Navigating wedding etiquette is difficult enough as it is, but when you throw technology and social media...
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By Maria Yeonhee Ji
Coming to a decision about what colours you’d like for your wedding can be an incredibly difficult step - one that’s required relatively early on in the planning process. While there are innumerable resources to be found listing many different kinds of trendy colour combinations, this deluge of quirkily named colour possibilities ultimately just over-complicates the process (who uses words like persimmon or chartreuse to describe colours in real life?). A much simpler way of settling on your colours is to first decide on what kind of aesthetic you want for your wedding in the first place - odds are you already know whether you want a bohemian, urban, rustic, moody, or classic feel to the whole affair - then decide what colours would help you realise your envisioned event. To give you some further guidance and inspiration and make this all even simpler, we’ve created this theme-driven guide to constructing a wedding palette.
Before we dive into the themes and inspiring ideas, there are a few fundamentals to colour palette construction that you should know about. In general, you should keep in mind that the colour combinations that look the most aesthetically pleasing are complementary, analogous, or triadic colours on the colour wheel.
Complementary colours are matches consisting of two shades that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel (e.g. purple and yellow). Analogous colours are neighbours (i.e. similar shades) on the wheel, that look best when also combined with the use of strong neutrals. Triad colour combinations consist of three colours that are equally spaced around the wheel - this makes for a bold and versatile palette.
The colours you settle on may not fit absolutely into one of these categories - ultimately they should reflect you and your partner’s personalities and tastes. However, a solid grasp of colour theory will help guide your decisions to build a palette that will create the most visually stunning outcome for your big day.
Image by Lynn Lewis Photography & Design
Bohemian-inspired weddings by nature don’t have prescribed palettes; they’re characterised by their unrestrained expressions of freedom, colours and all. However, that’s not to say that an unconsidered combination of random colours will merge to convey your desired aesthetic - if anything, creating a look that communicates free-spirited disorder that still remains cohesive can be more challenging than following a more strict colour scheme.
Image by Barefoot & Bearded Photo
With respect to the use of colour, there are a few different ways of channelling the bohemian spirit. Firstly, since the bohemian vibe puts a significant emphasis on a connection with nature, you can heavily incorporate natural tones into the decor.
Image sourced from Leave Her Wilder
Hues such as browns, beiges, tans, and siennas photograph particularly well in outdoor venues and can be combined with textured neutrals (think white or cream lace, tassels, dream catchers etc). These natural colours can also be accented with pops of colour like blues which contrast exquisitely with the warmer bohemian tones. Other colours that complement this look would be the more muted shades of the green spectrum (olive, eucalyptus etc).
Alternatively, you can go for an eclectic combination of colours: go wild with the lush vintage rugs, crazy textile prints, unruly cascading bouquets consisting of a variety of colourful blooms. The method to this madness is to rely heavily on the variety of textures (foliage, wood, velvet, crocheted cloth, lace, suede, tweed, gems and geodes, feathers etc) to keep the assortment of colours looking balanced rather than veering towards kitsch.
Image by Caroline Sada
Going bohemian doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go buy the contents of every op-shop in town, though. Remember that you can achieve this aesthetic in a minimalist way, as this couple did in the image above. Focus on statement features that the ceremony/reception you’re imagining can’t do without, and do away with the rest.
Image by Daniela Marquardt Photography
The range of wedding venues that can be found in urban areas is becoming increasingly diverse. The most striking colour palettes are those that help bring out the best of the venue’s features.
Image by Lynn Lewis Photography & Design
For more traditional venues like town halls and museums that have a lot of monochromic architecture, opt for neutral palettes like the one pictured above (white, sage, and subtle hits of pale orange). Neutrals will prevent your aesthetic from seeming incongruous with the formal grandeur of the venue, and complement the marble tones of the buildings’ interiors.
