When it comes to choosing the style of your wedding, one of the first steps you’ll have to take is selecting your wedding colors. This handful of hues—also known as your wedding palette—will define the color scheme of your big day and touch upon all of the details that it involves. From invitations to flowers to clothing to table linens, your wedding colors can have a major impact on the choices you’ll make as you work your way through your wedding planning checklist. And since color has been shown to have a strong influence on a person’s feelings and mood, choosing your wedding colors is a really a decision about your wedding’s look, feel, and impression upon your guests.

Nervous about choosing your wedding colors? Don’t be: we’ve outlined some basic steps you can take to choose a wedding color palette that matches your vision and expresses your personality as a couple.

Steps to Choosing Your Wedding Colors

1. Reflect on your personal style.

Take a look around your home and notice what colors you use in your decorating. Open your cabinets and look at your dishware, and scan what’s hanging in your closet. Do you seem to collect bright colors, gravitate towards muted pastels, or do you stick to neutrals? Since you want your wedding celebration to feel like a natural extension of you and your partner, pay attention to what you’re both personally drawn to when you begin thinking about wedding colors.

2. Gather inspiration from real weddings.

Browse Zola Inspiration to see real weddings from couples just like you. Search by season, location, style, or even color (perfect!) to see what color combinations you’re drawn to, which ones photograph well, and which colors evoke the kinds of vibes you’re hoping to create. Collect your favorite weddings and photos by clicking the heart icon to save them to your Zola account—you’ll want to refer to them later (and take a bird’s-eye view of your picks to notice trends).

3. Think about your wedding season and venue.

Factors like your wedding location and season should weigh into your choice of wedding colors. This is not to say that you have to choose pumpkin orange and burgundy if you’re having a fall wedding, or light pink and mint green if you’re saying “I do” in April. But what’s going on in nature at the time of your wedding can provide inspiration and serve as a guide for what mood will be in the air. Summer weddings lend themselves to brighter, more electric colors, while winter weddings call for deep hues, cozy neutrals, and pops of bold reds and oranges.

Similarly, the colors that naturally dominate your wedding venue might influence your choices when it comes to wedding decor: a patterned rug or drapes, heavy wood paneling, or very large, bright, washed-out rooms all require different color palettes to complement the existing spaces.

4. Think about practicality.

If you have your heart set on a very specific shade, you might be setting yourself up for frustration. Beyond simply having to explain (and provide examples) to all of your vendors, choosing rare, unique, or narrowly defined colors might make it difficult to find the right materials. Rather than confining yourself to hues as specific as “French blue and raspberry pink,” save yourself some headache but widening the spectrum to “light blue and fuschia” so you can find attire, accessories, flowers, linens, and other details that easily match.

5. Research flowers and other decor.

Already know you must have hydrangeas in your reception centerpieces? Some flowers only come in certain colors, so take into consideration the color options (or limitations) for any must-have flowers or decor items when choosing your signature colors. If there are only a few rental companies in your town to choose from, scope out their inventory of linens, chair covers, and other decorative elements so you aren’t disappointed if your favorite hue isn’t available.

6. Talk to your S.O.

In case you haven’t already, be sure to check in with your significant other about his or her color preferences as you’re thinking and researching on your own. The last thing you want is to settle on a color palette, only to learn that your fiancé(e) will in no way tolerate any shade of orange whatsoever. Talk back and forth about which colors you both love and feel work well together to create your ideal wedding style.

7. Optional: Poll your wedding party.

If you’re torn between a few options of color palettes, and you feel comfortable opening up the discussion to your wedding party, ask your maid of honor or bridesmaids their opinions. Since they might be wearing dresses in one of these colors, they might have thoughts that will help steer your decision. Of course, toughen up and be prepared to face dissenting or unfavorable opinions about your selections!

8. Get advice from the pros.

If you’re still feeling lost in a sea of color, talk to a wedding planner or designer about interesting and beautiful color palettes they’d recommend. Many planners offer design consultation services that allow you to pay for their expertise by the hour, rather than having to fully hire them for your event.

Do I Need Wedding Colors?

The short answer is no, you don’t need to have wedding colors to pull off a wonderful, fun, and beautiful celebration. Many couples decide that having matching colors throughout their event is too formulaic for their style, and instead opt to decorate and dress in whatever colors suit them. To give your event a cohesive look and feel, however, it’s best to try and be cognizant of the different tones and shades you’re using throughout your day-of details. While using only a handful of specific colors may not be your thing, having haphazardly clashing elements isn’t anyone’s thing—and may even make your wedding photographs visually hard on the eyes.

How/Where Do I Use Wedding Colors?

There are tons of ways you can weave your wedding colors into the details of your big day. While you probably don’t want to use all of these suggestions at once (that would be visual overkill), here are some places you can incorporate your wedding colors in subtle doses:

  • Wedding Attire:
    • Bride’s accessories, such as shoes, jewelry, and hair pieces
    • Groom’s accessories, such as tie, vest or cummerbund, pocket square, suit jacket, socks, or shoes
    • Bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories
    • Groomsmen’s accessories
    • Flower girl or ring bearer’s clothing
    • Parents’ clothing
  • Flowers:
    • Bouquets & bouquet ribbons
    • Boutonnieres
    • Corsages
    • Ceremony decorations
    • Table centerpieces
    • Other floral decor
  • Paper Goods:
    • Save the dates
    • Invitations
    • Calligraphy
    • Ceremony programs
    • Escort cards, place cards, menu cards, bar signs
  • Linens:
    • Aisle runner
    • Pew or chair swags
    • Cocktail linens
    • Bar linens
    • Dinner table linens
    • Dinner napkins
    • Chair covers and/or sashes
  • At the Bar:
    • Straws
    • Signature drinks
    • Cocktail napkins
  • Candy or Dessert Bar
  • Cake Decoration
  • Other Decor:
    • Paper garlands
    • Balloons
    • Candles
    • Vases
  • Specialty lighting
  • Favors
    • Potted flowers or plants
    • Shawls or pashmina wraps
    • Dancing flip flops
    • Personalized sunglasses