How To Choose The Perfect Wedding Perfume

A week or so ago, Annabel asked Love My Dress readers what perfume they’d be wearing in the lovely hot weather. The response was brilliant and prompted me to think about ways in which to make scent a big part of a wedding day. We’ve already seen the wonderful scented stationery collaboration from Cutture and Chapter 7 Scents. I think the idea of carrying a fragrant theme throughout the day is a such a thoughtful, personal touch.

Our sense of smell is something we take for granted but our olfactory memories are what often help us to remember in more vivid detail, we’re just not so aware of it. Simply catching a whiff of a certain scent again is enough to bring all the emotion and excitement of a day flooding back. That’s kind of magical don’t you think?

Bride-Spraying-Perfume

Image Source: Elizabeth Anne Designs

The most personal choice of all is which perfume to wear yourself. Nothing is more subjective than scent. It’s fascinating to think that our synapses are all wired slightly differently, meaning that the way you perceive a smell will never be quite the same as anyone else’s perception. Choosing a perfume as a final accessory on your big day might be simple; if you have a signature scent that you feel embodies all that you are then why would you wear anything else?

A wedding is an expression of everything that is beautiful about two people in love, if you both have perfumes that you adore, that you’ve bought for each other again and again over the years, then it’s the obvious choice to be wearing those scents to exchange vows.

Perfumes

But what if you’ve never found a perfume that you really love? Or maybe you’d like to make new memories with a scent chosen especially for your wedding. Where on earth do you start? Browsing the perfume counters at a department store can be a bewildering experience. There are thousands of fragrances to choose from, the only reference points you have to go by are adverts on television or in glossy magazines, an attractive bottle or a recommendation from a sales assistant. There is only so much skin you can expose on which to spray; all the scents start to blend together until you can’t tell which is which and eventually you leave, clutching a handful of little paper strips, feeling fuzzy headed and no closer to making a decision.

Perfumes 2

We’ve all been there. Even the most discerning perfumista will admit to feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice available, be it designer fragrance, celebrity endorsed or high end niche. There is also a whole other language used in the perfume industry that can be very disconcerting. Words like ‘sillage’ and ‘dry-down’ mean nothing to most of us. So with all this in mind, here are a few helpful tips when it comes to picking the perfect scent for your perfect wedding.

Firstly, it might be useful to know the main types of fragrance, in order to narrow down your choice:

  1. Colognes (not just for men by the way) are normally citrusy, fresh and invigorating scents, ideal if you prefer to smell bright and clean. Classic citrus scents to search for would be Chanel Cristalle and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea.
  2. Florals are pretty self explanatory and consist of a huge array of fragrant blooms; from classic rose to softly powdered iris, this is a massive area to explore. Some mainstream examples of timeless floral fragrance would include Chanel No19 and L’air du Temps by Nina Ricci. Jo Malone also make an array of floral fragrances.
  3. Orientals are usually heavy and exotic fragrances, often with a lot of warmth, sweetness and spice. Some classic oriental perfumes are Thierry Mugler Angel and YSL Opium, whilst Tom Ford are responsible for some seriously luxurious oriental perfumes that ooze sophistication.
  4. Aqua or marine scents have a blue, watery quality and became extremely popular in the 90’s. Popular scents in this style are L’Eau D’Issey from Issey Miyake and Escape by Calvin Klein.
  5. Chypre or woody scents are earthy, mossy fragrances with a definite forest floor greenness to them. This is a complex group of fragrance with notable scents including Cuir de Russe from Chanel.

Of course there are sub genres within these groups. There is a plethora of fruity fragrances around at the moment (think Vera Wang) as well as a whole array of gourmand perfumes, featuring every edible note from caramel to coffee. Prada Candy is an excellent example.

vera-wang-perfume

A particularly useful tool is reference website Fragrantica. It’s an incredible resource for exploring fragrance. If a particular group or note sounds attractive then it’s possible to see a list of fragrances that fall into these different categories. You can then venture to the department store with an idea of which perfumes you’d like to seek out. I would also recommend Bois de Jasmin, a beautifully written blog with an impressive collection of fragrance reviews and articles about scent.

The choice is not limited to department stores only. There are some wonderful boutiques that stock a really diverse selection of fragrances, including the more niche brands. Bloom Perfumery is excellent, as is Les Senteurs, both in London. The staff are extremely knowledgable and know that only the perfume can sell itself to you, so spending a few hours exploring these boutiques with a little guidance is a brilliant pre-wedding treat.

