Monday, November 8, 2010

Much Ado About Colors

My online wedding planner thingy tells me I should be choosing colors. My immediate response to this was "Colors? We don't need no stinking colors."

But it turns out that you do need colors, and they must be clearly defined down to the most minute of shade variants, and I must carry paint samples in my bag to ensure that everything is perfectly coordinated.

None of this is anything I'm particularly inclined to do. Obviously.

The thing is, I have very strong feelings about colors themselves. More specifically, I'm in love with them. I've had a sustained infatuation with color for as long as I can remember. I love deep reds, vibrant yellows, tranquil blues, and all shades of purple. I also rather unabashedly love pink.

With this in mind, one would think that I'd be all about choosing a color scheme for my wedding. But I'm not. I'm not because the process by which one is supposed to do this seems so formulaic, whereas every color scheme I've created up until now has been largely intuitive. Or, depending on one's perspective, utterly devoid of logic or planning.

Since I was a kid, I've loved decorating each bedroom/dorm room/apartment I've lived in, and I often confuse people with my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method of decorating. As a case in point, when I was 17 we moved from Colorado to Pennsylvania - and, as compensation for moving across the country the summer before my junior year of high school, my parents gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted with my new room. They'd subsidize the paint, curtains, and all the supplies. I could decorate to my heart's content.

The room had dormer walls, so I decided to paint the lower portion lavender, the upper portion yellow, and the windowsills a deep blue. My parents, God love them, were flummoxed. They scratched their heads in befuddlement when I told them what my plans were. But they bought the paint, and I painted for hours (I nearly asphyxiated on paint fumes in the process, but that's not the point). The color scheme made no sense whatsoever, but in the end, it looked great. I loved the hell out of that room.

So it was with more than a little bit of angst - ok, it was actually pathetic, child-like whimpering - that I began reading about how to choose one's wedding colors.

Oh sweet Jesus, is it ever overwhelming. Now, to be fair, I get that many brides are under tremendous pressure to make the wedding into one day of utter perfection and total harmony. If that's a factor that weaves itself into every aspect of wedding planning for so many people, I can see how the most basic of decisions would be scary as hell. Thus, I can also see how one would need a wedding planning website to navigate what must feel like a minefield.

But the websites turn a presumably simple process into the nuptial equivalent of neurosurgery. Instead of making color choice into a quick and easy decision - like, say, a quick algebra problem in which you isolate and find the value of x - the advice turns it into a differential physics equation:

Determining your wedding colors is one of the first decor decisions you need to make. Before you do that, though, determine what your wedding's style will be. The style you choose will impact the wedding colors you pick. Figure out what emotions you want your celebration to evoke: A tranquil, Zen-like retreat? A high-class, romantic affair? A bumping, energetic party? For example, a vibrant summer yellow mixed with brown (i.e., sunflowers and bees) is perfect for a country-chic wedding -- but add gold to the palette, and the combination becomes more reminiscent of regal France.

I don't know what I want the vibe to be. I don't have the faintest clue about a unifying style or theme. (For that matter, what the hell is country-chic?) All I know is that I want it to be fun and inexpensive. I'm utterly uninterested in making it feel like a Zen-like retreat (would we all wear robes and not speak for hours while pondering the sound of one hand clapping?), and re-creating 16th century France seems like an exercise in beheadings. Clearly I'm already failing at this endeavor.

Figure out what color combinations that you like, whether browsing art galleries or reading through some home, fashion, or interior design magazines for inspiration.

Ok, that I can do. I spend an inordinate amount of time in art galleries (irrefutable proof of my nerdiness: my favorite places are bookstores and art museums), and I know what color combinations I'm drawn to. The problem is, this still doesn't narrow it down very much. The only colors I don't like are brown and puke green. Shit.

In choosing the precise hue of your colors, you can collect fabric swatches or paint chips of the colors you like. This way, you'll be able to get specific - so that when you decide to have green as one of your colors, you'll be able to tell if it's sea-foam green, lime green, forest green, or Kelly green.

Gak. I've only done that when painting a room that I plan to live in, but I plan to use these colors for exactly one day. I'm trying hard to actually want to collect various paint samples for the wedding, dice. My give-a-damn's busted. Bridal fail, here I come.

Lighting can make or break a venue. Be sure to talk with your event designer or a lighting expert about colors you can use to accent and bare white walls in your event space.

I'm supposed to call a fucking lighting expert to help me figure out what colors the napkins should be? Is this a joke? I haven't even done that for places I've lived, let alone spaces that I'll be renting for a few hours.


The freak-out had almost commenced (again) when I realized I was supposed to be spending hours considering colors and weighing variables like lighting. I had almost started hyperventilating (again) about the fact that I'll never, ever be able to measure up to this level of involvement and specificity. My stomach almost started churning (again) when I thought about how I'd failed at this planning shit before I'd even started, because the bar is set way too high. But then, I decided to take a deep breath and gain some perspective.

A few seconds later, I realized (again) that I don't have to do it this way. Just because the websites say that I should, it doesn't mean I have to. The fact is, I trust my own judgment. I trust that I don't actually have to put such a Herculean effort into picking a color scheme. I trust that when I see colors I like, they're not going to involve neon orange paired with florescent pink. (I rolled that way circa 1991, when I rocked the layered neon socks like woah. However, 19 years later, I'm disinclined to repeat the color choices I made when I was 10.)

Besides, knowing me, the probability that I'll adhere perfectly to a strictly-defined, specific palette is slim to none. And that's when the odds are good.

So I decided to just let this color thing unfold as it will. If the invitations aren't the exact same shade as the napkins, fine. I doubt that someone is actually going to hold the invite up to the napkin to compare the two. If someone does and they're appalled and/or personally offended by the discrepancy, I'll simply look outside, note the fact that the sun hasn't stopped shining, and tell them to find a hobby.

As luck would have it, the next day I was perusing Target's selection of bridesmaid's dresses. (I'm determined to make this as inexpensive as humanly possible for my bridesmaids, and Target, ever the purveyor of all that is fabulous in the world, has an awesome selection of bridesmaid's dresses for $30-$50.) A co-worker had just been a bridesmaid in a wedding for which they'd all worn wrap dresses designed to be wrapped and twisted into different styles, and lo! Target had an exact replica on sale for $23.

It was available in black, red, and purple. I liked the red and the purple. There were more sizes available in red than in purple. Decision made. Operation Red Dress was a go.

And that, friends, is how I chose my colors.

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