Unexpected Color Palette Ideas for Your Fresh Summer Wedding
Your guests won't see these vibrant shade combinations (and trios!) coming.
If you're in the thick of brainstorming your summer wedding's décor landscape, you've probably already embraced the vibrant colors of the season. Bright pinks, oranges, yellows, and greens are probably splashed across your Pinterest boards, and you've likely envisioned translating them across your stationery, big-day florals, ceremony decorations, and reception linens. Before you send that approved mood board over to your planner, however, we'd urge you to pause and consider the following unexpected summer wedding color palettes. Their appeal? You didn't see them coming—and neither will your guests (that's part of the fun!).
From lime and rust (depicted here on Nina Moore Designs' tabletop, complete with a gauzy runner, melting candles, and centerpieces by Pavan Floral) to mustard and slate, there are so many unique shade combinations (and trios, if you're looking for even more dimension) that will make your warm-weather event one of a kind. That's not to say, however, that the quintessential colors of summer aren't worth including. They absolutely are, but pairing them with an unexpected colorway gives them an eye-catching freshness that will ultimately set your wedding's design above the rest. Take blush, for example. The traditional shade, frequently seen at weddings that fall during the hotter months, feels newfangled and inspired when placed alongside bright yellow (perfect for feminine celebrations) or bronze (for an event that's a little more glam).
Whether you choose to re-interpret your favorite summer shades or concoct combinations that feel entirely new for (but still speak to) the season, let the following color schemes be your guide. They'll help you shape the summer event color story of your dreams—and might even help you realize new ones.
Aqua and Lavender
Want to incorporate both light and dark shades into your big-day décor landscape? Consider this unexpected combination: lavender and aqua. The rich blue-green grounds the pastel purple, as evidenced by these bridesmaids' BHLDN ensembles. Note how the middle attendant's floral-printed gown features a mix of both shades—physical proof that they play well together.
A Pop of Black
If there's one color that guests don't expect to see at a summer wedding, it's black. But when combined with the brightest-possible whites and another moody tone (like mauve or burgundy!), an inky charcoal colorway brings drama that a pastel never could. This Sophie Felts centerpiece—the cream-and-merlot blooms (a mix of anemones, ranunculus, andromeda, and cosmos) were situated in a jet vessel and placed on a tabletop styled by East Made Event Co.—is proof.
Mustard, Slate, and Seafoam
Beach brides, meet the new-age nautical color palette: mustard, slate, and seafoam green, illustrated here by this Plume & Fête invitation suite. All three shades recall hues you'd commonly see on or near the water—mustard for sunshine, slate for the pebbles or rocks that dot the shoreline, and seafoam for its namesake. The twist? These hues are muted enough to feel subtly contemporary; they're certainly more modern than a blue-and-white combination, the classic maritime wedding pairing.
Magenta and Jade
Who says jewel tones are exclusive to fall celebrations only? This ground arrangement—which Sarah Winward created to dress up the venue's outdoor staircase—marries jade and magenta, two shades that typically connote the autumnal. Take one look at the vibrant pairing, however, and it's easy to see why the rich shades make an appropriate, albeit unexpected summer palette.
Gray and Orange
The secret to bridging the gap between a particularly unlikely color pairing, like warm orange and cool gray? Use neutral textures and mediums, like soft teak wood, to make the contrast less jarring. Jenny Schneider Events added a beachy reception lounge to soften the entire look of the rest of this party's décor, which consisted of red-orange florals and pillow accents and dove gray seating and linens.
Strawberry and Mint
Turn to a popular summer treat (ice cream!) for unexpected wedding color palette inspiration. This Whisk. Bakery confection combined the colorways of two go-to flavors: strawberry and mint chocolate chip.
Vermillion and Dusty Rose
Dusty rose is the ultimate muted neutral—which means it can (and does!) make an appearance at weddings year round. To bring the soft shade right into summer, accent it with an ultra-bright hue, like vermillion, for a high-contrast combination. Note how Sweet Woodruff incorporated cheerful yellow leaves to liven up brown-pink carnations and cream garden roses.
Burgundy, Cream, and Blue-Gray
Our favorite warm-weather color schemes are ones that buck tradition (and seasonality) entirely. This cream-and-blue-gray suite by Susan Silverberg—accented by dark burgundy leaves and petals from Lavendar Florals—proves that there aren't any rules when it comes to selecting a palette you love for your summer event.
