How To Choose A Wedding Fragrance

How To Choose A Wedding Fragrance

Years after the event, the scent you choose to wear for your wedding has the power to transport you right back to the big day – which is why it’s so important to choose something with timeless appeal. To help narrow the search, we asked Jo Fairley, co-founder of the Perfume Society and co-author of The Perfume Bible, to share her expertise.


Can you explain the different types of fragrance? 

From florals to colognes, it’s important brides are familiar with the different types of fragrance before choosing their wedding fragrance. The key ones are as follows: 

Floral – these scents are ultra-feminine, and of all the fragrance families, it’s probably the one you’ll most easily recognise. Think of them as a bouquet of cut flowers conjuring up images of garden parties and spring blossoms. 

Orientals – these are seductive and voluptuous. They have a warm, diffusive richness that lingers on the skin – they’re heavy on the base notes, which tend to last longer, too.  

Aquatic – these scents are part of the ‘fresh’ fragrance family, with outdoorsy, watery notes reminiscent of a soft breeze or a walk by the sea. Just be aware they don’t last for hours on the skin, so if you choose something from this family, you might want to take it with you for top-ups throughout the day.

Chypre – these are elegant and sophisticated. They are warm and dry, and almost all built around a woody, mossy accord of bergamot, oakmoss, patchouli and labdanum.

Colognes – are uplifting, zesty and cooling – and tend to include a combination of lemon, bergamot, orange, grapefruit and mandarin. Be warned, they don’t last long on the skin, so if you love this fresh style, look for a cologne absolute or absolu, which implies a stronger concentration.

What should one look for in a wedding fragrance? 

A wedding fragrance should be memorable and not too heavy. For summer, florals and fresh chypres are the best choices, as they’re not overpowering but have some staying power. Colognes are probably too fleeting, while orientals are very heavy – they are more suited to winter weddings if at all.

How and where should you start looking? 

Try to figure out which fragrance family or families you like, and find something with similar characteristics. Even though you’re choosing something new, you still want it to feel like ‘you’. A good sales consultant can steer you in the right direction – or while we wait for stores to reopen, have a look at the Find-A-Fragrance section on The Perfume Society site for some recommendations.

In your view, are certain fragrances better suited to a wedding day? 

Traditionally, floral scents are very popular, including single floral fragrances featuring lily-of-the-valley, rose, violet or lilac. Lovely choices include Giorgio Armani Sì Eau de Parfum, a fabulous, fresh chypre, with a sophisticated floral bouquet.

Are there any rules to follow when it comes to choosing what you’re going to wear? 

There are a few things brides should bear in mind. First, fragrances should always be left for some time on the skin before you make up your mind – which, of course, is harder at the moment while we currently can’t test things in store. 

On the plus side, wedding fragrance shopping should never be rushed and online sampling is becoming more widely available. Many fragrance websites and department stores also offer discovery sets, so you can try before you buy. 

To reiterate, you really do need to wear a fragrance for some time to know whether you love it. An individual’s body chemistry can subtly alter a perfume’s character – and though sometimes we can fall in love at first spritz, it usually takes up to two hours for the base notes (which are the lingering fragrance elements we really live with) to emerge. 

Try to sample up to half a dozen fragrances on absorbent perfume blotters initially. Leave them for at least an hour and then return to them. Narrow your choices down, and then apply those fragrances to your wrists in turn. Wear one at a time and allow it to develop over several hours. Only then do you want to make up your mind. 

Should you wear something similar to what you wear every day? 

It’s a bit more special to have something new for your wedding day. Ask yourself – do you really want to wear the same scent as you do to the office or to work from home? What’s crucial is to ensure that whatever fragrance you choose doesn’t come as a big surprise to your partner. To avoid any nasty surprises, try wearing the fragrance around your partner in the run up to the big day to ensure it gets a thumbs-up.  

How do you shop for something more unique?

Once restrictions ease, think about visiting an independent fragrance store where you can get some really personalised service, or one of the smaller and more exclusive department stores. Of course, most have websites – and if you e-mail them explaining you’re looking for a wedding fragrance, someone may be kind enough to help you shop online. Alternatively, if you want to explore lots of smaller perfume houses in one place, the Perfume Houses section of The Perfume Society is somewhere you can read and learn about literally hundreds of niche and independent scents. 

Should your scent always match the season? 

Oriental scents probably aren’t suitable for summer weddings – they are too heavy – and a cologne could be too ‘cold’ for winter. An easy way to decide is try to compare the scent to a fabric when you sample it. Some scents are just like velvet in a bottle, others are like fine cotton or broderie anglaise. Use that to help steer your decision.

Try to figure out which fragrance family or families you like, and find something with similar characteristics. Even though you’re choosing something new, you still want it to feel like ‘you’.

How can you make the smell last longer? 

Layering a fragrance with the matching lotion or cream certainly works, as the scent is then ‘time-released’ during the day as the body warms up and cools down. Master perfumer, Harry Fremont, who is based at Firmenich in New York, recommends applying an unscented, oil-based moisturiser before spritzing your chosen scent. Alternatively, choose the eau de parfum or parfum concentration of your fragrance – the percentage of fragrance oil to alcohol base is higher, so it stays put for longer. If you don’t want to lug around a bottle or a spray on the big day, consider buying a Travalo: it’s a leak-proof mini-pump atomiser into which you can easily decant your favourite scent. Give it to whoever’s your helper on the day to carry for you.

Should you go for an eau de toilette or an eau de parfum? 

An eau de parfum is definitely best for a wedding day, as the notes in an eau de toilette tend to disappear after about three or so hours.

Should your scent tie in with your bouquet? 

This is a lovely idea, depending on the flowers you’ve chosen – just bear in mind that some (roses, lily of the valley, orange blossom) are much easier to find translated into scent than others. 

Are hair mists a good option? 

Your hair is a wonderful carrier of fragrance, and you can find hair perfumes in many different scents and fragrances now – Giorgio Armani Sì Eau de Parfum is one such example – just match it to the fragrance on your skin, of course. Long-term, try not to use anything but a dedicated hair mist on your tresses (they’re specially formulated to be kinder to hair) but for a one-off, if your chosen scent isn’t available as a hair fragrance, by all means mist your hair lightly with what you’re applying to your pulse points. Alternatively, spritz it into the air and walk through the mist before you get dressed. 

Finally, where should you spray your fragrance? 

The pulse-points on your body (where your heartbeat can most easily be felt) are said to be the ideal places to apply a scent, as the skin is marginally warmer there – think the base of the neck, the wrists, the inside of the elbow and behind the knees. 



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