Scent is the strongest one of our five senses and a powerful memory-trigger. That’s why choosing a unique fragrance for your big day should be just as important as finding the perfect dress.
“It’s the only one [of our five senses] that’s directly tied to the limbic system which is the area of the brain that controls memory and food,” says Tom Knotek, a sensory consultant. “So whenever you smell a fragrance, it forms an emotional connection to that experience.”
And since picking the right scent is a very personal experience, we asked Knotek for his top tips on how to choose one that will work for you.
1. Consider the kind of wedding you’re having.
Fragrance should really complement your wedding, so, for example, if you are having a casual outdoor wedding, consider something light, fresh, and airy.
“If she is doing a very traditional wedding, you probably want to go with a little bit more traditional fragrance—gardenia, jasmine, or Lilly of the valley,” says Knotek. “But if she is barefoot at the beach in the Bahamas, I would do a tropical fragrance. I would do something with tropical florals, something like Monoi or Plumeria. And if she is doing something on the beach in California, she might want to do something salt water-y with some orange blossom that smells like California.”
2. Eau de Parfum vs Eau de Toilette.
The difference between the two is the concentration of oils in each. So not only is eau de parfum much stronger than eau de toilette but it also lasts much longer on the skin. If you are able to carry a small bottle in your purse and quickly re-dab during the day, then eau de toilette is the way to go. But if that’s not possible, invest in a stronger eau de parfum. “As soon as you come out of the shower you spritz perfume in the air and walk through that veil. And as your body temperature heats up during the day, you will get little whizz of the fragrance,” says Knotek.
2. Customize your favorite fragrance.
If you don’t want to change the scent you’ve been using for years, then consider personalizing it. The good news is that nowadays there are a lot of places where you can do so. Some of them will even allow you to design your own bottle.
“I would go to a fragrance bar like Jo Malone or Tom Ford and buy my base. Then if I want to make it a little bit sexier, I add something like Tuscan Leather or Noir. And if I want to make it lighter I can add a citrus or a fresh fragrance such as Neroli Portofino or Costa Azzurra,” says Knotek.
Experts divide scents into six “families”: citrus, floral, Oriental, woody, Fougère (includes notes of lavender, geranium, and moss), and Chypre (citrus accord of bergamot with a floral heart and an oak moss bottom). Citrus and floral are undisputedly the most popular ones among them. Both are a great option for outdoor spring and summer weddings. Woody scents include patchouli and sandalwood and would complement perfectly a barn wedding in the mountains. Romantic brides and grooms should consider a delicate Oriental fragrance while couples getting hitched in the fall and winter should go for a Chypre or Fougère scent.
Byredo Bal d'Afrique, $150; barneys.com
Tom Ford Mandarino di Amalfi, $140; sephora.com
Le Labo Bergamote 22, $175; barneys.com
Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, $255; barneys.com
Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge, $220; sephora.com
Balenciaga Florabotanica, $100; sephora.com
Tom Ford Tobacco Oud, $535; sephora.com
Comme des Garçons Amazingreen; $75; sephora.com
Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Desert Oud, $306; barneys.com
Armani Privé Ambre Eccentrico, $270; giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com
Montale Sweet Orient Dream, $170; amazon.com
Diptique Eau Duelle, $150; diptyqueparis.com
Mad Madame Juliette Has a Gun, $145; sephora.com
Cartier La Panthère EDP Légère, $102; sephora.com
Giorgio Armani Si, $120; giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com
Dior Sauvage, $72; sephora.com
Houbigant Fougere Royale, $600; bergdorfgoodman.com
Histoires de Parfums 1725, $105; sephora.com