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[Our table setting, as shot by our friend/guest, Julie Chow]

Tip #1: Color swatches are your friend, don’t leave home without it. Seriously. And, if all else fails, introduce accent colors to your theme to offset your mismatched colors. 

To kick off my “making the wedding” (i.e., I have too much free time now that I’m not planning a wedding) post-wedding recap series, I’m going to start with our theme and color. Given how this detail pretty much sets the stage for everything else, you would think that I had a clear vision about what our wedding would look and feel like from the get-go. This my friend couldn’t be further from the truth.

You see, this is what happens when you read too many issues of Martha Stewart Wedding and spend too many hours scrolling through wedding blogs. There are just too many great ideas that it feels almost impossible to make a decision. As DL and the people closest to me describe me, I can be frustratingly indecisive when it comes to making decisions for myself. (I’m perfectly okay making decisions at work for my company and my former clients, but there’s just something about being decisive on personal matters that gets me stuck).

So what came first, the color or the theme? For us, it was the color. It had to be some shade of red because it’s (a) a traditional Chinese wedding color, (b) signifies good luck in Chinese tradition and (c) I really didn’t want to hear any “surprise” complaints from certain relatives and/or future relatives about why we didn’t use red. So red it was.

The real question that you should be asking though is — how did you decide on which shade of red to use?

Shades of Red

My mom’s not very traditional. She would have loved to see a white wedding, but seeing as how that is a funeral color for most Asian people (you may recall this episode of 30 Rock when Liz Lemon buys a wedding dress), my grandma and MIL probably wouldn’t be very keen on this pick. So instead, her main suggestion to me was: NO CHINESE RED. What is Chinese red? You know that bright, brassy shade used on the flag flown in the P.R. of China that is sometimes borderline orange (see below). Done wrong, it can be really cheesy and downright gaudy if you pair it with the right shade of gold (keep looking below).

Exhibit A: Typical Chinese Wedding Invite in Red & Gold

Exhibit A: Typical Chinese Wedding Invite in Red & Gold

Exhibit B:Chinese Flag, also Red & Gold

Exhibit B: Chinese Flag, also Red & Gold

So instead, we (as in me, my mom and DL) decided on a “deep red” to keep it classy. We made this decision official by picking bridesmaid dresses in this color (more on the actual picking of the bridesmaid dress saga later) sometime in September of last year. After that was settled, it was a done deal I thought. I was naive…very naive to think that I had a main color and could easily find other wedding stuff to match. Over the next few months, I painfully learned that “deep red” is a color without a mutually agreed upon name. In some circles, it is “maroon”. In others, it is “burgundy”. For the more creative types, it is called “fig” while others just say “dark red.”

Long story short, I eventually came to terms with the fact that there was no way I could color match everything and get the same shade of deep red. This is when I discovered this gorgeous inspiration board on Head vs. Heart and a light bulb went off in my head. Why stress myself out with a trying to match a single shade of red. Instead, let’s just make our lives easier and declare our color theme to be “mixed berries.” This way, I could integrate more accent colors and allow for different versions of red that were kind of similar, but not really if you looked carefully.

Fig Color Board
[Fig Inspiration Board by Head vs. Heart]