Choosing your best wedding colors


Most photos you'll see between the pages of a glossy wedding magazine, on pinterest, or really anywhere that depict of weddings and reception decor will look pleasing, even if they're showing a style that you wouldn't select for yourself.  One of the reasons is simple: these photos have a color palette that is consistent and works!

There are really two factors at play when we select colors to wear or embed in events: social rules and aesthetic rules. 

Social rules are those oft-repeated phrases we hear: don't wear white after Labor Day, don't wear white to someone else's wedding.  Many of these rules have started to unravel in recent years.  Consider, for example, the decision to dress bridesmaids in off-white shades for a fresh, vibrant look.

Aesthetic rules are more timeless: if two colors clash, they clash!  Where aesthetic rules can get complicated for those planning weddings is that it's not only a matter of picking a color or two (or a handful) to paint the consistent palette of the wedding (everything from invitations to bridesmaids' dresses, groomsmen's ties, flowers or centerpieces), but it's also important to consider all the other colors unintentionally in the mix!  The two most impactful considerations should be the season and the wedding ceremony and reception locations.  To a lesser extent, time of day could be a factor as well (personally I'd find bright red to be a bit much for a mid-morning wedding!).  

Why does this matter?  Let me use two examples to illustrate. 

1. Picture a beautiful fall day with leaves spanning from golden to rustic orange to vibrant red.  Place in front of that natural backdrop a glowing bride, adorned in a lacy white dress and flanked with bridesmaids wearing her favorite color: fuchsia.  Eek!  Pluck the bride and bridesmaids out of that backdrop and deliver them into a spring garden, and we have a better match!

2. A couple is holding a wedding reception in an event barn situated among rolling hills, in their dream location.  The bride loves a pale yellow and has her bridesmaids dressed in matching dresses.  Against the green grass outdoors, the bride and bridesmaids look fantastic, but once they head inside for the reception, the problem becomes obvious: the main colors inside are shades of browns and khakis and the pale yellow dresses blend in uninterestingly.  Now picture these bridesmaids dressed in a pretty shade of blue, and this paints a more compelling color story.

As a wedding photographer, I am dealt the cards I am dealt on a wedding day, and I've certainly developed some creative strategies to make the best of tough color choices.  If you want to have the most picturesque day possible - both to your eye on the day of and in your photographs for years to come, make sure to consider the different backgrounds you're working with and built a palette that works. If you're not sure whether your colors work, here are some good ways to check: ask others (find someone who will give you an honest opinion), bring a sample fabric swatch, check out online photos from your ceremony and reception venue to see what others have used successfully, or search online for similar settings.  The good news is that more colors do work than don't but when they don't, they can be quite bad!