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inspirations

Dresses, fabrics, cutlery, eye shadow(s), hair, playlists, scallops, weather, tents, napkins, wines, cakes, cookies, beloved relatives, impossible relatives, speeches, ribbons… The list of things that can be part of planning a wedding is endless.

If you ask me an important sense is often neglected. There are perfumes advertised in wedding magazines, and every now and then a story about a particular perfume and a related love story of someone famous, or a perfume created as a love declaration. But I can’t remember a more dedicated piece on the scent aspects of a wedding. (If you have, please share). Some perfume writers and bloggers have addressed this topic in an ambitious way though. I have also not seen proper consultations offered in retail (I don’t count “there is a new romantic lily of the valley out on the market, the perfect scent for a bride” as a wedding scent consultation).

Now you may think, well maybe it’s just not as important and prominent as the dress, music, place, flowers etc… My answer is: are you sure?

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Smells have a very powerful impact on our memories, moods and feelings. So when selecting the details that will create the atmosphere of a wedding, it should be natural to consider also how scents will contribute. It is easier than you think.

The scent of an occasion like this (the thoughts in this post can be applied to any event of significance) is just as significant and influential as the music or scenography. It’s just that there is no tradition of working with it. That however does not mean that we are not affected, and making more personal, emotionally valuable, romantic and wise choices would indeed make a difference.

So, what should you think about? Two things mainly: yourself and your partner (that is one thing) and the other smells at your wedding. The other ones are for example the food, the flowers in your bouquet, surrounding flowers and plants (both decorations and already existing ones), the setting.

Choosing a scent is not very different from the other choices you will be making in that the same criteria should apply. At some point you probably sat down and made a list of what you want your wedding to be like, for example romantic, elegant, unusual, playful, sweet, decadent, personal, sophisticated, relaxed. And you had some ideas on what that would lead to, for example if you and your partner love nature and you want your wedding to be personal you’ll want to incorporate some nature elements into your wedding in setting and menu and clothes. If you are a couple from different cultures you probably put some effort into coming up with ideas on how to add different elements and symbols based on that. If you want a Rat Pack wedding that has influenced your choice of DJ and dress and venue. Etc etc. All these kinds of thoughts and ideas can be translated into scents.

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Your fragrance
Let’s start with you. If you like to wear perfume (or other fragranced products), you will want to wear some for your big love celebration and you’ll want it to be special and right. A wedding is usually an event that lasts for a few hours and as a bride or groom you want to feel fresh and uplifted not tired, uplifted. Maybe you prepared the day before by doing sports and eating and drinking healthy, you have gone to a spa or beautician to add some glow. Scents too, affect our energy, they can help us feel fresh. A scent can also soothe or even make us tired. I would be very surprised if there have not been some people getting married wearing a perfume that either made them tired or maybe even allergic. A wise fragrance choice is one that keeps you in the right mood and supports energy – for example a nice clean cologne or other citrus fragrance for the day and the emotional moments that easily make your body send off extra heat, and then for the evening something more sensual, gourmand or spicy. These two fragrances should be selected so they go well with each other though.

If you feel tense and a little more nervous that you want to feel – it might be unwise to have a fragrance that is too complicated, a more clean fragrance with balanced calm notes will help you relax and feel centered. On the other hand if you are exhausted from preparations, support yourself with something that keeps your mind awake. And of course… coordinate your scent with your partner. You will be close all day, don’t expose yourselves to a scent collision that will not smell nice and give you both a headache. These are just some aspects to consider from a more practical point of view.

Choose a fragrance synchronized with your wedding bouquet. A perfect perfume and a perfect bouquet might clash when in combination if they include smells that don’t go well together. Choose flowers in your bouquet also from a scent perspective; avoid sedating or too strong smell. Co-ordinate your perfume provider and your florist.

Generally, I would say that for your wedding day – don’t go complex. Choose something light, soft, intimate and personal but easy. There will be so much going on, so many people, so many emotions and hormones. Trust your preferences. While its never right to make a perfume purchase too fast (too fast in this case means for example without taking the time to experience more than top notes) this is really really not the time for a hasty risky purchase. Other things to consider can be looking for a perfume house or creator that you identify with, associations to geographical places (for example places that are part of your romantic history together), perfumes created in a romantic contexts (By nose couples, or perfumes created by a nose for a lover or commissioned for a beloved.) And if you can, maybe consider creating your own fragrance for this day with the help of a perfumer.

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Smell an(d) emotion
Now from an emotional and romantic point of view (and what occasion is there more relevant for that than a wedding) there is so much you can do with scents. It is a fact that regardless of whether we are interested or pay attention to it, scents are very powerful because of the brain’s design. Scents are connected to memories and feelings. If you think about it, you probably have some scent memories that you connect to a person, a place or a situation.

