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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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{Wedding Color Palettes} Start with the Venue…ALWAYS!

There are color palettes that rape the eyes. Yes, rape. I’ll see some event and blink hard trying to get the offensive sight out of my eyes. Sometimes blinking works, other times, the image is seared in my mind’s eye, begging for another image to take it’s place. Then I run to Pinterest and help that process along…. Then I get a little mad. I get mad because I start thinking to myself, “Who did this? Who let the bride do this?” and then I calm down a little bit and realize that some people are color-blind or  just not all that great at color stories. 

Some of the eye-raping offenders? See below:







OK, first and foremost? I HATE chair sashes. Personal preference. If you’re going to have chair sashes, that’s fantastic. I personally don’t want to sit on something that looks like a gift wrapped ghost. Honestly, they freak me out a little. Like, WTF is under that thing? And nine times out of ten the sashes are satin and shiny and that just makes me gag a little. And I don’t really like bows either, so there’s that.

But getting over the chair sash thing, let’s talk about colors. There’s one common denominator in the photos above: too few colors. That’s right, not enough accent colors to create warmth, only eye-raping contrast.

Now I know that everyone isn’t a designer or stylist or event planner or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure this shit out.

First of all, there are a BAJILLION links out there to figure out your color palette. Let’s just get those out there right now. These are my top color sites.

The Perfect Palette

Colour Lovers

Color Collective

Color Hunter

What you’ll want to note with these sites as well as when you’re deciding on your colors is that there are generally FIVE colors. That’s right FIVE. Pick too few colors and you could end up with a two-tone mess as shown above.

Now, if you’re the kind of bride who has been DREAMING of the pink wedding with pink accents ALL YOUR LIFE, remember a few things: first, you are an adult. Time to reconsider and seriously think about what you’ve been dreaming about. Fairytale or reality? Check yourself.

The next thing you should think about? Your venue. Yup. Not what your bridesmaids look good in, not the pink you’ve been dreaming of, the VENUE. Where the hell are you having this shindig? You don’t want to fight with your venues colors. If you do, you’re going to pay more to cover things up (i.e. chairs) and you’ll end up wondering why everything looks a mess.

One of the things that The Candyman and I instantly fell in love with regarding our venue (other than their famous She-Crab Soup) was the warmth of the place: earth tones, dark wood, subtle décor. Here are a few pictures of parts of the venue and the table setting. When I walked into the main room, I actually gasped because the candle light and warm tones were just so pretty. I chose my colors with intention – to create an atmosphere.

05_RC_LouiseShaneWed-00002-2_resize 08_DT_LouiseShaneWed-00073_resize


People were screaming at The Candyman to smoosh the cake. And his facial expressions led them all to think he would. And I would have killed him if he had!  But just note the walls and gilded frames, dark wood chair backs.

All photos by Nashville Wedding Photographer Jonathon Campbell Photography.

Then I found this.

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SAME EXACT VENUE. Who? Who in their right minds would desecrate such a lovely setting with KELLY GREEN and then add in the horrid mod white sofa to a venue that is so clearly classic? Wanna know who? Someone who isn’t embracing the venue.  This? This is a perfect example of fighting your venue. Just don’t do it.

So how do you create an atmosphere if you’re wedding is at the VFW? Do you throw your hands up in dismay because the chairs are gold and burgundy and the rug is a giant sea of cabbage roses? Speaking of gold and burgundy, the picture that’s fifth from the top above was *this close* to getting it right. The problem? The white table linens. Too stark against the warmer colors of gold and burgundy. Had they done an ivory overlay, or even a matte gold, it would have been less eye-rape-y.

Here’s a great example of working with your venue:


OK, on their own those chairs are bad, right? Banquet style, two tone monstrosities. GAH! But it looks so lovely with the color theme chosen to coordinate with them. Purple, lavender, silver, white, green = FIVE COLORS. See?


Loveliness created by Kristin Kaplan/Simply Stunning Events, Photography by Chris & Adrienne Scott, Flowers by Brocade Design Arts.

So before you start deciding on table linens and flowers and all that, go back to your venue and look at what you’ll be working with. Go with your planner or your florist or your MOH. Take physical color swatches with you to get an idea of how the colors will react to the venue’s lighting and overall feel.

But for the love of God, don’t force a round peg into a square hole. Embrace your venue, whether it’s The Ritz or your local community center.

How are YOU choosing your colors? Have you considered the venue? How are you going about the wedding color process? Do tell.

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Reader Comments (14)

This is so true. I really wished we had had budget to redo our centerpieces and color-scheme using succulents and a soft green table cloth. I also really regretted using white table linens. I realized when I saw it all together that I should have used a soft blue and navy napkins or SOMETHING to help our centerpieces pop and coordinate better.