Bloom Perfumery - 1

les senteurs

Top Image source: Olfactoria’s Travels

Perfume can really change it’s character as it develops on the skin – ask the smaller boutiques if you can take away one or two samples so you can observe the changes yourself over time. You can also order them online. This allows you to try the fragrance multiple times and make sure you really love it before you make a decision.

There is no harm in taking your time when it comes to choosing perfume. It’s a chemical reaction between the molecules in the bottle and your own skin that is unpredictable; a perfume needs the chance to really develop and come alive on your skin. What smells great on your maid of honour may not smell so great on you!

chanel-perfume-counter

 Image Source: News Limited

A lovely boutique that sells it’s own fragrances exclusively is Shay and Blue, at 80 York Street, London. The Shay and Blue brand has a gorgeous aesthetic and equally stylish content. The fragrances themselves span an impressive range. From cool and smooth like Almond Cucumber; hedonistic berry sweetness in Atropa Belladonna; delicate petals with a swirl of dulce de leche in Amber Rose and the aromatic sophistication of Suffolk Lavender – this perfume house has something that everyone will love.  It features highly on my own personal list of recommendations because I feel that it has all the looks and exclusivity of a niche brand, yet with it’s affordable price tags it’s also accessible.

The fragrances are beautifully made, vibrant and very wearable. They accessorise without overpowering, which for a bride or groom is extremely important. The company also make scented candles, excellent as thank you gifts and favours. You could scent all your bridesmaids in contrasting Shay and Blue scents as the travel size atomisers make a gorgeous little present to slip into a clutch bag.

Shay & Blue Perfume

If your wedding is themed then it would be a lovely idea to choose a perfume that complements your choice; a winter wedding may call for a warmer scent; a beach wedding, something cool and fresh. If vintage is your thing, have a look at what perfumes were around during that era.  There is an excellent chapter on vintage wedding perfume in Annabel’s book, Style Me Vintage Weddings that has been written by scent specialist Lizzie Ostrom, aka, Odette Toilette, ‘Purveyor of Olfactory Adventures.  Whilst many of the classic fragrances have been reformulated to meet with new regulations, the vibe of the perfume is usually preserved.  A seriously dedicated bride will usually be able to hunt down a vintage bottle of scent on Ebay.

I also love the idea of matching your scent to your flowers. If your bouquet is abundant with fragrant blooms like roses or freesias, seek out those notes in a perfume too. Sometimes perfumes can stain so to protect your precious gown spritz into your hair or carried a scented handkerchief.

Perfumes 3

Above all else, enjoy the search! Finding your perfect perfume is a love affair all of its own. There are some seriously complex fragrances out there and they need time to show you their true colours. Think about how you want your day to be remembered and find a scent that will fill you with joy whenever you wear it again.  It’s my one regret that during the preparation for my own wedding, I was so excited by all the other elements that I forgot to even pack a perfume to wear!

With hindsight I know that being able to lift the cap from the bottle of scent that I wore on the day, spritz it onto my skin and be transported back through time would have rendered those happy moments even more keenly into my memory.

bride-with-perfume

Image source:  100 Layer Cake

Don’t underestimate the power of your olfactive sense, choose something that each time you wear it, will make you as extremely happy as you did on your special day.

I’d love to know what perfume you plan on wearing or have you yet to choose your wedding day scent?

Love Susie

Susie is a member of the Love My Dress® writing team.  She also writes her own blog, Scent Epiphany.  You can read more about Susie on our About Page.

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12 thoughts on “How To Choose The Perfect Wedding Perfume

  1. Love this Susie! I adore smells and their power to transport you to a time and a place, both good and bad! However I can’t stand perfume departments and duty free shops as the over powering smell of 100 different perfumes makes me feel ill and I have to walk without breathing through them (can be tricky!!)! I therefore can’t face the search of finding new or different scents in that environment. I can only really smell one or two before a headache beckons. I am really into natural cosmetics and toiletries (not a fan of fake chemicals) can you recommend any natural perfume companies? I know Liz Earle does one that I fancy, I just need to get a sample! xxx

  2. Hello lovely! Glad you love the article!

    The subject of synthetics is an interesting one. Basically, unless a perfumer only uses natural essential oils then the presence of synthetic ingredients is inevitable. They are an essential ingredient in most perfumes because some scents simply cannot be extracted naturally. It’s only particular chemicals that cause headaches.

