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Let a creative color combo inspire and guide your wedding day
By: Kelsey Casselbur

The color palette of your wedding takes a starring role on the stage of the day, inspiring everything from the flowers to the fashion. Because of this, picking hues that you adore makes all the difference.
In most cases, you’ll need to pick at least three colors, though some designers even recommend up to five. At minimum, choose a dominant shade — this should be your favorite hue; the one that takes up most of the palette — as well as two secondary colors. One of these accent colors can be a neutral, such as white, cream, black or grey — or not, as you might opt for two additional bright pigments and then add a fourth or fifth color in a neutral tone. Let your favorite hue take center stage with two-thirds of the attention, and then add visual interest with a complementary hue to filling out the remaining one-third. Resist the temptation to showcase the two main colors as a 50-50 split because it can overwhelm the reception with too much color.
But which colors should you choose? Take into consideration which colors flatter your complexion. Even though you’ll likely be wearing some variation of white, your bridesmaids — who will be surrounding you — will be wearing the dominant color of your choice. Therefore, a bride who looks best wearing purples, blues or deep greens should translate that into her color palette, rather than selecting less-flattering reds, oranges and pinks. Finally, don’t get hung up on the shades matching perfectly. No one but you will notice nor care if the bridesmaid dresses are a different shade of green than the tablecloths — in fact, purposely using several shades of the same color adds a little something extra to the overall color scheme.
If you need a little help finding the right vibe for your wedding day, take a look at these six color combinations. Unlike some pairings, these fresh groupings won’t look overdone on your wedding day—and some guests just might be in awe of your creativity and taste.

Six Fresh Color Palettes

Dominant color: Emerald green
Secondary colors: Lapis blue, deep mint


Emerald Green is the Pantone color of the year—and for good reason! This hue is super-luxurious, calling to mind gemstones and peacock feathers; pair with a just-as-rich deep blue for an ultra-glam look. Just think about how gorgeous it will look if your bridesmaids are donning classy emerald green gowns with deep blue jewels (real or faux is dependent on budget) as accessories. Let the deep mint color shine in bits and pieces across the reception as a way to lighten things up. Rather than sticking with matte hues, aim for iridescent versions — it will make it all feel little bit swankier.

Dominant color: Peach
Secondary colors: Blush pink, vanilla


Rather than follow the bright color trends of years past, take a fresh look at pastels — but not in the 1980s Pepto-Bismol pink kind of aesthetic. Rather, pull inspiration from soft spring hues such as pale peach and a blush pink. Skip the urge to pair this color combo with a bright snow white; a creamy vanilla will keep the palette in the vintage, romantic aesthetic. For a little 1920s glitz – think Great Gatsby – add a sprinkling of glittery gold into the mix.

Dominant color: Berry and Pink
Secondary colors: Aquamarine, muted silver-gray


Calling all warm-weather brides! This tropical color combo will add pep to any and all nuptials, while a pale grey accent color just gives it a touch of freshness (in contrast to the standard white accent color). Just picture it: The men suited up in a classy grey suit; the bridesmaids in a shade more akin to a pink rose than the neon alternative. The cheeriness of aquamarine – more blue than green – offers a lively complement.

Dominant color: Plum
Secondary colors: Lilac, navy blue


This color palette really shines due to its versatility — Whether you’re getting married during spring or fall, in a hotel ballroom or on a yacht, a plummy purple highlighted by a lighter shade of the same color and accented with classic navy just works. Dress your ‘maids in deep purple gowns and accent it with bouquets of paler purple and white flowers; maybe even throw in some light blue hydrangeas for good measure. Deep purple is the “it” color as of late, so brides who go for this combination will be in good company.

Dominant color: Lemon yellow
Secondary colors: Grey, navy blue


‘Twas never anything fresher or brighter than the shades of sunny yellow – except when it’s paired with navy! This is a springtime color combo if there ever was one, but the addition of grey makes it translate to the summer months, too. One of the most popular uses of the sunny yellow hue is in the ultra-hip ombre form, whether on cakes or stationery.

Dominant color: Merlot
Secondary colors: Eggplant, coffee


How about a color combo that’s just right for the late fall and winter months? The saturated dark red hue inspired by a bold wine provides a stunning base for this cool-weather palette, while the rich purple eggplant and coffee colors offer just the right complement. This is just right for the type of wedding that occurs in the evening, made magical by flickering candlelight and free-flowing wine.

