The spell cast by color can be subtle or blatant, but none of us is immune to its power. It affects the atmosphere of a room, the impressions we make when we meet someone for the first time, and the mood of a moment. In the context of a wedding, your choice of color can be especially important: All the details of the wedding -- the shoes, ribbons, flowers, dresses, candles, ring pillows, neckties -- are vehicles for color, and they work together to leave a lasting impression of the occasion.
One tool you can use when selecting colors is the color wheel (see below), a traditional device used to represent the colors of the spectrum and their relationship to one another. With the color wheel, you can see how some of your favorite colors -- whether of flowers or treasured keepsakes -- will work together. Beyond that, there are a number of things to consider.
There are seasonal criteria, for instance: Spring and summer are the perfect time for pastels, and summer is ideal for vivid colors as well. Autumn allows you to combine collections of brown, while rich jewel tones work well for holiday and winter weddings. Softly iridescent colors are best for daytime ceremonies and receptions; metallic neutrals, like bronze, gold, and platinum, work better at night.
Consider the environment of both the ceremony and the reception. If both take place in a garden in August, find out which flowers will be in bloom and decide what colors will best complement them. If the two events occur in different locales, choose a palette that works for both. A white church allows a lot of latitude in color choice, but a reception hall with a royal blue and gold patterned carpet will require a color scheme that doesn't compete. You might consider playing up the stronger color in the simpler, sparser church while toning it down for the reception room.
When using the color wheel, remember that a gentler effect is created by combining colors that lie adjacent to each other, such as green and blue, or yellow, peach, and orange. Combining dark and pale shades produces a richer effect. Colors that lie opposite one another will produce a vibrant, energizing combination, but it's best to keep one or both of the colors muted in this case.
You might also consider using different shades of a single color, varying the hue in intensity -- from ballerina pink to scarlet, for example. Finally, you can pair a color with white for an ethereal effect. Use many shades of the same color in all the accoutrements to avoid a monotonous look.
1. Neighboring colors, such as orange, peach, and yellow, mix without clashing.
2. Reds and greens are opposite colors, and like most opposites, at their brightest, they look more bold than beautiful together. When both shades are muted -- to mauve and citrus green, for example -- the effect is subtle and sophisticated.
3. Use the entire range of a single color, from pale to dark, and pair it with a neutral for a rich palette.
4. White is the traditional wedding color. Adding one color lends a dramatic spark.