How to Incorporate Grey into Your Wedding

Grey is classic, elegant, and sophisticated. And a grey wedding can be an absolutely stunning celebration. Check out these grey wedding tips from Zola.

By Emily Forrest

bridesmaids in grey
Photo by Zola

Aside from the wildly successful book series, shades of grey often go overlooked as colors. But, grey offers a truly dynamic array of choices for any design, especially weddings. From flint to silver, there are many ways to make your marriage celebration a great day for a grey wedding.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at some basic ways to think about grey as a staple for your decor. Then, we’ll look at how color theory can help you make your grey wedding theme impossible to forget. Finally, we’ll walk through some amazing uses for grey that we know you’ll love.

Let’s get started.

Basic Ways to Use Grey

Grey is an extremely versatile color. While it’s arguably the most neutral of any neutral, grey’s more interesting lighter or darker shades can easily stand out as statement pieces. That means that grey can easily be a featured color itself, or it can stand as a backdrop against which you feature any other color.

Grey Attire

Some of the best ways to use grey in your clothing choices for your big day take advantage of the color’s versatility:

  • For the bride and groom:

  • Grey accents complement a white wedding dress without overpowering it.

  • Grey suit accessories maintain the sleekness of a black tux.
  • A grey tux or grey wedding dress offers modern alternatives to the classic black and white.

  • Grey attire for the entire wedding party:

  • For suits, gunmetal is a classic, yet edgy alternative to black.

  • For dresses, silver can make a bold statement.
  • Grey accents preserve the elegance of other chosen colors.

Greys have long been a staple of menswear, whether formal or casual. Heavier grey wool suits come to mind for a winter wedding, but a lighter sharkskin model is great for a summer wedding, too. But, of course, greys aren’t just for groomsmen, grey dresses are flattering year-round.

How to Incorporate Grey Into Your Wedding Photo Credit // Eileen K Photography

Grey Decorations

Grey can be used in various ways in your decor:

  • Grey linens and textiles:

  • Grey makes a great base for tablecloths.

  • Grey can relieve an otherwise color-saturated area.

  • On invites and other paper goods:

  • Silver print on your paper

  • Grey paper stock, rather than white

  • For souvenirs and centerpieces:

  • Silver for table decorations

  • Silver or neutral accents for wedding flowers and flower centerpieces
  • Neutral-colored gifts that guests will use for years
  • Muted grey packaging with silver accents

All these are great places for grey to stand out as the hero of your design. Whether grey is the accent, a background, or a featured color, it’s extremely useful. But, to really get the most out of grey, and any other wedding colors you might pair with it, you need to understand colors.

That’s where color theory comes in.

Power Your Palette With Color Theory

It’s easy to think of color as a purely artistic, subjective matter.

But, there are scientific ways to approach color. Color theory is the study of colors—what they are, and how they work together. In practice, it’s used in various arts, such as painting, as well as interior and web design. It’s especially useful when thinking about which palettes and combinations to use for your wedding, and why.

Understanding these relationships requires knowing the roles played by white, black, and grey. That way you get the most out of both individual colors and color combinations.

The most essential part of color theory is also the best known: the color wheel.

The Color Wheel: Explained

The color wheel provides a sophisticated, yet simple way to think about color. That easy-to-remember scheme contains seven colors:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet

This color scheme represents a band of light within a visible spectrum that has a clear beginning and end—it goes from top to bottom.

It’s important to understand where these colors sit in relation to each other on the wheel. It’s those relationships that make palettes and combinations easy to understand and generate.

Combinations and Palettes

When using color theory to generate a scheme for your wedding, the wheel does most of the work for you. All you need to do is pick a color to start with, then select other colors near or across from it.

