As you choose a color palette for your wedding, there are likely a number of different factors that are impacting your decision. The tones already present in your ceremony and reception space, your sister's refusal to wear a color she doesn't love as the maid of honor, and the types of in-season blooms your florist can source are just some of the many things you'll keep in mind as you choose a selection of hues for the big day. While there's a lot to consider, it's worth spending some time choosing the right color palette as this decision really does set the tone for the entire event. Color meanings—even when they're subconscious—can determine whether your day feels calm and romantic, elegant and luxurious, or warm and joyful.
If this makes you feel even more overwhelmed by the color-picking process, don't worry: Chances are, the emotions you want to convey are related to the colors you're already drawn to. "A lot of people come with some sense of what they like," says event planner Susan Norcross of The Styled Bride. "They like pastels or they don't, or they like really saturated color. It depends on your personality." And you've probably already narrowed down your color palette options just by choosing a season or location. If you love the energy of orange, you probably didn't pick a February wedding date. Similarly, if you wanted the coziness of burgundy, you likely vetoed that barefoot-in-the-sand beach venue. "People who have a quieter personality or a softer approach sometimes do choose things that are more subdued," says Norcross. "They're not showy people, so the idea of all bright colors is overwhelming to them."
If you do have your heart set on incorporating a favorite color into your big day, your planner can often work with you to make it fit the venue or mood you're going for—even if the connection isn't immediately obvious. Norcross worked with a bride who initially requested a high-contrast hot pink, black, and gold palette for her backyard wedding; in the end, she traded glitzy hot pink for an array of more romantic lighter pinks and swapped out black—with its ties to power, elegance, and luxury—for the warmth of golden yellow and the enthusiasm and creativity of orange. "Warmth, love, and caring, that was her entire palette," says Norcross. "She realized, 'I want this to be fun, I'm not really going for formality and statement.'"
Other brides come to Norcross with a preference for more neutral combinations including white, ivory, and beige—which symbolize unity, purity, and peace—to satisfy a calmer part of their personalities; other times, those more soothing colors are an inadvertent way for couples don't like wedding planning to make it a little easier. Whether their chaos comes from well-meaning family members, a tight budget, or a demanding career, they may be drawn to a palette that makes looking at linens, flowers, and fabrics a little less exhausting than a lineup of eye-popping brights. "If there's a lot of stress around the wedding, couples may land on something more visually calming and gravitate toward it in a subconscious manner," says Norcross.
Some colors get their meanings from the season they're most closely associated with: vibrant greens, pinks, and purples in spring that call up blooming gardens; crisp, classic seaside blues and whites in summer; rich reds, purples, and coppers that mimic the change of seasons in the fall; or clean whites, holly berry reds, and deep evergreen shades that flourish in winter. An all-white bouquet accented with vivid green leaves in spring will give your wedding a fresh, natural, vibe, but those same white flowers in winter, accented with dark, glossy green leaves feel rich and elegant. "You really can create anything you want, as long as it's cohesive," says Norcross. One caveat: Limit the number of colors you use, even if you've chosen lighter shades—a palette with one or two bright accents can feel more polished and less chaotic than one that incorporates multiple shades at the same saturation.