Its All About The Design…

Le Grand Bleu Moodboard

It's All About The design

A love affair with colour – your first step in the wedding design journey

With the launch of our wedding design workshops today, we wanted to kick off our wedding design series for our readers, which will be running over the next 5 weeks covering all aspects of wedding design.

And what better place to start than colour palettes? Colour is a journey, after all.

I am totally fascinated by colour and the effect a blend of colours has on the mood of a wedding. If, like me, you are a colour addict, check out the stunning Pantone colour of the year – emerald. Widely accepted as the world-reowned authority on colour, Panetone is a great place to start for any colour inspiration. This year’s bold emerald is fresh, vibrant and dazzling, just like the jewel itself.

Choosing a colour palette is, for me, the very first step in the design process when working with clients. We work together to create a palette, which is integral to the wedding day look and complements the chosen venue. This helps stop couples falling in love with a particular colour palette which they later learn clashes with their venue.

Choosing the perfect palette for your venue and wedding day doesn’t need to be overwhelming, although it can sometimes feel like it. This is why we’ve created a simple “how to” guide to get you started, so you can find the ideal colour palette to suit your taste and match the atmosphere you’re inspiring for your special day.

The starting point

Colour plays a big part in your day, and in the last ten years, couples have become more playful in their use of colour. Gone are the traditional set of wedding colours of yesteryear, now we’re seeing couples be more confident in their approach to their favourite hues.

With the ever-growing popularity of wedding blogs and wedding design books flooding the market, couples now have a much bigger resource pool to source from. This, in turn, has built couples’ confidence when planning their day, creating a more design-led process.

Lots of couples like their palette to convey their personalities or their favourite colour choices. From the beginning, your colour palette creates and conveys the first impression to your guests of your wedding, with the arrival of the save the dates or invitation.

As we all know, the excitement of a wedding is all built in the anticipation and suspense. When I begin a client’s wedding design I always visit the venue and surrounding environment. This is the first step to getting an understanding of the venue’s own unique colour palette. When you begin, I would suggest you do the same, as many couples fall in love with the thought of a particular palette, then later realise their choice of palette clashes with the venue.

Complement each part of the venue’s space using colours and tones that blend with your venue to create a natural, harmonised balance. You can see how these tones work by taking your camera to the venue and documenting all the decoration details, including wallpaper, carpet, flooring and the garden areas.

It’s easy to think you might remember every last detail of your wedding venue, but as you become busier in the planning process, the small details are the ones that can often be lost. It’s also important to give yourself time to muse around your venue, taking in all the unique architecture, colour palettes and details inside and out.  Take your time to wander and soak in the tiny details.

Outside spaces are transient, as the colour palettes change with the seasons. To overcome this hurdle, you could research how the venue looks during different times of the year. Have a look at photographs taken of the venue on wedding photography blogs, this way you can review the seasonal look of the venue.

When you meet with your venue manager, discuss the plans for the garden in spring and summer, asking if the gardeners have a pre-planned colour palette for their flower beds. Also, check if the venue will be having any development work on the interiors before your wedding. When venues are professionally cleaned, it can cause the colour palette to vary slightly.

The Spaces

When working at your venue, it pays to be mindful of the event spaces you’ll be using on your wedding day. So, ensure you plan and manage the flow of colour through each space. Done well, the colour palette will complement each part of the room you are using for your celebration, while simultaneously creating a visual effect with the environment on the day of your wedding.

The Colours

While planning your colour palette, it’s easy to become excited and opt for lots of different shades. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as your palette doesn’t need to be fixed to just one hue.

The shades can move and shift, flowing with the mood of your day. For example, your colour palette can be subtle, welcoming and romantic for your ceremony, twisting to more opulent shades for the reception and wedding breakfast. In the evening, as the mood of your celebration changes yet again, the palette may develop into more vibrant shades, creating the illusion and atmosphere of a boutique nightclub.

You can also add an ethereal quality to your outside venue spaces using colour to reflect the transition from day to night. With the right shades, you can transform an outside space from a whimsical garden during the daylight hours, to an outdoor chill-out lounge in the evening.

The Resources

  • So now its time for you to get researching, below are some of Tigerlily’s favourite places, where you can take inspiration for building your very own palette
  • For Period colour inspiration go to Farrow and Ball and get one of their paint catalogues this will give you lots of inspiration and complement pairing of colours

These will give you lots of inspiration and complement the pairing of colours

After pulling together all of your chosen colour choices, you can start to review which shades complement your venue, inside and out. This is where mood boards are a beautiful and useful way to explore colour. And if you haven’t already discovered Pinterest, this is a great resource to utilise, as is Polyvore.

The final colour choices of your wedding will slot into place once you have your palette and mood boards selected. At this stage, you will be able to decide if you will choose coordinating colours, a dominant wedding colour, or simply plump for harminising hues.

Colour by style


The monochromatic colour palette is a simple, bold palette, using a single base colour. This type of palette is extended using variations in shades, tones and tints. By simply adding black, white or grey to a single hue, you can change the whole look of the colour. For example, adding varying amounts of white will create different tints, while adding varying amounts of black will create different shades and varying amounts of grey will create different tones.

An elegant monochromatic palette can be created using tints, shades or tones, which work beautifully with softer accent colours such as pinks, greens, blues and lavenders.  If these shades sound familiar, it may be because these particular monochromatic options were very popular last season.

Colour by era

Certain colour palettes can help you create a nostalgic feel to your wedding day and evoke a particular era, enveloping your guests with a beautifully soft sense of the past.

Last year, I designed a stunning colour palette for a client, based on colours from 1940s New York. I also see many venues palettes within keeping of a particular era, with Victorian and Edwardian buildings using early period colour palettes.

If you’re looking for inspiration when designing your palette, there is much to be found in historical reference and regional colours. This is a time to explore the past and bring it back to life with your own unique taste and slant.

Triadic and Terradic colour palettes

In the triadic colour palette, we see 3 colours of equidistant distribution from the colour wheel being used. Alternatively, the tetradic colour palette uses any four colours within a logical relationship to the colour wheel, such as double complements.

It may sound complicated, but these palettes are amongst the most popular within wedding design.

Other points to consider when designing your palette

  • Pair your colour choices wisely
  • Experiment using accents of colour
  • Your venue’s garden or outside areas are an extension of your wedding space. So, for continuity, inject your colour palette into these spaces as well as the inside areas
  • If you can’t decide on one colour palette for your venue, or the venue has varied coloured palettes within its spaces, use a variation of palettes for each
  • Use stationary, flowers, lighting, linens and soft furnishings to inject your colour palette into your wedding and make it come alive
  • Make the most of your venue’s original features and highlight these to create a truly beautiful setting for your day

 Words by Penelope Cullen Tigerlily weddings 

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