February 27, 2008

Choosing a Color Scheme

Posted in Planning Your Own Wedding: Step by Step at 5:55 pm by Jess

Do any of you run into this problem? You pore over design and wedding blogs, happily bookmarking-away all the inspiration boards and color scheme articles that draw your eye. You only bookmark the ones that make you squeal with delight, of course. But then something horrible happens: You open your bookmark file and discover that no less than eighteen color schemes made you squeal. There are a dozen marked as “the one.” If you are like me, picking a color scheme that pleases you is a piece of proverbial cake. But picking “the one”? Hopeless.

image from flickr.com

For me it was fun to imagine colors, but it was also stressful. It’s a heavy weight commiting to a certain color scheme, if you don’t already have one 100% favorite. I was stricken with worry and uttered crazy questions like, “Since when do I like eggplant?” “Are you sure that this would not clash with the grass?” and “Why the hell does Celadon green only truly exist in my head!?”

I quickly became aware that I was drifting in between color schemes. In one email to a friend I would describe the gray, eggplant gala. In another to my mother: hot pink and orange. I just could not choose, so I chose not to.My solution: I decided not to have a color scheme – at least not to pick one directly, not RIGHT AWAY. This decision had one key factor: Not caring if the invitations matched my eventual color scheme. I wish I could have a whole magazine-quality paper line for my day, but it just ain’t happening.Since I was going to be DIYing my invitations anyway, with very very limited paper resources here in Switzerland (Paper Source, I dream of you…), I wanted to take some of the stress of myself by not following a particular color scheme all the way through. I will show you the invitations in a later post, but suffice it to say, this is one of the best decisions that I made concerning my wedding. Why? Not only did I not feel rushed and pressured to pick a color scheme, then go scouring this city up and down trying to make it materialize in pretty papers, but I ACTUALLY ended up making a color scheme loosely based on my invites, but with tangent, compatible colors. Surprisingly, I simultaneously COMPLETLEY NIXED the one color that I was “sure, sure, sure” I would use (first as my own gown, then as a bridesmaid gown): Chocolate Brown. It is the base color of the invitations, but that is where it ends now. I like this. I like the ability to alter my ideas when the event is four months away.

I suppose it is a coincidence that my ultimate wedding colors are the ones from my invitations. But subconsciously, I am sure that I gravitated towards a paper that was in a favorite color, and then when I kept receiving such compliments on the Invites I decided, “Let’s go with these colors…if we can.” (I am always wary of commiting here, because I cannot be sure things are available just because I want them, or just because I have the money, like in America).

Now I realize that some of you want to nail donw a color scheme, and want all of your stationary to match the day. That’s great. It will look beautiful, and for you it may be less stressful to have this out of the way. If you are still struggling to pick a color scheme, here are a few helpful suggestions:

Look at your wardrobe.Your closet holds the key. You may not realize it, but the same colors you buy would make a great color scheme, precisely because they look good on, or around you. It’s the same advice that interior decorators give to clients about choosing paint and fabric. Choose what colors look good on you. However, since you most likely will not be wearing a violet wedding gown, but asking your gals to wear violet, do take into consideration if that color looks good on them. If it truly looks horrid (like yellow looked awful on my two bridesmaids because they are both really, really pale) then maybe switch it up, or try a darker or lighter version of the color.

flickr.com (wish I had those shoes!)

Don’t be shy, ask the groom. He may not be able to name the range of orange tones you are looking at, but that doesn’t mean he cannot tell what he does and doesn’t like. His reactions might shock you. My fiance had – shock to me – quite a bit to say about the colors I was considering. And why shouldn’t he? On the other hand, you might just get a guttural, cave-man-esque reaction, but listen to it. If he groans and sticks out his tongue, listen to that. It might just mean “I cannot articulate why I dislike this color in more than monosyllabic grunts but it makes me want to vomit and will probably make the Y endowed portion of our guests want to vomit too.” He has a point.

Look at paint swatches. My mom and I did this. We went to Home Depot and picked up swatches of colors that we liked. This is so good because you not only get to seeee all the ranges of orange you were trying to explain to hubby, but you get names. Just don’t go crazy. Don’t go home with eighteen swatches. You’ll be no better off than with your twenty “this is it” Inspiration Boards. 🙂

For you expats, you might find my organic take to the color scheme works well here. Choices can be limited. I’d love to hear if anoyone has had an interesting approach to picking their wedding colors.



  1. rswb said,

    Don’t we make trouble for ourselves? I mean, I know that you seem to be enjoying the wedding planning process, and I know that the purpose of this blog is to talk about all the options available to us, but my god, weddings are a huge headache (in my opinion). We have far too many choices foisted upon us by an industry that wants and expects us to spend up big, and for someone like me (who isn’t interested in the traditions at all) it can be a bit of a minefield to avoid all the tradition-heavy help/advice/sales pitches that come your way. Not to mention the insulting nature of almost everyone’s response to the bride saying that she doesn’t want or even like the traditional path (last night I was talking to a woman with similar thoughts to me on weddings, who is getting married in a few weeks, and she had a horrible story of how her hairdresser had a little meltdown and then turned all sympathetic and pitying when she heard that the bride had no bridal party and indeed no one else would be coming in to have their hair and makeup done with the bride. How ridiculously insulting).

    My policy while arranging our wedding stuff was never to admit to anyone that I was the bride, but just to tell people that I needed whatever (a dress, hair and makeup done) because I was going to a wedding. Obviously the florist and the cake people had to be told, but that was pretty much it, and I think this policy helped me to avoid a lot of the bridey grief and upselling that you generally encounter.

    Anyway, what was my point? … Oh yes, having too many options makes trouble. In my opinion, the more stuff you avoid considering the better. A colour theme? Well, about a month before the wedding I bought my dress and it was green, and then we had to order a cake so we decided to get it in shades of green too, and so what colour theme we had was born (it pretty much ended there too).

    I think it’s well worth remembering that other people don’t really notice the details. They are there for the ceremony and the food and the conversation and the sparkling wine and to enjoy the company, not to notice the details. By all means get carried away with tiny details if it makes you* happy, but don’t think that it will all fall apart if you don’t. Everyone will still have a great time, even if the serviettes don’t match the bride’s bouquet.

    * When I say “you” I obviously don’t specifically mean you.

  2. Jess said,

    I love this comment. it sums up a lot of the small interjections I make throughout my posts, all in one place. we often have too many options, and can never make a decision. im not exactly GLAD to be making my own wedding cake, but when I saw the bright side (which goes up in today’s post) I am now much happier to do something.

    and im glad you don’t mean “me” spec. because im pretty organic and laid back about this whole thing. that said, if i have to buy napkins and the napkins come in 200 colors including the colors I like, well, im gonna get those! But I recently asked a few people and they echoed what you say here: No one remembers the flowers, everyone remembers the bride but not the groom, and if the music and food were any good.

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