Spin the color wheel! Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Colors

To be bold or subdued; bright or muted; classic or trendy… should the colors complement the venue or your complexions?  Does my mother have to wear a matching dress?  Invitations, bridesmaid dresses, table linens, vests and neckties and of course the flowers are just a sample of items affected by the color scheme a couple chooses for their wedding.  Since color can set the tone, it is best to choose wisely.  Through my years as a designer, I’ve seen some fun combinations.  Some color schemes have been more successful than others.  Over time, I’ve developed some dos and don’ts that I have shared with countless couples.  Although I contend that there are no rules when planning a wedding, I’m always willing to share my opinion on choosing a winning color combination. 

Don’t Go for Complements:

Most brides and grooms are familiar with the idea of complementary colors.  The three primary colors of red, blue and yellow are placed opposite their corresponding complementary color on the color wheel.  Blue is paired with orange, yellow with purple and red with green.  You will notice that the primary color is paired with the secondary color that is made by mixed the other two primaries.  This creates a bold and loud contrast between the colors.  These color combinations are often used for things like gas-station logos, or sports team uniforms.  The contrast between the colors catches the eye and forces the viewer to take notice.  When trying to use these colors together in floral design, it’s very difficult to fight off thoughts of the Mets or the Lakers.  Red and green together also bring their own unique challenge of constantly conjuring thoughts of Christmas for many of us.  For these reasons, I suggest trying to avoid using complementary colors as the basis for wedding décor. 

Do Go for A Bold Statement:

While complementary colors may be too bold a choice for most, it is a great idea to choose at least one bold color to inform the design.  Purple, fuchsia and orange seem to be the go-to colors these days for couples looking for a pop of color.  Vibrant and rich tones such as these can provide a warmth and personality to the occasion without detracting from the proceedings.  When choosing a bold pop, I suggest limiting the palette to just one bright tone.  This brings me to my next tip.

Do Go Green:

Green is your friend.  I frequently suggest adding lime green to the floral arrangements we make for weddings.  If a bride or groom favors a brilliant tone such as purple or orange, adding a touch of green into the mix tends to heighten and embolden the arrangements.  Green is a neutral color and is found in abundance in nature.  Green “goes” with everything!  (Although it’s good to keep in mind the challenges when pairing red and green, Jingle Bells…)  It’s soothing and calming qualities pair beautifully with the lush colors found in the floral world. 

Don’t Count out the Classic:

A white wedding seems to have become a less popular choice these days.  Perhaps with all the fantastic color options found both in fabrics and flowers, couples would rather have more fun with the color palette.  This is understandable, however white has been the traditional wedding color because it’s clean, pure, and simple and it allows for the couple to be the stars of the day.  There are also so many flowers available in white; it’s easy to make arrangements interesting by using different textures, shapes and scales.  This is another instance when lime green can be helpful.  It’s also a good idea to choose one color to add into the mix of white.  One of my favorite weddings used all white flowers with accents of huge and lush coral colored peonies.  Simple and chic, this color scheme still resonates with me all these years later.  It was unique and yet remains a classic and elegant choice.

Don’t Tempt the Humor Gods:

If you’ve never seen your color combination used at a wedding, there might be a reason.  Sometimes when a couple chooses to be unique, it can backfire.  I’ve had to explain to a bride and groom why yellow and brown is not a great choice for a color scheme.  Without going into the specifics of why, (think about it people, yellow and brown… really?) certain color combinations elicit subconscious responses or connotations.  It’s the same reason why yellow and black can be difficult to use together; taxi cabs and bumble bees!  Yellow and red always makes me think of Ronald McDonald and ketchup and mustard.  These are not thoughts I want to have at your wedding! 

Don’t Over Indulge:

No matter what colors are finally chosen, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everything has to be covered in these tones.  You don’t have to dye your Maltese puppy to match the bridesmaid’s dresses.  It will be just fine.  Choose key locations and items for the colors to be used.  You don’t want your guests to feel like they just stepped into a Pepto-Bismol bottle if your color happens to be pink.  Touches here and there will suffice.  Also, everything doesn’t have to be the exact same shade or hue.  I have learned to beware of the bride who carries the Pantone chip!  Relax! 

Do Listen to Our Advice but…:

We have seen it all… or close to it anyway.  Your vendors have been involved with hundreds of events and weddings.  Most of the time, our advice is free and is often given weather you ask or not.  We will tell you if your colors won’t work or if they should be rethought.  Although we can offer some sage wisdom, remember that it’s your day and your decision should be the final word.  You write the check so ultimately you must be happy with the colors you chose.  Maybe you are both huge Lakers fans.  So go for it!  Don’t let us get in your way. 

This scribe is brought to you by Tom Sebenius.  Tom is a longtime Starbright employee, team leader and Creative Director.  More brides have written online reviews about Tom’s work after their wedding than anyone in the industry that I know.  We are proud to have Tom on the Starbright team.  He is anal, demands a lot from me (I am his boss) and I put up with as much as a restauranteur puts up with from his Chef.  Truth be told, I know that at  the end of the day, Tom’s work is what built our brand and what has helped maintained our Gold Standard in customer service.  Tom will always do what is right for our client and knows that preserving our reputation is the most important function of all.

Starbright Floral Design is located in  the Heart of New York City’s Historic Flower District in a second floor loft space.  We offer all the services that a traditional florist would except that our home  is not a store  front that you would walk on by.  Our focus has always been on providing the highest quality flowers (we import directly from really exotic places), amazing customer service and really cool designs.  When you have a free moment please visit our website at www.starflor.com where you will be able to gain a clearer perspective on our organization and the work that we do.  You may also call us at 800.520.8999 – we would love to hear from you! 

Warm regards,

The Official Florist

Starbright Floral Design – www.starflor.com

Located at 150 West 28th Street, Studio 201, New York City

(between 6th and 7th Avenues)


Author: Starbright Floral Design of NYC

We are a team of dedicated professionals all entering as one. Starbright Floral Design is the company we are all a part of. The Official Florist sometimes is a designer, or a flower buyer, a partner, the marketing department or sometimes the guy who delivered your flowers! We invite you to visit our website and stay in touch... www.starbrightnyc.com.

3 thoughts on “Spin the color wheel! Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Colors”

  1. Tom is a genius and has such a beautiful eye! I adore him and his vision! His floral arrangements made our wedding day and I love reading his input here! Thanks Starbright!

    1. Melanie!!! Thank you so much for your kind words!!! I feel honored to have been a part of your wedding day.

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