing color of the rainbow involved and looking alot like a Jackson Pollock painting. :)

  • What Peonies and Polaroids said!! I'm not picking colours. Things we find that we like will end up all mixed together. We tend to like orange and lime green so I have a suspicion there will be some of that, but really, in our venue, nobody's going to notice!

  • i agree. i knew right off the bat i wasn't picking colors but i did want a fall color scheme.

  • Brandy

    I just have to say…..I'm loving the blog! I'm reading it from the beginning right now, and I think we may just be wedding kindred spirits! I love the color palette idea. I've sort of had that going for our wedding this coming February, yet I give a vague answer when people ask colors. I walked into a bridal shop with my maids. They asked what color and style the bride had chose. I said any color in an brown, cream, or earthy orange and any style that suits them. They looked puzzled. "The bride didn't pick a color or style?!" "Nope, sure didn't." "Oh, you're the bride!" I guess the idea that I want them to be comfortable and feel beautiful was a rare concept and was expected to impose some mighty power over them. Yeah, not my style whatsoever. They chose to wear shades of brown in drastically different and totally unigue dresses……just like them!

  • OMG, thank you. The whole, “What are your colors?” or, “What’s your theme?” thing made me feel like a total failure, until I chucked them. Our venue has plenty of gorgeous color inside already and a blank canvas of nature/neutrals outside. I realized, it’s doing the heavy lifting for us. For no extra charge! So now I just get to match my venue as much or as little as I like.

    And we get to choose the things that fit our theme. Which, by the way, is how much we love our community.

  • Ruby

    We’re basing our colours around a kind of dusky, pine-y green, sort of like if you mixed sage and evergreen, and a light, peachy burnt orange. Essentially, my favourite colour is orange, and my husband’s favourite colour is green, so it was kind of no brainer, and we’re getting married on a farm in autumn, so we won’t need many decorations, because the green and orange and brown will already be there. So it’s basically just an autumn colour palette which should be cheap and lovely.