Specifically, there are a handful of tried and true schemes that work best:

  • Analogous colors – The simplest, lowest-contrast color scheme is composed of any three adjacent colors. For example:

    • Red-orange, red, and red-violet
    • Yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange
    • Violet, blue-violet, and blue
  • Triadic colors – This is a high-contrast scheme that uses three colors equidistant from each other on the wheel. For example:

    • Red, blue, and yellow
    • Orange, green, and violet
    • Blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange
  • Complementary colors – This produces the most contrast, as these colors are exact opposites on the wheel. As such, they work together nicely in a pair. Some common examples include:

    • Red and green
    • Yellow and violet
    • Blue and orange
  • Split complementary colors – A similar idea to complementary colors, but with less contrast. A split complementary scheme pairs one color with the two colors adjacent to its complement:

    • Red, blue-green, and yellow-green
    • Yellow, blue-violet, and red-violet
    • Blue, red-orange, and yellow-orange
  • Double complementary colors – Also known as tetradic colors, this complex scheme uses four colors. Specifically, it pairs two sets of complementary colors together: Red-orange and blue-green with yellow-orange and blue-violet Blue and orange with red-violet and yellow-green

All of these schemes can use grey as a backdrop or additional feature.

Any high-contrast color combo needs to be muted or checked in some way to avoid feeling unbalanced. To keep things colorful, but not chaotic, you could use one main color as a base, feature grey heavily as relief, and then use the other colors only sparingly as highlights. Or, you might consider using different tints, shades, and tones of the hues above.

How to Incorporate Grey Into Your Wedding Photo Credit // Photos by Miss Ann

Greys Behind the Scenes

All of the colors noted above are examples of hues, or pure colors.

But, hues are far from the only colors that can make up a beautiful wedding color palette. Adding white, black, or grey to these hues opens up a whole new variety of colors to choose from.

The other kinds of colors include:

  • Tints – A hue plus white makes a lighter, more pastel-like color.
  • Shades – A hue plus black makes for a darker, shadow-like color.
  • Tones – A hue plus grey makes for a muted, in-between color.

For each of these, the more of the added white, black, or grey, the more intensely the form will differ from the pure hue. Pure white, grey, or black can be considered part of the given color’s range. Also, the exact kind (shade/tone) of white, grey, and black added will have an effect on the final color produced.

Using tints, shades, and tones is the key to nailing monochromatic looks, such as:

  • Monotone chromatic – This is a scheme using only tints, shades, and tones of one given hue. For example:

    • A dark violet shade, with the pure violet hue as a highlight.
    • Pairing a monotone color combo with neutrals, such as grey.
  • Monotone achromatic – Also known as grayscale or black and white (B&W), this is a monochromatic scheme that only uses shades of white, black, and grey (no other color). This is an excellent way to showcase grey in your design, and slight modifications open up more possibilities:

    • Adding splashes of one color to a mostly greyscale wedding color palette.
    • Muting down all colors to a grey-heavy, near-monochromatic scheme.

All of these combinations can help you incorporate grey into your wedding.

Grey-Inspired Celebrations of Color

Now that you understand how to think about colors, let’s put that to use in some grey wedding ideas. Importantly, a grey wedding doesn’t need to only be grey. It just needs to feature grey in an important way, such as as a base color for a palette or a highlight in decorations.

Here are some grey wedding ideas for your big day:

  • Complementary palette featuring grey – Since complementary schemes can offer sharp contrasts, they often work well with a muted element. You can achieve this by using tones and shades, rather than pure hues; or, using grey as the main base with one of the complementary colors. Consider:

    • A light blue-violet tint base, with grey as the main pairing.
    • Muted tones of yellow-orange for accents.
  • Grey base with tetradic palette – This is a complex one. If you envision having two major wedding themes or sets of decorations, you could use one or more greys as your base, then one complementary pair per theme. For instance:

    • A base of one dark grey and a few lighter greys.
    • Blue-green and orange-red for one theme.
    • Yellow-green and red-violet for the other.
  • Greyscale palette with one vibrant color – A classic style of photography and photo editing, this scheme lends itself well to decorators who want to feature a bright color. For example:

    • Decor that uses mainly darker greys and beiges.
    • Splashes of bright, tinted red-violet (think magenta).
    • Or, splashes of bright blue-green (think turquoise).

These are great ways to make grey stand out—or have it play a back-up role to help your other colors really shine. In any case, there’s no reason to stay away from grey on your wedding day.

Partner With Zola for 50 Shades of Wedding

Zola is your go-to for all things wedding. Registry, invites, a free wedding website, and even questions about planning the wedding itself—whatever you need, Zola is here to help. Because the only thing that’s not allowed to be grey on your big day is how you feel. For that, Zola will bring color to you and your partner’s smiles (and maybe a few shades of grey as accent).

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