There are perhaps thousands of articles written on the subject of weddings and the use of colour therein. The problem for us in Barbados and other non temperate climates lies in the fact that they are often written for and by those in northern climates, where seasonality has a major impact on life. Thus we are advised on spring and fall colours and concepts, we even bought into the whole idea of June weddings, based again on a northern realitya reality based on their weather patterns.                                     
Ocean inspired table center piece.

We are bombarded with images of roses and calla lilies for everything from invitations to bouquets. We have ice sculptures as event centrepieces...the examples are endless. Those things bear no resemblance to our every day existence but we import them literally and figuratively into our weddings. Anyone who has travelled north would know that roses are abundant and cheap there, but we pay top dollar in the Caribbean to buy their concepts and products when beauty lies all around us.

Beauty Lies all around us in Barbados

Scholars would have plenty of theories  to explain our fascination with things northern but this is not the place for that. How then should we in the Caribbean view the issue of colour in weddings? What follows is  practical guide for those of us in the sun so unshackle your mind and jump right in. Always remember though that colour should always be more about personal choice and taste than about anything written anywhere, including here!

To my mind, in the same way that those in northern climates mimic their reality for colour inspiration so should we. Thus, instead of seasons we could celebrate the shades of blues of our waters. The coral and pinks of our sandy beaches in Barbados...

The greens of our fields of sugar cane, maybe accented with the golden hues of the arrows in full flight. Bougainvillea in full bloom, in its various colours, presents an unforgettable display that we should treasure and own. What about the hibiscus or the Joseph's coat. In the tropical flowers shown above you can see how natures uses shades and repetition of shapes and how lines are used to draw the eye to the center.

These ought to be our inspiration because they are our reality. A quick look into your garden would unlock an inspiring array of colour schemes and themes as well as textures for your wedding decor. Pick a few flowers and closely examine them, go into the pasture and pick some wild flowers. You will quickly notice that nature thrives on contrasting colour and on repetition of patterns. (Check with your florist or event planner to see which local flowers can be used to bring your colours to life. Above and below we have showcased weddings that we have done recently which were inspired by tropical colours and also used locally grown flowers and a seascape ocean inspired theme.)

Tropical wedding decor Local inspiration for your wedding colours and decor

Tented  wedding in Barbados with tropical inspired decor.


A closer however look will show that often subtle variations of a single colour can be quite impactful. These are powerful concepts in the decorators tool kit. Use them wisely for maximum effect.

Are your Colors Warm or Cold ???


With that in mind, the  central issue should really be about a colour scheme for the entire event and not just a random selection of colours. The subtle but important difference being that a colour scheme is a selection that work well together, either in contrast or harmony. In achieving this, consideration should be given to colour temperature, ie. Are  the colours warm or cold. ( blues greens etc are considered to be cold whereas orange red etc are considered to be warm. Colours like yellow can fit info either category and as such  can be considered to be pivotal. )

Fabrics: Tone and Texture

Another useful issue to take into consideration is the tone or texture of the fabrics being used. Generally fabrics of similar tone or texture work better together as they blend more easily.  An earthy cotton fabric cannot easily be switched with a glossy satin of the same colour even if they are the same shade.This issue is more important the closer the colours or fabrics are going to be in relation to each other. So you may have two or three colours that work great together but if you change one of the fabrics then the colour is not rendered in the same way. This can have unintended consequences.


Brides, (and I address you directly since he is not the one reading this article nor will he have a say in the choice of colours (smile)), if you know that you are a dark African queen wearing a lily white dress, please spare a thought for your photographer before you step into the 3 o’clock sun. As beautiful as you might be you have just given your photographer a headache. The same applies to dark grooms in black and white tuxedo outfits next to a bride in a sparkling white dress. Without getting too technical, while the human eye can adjust to make sense of this extreme contrast the camera lens will not and your photographer will have to chose between you or your outfit. This is of particular importance if you are planning an outdoor affair for your ceremony.

Aspects of your Venue that can not be changed will influence your final look...


Another often overlooked issue that ought to be considered is the colours at the venue ( indoors or outdoors) which cannot be changed. If the venue is outdoors then chances are that greens are an integral part of your colour palate for the space and this should be taken into account as you choose your colour scheme. In addition, the colours of any flowers that proliferate in the garden should not be ignored. When a broad view is taken of your event, ceremony or reception, your colour scheme should not clash with your garden venue. 

Bear in mind that contrast and clashes are quite different concepts. Likewise if the carpet at your indoor venue is blue and the walls green, ignoring these details will not be wise, particularly if you are planning for a warm palate of shades of orange. The venue colours will impact on the overall look of the event and by virtue of their size they will make their presence felt. Of course some couples could not care less about this level of detail while others will be running for the exits. It is, as I have already suggested, largely a matter of taste and ones style (or lack thereof. :) ) 

The larger point here is that this is not something that should become an issue when you start to decorate and find yourself overwhelmed by an unwanted or uninvited colour. When you chose the venue you invite that colour into your wedding space. Let it be a  conscious  choice and not an oversight. (see example below)

Same room different colour schemes different effect

As you can see, this concept of Black and White combined with feathers and silver accents would have made a bigger and more effective statement in a white room. Had the colors and patterns of the room been taken into consideration this client might have chosen a different colour or concept. Below you see a much more harmonious outcome because it works with the room.




   The Groom's Nightmare ..... choosing colors


It would be remiss of me not to draw attention to the difference in the genders when the issue of colour in weddings raises it’s delicate self. First of all, most men don’t care. Secondly, their perception of colour is severely limited normally to primary colours. No, I am not saying that all men are colour blind, we typically just don’t register the nuances of colour or revel in the various shades in the same way that the bride will. Ladies... get accustomed to the idea...he is just not that into colour. If you want him to relate then perhaps you should discuss West Indies maroon, Chelsea royal blue or that shade of yellow in the logo of Manchester United. Perhaps brides should consider these more masculine colours incorporated into the wedding as one way of letting men into the wedding process, a process which by and large alienates them to the sidelines as mere observers who’s only role is to say ‘I do!”

With the above issues above in mind many decorators, among them the  noted Preston Bailey and Colin Colwie, prefer to work in a tented space for the simple fact that you are presented with a completely blank white palate  upon which you can start to express yourself. This gives you maximum flexibility in the creative process. In addition, with the advent of ruffled or smooth tent liners and leggings your wedding tent is transformed into an elegant and softly draped  space ready for the creation of your master piece regardless of your colour scheme. ( In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that the author of this article owns a tent rental business but the facts are the facts! )

The final issue I would like to discuss is a pet peeve for me. I should point out also that there are  opposing camps. For me people and what they wear need not be the same as what is put on furniture! This is perhaps the most critical application of the concept of a colour scheme. You do not need for the bridal party to disappear as they enter the reception space because they are dressed in the exact colour as the tables! By the same token it is best that there is not a war of colour. The happy marriage to me is a colour scheme expressed across the range of colour choices for the event, where there is then harmony in the entire space. 

Harmony of concept and hence harmony of spirit.  

Written by David Hutchinson

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