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Does a black tie wedding bring to mind images of crisp black and white, soft gold, and maybe a little blush for good measure? While this timeless palette isn't going anywhere, keeping things subdued isn't your only option! If you're a couple who loves playful color, but still wants to mark their marriage with a formal celebration, you're in luck. We spoke to top wedding planners from across the country, and they've filled us in on some fun and exciting ways to use vibrant hues and set a black tie dress code. Your inspiration awaits!
Turn to Flowers
"This might seem like an obvious choice, but so many couples equate 'black tie' or timelessness with an all-white wedding. That doesn't have to be the case!" says Gretchen Culver, owner and lead planner of Rocket Science Weddings & Events. "I love using colorful flowers to create a high-end yet inviting wedding." She uses style and scale to dictate the feel. "Instead of the more natural, organic feel that is so popular right now (but can feel a bit casual), have your designer or florist create arrangements that are more tailored. This will automatically create a sense of formality, no matter what colors you are working with." Culver also advises using minimal greenery as filler, instead focusing on lots of blooms with a variety of textures in the palette you've chosen. Then, place the arrangements on neutral-colored linens to allow the centerpieces to really shine. "Mix in lots of candles and votives, rather than artificial colored light, to keep the look classy. Natural white or candlelight will highlight the colors in the flowers instead of masking or changing them."
Play with Paper
Don't want bold hues all over your design? "Keep it more selective by incorporating color into your invitation and day-of paper materials," advises Jesse Tombs, managing partner of Alison Events. "You can keep it classic by adding a bright edge to thick card stock, or use colorful calligraphy on the outer envelope." Tombs is also a fan of weaving in metallics. "Silver, gold, copper and bronze are great, more traditional colors that will add some sparkle to a black tie invitation." You could also weave in natural elements to add an organic hint of color, such as slate, moss, or wood. Culver also recommends mixing in colored paper elements, such as an envelope liner or a colored envelope. "You can keep the wedding invitation traditional, with black letterpress on white paper, but tie it with a colored ribbon and mail it in a coordinating envelope," she explains. "A little color in the invitation will set the stage for you to incorporate color into your wedding décor."
Vary the Shades
"One really great way to dress up bright colors is to use a single color in varying shades," says Jenna Lam of Jenna Lam Events. "For example, we recently designed a wedding at the Parker Palm Springs where we started with bold coral peonies in the centerpieces, then brought in blush and lighter pink roses to keep the overall look sophisticated." She also added blush to the tablecloths, continuing the nearly monochromatic look. "I also recommend adding metallic accents, like gold Limoges plates and flatware, to keep the look glamorous," says Lam.
Opt for Soft Hues
Worried that incorporating punchy colors might come across as too playful? You can still add plenty of colors and still stick to soft pastels. "For example, instead of a saturated orange or turmeric color, consider light peach. And instead of electric lemon, turn to a buttery yellow color to add brightness," Tombs explains. "Softer colors work really great with neutral and organic palettes, and will still pop with black and white color schemes."
Don't Forget Rentals!
If you do decide you'd rather stick to that more traditional all-white palette for your flowers, Tombs suggests getting creative with the vessels. "You could ask your florist to incorporate colorful vases, or surround the white arrangements with colored candles. You can get taper candles in every color under the sun — and at a great price. It's an inexpensive way to add your favorite hue and a beautiful glow."
Dress the Part
"An instant way to add a pop of color without losing the formality of your event is to dress your bridesmaids in floor-length formal gowns in a vibrant color," says Culver. "Choose a fabric and silhouette that will feel inherently black tie appropriate, and accent the men in a matching color as well." She advises sticking to a classic black bowtie, then tucking a colorful pocket square into their tuxedo jackets for a hint of color that isn't over the top. "And if you're feeling fun, have them wear colorful socks, too!"