How to pick the perfect wedding scent

Every. Single. Time.

wedding perfume
(Image credit: BU Falcons)

Every. Single. Time.

They say scent is the key to our memories (google Proust's madeleines if you don't believe me), and in my case it couldn't be more true. You see there is one specific scent that brings me back to one of my favourite days ever, my wedding day, every time I unscrew the bottle cap. Well, two specific scents to be precise: Jo Malone Orange Blossom and Jo Malone Peonies & Blush.

I've always loved experimenting with scent, and I blame the women in my family for that. I can't smell Muelhens Eau de Cologne without thinking of my maternal grandma, and one of my earliest memories is that of my mum spritzing heady Shalimar on her neck right before a dinner party. My aunt was obsessed with Jean-Paul Gaultier's Classique, and for years I adopted the scent as my own, after a brief affair with Cacharel Noa (the perfume bottle appealed to my teenage self).

But even though on a daily basis, I love changing perfumes according to my mood, I knew that for my wedding day, I didn't want to be quite as cavalier. You see, I wanted something really special. I knew that if I picked the right scent, then from that day on, it would always remind me of one of the happiest days of my life (yeah yeah, I know that's cheesy).

I began researching bespoke wedding scents, as I didn't really want the same fragrance as anyone else - and no, I wasn't a bridezilla, before you ask. Which brought me to Jo Malone's #ScentYourWedding service. In a nutshell, it's a personal consultation where you share every detail about your personality and your wedding, big or small, so you can find the fragrances that best suit you.

wedding perfume

For example, I was asked how my future husband and I met, where we were from and what we enjoyed doing. I also shared details of my dress, the venue, my flowers and decorations. A series of fragrances were then pulled out for me to smell, and I was encouraged to mix and match different combinations before picking my two favourites to layer.

Peonies & Blush was the first choice, because peonies have always been my favourite flowers, and they featured in my bouquet, plus the blush aspect mirrored the gold in my wedding dress. Orange Blossom was offered to me because it echoed my childhood holidays in the south of France, and also symbolised happiness and marriage. I liked that traditional aspect to it.

The two combined provided me with a fragrance that I knew was totally unique to me. I burned the Orange Blossom candle during the ceremony too, so that my groom would think of me while he waited for me to walk down the aisle.

A year on, and nothing makes me happier than when I smell those two precise scents. If I have a bad day, I'll spritz them onto my wrists and I instantly feel better, and it brings back memories to my husband. It's hard to explain, but it's a much more powerful reminder than any picture or video, the scent transports us back to that particular moment in time, and that's priceless.

Plus my husband now has wedding anniversary present ideas for life. What more could you ask for?

wedding perfume

Disclaimer: this particular combination worked for me, but if you're still searching for your perfect wedding perfume, here are some tips from Celine Roux, Global Head of Fragrance at Jo Malone London.

The Marie Claire Perfume Directory


Is there a wrong combination when it comes to wedding day perfume?

At Jo Malone London, all of our fragrances are designed to be layered and combined. Our signature is elegantly simple allowing you to recognise the ingredients within the fragrance; our scents are transparent and modern. Therefore any combination is possible, it’s a personal choice. Be brave, try anything, there is no right or wrong. One of the combinations I always suggest to friends getting married is Peony & Blush Suede and Tuberose Angelica for a flirtatious scent with a touch of opulence and added sensuality.

If a bride doesn't want to completely change her scent, what would you advise?

The fragrance you choose on your wedding day should be a scent that you are comfortable with and feels right for you. If you already have a signature scent that is closely associated with you, alter it very slightly for the day with Fragrance Combining™. Layering your signature scent with another fragrance will help you to create an unexpected fragrance for your special day, something that you will always remember.

Many brides choose a scent which is symbolic with an extra dimension of meaning. For example, the peony flower, embodied in Peony & Blush Suede, is an historic omen of good fortune. Orange Blossom is another popular choice; it’s the traditional scent of weddings and symbolises happiness in marriage.

For a romantic touch, choose wedding day scents for the bride and groom which complement one another. We often find that while a bride chooses something like the opulent floral, Peony & Blush Suede, the groom will choose a scent that works brilliantly with it like vibrant Nutmeg & Ginger.

What fragrances are best as a base?

We often recommend the bride uses a body lotion or body crème as a base. First use a fragrant Bath Oil or Body & Hand Wash, followed by rich Body Crème or hydrating Body & Hand Lotion for an all-over scent. This way the skin is scented and conditioned, ready for a spritz of Cologne, the final touch. Make sure you also pack a 30ml cologne bottle in your chosen scent which is the perfect size for your pouch and you can touch up on the day.

We also encourage brides to embrace the evening before your wedding as a chance to unwind, savour the moment and treat yourself while preparing your skin so it’s glowing for the next day. We recommend exfoliating with Geranium & Walnut Body Scrub which sloughs away surface cells to reveal soft, smooth and radiant-looking new skin. Then nourish your skin overnight by applying Vitamin E Body Crème after cleansing. You can do the same thing to relax after the wedding and prepare your skin for your honeymoon.

Do different scent families suit certain personalities better?

We think the best way to use scent is to think of it like a wardrobe which you change according to your mood, the season, the time of day, while keeping it true to your personal style. For example you might change your accessories from day to night. With jewellery, you could wear something chunkier and more simple in the day but add something more sparkling for the evening, the same is true of scent.

Your choice of scent is very personal. At the moment I am using English Pear & Freesia Body Crème to start my beauty routine in the morning. Layering like this helps to make fragrance last all day and is definitely one of my favourite tips. Then I add a spritz of Mimosa & Cardamom Cologne for a golden floral fragrance. Then for the evening I like the warmth of Peony & Blush Suede with Mimosa & Cardamom, it creates a very opulent floral.

How can you store your perfume so it'll last longer than your first anniversary?

Out of direct sunlight and in a room that doesn’t change temperature. We recommend shelf life as 18 months opened and 2 years unopened.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.