If you've ever been engaged, you know there's almost nothing on this planet that cannot be "wedding-ified." I realised this to be true after I came across personalised breath mints branded ‘mint to be,' and while I found these little matrimonial-themed tchotchkes charming, there was one thing I was determined wouldn’t be bridal: my perfume.
I have a fairly demure sense of everyday style (black, navy, and beige on repeat) and tendency to keep my makeup to a minimum, so I consider my fragrance to be the thing that represents my identity; it’s where I express my playfulness, creativity, and mood. And unlike my friends who have worn the same scent for years, I love the reinvention, strength, and inspiration a new scent can bring. Of course over the years, there have been a few standouts. One whiff of Boss Orange and I’m instantly back in my fun university days (as a poor student, I had to make do with just a couple of bottles in my collection). And I’ll recognise Anna Sui Dreams from a mile away — it's my mum’s ultimate favourite. But on the whole, I carefully select fragrances for different points in my life. I didn’t see why my wedding day would be any different.
It was through a friend that I heard about the Jo Malone Scent Your Wedding Consultation. While I had always enjoyed picking fragrances for myself previously, I liked that this was an in-depth experience (and to be honest, I needed some direction for the biggest day of my life). The service is free to book (all you pay for is the perfume, but a purchase isn't compulsory) at Jo Malone boutiques.
First, I learned just how important it would be to match the fragrance to the dress, as well as my personality. “You should think of the weight and feel of each fabric in your dress and relate it to key notes in the fragrances,” explains Celine Roux, Jo Malone's VP of Global Fragrance Development. Dior once said that fragrance should be “the finishing touch on a dress,” meaning an extension of it, not a conflicting layer. Roux explained: "If you have a tight fishtail dress, we recommend Peony & Blush Suede to add volume. If you have a full skirt, Basil & Neroli to bring freshness — with a touch of Red Roses to complement the romance of a princess gown. Tuberose Angelica has a heady, vintage feel if your dress is inspired by decades past, whereas Wild Bluebell suits a whimsical hippy dress vibe."
So, before even smelling any fragrance, I explained that my Monique Lhuillier dress was full of lace embroidery and pretty conservative, as my wedding was at a village church. I'd be getting married in the spring, outdoors in an old country garden, so I wanted to capture the freshness of florals, without it being too sweet and overpowering. The consultant didn’t want me to be affected by prejudice, so she set up a blind scent test. As I inhaled each, I kept my dress and the image of my wedding day in mind. After shortlisting three, I was shown the bottles.
The first was English Pear & Freesia. I’d instantly liked this because the fruitiness of the pear softened the intense floral notes. Surprisingly, I’d also picked Red Roses — a flower I ordinarily hate and had specifically requested not to be in my bouquet during a Bridezilla moment. I now see why they asked me to blind test, as I would have assumed it smelled old-fashioned and immediately disregarded it. In actuality, it was very clear and fresh. The third was Basil & Neroli. The exoticness of it grabbed me, but ultimately, I could only pick two, so this one got the axe.
Why two? The customisation process is all about layering. And layering fragrance isn’t just about soaking your skin with different bottles, but creating dimension by varying the intensity of scents. After smelling the combination of the two I’d shortlisted, I found they didn’t quite work well with each other. I realised I much preferred the English Pear & Freesia, one that was specifically recommend for lace, as it brings a freshness to the intricacy and intensity of the fabric as well as being traditionally English. Instead, my consultant suggested Orange Blossom as my second fragrance. Roux explained that orange blossom is the traditional scent of weddings and symbolises happiness in marriage, and as someone who is painfully superstitious, I confirmed.
To create a light layer, my hands and arms were bathed in the Orange Blossom Body Wash. Then they then massaged in a thin layer of the Orange Blossom Body Cream and finished with spritzing my chosen scent, English Pear & Freesia, on top. The combination of the two felt warm yet feminine. I also bought a candle in the latter scent to burn on the morning of the wedding. (Allegedly, Kate Middleton bought this candle to burn while she got ready to marry Prince William, so I felt like I was in good company.)
What I've found is that the best part about choosing a fragrance just for your wedding is that it's a way to trigger all the happy memories of the day without actually stepping back into your dress. It’s a time capsule in a bottle, and for me, it's more powerful than flipping through my photo album. For this reason, I don't wear it when I run, say, to the shop across the road. I display it on a shelf and every so often, I spritz it to bring back the magic — even if it's just for a minute.