Ultimate Gray + Illuminating Yellow: Color of the Year 2021

January 12, 2021

This year we got not one, but two colors of the year! Pantone experts decide the color of the year by looking at an array of factors, like trends, life-style, and socio-economic conditions. This year’s colors reflect the global conditions and socio-economic difficulties we endured in 2020. Pantone calls it, "a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting."

The colors Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, highlight how different elements come together to support one another, just as we must come together to support each other through trying times. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute describes the colors as,

“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.”

We can definitely use some hope right now and these colors give us just that. We don’t know what’s in store for the future but things are hopefully looking brighter for weddings. Although these are unconventional colors, they can be delightfully incorporated into wedding color palettes or sit as foundational colors for any event. Read on to see how we can use these colors to bring peace and life to weddings this year.

Original and Soft Palette 


This aesthetic sticks closely to the Pantone colors. It gently says this isn't bumblebee chic, but soft, striking elegance. Unless your couple is going for a bumblebee look, stay away from solely using yellow and black. Black can be used as an accent color, but too much may send the wrong message. 

These soft and original combinations are breathtaking. They are the perfect palette for a grounded and happy couple that want to translate their love into their wedding. Just looking at these colors can make anyone feel serene. This combo works perfectly for an indoor and outdoor event. The gray is more reserved and classy for indoors, while the yellow hue is fun and outdoorsy. To use them in a wedding, consider these tips: 

Ultimate Gray as the main color: 

  • Tablecloths 
  • Backdrops
  • Bridesmaid dresses + Tuxes
  • Chairs
  • Signs


Illuminating as an accent: 

  • Flowers + bouquets
  • Napkins 
  • Stationary
  • Desserts + cake
  • Accessories 
  • Print

If your client is unsure of how the colors will look, you are equipped to show them any variation of palettes. The Aisle Planner Design Studio is a color palette paradise, a playground for your creativity, and the optimum tool for Personalization. Mix and match with palettes, get inspired and pull colors from AP Styled Shoots. Upload your own images or use curated and captured photos from other pros. Colors truly paint the mood of weddings and set a proper ambiance, that’s why all of our cohesive tools are made to give you–color magic.

Vibrant and Colorful Palette

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are surprisingly versatile color bases for a wedding palette. These two gems can be the perfect foundation for a vibrant color palette. The following colors would nicely pair and brighten up the Pantone colors. Choose one or pick them all:

  • Pinks
  • Oranges
  • Blues
  • Purples 
  • Gradient

As more weddings move outside, due to COVID protocols and safety, these bold colors would shine against a natural backdrop. The color Ultimate Gray is reassuring and really goes with anything, and Illuminating is the most reflective, has the highest visibility, and looks and feels so much like soft sunlight that lush greenery would really make it pop. If your couple is colorful and lively, Pantone has given them a great opportunity to incorporate a lot of color with gray and yellow as a base. It can feel like a risk to choose too many colors, but with this color combination it’s possible! 

To use them in a wedding consider these tips: 

  • Make the Pantone colors the base 
  • Categorize the accent colors into items 
  • Think about the season
  • Consider the venue colors
  • Pick accent colors that most speak to the couple's style

Colors are a form of communication. They symbolize, create, and manifest thoughts and ideas. With so much hardship, the 2021 Pantone colors give us something to hold on to. Happiness is here. With these color pairings, your clients and their guests are in for a special treat!


About the Author

Karina Trejo Melendez wearing a white sweater and smiling
Karina Trejo Melendez
Aisle Planner, Sr. Content Manager
Karina is a Mexican writer and English professor. She is passionate about celebrating love, culture, diversity, and community and takes pride in bringing those values into her work as the Sr. Content Manager for Aisle Planner's Editorial Team. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and worked in various roles in copywriting and editorial publishing before she came into her current role.