How to Start Designing Your Wedding: Choosing a Color Palette

With wedding season in full swing, I thought it'd be fun to do a bit of a wedding week series! If you're engaged or know anyone who is, this will hopefully be a really helpful series of posts for you :) Also, any chance I get to talk about weddings (or ours, in particular) I just love!

As a little girl, I'd often dream about what my wedding would one day look like. Of course at that time, Barbie and Ken weddings were a common occurrence (I'd even go so far as to pick wildflowers for Barbie's mock-bouquet). It's memories like this that remind me that even from a young age I've had a relentless passion for celebrations, beautiful and meaningful details, flowers, and love.

It was SO fun to dream up what I really want our big day to look like and feel like. While getting caught up in the inspiration and endless possibilities of decor is fun (sometimes!), I always tried to remind myself what's most important: we wanted to create a marriage more beautiful than our wedding day, because that is what lasts! While we were planning our wedding, somebody actually had the nerve to tell me our "wedding didn't matter" and all the details I was pouring my heart into were literally meaningless and dumb. I was obviously taken aback! First, did he know what I did for a living? Design and details are my joy! Second, who says that to a new bride planning her wedding?! ;) We wanted to have a beautiful wedding day, because thoughtful details and beauty evoke feelings of love, and that's what a marriage is all about. Love. 

And almost two years after our wedding, I still look back on it and am SO happy I spent time pouring into the details, thoughtfully choosing pieces and elements for the day. I see a dahlia or clematis bloom or a piece of mercury glass and immediately am taken back to our wedding day. Countless people who attended our wedding continue to tell us what a romantic evening our wedding was. 

All that to say, I personally think details matter (unless it causes you a ton of stress-- then maybe don't worry about it! But for me, planning our wedding was the best 9 months of my life ha!) Today I'm sharing how you can start the initial dreaming and planning for your big day!

Where to Start? Create a Vision for Your Day!

I had a general idea of the feel I wanted for our wedding. I envisioned it being romantic, a bit eclectic, warm, sophisticated but totally comfortable and inviting. We aren't formal people, so we didn't want anything overly formal. We want our guests to feel loved and experience our love on our big day, so setting the backdrop for that was our goal. Creating this vision is what the foundation was to our design elements.

Here was my inspiration board for our day!

Choosing a Color Palette

Our colors were lavender, blush, navy and a touch of silver (against the grain for a time when gold is still reigning!). When I was choosing a color palette, I wanted something light and airy. I thought lavender and blush would be perfect for that. Initially navy wasn't in the mix, but upon further consideration, I thought adding in a hue with some contrast to make the lighter colors pop would be beautiful, both for the day of and in our pictures. It also added a masculine touch.

Tips on choosing a wedding color palette

  • Go with what you love! This may be obvious, but don't choose colors that aren't your favorite, just because someone else is pushing for them. You need to be happy with the palette. After your initial ideas, maybe run it by someone who will be honest. There are some colors that just don't photograph as well as others, if you're worried about your pictures. Red, bright fuschia and darker colors like that can tend to be trickier, although not out of the question. There are also some colors that just don't work well together (like I recently saw a dark purple and green wedding palette...yikes!) so that's why I'm suggesting to show it to someone first :)

  • Look to your venue for inspiration. This is true for all details of your wedding, but perhaps the colors and feeling of your venue will spark your inspiration for the colors you use. Our venue was outside, so I incorporated a lot of greenery into our centerpieces and bouquets, with pops of our main colors.

  • Take note of the season. If it's an October affair, deep purples, berry colors and gold would be beautiful for fall. Summer? Maybe a sorbet color palette would be nice.

  • Use the color wheel! As a design student in college, I know how helpful of a tool this can be. If you know you want to use pink as a color, but don't know what to pair it with, look to the right, left, and across from pink on the color wheel to find good, complimentary matches. My favorite color palettes are monochromatic, which uses one hue in a variety of tints and shades; analogous, which combines colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel; and complimentary, which is a more bold look using colors directly across from one another on the color wheel.

Determine the Use of Color

Once you land on a palette, I found it was helpful to determine how much and where each color will be used. Here was our break down:

Lavender: Flowers, bridesmaid dresses, envelope liners
Blush: Flowers, bridesmaid dresses, ribbon on bouquets and favors, linens, ribbons on escort board
Navy: Groomsman suits, napkins, and ink on signage
Silver: Vases, votives, and chargers

Once you break it down like that, you can better envision the amount of each color to be sure you like the ratio. I knew we wanted to use navy sparingly, so other than the guy's suits, we reserved navy for small details like signage and napkins. This works really well technically as well, since navy is the darkest color and would need a lot of light colors to balance out the darkness of the navy.

Some of you might be wondering what your style even is. Start by asking these questions.

Find Your Style
  • Where will your wedding be?

  • What are some words to describe your vision?

  • What is your color palette?

  • Where are your favorite places to shop for home decor? (Hey, your home decor style will definitely relate to your wedding style!)

Our style was aided by our venue, Holman Ranch. It's a rustic, yet elegant ranch in the hills of the Carmel Valley. Accented with stone, wood, a refined barn, and sweeping views of the hills, this really helped us find our style. We incorporated wood signs, natural/organic looking arrangements, highlighted the view at the ceremony, and accented with soft linens and upholstered furniture. To keep things fun and interactive, we had a smore station around a fire, cornhole and horseshoes for guests to play at the reception.

Photos: The Poffs 

Hopefully this helps you get the ball rolling if you're engaged or planning a wedding! If I could go back to one day in my whole life, it'd be our wedding day. It was so special!
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