That first picture, by the way, makes me feel like the chairs have been blindfolded and are set up for the firing squad. There's even blood on the floor.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Yay, my daughter got it right! Five colors: Purple Orange Black White Grey and nooooo it didn't resemble Halloween OR Mardi Gras. Venue was a very large former nightclub with grey upholstered walls and funky white/purple chairs. Can't change any of that without spending a small fortune. But lighting was fantastic. So she went with black tablecloths, white overlays, grey napkins. Centerpieces were a combination of short and tall centerpieces with white/orange/purple flowers. It looked elegant and warm which can be quite the challenge in a venue that has to accomodate close to 400.

Sure do love your blog!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMommaOfTheBride

Ohmygosh you look like a QUEEN in your wedding pictures. The regal, beautiful kind, obviously.

I was JUST reading last night about how to mix oil paint colors, and the horribleness that is your venue with Kelly green is really painful. I think your favorite mass retailer of bridal gowns encourages these one-color and two-color palettes in order to rope everyone into making sure their ladies' dresses all match perfectly because they had to get them from the same place.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

OMG, I hate chair covers & sashes too! We went for the natural wooden chairs so that it would work with all of the "outdoors" in our backyard venue. :)

I came into it thinking "warm colors" and ended up with ivory/off white, pinks, yellows, oranges. The wood and grass added the natural element, and I think the warm centerpieces and ribbon backdrop really complemented the backyard!

Good point about the WIC, too - and yet another reason I was happy not to have to choose bridesmaids' dresses in one of 10 popular colors :-P

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

A girlfriend of mine had her reception in the same venue that my husband and I did. It looked very similar to yours with dark paneling very classic decor elements. This girl had weird modern blue uplights which were completely lost on the dark wood paneling. She also rented lucite chavari chairs with some kind of sash on the back. It wasn't that the colors were bad, it was that it was a very vintage feeling venue and she had all these modern decor things. Had she just gone to the venue that was literally across the street (a modern art museum, which cost the same and included the same things), none of that stuff would've looked out of place.

I didn't pick 5 colors, I had three: navy, green, and ivory. We went with the ivory linens because they softened everything, the white was too stark. The green tied in with the drapes that were already in the room and the navy was kind of a neutral that blended with the decor and looked nice with the chairs (I hate chair covers and we couldn't afford to rent chairs). We went with white and green hydrangeas with peacock feathers throughout in short mercury glass looking containers with a navy overlay on the tables.

It costs less and looks nicer to just go with the venue rather than fight it and try to make it something different.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

So true, and such needed advice for some. Arming yourself with a swatch while flower, dress, linen, and accent shopping can make the difference between "Oh so perfect" and "Oh no she didn't!"

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArtisan Flowers

Yes. I needed to hear this. I've been thinking about a peachy coral and a ruby red, which my BFF says don't go together - BUT, if you add ivory, brown, and maybe a blush (not totally a fan) or maybe a poppy (maybe too bright?)? That could round it out. What I'm going for is late summer, vineyard, tented reception.
5 colors. I'm on it. And thanks for the color websites. Off I go!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

This is good stuff. We just went and revisited our reception venue today - food for thought! Thanks!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKinzie Kangaroo

WOW Amazing!!So gorgeous and beautiful!Inspiration too rich.

February 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersimpleweddingdresses

Sarah, I'm not sure I noticed anything that was out of place at your wedding. I was really taken with all the hanging lights, which created such a lovely, private and cozy feeling. Lighting has a lot to do with how it all looks as well, as mentioned above by Jamie. Before we had our venue, we visited one that we loved, but their packages included all sorts of uplights and other lighting options that I got scared. We backed out because it was a) too expensive and b) confusing as all hell.

February 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

You are so right! And it just clicked why wedding colour schemes usually make my skin crawl. Having one or two colours looks very unnatural - why do wedding planning sites, etc push brides toward that?!

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlilly

You know Lilly, I'm not sure why they do that. Perhaps it's a hold over from the days of:

"My colors are Blush and Bashful."
"Her colors are Pink and Pink."

I think maybe in the 80's and 90's, when we really started incorporating colors into weddings, that things started to get out of hand.

February 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

It doesn't even look like the same venue. We had our wedding (both reception and ceremony) at the same lovely lodge up north. We had the luck to have a lovely on-site coordinator who emailed me photos of the same places done very differently (much like the above pictures) and she recommended working with the site. Kelly Green. It looks like someone's church supper in a lovely space.

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAn Alaskan Bride

Nice color combination of conference hall, banquet hall, bride room and dining room. The total atmosphere is looking so nice only because of nice color settings. This nice settings of color can be designed through color palettes. Before finalize the proper color we have to see the effects how the colors will react to the venue's lighting. One should take help of experienced color palettes designers for nice effect of the banquet hall.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFred

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