Merlot and Green
We'll never grow tired of the classic green-and-white color palette—but we always appreciate a new-age twist on tradition. Replace traditional cream with a stormy shade, like merlot, for a pairing with contemporary dimension. This unique combination is prettily illustrated throughout Wild Green Yonder's carnation, Japanese anemone, orchid, fern, and astilbe bouquet.
Mauve and Black
Can you tell that moody colors are having a moment this summer? Make like Violet and Bone and work two edgy shades, like jet and mauve, into your reception design for a palette that's the definition of cool.
Pink and Red
While couples may choose bright color pairings for their summer soirées, they rarely opt for ultra-feminine combinations, like pink and red. This BCG Events bouquet, however, demonstrates exactly how to temper the two romantic shades: Work in plenty of neutrals, like beige, cream, and bright-white, to break up the Valetine's Day vibes.
Black and White
Modern couples planning a summertime celebration, bookmark a supposedly-classic black-and-white palette. In actuality, this color scheme is the foundation of monochrome—which means it's perfect for your contemporary event. Set the tone for your minimalist celebration with a tonal invitation, like this one from Minted, which featured calligraphy from Stefanie Hofmeister and envelopes via Envelopes.com.
The New Red, White, and Blue
Whether or not you're planning a Fourth of July wedding, your guests don't really expect you to incorporate this patriotic trio into your warm-weather big day. Prove them wrong—and show them how fresh a red, white, and blue palette can be by opting for super-saturated crimson, slate, and eggshell décor. Stephanie B. Design created this invitation suite, which combined all three shades.
Lilac and Peach
Pastels aren't groundbreaking for summer, so keep them so muted that they offer just a touch of color. We love this ground arrangement by Eddie Zaratsian—the installation looked like a rose garden growing up out of the last row of chairs at this ceremony—for its barely-there colors. The light peach-and-lilac buds were so soft, they looked like cream upon first glance.
Navy, Yellow, and Red
Looking for a bold palette with major impact? Consider the primary colors (and their tonal derivatives!) when brainstorming your dream summer event. A Charming Fête used cobalt poufs and a ton flowers in a myriad of red-and-yellow shades—like gold, burgundy, and pink—to bring this multicolored reception to life.
Yellow and White
A simple palette can still feel unexpected. Just take this single-flower Jenn Sanchez Design bouquet, for example. The daisies' sunny centers offered a whimsical pop of yellow (an underutilized wedding color, in our opinion!) against the bright-white petals.
The desert—a common destination for summer nuptials—is full of muted, tonal shades to inspire your warm-weather color scheme. Turn to the locale's earthy, rocky grays for colorway ideas, whether or not you're getting married there. This bride (who tied the knot in the canyons of Moab, Utah) did just that: She dressed her bridesmaids in two shades of gray (dove and purple-charcoal) on her big day.
Here's another desert-derived summer palette to bookmark. We loved this Bows and Arrows bouquet's overarching terra-cotta color scheme, created with rusty orchids and blush garden roses.
Green and Black
Attempting to make your tropical wedding—full of exotic greenery—your own? Take notes from this Shannon Wellington and Fresh Designs Florist setup and offset palm leaves and snake plants with black décor (believe us, your guests expect white accents, not charcoal!).
Sage, Cream, and Gold
Your summer event's color story doesn't have to revolve around splashy shades. A calmer palette, like the sage, cream, and gold trio seen here on this Every Little Letter suite, is an unexpected, but welcome alternative.
Rust and Bright White
Regardless of seasonality, orange isn't a popular wedding color—which is something we invite you to change. If a true orange-inspired palette feels too harsh, opt for a darker interpetation, like rust. Juxtapose the richer shade with a bright neutral, like wedding white, to enhance its depth. Need proof that the shade won't feel offbeat on your big day? You're looking at it: This red-orange velvet chaise was the perfect backdrop for bridal portraits.
Citrus fruits, readily available in the summertime, just might be the key to a punchy palette that doesn't feel cliché. Limey greens, lemony yellows, and soft oranges made an appearance—through the modern poufs and bright floral arrangements—at this Italy elopement, which was executed by Amorology, Nomad Republic, and Siloh Floral.
Dark Summer Shades
If you're throwing a late-summer event, turn to colors that speak to both summer and fall. Let the golds, rusts, burgundy, and mauves seen throughout these potted aisle arrangements by The Bloemist guide your big day's color story.
The easiest way to make any summer wedding color palette feel unexpected? Take your desired colors and pump up their saturation. The red-and-purple flowers (these were arranged by Luciana Wedding Creations) on and surrounding this Warrawong confection were so bright, they felt flourescent—translate these shades across your own big day, or apply this approach to any other colorway.
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