When asked for wedding day wisdom, brides always say, “The day will be over before you know it, try to enjoy it.” Even so, the day that you have spent months, even years, preparing for is guaranteed to go by in a blur of anticipation and celebration. Your photographer will capture moments and your guest book documents who showed up, but your wedding fragrance is all on you to orchestrate, and those olfactory memories will last a lifetime. The olfactory bulb, which processes smell, has direct connections to the areas of the brain that control our emotions and our memories. With just a whiff of a special scent, you travel through time and space to the very moment where that memory is anchored. Pretty powerful.
Ahead of my own wedding, I spoke with Céline Roux, head of fragrance development at Jo Malone London, about the sense of smell and how to scent a wedding.
“When I first started working with Jo Malone London, I remember traveling through an airport, familiarizing myself with the scents in a Duty Free,” says Roux. “In the middle of the airport, which was very busy and not at all personal, I was suddenly transported to the arms of my late grandmother. Until then, I hadn’t realized it was her perfume.”
Roux, the ‘nose’ of Jo Malone London, creates scent memories as part of her job description. And the London-based fragrance house is known for their bridal appeal, offering a ‘Scent Your Wedding’ service for brides to create their own sensorial escape.
I wanted to know what components I should consider when selecting my bridal fragrance. I turned to Roux for her fine-fragrance expertise before scheduling my own bridal consultation. Ahead, her advice for creating lasting wedding memories.
What are the first questions a bride should ask herself before selecting her wedding fragrance?
First, she should think of what she likes. You want to select something special for your big day, but now is not the time to take big risks. Stay true to who you are and choose a fragrance that is still you. Ask yourself: What kinds of scents do I like? How do I want this scent to make me feel on my big day?
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During my own consultation with Jo Malone London Stylist Allison at the Nordstrom Seattle flagship, I was given similar advice. Just like your first wedding gown try-on, the right one will make you feel confident, romantic and beautiful. Once you’ve found it, you’ll glow.
“I’m waiting for ‘the look,’” Allison said to me as I sniffed through my options. When I smelled the light, citrus-floral notes of Orange Blossom, my face lit up and Allison knew immediately, “That’s the one, isn’t it?”
What are the most popular bridal fragrances?
Peony & Blush Suede is a very popular scent: elegant, but with something a little warm about it. It’s sensual, but still very floral and fresh. English Pear & Freesia is a standout for brides who want something a little fruitier.
Orange blossom holds special significance in terms of love, as brides since the late 17th century have carried it in their bouquets, woven it into tiaras, and of course, worn it as perfume, for good fortune and serenity on their wedding day.
Jo Malone London Peony & Blush Suede cologne | Jo Malone London English Pear & Freesia cologne | Jo Malone London Orange Blossom cologne
Jo Malone London Orange Blossom is the scent that Kate Middleton chose for her own wedding day, layered with the bright notes of Lime Basil & Mandarin. The Duchess of Cambridge even incorporated orange blossoms into her bridal bouquet and the romantic scent lingered throughout her royal ceremony.
All Jo Malone London fragrances tell a story, adding even more of a personal touch to your selection. The peppery, fresh scent of contemporary classic Lime Basil & Mandarin is the house scent. The 154 cologne, a woody but citrusy scent, is named after the street number of the first Jo Malone London boutique in London.
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How do you make your scent last all day?
We design our body crèmes and bath oils the same way that we develop our fragrances and the way to get the most from your scent is to wear it in multiple forms.
Take time to pamper yourself on your wedding day and start enjoying your fragrance in the bath with one of our bath oils. They’re very potent and will lay the foundation for your fragrance—not to mention, the bath is going to help you relax and put you in the best frame of mind for your wedding.
Then, moisturize with a body crème and spritz your bridal fragrance on top. The perfume will last better on top of the moisturizer than it will on bare skin.
Where should I apply my fragrance?
I like to apply on the warm points, especially during summer: on the wrists, on the backs of the knees, the neck and on the inside corner of the elbows. I also like to spritz a tiny bit on my clothes, though do test this out on a small corner of the fabric before dousing your wedding dress.
Another spot to apply that is so romantic: the veil! Gently kiss the veil with a wash of the scent and as you walk down the aisle, your perfume will linger behind you.
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“Some brides choose a second fragrance to wear across the backs of their shoulders,” Allison tells me, “so that they make an entrance with one scent and exit with another.”
“Where you apply your scent is a very intimate choice,” she says. “It may seem like an insignificant detail, but the subtleties are themselves quite romantic.”
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Let’s discuss scenting the rest of the wedding: how do I create a sensorial atmosphere without being too much?
Our scents are strong, but not overpowering, and will blend into the background of your wedding to add to the overall mood. Anything that is a little bit fruity, citrusy or zesty will complement the meal at your reception without clashing.
Jo Malone London Blackberry & Bay home candle
During my consultation, Allison and I scrolled through pictures of my wedding venue. Once an early-1900s Wells Fargo bank, the gentlemanly restaurant has a moody energy, perfect for an evening wedding. With that in mind, she walked me through the candle selection.
If my wedding venue were a candle, it would be Blackberry & Bay, with its deep, tart berry scent and the warmth and freshness of the woods.
Then, Allison had me smell it alongside Orange Blossom. The heady, masculine smell of Blackberry & Bay with the light, calming scent of orange blossoms and neroli is the perfect marriage.
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Why is having a bridal fragrance so powerful and meaningful?
It links your memories and your emotions to a single scent, or combination of scents. Sometimes the memories are good, sometimes they’re not, like the smell of an ex-boyfriend [laughs]. Scent is powerful. At your wedding, you might have beautiful flowers or cutlery and you will remember those things with your photographs. Your scent will help you remember not just how beautiful your wedding looked, but how you felt on the day.
I heard somebody in the fragrance house saying, “You can live without hearing and seeing, but you can’t live without breathing.” We smell things, we breathe them in, and they transport us to the most special moments in our lives. In the years after your wedding, wherever you may find yourself, you will smell that combination of scents, and it will take you back to your special day, instantly.
Jo Malone London