Color Me _______

A week after my bookstore visit, I had chosen my wedding colors.

In my defense, my headlong plunge into planning wasn’t entirely a result of my inability to resist the wedding industry’s wooing—though it’s a persistent suitor. When you’re a bride-to-be, the special offers start coming your way, and fast: coupons and websites and bride bags, sweepstakes open only to the betrothed. The steady stream of messages proclaiming your special status is seductive, but the truth is that the most special thing about you in the eyes of the industry is that you and your family are preparing to drop some dough. All those folks fawning over your bride-ness are hoping that (a) it’s a lot of dough, and (b) you’ll send it their way.

It’s sometimes irritated me, actually, that we féte brides and grooms with such fervor, while we all but ignore many milestone accomplishments that result from flat-out hard work. The happy couple, after all, has already won the lottery of luck and timing, so why do they get the cake too—not to mention the complimentary tasting? Follow the money, though, and there’s no market for grandly celebrating something like, say, earning an advanced degree. Most grad students live on the edge of poverty, and mass graduation ceremonies—usually long and boring and involving uncomfortable chairs—are a much harder sell than a garden party with free booze and a DJ.

But I digress. 🙂

I was excited about our engagement, of course, and in love, and all those long-tamped down and tossed aside dreams from my girlhood rapidly re-surfaced. That’s the state in which the wedding industry can have you at hello, the danger zone wherein they can talk you into moneymakers masquerading as must-have traditions, whip you into a frenzy of wants disguised as needs. Caution is well advised.

For me, though, the industry, with all its wiles, wasn’t the greatest source of temptation.  No, for me, an artsy-craftsy creative sort who sews and beads and sculpts and up-cycles flea market finds? A  wedding is a canvas. A big, blank, beautiful canvas. I got to pick a palette. Design the décor! Make all kinds of awesome stuff!

Choosing colors in and of itself was a thrilling prospect, as I adore color—not a single wall in my house is white. For inspiration, I browsed online and thumbed through books and magazines. Black-and-white was a perennial fave, elegant yet too austere for my taste. Everyone touted Radiant Orchid, the Pantone color of the year, the same hue as spring redbuds in Virginia. But I wasn’t looking for trendy. I was drawn instead to clear, beachy brights: a picture of orange flowers in aqua glass vases stuck with me; a palette of turquoise, hibiscus, and lemon yellow in another spread looked cheery and fun. Bright, fun, happy: that was the atmosphere I wanted. Almost as if the colors had picked me, I settled quickly on a pale, almost icy aqua and a deep, rich coral as the two primaries. Then I headed to the scrapbook paper aisle at Michaels to make refinements and create a swatch card.

I’ve since realized my colors did indeed choose me, and long ago at that. I’ve been living with them, or slight variations of them, for years. My bedroom walls have been aqua blue since maybe 2003, with linens and accessories in red, pink, and white. A vintage metal candle-holder I love and a beaded vellum suncatcher I made back in the early ‘00s fit the scheme. My current wardrobe is full of corals, teals, and turquoises, and a recent sorting through my fabric stash revealed some older examples there: a set of light blue and tangerine fat quarters from a 2011 apron project, and a collection of old kimono cuts I bought off the net five or six years ago, all peach and rich red coral, including one swatch with an embroidered pale blue blossom. Maybe most striking, since it also features my flower of choice: a framed photo tucked in a corner of my craft room, orange and pink gerbera daisies planted in a faded turquoise bucket. I purchased it at an art show back in 1999.

The combination of blue and coral has, apparently, been courting me for a while.

I also—true confessions—bought vases and fabric for our centerpieces that week. They pretty much picked me, too. Glass bottles in the exact color I wanted were on sale at Michaels the day I went in for swatches, and the fabric—well. I rounded the corner at a local home goods store, and it literally stopped me in my tracks.

The average bride, I’ve read, changes her mind about the wedding color scheme three times. Not so for this anti-bride. I’m as sure of my colors as I am of my guy. And I’m committed.

After all, when you know, you know.


Bottles! And yes, that dress is orange. Photo courtesy T. Austenfeld

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