Image by Levien & Lens Photography
For venues that have a more industrial feel to them, with features such as concrete walls or floors and exposed brick features, make sure your decor (particularly the florals) contains a lot of green to confer the soften the atmosphere to one that’s modern yet romantic. Striking red blooms against a backdrop of foliage comprises one of our favourite urban colour palettes - it maximises on the effects of contrast, and there’s nothing quite like a deep red to bring a sophisticated, luxurious feel to an event.
Image by Lara Hotz Photography
Couples are getting more inventive these days with the kinds of urban spaces in which they choose to have their weddings. Certainly, the environments of more creative urban venues such as studio spaces for artists provide a landscape for modernity to manifest in all its vivacity. A (very) broadened colour palette juxtaposing a mix of the three primary colours as well as some secondary colours is a surefire way of creating a fiesta feel to your day.
Image by Daniela Marquardt Photography
Couples often choose to have rustic weddings because they want a relaxed, hassle-free event that’s all about being able to enjoy the celebrations. Fortunately, the colour palettes that help create this aesthetic are also relatively easy to construct.
Image by Scott Surplice Photography
Most rustic wedding colour palettes revolve around neutral tones. Classic rustic venues almost always having a lot of wooden interiors and furniture to work with, and decorations featuring an abundance of white and off-white with plenty of green foliage work well against a backdrop of timber hues. Not only does this particular palette look natural and elegant, it’s a great option if you’re wanting your wedding to be more sustainable - foliage is much easier to source locally which results in a much lower carbon footprint than if you want arrangements featuring a variety of coloured blooms.
Image by Dean Snushall Photography
Other neutral tones that work well for rustic weddings include: blush, peach, apricot, honey, oatmeal, tans, and beiges. Pastel colours can also work well for this look. Having said all this, deciding to have your wedding venue on a farm/barn/vineyard/in the countryside doesn’t preclude the use of some bolder colours! Incorporating brighter hues like berry reds can bring a vibrancy to the palette, and looks exquisite particularly in autumn weddings. Just make sure that if you’re going to use more dominant colours in a rustic wedding that you limit their presence to details rather than swathes of fabric/massive decorative installations.
Image by Steve Wise Photographer
If you’re a modern bride-to-be who wants the wedding to be a little less reminiscent of sugar-puffs and feel a bit more moody, opt for a colour palette that uses darker tones. Burgundy, plum, navy, and indigo are all shades that look striking when paired with black (and more limited quantities of white). These moodier colour palettes tend to look best in more formal weddings where the general aesthetic is designed to reflect the tastes of the fashion-forward.
Image by Henry Tieu Photography
Near-black tones, when given prominence in wedding colour palettes, evoke a gothic atmosphere. This can be pulled back with soft neutrals to help keep things romantic rather than ominous. The colour palette in the image above is a perfect example of how to balance darker and lighter tones to achieve aesthetic perfection - small touches like the gold cutlery and flowers offset the near-blacks nicely so that the vibe doesn’t become boring or reminiscent of a funeral.
Image sourced from The Wildflower Perth
If you’ve got your heart set on a moodier aesthetic, make sure you ask any potential florists if they’ve had experience sourcing and arranging flowers to create this sort of effect. What kind of blooms would they consider using? Remember that many everyday florists may not have the floral engineering skills to work with more exotic flowers like black vanda orchids, proteas etc in inventive ways that make your darker colour palette come to life. Dramatic installations require a very particular flair and skillset.
Image by Grace and Jaden Photography
We know that neither black nor white is technically a ‘colour’. But as far as wedding palettes go, there is no option more classic, refined, or as universally flattering as black and white. It’s a flexible colour scheme that will complement the inherent colours of any wedding venue, be it indoors or outdoors. It’s also a colour scheme that’s quite difficult to execute badly, unlike more complex colour combinations where you have to put considerable efforts into finding decorative elements that are the exact same shade(s) of your palette colours.
Image sourced from Hello Tenfold
And if you do want to diverge a little from the traditional black or white tie affair, every colour under the sun looks good paired with black or white, so you can add flourishes of any colour to your heart’s content (silver or gold metallic detailing looks particularly stunning, especially on paraphernalia such as wedding invites and reception menus).