By Theresa Litalien

“What are your colors?” It’s probably one of the most frequently asked questions you get asked. Florists, bakers, boutiques, venues, wedding planners, rental companies, lighting specialists, stationery designers, accessory experts, co-workers, friends, and your bridal party (especially your bridal party!), they all want to know and with good reason. Your color palette is woven into almost every aspect of your wedding. It makes sense to ask the question. The problem is . . . it isn’t always so easy to answer!

Color 101

First, lets cover a few basics about color. The whole concept of color begins with Sir Newton’s Color Wheel, we still use today.

This color wheel is a circle comprised of 12 colors:

  • Three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. No other color is used to create these.
  • Three secondary colors: green, orange and violet. These are created combining two primary colors.
  • Six combinations of primary and secondary colors: blue-green, red-orange, etc.

If you’re wondering about white, black and grey, these are not colors, they are considered neutrals.

Using the Color Wheel

Look on either side of any color and find its adjacent colors (or analogous colors). These are colors that naturally look pleasant together because they are closely related. Think Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting with its oranges, yellow-oranges and yellows.

Pick your favorite color on the wheel and find its adjacent color!

Directly opposite a color on the wheel you find its complimentary color (or contrasting color). They produce the strongest contrast, and these combinations are found in all sorts of places. Think Christmas with red and green or one of the most popular combinations for college and professional sports teams, blue and orange.

Pick your favorite color on the wheel and find its opposite (complimentary) color!

You will find monochrome versions of a color if you select one color and move toward or away from the center, like an ombre effect. These shades are created when adding a neutral to the color.

Choosing Your Colors

While all this science stuff might be helpful, in the end, color choice is a personal preference. So how do you navigate those waters? There is no right answer here, but here is a five step approach you might find useful.

1)  What colors do you see in your closet?

They are your colors, so start with you. Maybe you are lucky enough to already have a signature color. Maybe you have always been a girl who loves pink.   You could skip the rest of these steps and head straight to the color wheel. If you don’t think you have a signature color, look in your closet! If specific colors aren’t jumping out, look for common themes such as pastels or bold hues. You can do the same thing with your furnishings and accessories.

2)  What colors mean something to you?

Still unsure? Think about your life. What colors have significance for you? This can be a birthstone, school colors, organization you belong to (like a sorority), awareness ribbon for a cause important to you, your favorite team, or even your beloved grandmother’s signature color.

Hayes & Fisk Photography
Hayes & Fisk Photography

3)  What colors go with YOUR wedding season?

Haven’t landed on anything yet? Think about the venue and time of year for your wedding. What sort of feeling does it suggest? Warm, Fall colors are red, orange and yellow. Cool colors are blue, green and violet. Adding an earthy neutral to either will create balance and/or contrast.

4) What are the Fall 2015 colors trends?

Not quite there? Check out the trending colors. Pantone is the go-to source for this. They do a Spring and Fall color forecast every year as well as a color of the year. However, it does seem to take a year before the color really starts trending.


5)  If you thing about painting your walls, what colors come to mind?

What to do when all else fails? Reframe how you are approaching the question. Think of this in terms of decorating. In essence, that is what you are doing, decorating your wedding. Take a break from all things wedding and look at some decorating magazines. You may be surprised at the ideas that start coming to you.

If you still want one last little tip to keep in mind, most experts on color will advise in general to go with no more than three colors. Even more importantly, don’t do them in equal measure. Think of one as the star and the others as supporting roles in your wedding cast.

You will need to make your color palette decision sooner rather than later because it can have an impact on so many other decisions.   Armed with a foundational understanding on how color works and a handful of questions to think through, you’re now better equipped to come to a final decision!

Theresa Litalien is the owner of On Pointe Designs bridal jewelry. Her collections for brides and wedding parties feature Swarovski crystals and pearls and can be customized to match your color palette. For more information, please visit