Friday, May 21, 2010

Color palettes are cruel.

I am clearly a big fan of inspiration boards and color palettes for wedding or event planning. Or for home decorating. Or darn near anything.

Months ago I did a post describing what I imagined for our wedding colors. As my ideas moved toward reality, I discovered something important. Color matching for an event is a bitch. Especially if you're trying to do it on a budget. You can have fourteen different things that are described as "chocolate brown" and no two will match. Not only will they not match, they'll clash. A lot.

We wanted shades of brown, and moss green. I had chocolate brown tablecloths that I had purchased on eBay*. I had chair cover samples. I had napkin samples. I had paper samples, because I'm making our wedding invitations. Nothing matched. Not even a little bit. And I had a lot of things to choose from.

I had shown Dylan the samples and swatches as they'd arrived. He'd nod and smile and say something like, "Those look really nice, babe!" Then one day he came home, and I was edging toward a melt down. I tried to explain that nothing was matching, and I was losing my mind. He shifted his weight nervously and cautiously admitted, "They all kind of looked the same to me." And I know that nearly every man on earth would have thought the same thing. It wasn't his fault. I did my best not to stomp my feet and start sputtering. I'm not entirely sure I succeeded, but at least I didn't yell at him. Instead, I rushed around the house and gathered every piece of fabric or paper or anything else wedding related and tossed it all into the center of our dining room table. I spread it all out, flipped the light on, and threw my arms open in a triumphant presentation. Dylan took it all in for a moment, and his brow furrowed. Finally he said, "Wow. It really doesn't match. None of it. It actually kinda... clashes." I take it as a small credit to my character that I didn't start laughing maniacally and yanking my hair out.

Don't get me wrong -- I am not a "bridezilla". I have been pretty calm and collected about wedding planning. It's just that I had put well over a year into researching and planning, and my lofty ideas were suddenly being thrown out the window.

When my color-clashing meltdown finally came, I decided it was time to re-think things. I took all of the things we already had, and all of the samples that we had, and decided to see what might work together instead of trying to make things work with the image I had in my head. As I started looking at everything, I also found myself favoring certain samples. For example, I had beautiful satin pillowcase style chair cover samples in ivory, pale silver, and chocolate brown. Even though it was the least obvious choice, the pale silver was our favorite. The fabric seems a little nicer, and in the soft lighting of our wedding venue, they give this sense of luxury and romance that the other two just didn't live up to.

Early in the wedding planning stages, I was overzealous and purchased some metallic copper crinkle tablecloths. If you look at my first two inspiration boards, you'll see what I'm talking about. They're beautiful, but I was worried that the color would be hard to match things to. I had started leaning toward using brown instead copper, because I thought it would be easier to use as part of the color palette. (Ha ha! Silly me!) That led me to buy those chocolate brown tablecloths**.

We decided to choose what parts we liked best, and then be more flexible on the rest so we could make it all work. We are going to use the copper tablecloths and the pale silver chair covers. We went to fabric shops and found a beautiful paisley fabric that ties the whole thing together. I waited until Joann Fabrics had a 50% off coupon and bought enough fabric to make runners for all of the tables.

So this is a mish-mash of what we've got:

Oh, and Dylan's Ben Sherman suit did not fit him properly. In the picture above, you can see the sleeve of the suit we ended up finding for him. It's a really dark navy, or maybe midnight blue. The suit jacket is two button and looks great on him. Our favorite part is that it's actually a three piece suit! Dylan looks so good in a vest. Plus, he over-heats easily, so it'll be a bonus for him to able to take off his jacket during the reception and still look dressed up.

The bottom line is that color palettes and inspiration boards are wonderful, but don't let yourself get too caught up in forcing your wedding details to fit into a preconceived palette before you explore and experiment with what is actually available to you.

* Budget Helper: I have discovered that for things like table linens and chair covers, I can usually buy them for less than I could rent them. Besides the fact that it's initially cheaper, I love the idea of being able to pass on the savings to another couple while recouping some of your expenses. eBay and Craigslist are both big money savers if you're a savvy shopper. is also a good website if you're considering buying your own table-linens. You can also purchase napkin samples for $1, which is a nice way of getting a big fabric swatch to use for color comparisson. If there is one thing that I have learned from this experience, it is to buy the damn samples before you place a big order. It will save you time and money in the long run, and most of all, it will keep you from ripping your hair out when you discover that one company's idea of "sage green" is what you would have call olive green and another is almost blue.

** Even if you're a savvy shopper, some people are not as forthcoming and honest as they should be. Those chocolate brown tablecloths are not nearly as nice as that lady described, and some of them have stains or wonky hems. I've been cranky about them ever since. So again, if you have the option of seeing stuff in person or ordering a sample first, do it.

1 comment:

  1. All right Alyson, I'm the same way. I sort of decided for a tone-on-tone white wedding but never really decided the shades.
    Then I fell in love with a couple of Swarovski crystals and pearls shades and so that's what I'm using: off-white, creamrose (kind of blush ivory), warm and cool shades of gray, warm and cool shades of champagne. In short: the precise palette is yet to be determined LOL
    I think it's way easier to match colors if you do NOT use the Pantone stuff because Pantone weddings are without shades, they look stiff, cartoonish and ultimately like a 4 yr old birthday party ;)