    I have a very sensitive nose too and I can smell ISO E SUPER (which is a super floriliser that prolongs the life of certain floral notes and gives them depth) a mile off. It’s a common cause of headaches in a lot of people. Probably the reason why you suffer at the duty free is because a lot of mass produce fragrance contains these specific synthetics to bolster an otherwise cheap formulation. They remain popular because the majority of people just don’t get bothered by it. Lucky them!

    I would recommend going to Bloom or Les Senteurs as the perfumes are more expertly made with much more care and attention lavished on them. The use of mega synthetics in these perfumes is less common, although you will pretty much find some synthetics in everything. The new EU regulations deem naturals more harmful than chemicals!

  3. Scent is undoubtedly one of our most unexplored avenues. We often forget how powerful scent is. How much it can transport us back to a memory, emotion or even person. Finding a scent for the perfect day can be a precarious situation. However, in the end, our heart always guides us the right way.

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  4. This is a brilliant article Susie, and very timely for me too. I’m a little torn between wearing my everyday perfume, Chloe, and finding something new for my wedding day. I love Chloe, as does my boy (who says it smells like me!), but I’ve been wearing it for so long I hardly notice it on me anymore. The idea of a new scent that reminds me specifically of our wedding every time I use it is quite appealing… Either way, love this – beautifully written and it’s obvious you love your scent! xx

  5. Thank you Kate!
    Have you thought about choosing something that will remind you and your fiancé a little of your signature Chloe? Look for scents that have a main rose note with a slight fruitiness, which is what makes up Chloe, along with lily of the valley, magnolia and amber.

    Maybe choose a rose fragrance with with a slightly different twist, something really special. There is a gorgeous fragrance by Ann Gerard called Rose Cut. Ann is a jeweller and her range of fragrances are all inspired by the way that light refracts from precious stones and the fluidity of metals. Very fitting to wear on a wedding day! Rose Cut is a slightly sweet, delicate and beautiful rose perfume that I think you might love xxx

    1. Sounds like the perfect compromise! Yes, I love my roses and florals and I’ll be googling Ann Gerard later. Fragrance is a whole new world for me, it’s previously been limited to departments stores and a brief sampling session in Jo Malone. Thanks for your advice lovely xxx

  6. I can completely see the attraction of wearing your ‘usual’ perfume for your wedding day, to smell just like you, but I bought a new perfume for my wedding day (English Pear and Freesia by Jo Malone) and now every time I wear it it transports me back to the day, especially the 10 minutes before the ceremony when I was so excited and its really lovely to have that feeling in a bottle!

    Susie’s idea of a twist on your usual perfume is a fantastic idea! My ‘usual’ is Elizabeth Arden Green Tea which I love, but I wanted something a bit different which I just wear on special occasions.

    Thanks for the article! Perfume is such a confusing thing if you don’t have a clue! (Which I certainly didn’t!)

  7. I walked past someone wearing my best friends wedding day perfume yesterday … it did exactly that, transported me back to her wonderful day. I will be thinking a lot before I choose mine, I loved having that instant reminder! Excellent piece, thank you & keep up the good work

  8. Hi ladies! Im getting married this day week and i’m wearing Ralph Lauren Romance. I normally wear Coco Mademoiselle but the first date i ever went on with my fiancé i sprayed the end of a bottle of Romance on before rushing out the door. He probably would never know that or recognise it but it always reminds me of him when i see a bottle so thats how i decided it was the right scent for me! 🙂

  9. i’ve been waiting for an article like this! just starting to think about what fragrance to go for, love the idea of something new that will always remind you of that day…very special. i have been thinking about jo malone red roses, or i think you can make your own in there? i’m looking for something a bit more intense over the floral fruity ones as mine is a winter wedding, any other suggestions welcome! xx

    1. Hi Grace, thanks for your comment! I’m really glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

      Jo Malone Red Roses is a really lovely scent, a deep, velvety rendition of a perfect rose in full bloom. You gotta love roses to love this one though, it’s REALLY rosy! At Jo Malone they offer customers the chance to experiment with layering scents, meaning that whilst you don’t exactly create your own, you can layer one scent over another to create a more multi-faceted perfume. The sales assistants will be full of recommendations on how to intensify Red Roses and turn it into your perfect wedding scent by layering on another fragrance from the collection.

      My one big piece of advice would be to make sure, if you visit a Jo Malone counter, that you try the fragrances then go away, do some more shopping, have lunch and really see how the perfume develops on your skin before you commit to a purchase. You have to love it and sometimes a scent can really change on the skin as it warms and settles.

      Have fun! Love Susie x

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