Color: it's the unifying feature for most of your wedding details. So it's no surprise that choosing the right color scheme for your celebration may seem overwhelming. But the truth is, it's easier than you think.
The key to creating a stylish and successful combo is understanding the relationship between colors -- and no, you don't need a degree from art school to absorb the ideas. Just find a starting place (your favorite hue, your forest green setting), then work from there. Here's how.
Set Your Eyes On Your Site
When deciding on a palette, play up the prominent colors of your site or setting. For instance, if your wedding is by the sea, the natural choice is blue. And, if you're marrying at a country club with navy and maroon oriental carpets, lime green and hot pink details won't work.
Get Inspired By the Season
Let Mother Nature be your guide—they say she never makes a mistake. Pink may work year-round, but light pastels and barely there hues like buff can look washed out in the fall and winter months. In the summer, reserve dark colors like burgundy only for accents.
Do Your Research
Become aware of color combinations that you like, whether browsing art galleries or flipping through a stack of home or fashion or interior design magazines for the must-have colors for the new season.
Scout It Out
To choose an exact hue, visit a fabric store or neighborhood paint shop and collect swatches or chips of colors you might want to use. This will help you get specific, so that when you decide on green you'll know if it's lime green, Kelly green, sage green, or forest green.
Choose a Dominant Hue
Pick one general color first -- say, blue -- and then start thinking about shades and tints (aqua, robin's egg, navy) or other colors to accent it with.
Play with Paint Websites
From seeing colors in action (by virtual room painting) to recommendations for popular combos, paint companies know a lot about color. Visit sites like Behr.com, Glidden.com, and Sherwin-Williams.com. BenjaminMoore.com even has an interactive color wheel.
Stick to colors of the same intensity, such as lavender and baby blue rather than royal blue with light brown.
Set the Mood
Figure out what emotions you want your celebration to evoke. A peaceful, Zen-like retreat? A regal, romantic affair? A jumping, high-energy party? For instance, a vibrant summer yellow mixed with chocolate-brown (think sunflowers and bees) is perfect for a country-chic wedding -- add gold to the mix, and the combination becomes more reminiscent of regal France.
Get It On Paper
Spend time looking for stationery in color combos that inspire you and express your style and fit with the feel of the reception -- rich violets, oranges, and teals for a Mediterranean or Near East flair, or pink and green for a preppy summer affair.
Vary It Up
Can't settle on one scheme? If your wedding takes place in multiple rooms, each can have its own palette. But choose one consistent color to keep it from looking like a kaleidoscope.
Take Flower Notes
The most obvious way to add color is with flowers. But first, get familiar with the different types of flowers -- especially your favorites -- and the colors they come in. If you want an all-blue wedding, your petal picks will be more limited than if you went with a red celebration.
Don't Forget Your Linens
Look through party rental catalogs for colorful cloths like napkins and overlays that you love. Use them on guest, cake and buffet tables, underneath the escort cards, and more. Or, focus on the table accessories. Maybe a beloved china pattern could set the palette for your reception tables. Colored glassware is also huge right now and can be rented. Do most of your glasses in clear, and select one or two to be blue, pink, or green -- you get the idea.
Light It Up
Lighting can make or break a space. Talk to your event designer or lighting expert about colors you can use to wash bare white walls (especially important for loft spaces). Pink and amber tints will soften the room without overpowering it. Blue is tricky, but can work well if you're looking to showcase cool crisp angles.
Drive Home Color
Don't forget about the impact of repetition -- trimming doorways, tables, centerpieces, and the bar with the same simple ribbon in your signature hue will give more oomph than one large, ornate display in the same color.
Consider All of Your Elements
The last, but most important, thing to remember when making your final choice: Not all colors are easy to wear, and you've got bridesmaids to dress.