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Colourful weddings if white’s not your thing

Published date: 30th January 2019


We love classic white weddings, but there’s a lot to be said for splashing some colour around on what should be the best and brightest day of your life. So here are a few ideas for doing just that, and some fascinating wedding folk lore concerned with colours.

The whole white wedding dress thing is relatively recent, Queen Victoria setting the trend when she wed Albert in 1840 – prior to that brides wore their best outfit new or no, of whatever colour. Contrary to popular opinion white in Europe at least is not the traditional colour of virginity, but of joy, though the ‘something blue’ as per the old jingle does symbolise purity and fidelity.

That ‘in Europe’ bit is worth noting – Japanese brides wore white long before it became the done thing here; in many other East Asian lands including China white denotes mourning, so was strongly shunned for wedding gowns until Hollywood did its thing; in Korea red and yellow are the customary bridal colours, for example. Other cultures have somewhat complex colour rules for weddings – take the Navaho Native Americans, where brides wear four colours that symbolise the four different points of the compass. In the Asian sub-continent and Middle East henna is used to both adorn the bride – hands and feet especially – and supposedly to keep her safe from the evil eye. If you are suspicious and confident you may opt for a make-up look that incorporates big colours for the same reason, though unlike Kenyan brides who hope to keep their big day paint jobs for a symbolic year, you may wish to tone it down when you get back to work.

You can set your stall out for a colourful wedding early on by sending out bright and breezy invitations – a breath of energised air compared to some of the white and silver jobbies. Let people know that this will be a wedding of all the hues, or the ones you select at any rate, and ask them to come brightly dressed too.

Visit wedding dress suppliers – we can point you towards a plethora – and you’ll see plenty of cracking gowns from pale pastels for the Boho look to some real in your face efforts with patterns and pizzazz. Shoes to match of course, with maybe more potential for future use too, and bouquets are a blank canvas for bringing colour to the scene.

One dress colour you may wish to avoid is yellow, that’s said in several cultures to mean you are already planning to cheat on your new hubby! And in Scotland donning green is out, as it’s the colour of the faeries and not the nice three wishes kind either. Some Scots won’t even have green vegetables at their wedding meals for the same reason – so not salad dodging at all then.

The groom doesn’t have to be left out: even if he goes with a ‘normal’ suit an electric blue or red shirt will fit the colourful bill, ties of course are no problem, and maybe some contrasting and shocking braces will complete the picture. The more daring may wish to add coloured sneakers to the ensemble – to be matched by his Best Man and the Ushers naturally, though persuading dads to join the fun could be trickier.

Bridesmaids dresses have long been made to contrast with the white of the bride’s, with pastels a favourite, but if your friends are ok with it why not go further along the colour scale? And why stick with one colour too? – if you have several bridesmaids dress each in a different shade.

Cakes even if the icing is bright white can benefit from red hearts or multi-hued sweeties, and the reception can offer you a chance to spread the tints you choose everywhere: decor, centrepieces, cushions, the menu, place cards… Why should they all be plain Jane if you prefer otherwise?

To finish this post off, and help you with the planning here are some pearls of colour lore wisdom (maybe) about your dress colour: yellow means you’re ashamed of your groom; green that you’re just ashamed; grey and you’ll lose him; red and you’ll wish you were dead. We reckon that it should simply say wear a bright shade and you’ve got it made.

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