Color theory can be a pretty large subject to cover and isn’t really necessary to determine what colors to use for your wedding. Although, a little color theory understanding couldn’t hurt! There are also several sites on the internet that can help with combining colors.
When studying color theory, there are lots of terms used that probably need a little explaining. I’m thinking specifically of tones, tints and hues.
Pure color is referred to as a HUE. The primary colors of red, blue and yellow are each a HUE. Variations of hues are created by adding black, gray or white to them. White will lighten a color and produce a “tint” of the original color, for example, if you add white to red you will get a shade of pink which is a tint of hue color red. Black darkens a color by producing a “shade”; again, using the hue color of red, when you add black to it you produce the shade Maroon. When adding gray to a hue color, you create a “tone”, therefore, when you add gray to the hue color of red, you will get a tone color of rose.
You can also mix primary colors together to get what are called Secondary Colors. And, so as not to leave out an important term here, we also have TRIADIC color. If you are creating a triadic color scheme, you are using three colors that are equally spaced apart on the color wheel. Triadic color harmonies can be equally spaced tones, tints, shades or hues. The primary colors are an example of three equally spaced colors on the color wheel (red, blue and yellow).
I love to think in terms of tones, tines and hues when working with flowers and picking colors to coordinate with the bridal party attire. Now, all that being said, I always say, in the end, this is a personal preference; what colors do you like, what colors are appealing to you, what colors make you feel good, what colors look good on you, what colors look good on your bridal party, what colors coordinate with the reception décor?
Let’s look at some examples of mixing and matching colors. For a while, it seemed like every other wedding I was doing revolved around the color red. Now, there are lots of shades of red. Red is a primary color, and based on our example above shades of maroon all the way to pink are in the red family. So I did have many brides who wanted to use red flowers with their red dresses. I ALWAYS ADVISE AGAINST THAT! Because red on red becomes nonexistent…..the red flowers blend into the red dresses. There is a way around that if you use different shades of red against red. For example, bright red flowers against a maroon dress will show up. The other option is to use some greenery or another flower color mixed with the red to get a contrast.
This year I am seeing a lot of purple, really dark purple, like an eggplant color of purple, which I LOVE because purple is MY favorite color. So again, if you use the exact same shade of purple against purple the flowers will be lost because they will blend into the dress. However, you can use lavender or blue which are in the same family (all originating from the primary colors of blue and red). When you mix blue and red you get purple. I can’t think of any color that doesn’t look good with purple. But different combinations of colors will evoke different feelings and looks.
I have a wedding coming up where the girls are wearing the dark eggplant colored dresses. My bride and her mom saw a picture in my photo album of a centerpiece that they both really loved. It happens to be shades of blues and purples. In fact, as a side note, these centerpieces were used for a fundraiser here in El Dorado Hills in 2006 where President Bush was the guest of honor. Below is a photo of the centerpiece. So this is an example of missing different colors together. This same bride has chosen to use white flowers with purple accents for her bouquets. Again, because white will be the primary color of the bouquets, they will stand out against the purple dresses.
Some of my favorite combinations of flowers are bright shades of colorful flowers. But, I can also really enjoy soft and subtle shades of flowers like peach, ivory, pale pink and soft green mixed together. Okay, I LOVE flowers and color, so there are probably very few flower combinations that I would not like. I am not a fan of color on color though, as mentioned above.
Notice in the picture above that although the girls are wearing red dresses, they are carrying bouquets in white and red, which allows you to see the bouquets in their hands. If those bouquets were all red you would not see them against the dresses.
In this next example, notice that the girls are wearing different shades of pink gowns. They carried the same flowers, which were made up of various shades of pink flowers, but notice how the flowers show up so much better against the darker pink gowns? They still show up with the pale pink gowns, because I included some darker pink flowers in the bouquets; but the point is can you see what I am talking about?
I don’t often worry too much about the reception site décor, but sometimes you have to because the décor colors are so in your face. You will have to decide for yourself whether you need to keep the reception site color scheme in mind when determining what color flowers to use for your wedding. I think it is more important to match the dresses and flowers and continue with whatever color scheme you have chosen for the guest tables and church décor.
Again, I will say, in the end, whether you understand color theory or not, the only thing that really matters is that YOU like the colors you have chosen to use for your wedding.
Here are some internet links that can help you visualize your color palette and /or help you pick out your colors.