By: Kathryn Bechen

“A spiced color palette is nice with silk, paper, and dried flowers mixed in with real flowers and incorporating hard goods are hot this year” according to Claudia Hanlin, co-owner of The Wedding Library, who says her firm is the largest boutique bridal business in New York City. “There’s a trend in using butterflies, little wooden mushrooms, crystals, and other hard goods right now,” she says.
In addition to spice, dark gray combined with earth tones, browns, and white are popular colors this fall for décor, linens, and containers. Hanlin says she is also noticing the incorporation of colorful patterned fabrics, borders being sewn on fabrics, and overlays of beautiful runners for linens, as well as custom embroidery and monograms. “There’s a departure from standard hotel linens,” she says. “Our clients are using lovely napkins and quirky specialty napkins.” She notes that Ikea even has a whole fabric range that is inexpensive and adds some flair.Hanlin says brides are increasingly being influenced by home industry and textile design trends. She also has observed that wedding blogs are also heavily influencing brides and her firm now relies on blogs as sources of inspiration and information on new products. Her favorites include and “There are also some fabulous new chairs on the market,” says Hanlin. “It used to be the choices were a white folding chair or a banquet chair but now there are more options such as clear Lucite chairs which are very modern and different.” She says rental companies will ship all over the U.S. Nahid Farhoud, owner of Wedding Elegance in San Diego, CA, specializes in ethnic weddings such as Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern, Filipino, and Mexican. She says that current ethnic popular colors include white and magenta, and vibrant red and orange, combined with turquoise, and sometimes yellow. “Brides might use orange bridesmaid dresses, red tablecloths with ivory napkins, and yellow and orange and red in the flowers to pull it all together,” she says.
Farhoud says she is seeing exotic flowers for her couples because the colors are very vibrant. Popular ones are calla lilies, Bird of Paradise, plumeria, and orchids. She notes that the trend of using manzanita trees has faded and that her clients are preferring flowers again instead.

“Covering ballroom chairs with self-tying chair covers rather than using a sash is now popular, as are ruffles in the back,” she says. Using Chiavari chairs is also a current favorite with some brides choosing to use chair covers and some choosing to not cover the chairs. “For 2010, brides are going to a cleaner look such as white and ivory with gold or silver, because designs now popular in Europe come later to California,” says Farhoud. April Dawson, head designer and manager of Michael’s Flower Girl in San Diego, says “classic is still strong and alive.” She says her brides have recently been wanting more traditional floral colors such as creams with soft pinks which were out of vogue for a couple of years.

“Couples are also wanting lots of greenery and casual nature-inspired florals,” she says. “Think of going to a vegetable garden or park and turning those plants into something beautiful.” Favorites are succulents and houseplants like Boston Fern and Lamb’s Ear. She also often uses cymbidium orchids, Lady’s Slipper, and miniature calla lilies; and she also favors dendrobium orchids when couples want an elegant yet cost effective look because she says they fit into anyone’s budget. Dawson notes that centerpieces are now a reflection of couples’ personalities. “They are using more hard goods. For instance, I just incorporated two martini glasses filled with half black and half green olives into a centerpiece arrangement,” she says. “And I’m even getting brides who want a beer-themed wedding and their bouquet is made from wheat, barley, and hops.” For fall, think harvest-inspired bouquets made of cattails, gourds, and ferns. “Fiery fall colors include mango, yellow and orange Asiatic lilies, berries, and green and red coffee beans,” she says. She notes that using lots of texture makes a big impact. Brides who are still choosing bright neon colors cannot get enough rhinestones in their bouquets according to Dawson. She says pearls are also still popular and she has also recently been incorporating a lot of colored metallic wires into the neon colored bouquets. She also uses various wraps for the stems such as trying to mimic the back of the dress by using French knots to look like a corset. “In recent years brides have gotten away from wearing their mother’s dress, but they still take parts of her veil or a vintage piece of her jewelry and tuck it into the stems for elegance and to keep family traditions alive,” she says.
Dawson says she is seeing more simplistic linen choices lately where couples are choosing one color vs. five colors with overlays. “Black is very popular for linens, as is white or their wedding color,” she notes. “Hot pink is also popular, but not pale pink.” Using many votive candles on reception tables is huge, says Dawson. “Brides are requesting 7 to 10 votives vs. three from the vendor.” “And large candelabras are popular once again where three years ago I couldn’t rent one,” she says. “They’re trying to get a softer feel and an air of romance and candlelight is a classic way of doing that.”

Dixie Lineberger, Catering Manager for the UCSD Faculty Club, says she has noticed that large floral arrangements on pedestals are popular at receptions right now, as are arches and Chinese lanterns. “Colors vary and have included everything from pastels, to red, to white,” she says. She notes that couples seem to be paying more attention lately to food and beverages than to flowers. Their facility provides linens as part of their service and Lineberger says usually brides choose “simple and traditional” ivory or white table linens and napkins.

Still not sure about your florals, linens, and décor? “Martha Stewart is a huge influence on brides,” says Dawson. “Nine out of ten of mine bring in both her wedding and flower magazines for examples because they consider her the ultimate go-to wedding decor gal.