Ask Abby
April 9, 2008

Our third question is from Valerie who is looking for a little color palette help...

Q3:Sadly I am at a complete LOSS about weddings. I was one of those girls who never thought about getting married and now that I am engaged, I have become obsessed. I am getting married in July at a winery in Calistoga CA. The ceremony is outside, then a formal dinner inside. I am wearing a gorgeous Jenny Lee gown with ivory over blush -- so it is a pearly color of white. No idea what colors to use. I need to choose a color for the bridesmaid dress. At first I was thinking a winery theme but is July too hot to wear burgandy/merlot dresses?

A: I really believe that when deciding on your color palette you need to try to think in this order...

1. Choose your venue...the venue itself should really set the tone for your color palette. So many people try to fight with the natural colors of the space that they have chosen, which is never good. You want your color palette to embrace and enhance the ambiance of your venue.

2. Start looking at bridesmaids dresses. Try to find a line that offers colors that compliment your reception space and your vision. It's so hard when brides fall in love with a particular dress, then can't get it in the color that they have been dreaming about.

3. Solidify the palette. Once you have your space and you know that you can find gowns that will coordinate with the look and style you are going for, tweak your palette so that it is just right. Perhaps a darker palette needs a touch of white or natural greenery. Or, a lighter palette might need a grounding color like chocolate, grey or navy.

So, for this particular wedding, I would fully embrace the beauty and the colors of Napa Valley. Having been to tons of wineries in the area, I think that your first instinct of using a deeper red or pink would be beautiful. You can lighten up the palette by using a variety of light peach and pink flowers and perfect summer parasols to shade your guests...


Dress by J Crew, Peach Flowers by Wiggy Flowers, Boutineire by Crimson and Clover, Parasol Image by Jessamyn Harris

I saw this beet colored dress on J Crew recently and absolutely love it. Paired with lighter pinks and peaches creates a more Summery look, while it would also be beautiful with raspberries, oranges and cream for a Fall palette. I think that this palette would be lovely for a wine country wedding.