Pantone's Color of the Year Is Announced: Here's What It Means for Your Wedding

Weddings are looking brighter than ever.
Esther Lee - Senior Editor, The Knot
by Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Senior Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Senior Editor
  • Oversees all news and trending content at The Knot.
  • Defines new terms for the wedding industry.
  • Thrives in interviews both for her stories and in reverse, for the brand.
Updated Dec 09, 2020

The Pantone Color of the Year 2021 has arrived and the forecast for events looks brighter than ever with the choices of "Illuminating" and "Ultimate Gray." The Pantone Color Institute, which has long solidified its stance as the design realm's color authority, revealed the two complementary hues for the 2021 Color of the Year for its optimistic-yet-strong temperament following a challenging year for many individuals and businesses worldwide.

The choice, of course, was intentional as the Pantone team describes its Color of the Year selections as a "marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting." Indeed, bright colors have been forecasted as part of our 2021 wedding trends with fresh hues and prints gaining popularity in event designs ahead.

"The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it's not about one color or one person, it's about more than one," Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, told The Knot and others. "The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit."

"The Pantone Color of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that color can hope to answer." Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, noted in the same release. "As society continues to recognize color as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolize thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of color to engage and connect." See both Pantone of the Year 2021 choices and how to use them in your wedding, below.

Pantone Color of the Year 2021: Illuminating

What Is It?

The Pantone Color of the Year 2021 swatch of PANTONE 13-0647 is known as "Illuminating," for its bright yellow hue that evokes the sentiment of lightness ahead. Illuminating is, in fact, the "color of the highest visibility and reflectivity," according to the institute.

pantone color of the year illuminating
Courtesy of Pantone

Examples In Events

The Illuminating color is ideal for events especially since outdoor weddings are continuously becoming the norm through COVID-19. During peak wedding season, occurring from summer through fall, daisy hues tend to blend in brilliantly against natural backdrops, harkening the effects of cheerfulness and positivity at events. Of course, for most couples, that is already the intention for their day.


Pantone Color of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray

What Is It?

The Pantone Color of the Year 2021 swatch of PANTONE 17-5104 is known as "Ultimate Gray." It is a resilient shade of gray that is described as "quietly assuring" and evokes the feeling of a "firm foundation of reliability, wisdom and experience," according to the institute.

pantone ultimate gray
Courtesy of Pantone

Examples in Events

A soothing color choice, the "Ultimate Gray" for Pantone Color of the Year is a worthy and neutral hue for any wedding color palette.


Previous Pantone Color of the Year Winners

Pantone Color of the Year 2020

classic blue color of the year 2020
Courtesy of Pantone

The Pantone Color of the Year 2020 was Classic Blue or the 19-4052 swatch that is a representation of what the sky looks like at dusk. "It's a color that anticipates what's going to happen next," said Pressman in 2019. The color is known for "instilling calm, confidence and connection." It's an "enduring blue hue" and it provides stability "as we cross the threshold into a new era."

Pantone Color of the Year 2019 & 2018

Classic Blue was a big departure from the Pantone Color of the Year in 2019, Living Coral, and the previous shade of Ultra Violet in 2018. Living Coral was intentionally selected with the concept of sustainability in mind especially with couples wanting to protect coral reefs and other environmental sanctuaries around the world.

living coral invitation suite
Fischer Photography

Pantone Color of the Year Selection Process

pantone colors
Getty Images


According to the Pantone Color Institute, the selection process behind the Pantone Color of the Year 2021 starts with trend analysis. Color experts search far and wide globally for new hues, influences of pops of color across entertainment, fashion, art, design, destinations and more. Technology and textures also play an important role in selecting a worthy selection. The Pantone Color of the Year is now in its 22nd year.

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