Dresses, fabrics, cutlery, eye shadow(s), hair, playlists, scallops, weather, tents, napkins, wines, cakes, cookies, beloved relatives, impossible relatives, speeches, ribbons… The list of things that can be part of planning a wedding is endless.
If you ask me an important sense is often neglected. Smells have a very powerful impact on our memories, moods and feelings. The reason for this is mainly scientific, the brain is designed in a way that makes olfactive (smell) impression go directly to the parts of the brain responsible for emotion and memory. Often we are not even aware of this to that a smell affected how we perceived something, a person or situation for example. So when selecting the details that will create the atmosphere of a wedding, it should be natural to consider also how scents will contribute to your well-being and the general idea. It is easier than you think.
The scent of an occasion like this (the thoughts in this post can be applied to any event of significance) is just as significant and influential as the music or scenography. It’s just that there is perhaps less tradition of working with it. Making more personal, emotionally valuable, romantic and wise choices indeed makes a difference.
So, what should you think about? Two things mainly: yourself and your partner (that is one thing) and the other smells at your wedding. The other ones are for example the food, the flowers in your bouquet, surrounding flowers and plants (both decorations and already existing ones), the setting.
Choosing a scent is not very different from the other choices you will be making in that the same criteria should apply. At some point you probably sat down and made a list of what you want your wedding to be like, for example romantic, elegant, unusual, playful, sweet, decadent, personal, sophisticated, relaxed. And you had some ideas on what that would lead to, for example if you and your partner love nature and you want your wedding to be personal you’ll want to incorporate some nature elements into your wedding in setting and menu and clothes. If you are a couple from different cultures you probably put some effort into coming up with ideas on how to add different elements and symbols based on that. If you want a Rat Pack wedding that has influenced your choice of DJ and dress and venue. Etc etc. All these kinds of thoughts and ideas can be translated into scents. There are many many fragrances to choose between to find that scent that reflects and idea so this is a good thing to get some help with. But just to give you a few examples… if you are nature lovers you would probably like wilderness fragrance distillery Juniper Ridge, if one of you has roots in India you could have a look at Ashoka or Bombay Bling from Neela Vermeire or Chembur from Byredo for example. If you are into historical preservation and art history I suspect Arquiste will make your hearts feel at home. If you had a memorable vacation in the south of France maybe look at creations by a nose from that region (several amazing options…) for example Jean-Claude Ellena, the nose of Hermès. Of you are musicians or music lovers, look for fragrances created with music in mind – an interesting recent example is Jazmin Sarai. Etc etc… we can find endless examples of a particular fragrance that has an element of something that is special to you. (And this is something that I really enjoy doing!!).
Let’s start with you. If you like to wear perfume (or other fragranced products), you will want to wear some for your big love celebration and you’ll want it to be special and right. A wedding is usually an event that lasts for a few hours and as a bride or groom you want to feel fresh and uplifted not tired, uplifted. Maybe you prepared the day before by doing sports and eating and drinking healthy, you have gone to a spa or beautician to add some glow. Scents too, affect our energy, they can help us feel fresh. A scent can also soothe or even make us tired. I would be very surprised if there have not been some people getting married wearing a perfume that either made them tired or maybe even allergic. A wise fragrance choice is one that keeps you in the right mood and supports energy – for example a nice clean cologne or other citrus fragrance for the day and the emotional moments that easily make your body send off extra heat, and then for the evening something more sensual, gourmand or spicy. These two fragrances should be selected so they go well with each other though.
If you feel tense and a little more nervous that you want to feel – it might be unwise to have a fragrance that is too complicated, a more clean fragrance with balanced calm notes will help you relax and feel centered. On the other hand if you are exhausted from preparations, support yourself with something that keeps your mind awake. And of course… coordinate your scent with your partner. You will be close all day, don’t expose yourselves to a scent collision that will not smell nice and give you both a headache. These are just some aspects to consider from a more practical point of view.
Choose a fragrance synchronized with your wedding bouquet. A perfect perfume and a perfect bouquet might clash when in combination if they include smells that don’t go well together. Choose flowers in your bouquet also from a scent perspective; avoid sedating or too strong smell. Co-ordinate your perfume provider and your florist.
Generally, I would say that for your wedding day – don’t go complex. Choose something light, soft, intimate and personal but easy. There will be so much going on, so many people, so many emotions and hormones. Trust your preferences. While its never right to make a perfume purchase too fast (too fast in this case means for example without taking the time to experience more than top notes) this is really really not the time for a hasty risky purchase. Other things to consider, as I mentioned in the beginning of the post, can be looking for a perfume house or creator that you identify with, associations to geographical places that are part of your romantic history together, perfumes created in a romantic contexts (by lovers, or perfumes created by a nose for a lover for example – Jul et Mad fragrances, Le Parfum de Therese is a wonderful example of this, also iconic Shalimar or Infanta en Flor/Fleur de Louis) These are just examples of how you can think. And of course, if you can, maybe consider creating your own fragrance for this day with the help of a perfumer. The process in itself is extra-ordinarily romantic.
Smell an(d) emotion
Now from an emotional and romantic point of view (and what occasion is there more relevant for that than a wedding) there is so much you can do with scents. It is a fact that regardless of whether we are interested or pay attention to it, scents are very powerful because of the brain’s design. Scents are connected to memories and feelings. If you think about it, you probably have some scent memories that you connect to a person, a place or a situation.
This is the same mechanism that teleports us to places and times when we smell something and suddenly get an image in our head. So imagine how beautiful to use this brain force at your weeding and connect this day to those particular moments. During a wedding scent consultation process I talk to a couple about their romantic history to identify one, or several, particular scents that we can work with. Maybe the scent of the first flowers your partner gave you, maybe there is a spice in your favorite meal to cook together, maybe a smell in the apartment or something from a trip together.
A scent that creates an instant connection to the feeling of “us”.
Not only will highlighting such a scent detail during the wedding add emotion from the past, which will intensify your experience, it will also be coded in the brain for the future. So in one or ten years when you want to relive some of that feeling from your wedding day using that scent will help you.
Naturally, we are not talking just about perfume but also about the food, the setting, floral arrangements etc. What we are looking for is a consciously created scent scenography for your wedding which supports atmosphere, emotion and well-being. It should be functional and personal.
Here are some concrete things to consider:
– The place your wedding ceremony and party are in already has/have some scents – take them into consideration. If it’s a church maybe don’t wear incense-like perfume, it will be too much. If you are in a garden with trees and flowers – be careful when adding more flowers so not to create an overdose.
– Synchronize the smells in food, fragrance and flower decorations.
– Avoid smells that guests might react to. For example big lilies give many people a headache and they take over so if you have a lovely plate in your menu with delicate tastes it might not get the attention it deserves.
– If you are giving guests gifts, a scented candle can be really special. Create a red thread, for example if you had roses in your bouquet and fragrance a nice scented rose candle will make the day live on. (Scented candles deserve a post on their own…, they are often used to create an atmosphere, sometimes a shortcut. A good candle is great but no candles by the food! And choose carefully.)
– Create a sensory frame that is comfortable for the senses for guests – everything from food to scented candles in wash rooms should be treated like members of one ensemble. Think of scent as a scenography tool.
If reading this made you interested in making scent scenography part of your wedding and you would like some help with that or if you are a wedding coordinator and would like to incorporate this into your process you can contact me using the comments section below, through Facebook or by e-mail sylvia(at)interabang.nu
And of course I would love to hear any thoughts or reflections from readers! What scents do you associate with your relationship? What scents do you remember from your wedding?