This is the same mechanism that teleports us to places and times when we smell something and suddenly get an image in our head. So imagine how beautiful to use this brain force at your weeding and connect this day to those particular moments. During a wedding scent consultation process I talk to a couple about their romantic history to identify one, or several, particular scents that we can work with. Maybe the scent of the first flowers your partner gave you, maybe there is a spice in your favorite meal to cook together, maybe a smell in the apartment or something from a trip together.
A scent that creates an instant connection to the feeling of “us”.

Not only will highlighting such a scent detail during the wedding add emotion from the past, which will intensify your experience, it will also be coded in the brain for the future. So in one or ten years when you want to relive some of that feeling from your wedding day using that scent will help you.

Scent scenography
Naturally, we are not talking just about perfume but also about the food, the setting, floral arrangements etc. What we are looking for is a consciously created scent scenography for your wedding which supports atmosphere, emotion and well-being. It should be functional and personal.

Here are some concrete things to consider:

– The place your wedding ceremony and party are in already has/have some scents – take them into consideration. If it’s a church maybe don’t wear incense-like perfume, it will be too much. If you are in a garden with trees and flowers – be careful when adding more flowers so not to create an overdose.
– Synchronize the smells in food, fragrance and flower decorations.
– Avoid smells that guests might react to. For example big lilies give many people a headache and they take over so if you have a lovely plate in your menu with delicate tastes it might not get the attention it deserves.
– If you are giving guests gifts, a scented candle can be really special. Create a red thread, for example if you had roses in your bouquet and fragrance a nice scented rose candle will make the day live on. (Scented candles deserve a post on their own…, they are often used to create an atmosphere, sometimes a shortcut. A good candle is great but no candles by the food! And choose carefully.)
– Create a sensory frame that is comfortable for the senses for guests – everything from food to scented candles in wash rooms should be treated like members of one ensemble. Think of scent as a scenography tool.

If reading this made you interested in making scent scenography part of your wedding and you would like some help with that or if you are a wedding coordinator and would like to incorporate this into your process please feel free to contact me for a consultation using the comments section below or by e-mail sylvia(at)interabang.nu

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During the last couple of months I have noticed this blog has a lot of new visitors. Welcome! I don’t expect any of you readers to go on a historical safari through old posts (although I notice some do posts do get a second, third, seventeenth life which feels great) so I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself a little bit to new acquaintances and maybe connect some dots for some returning readers. So this will be a slightly more personal post that might answer some questions about where topics and details on Sense of Scent come from.

My interest in perfume is in fact rather an interest in olfactory perception, or the sense of smell, in general. This, is part of an interest in how our senses work, which of course is a big part of how we work as humans. Why do we do what we do?  What do we notice, what does it mean to us and why. The eternal metaphysical or psychological quest, trying to figure others and oneself out. (And yes, I have numerous times wondered why I did not major in Psychology because this field always attracted me.) I think I am interested in perfumes for some of the same reasons why I am interested in communication (which has been my career path my entire adult life) – I am fascinated by how we define ourselves to ourselves and to others. Like many others interested in scents I was brought up in a family where senses where always present. I was taught to trust my senses when choosing meat or vegetables, to experience places with eyes and nose, to feel materials for house construction with my fingertips – stone, wood… To smell the air in order to predict rain and to never wear clothes that didn’t feel good against my skin. I was encouraged to use my senses and to trust them. This has had a major impact on my personality and life and is something I believe in when it comes to guiding children through life.

When it comes to the sense of smell, it is an unquestionable fact that we are affected by smells and that this influences our relations and perception and evaluation in daily life. It has been like this for as long as humans have existed, our sense of smell has been essential for our survival capacity. We are affected by olfactory impressions. They influence our moods, energy levels, associations, feelings and more. So the situations in which we choose smells, for example when applying perfume and when buying/choosing perfume are really interesting. There are more or less conscious choices, there are more or less informed choices. But no choices are arbitrary and every time we apply a smell on our skin, that will affect us and people we meet for hours, it is a choice. Why does one person choose something transparent and another one something forceful? Why does one person want to smell like a walk in the forest and another like a spicy old church (no judgement, I like both!)? Not to mention how mass-market perfume sales reflect zeitgeist in terms of gender issues and other aspects. I find this fascinating.

Now from a communications and marketing point of view I am intrigued by the big black hole between the fragrance industry and the consumer. Perfumes are a product created with much skill, it requires time and an aesthetic endeavor. Perfume is a fairly expensive product to purchase. And yet the industry is quite bad in most cases at educating the consumer and sharing its knowledge and intentions. So we have a market full of consumers that don’t really know what they are buying or how they should go about choosing which product is right for them. And retail personnel do not always have sufficient tools to provide adequate support. I am talking mainly about the mass-market now. Which is what the majority of consumers see. Now we also have a parallel fragrance world created by numerous independent niche companies. Generally this is the market that I am more interested in because I see that these perfume companies are leading the way when it comes to customer relationships, intelligent brand work and communication. Helping people discover this perfume world is a privilege.

A couple of years ago I started writing this blog mainly to inspire (and put pressure on) myself to learn more and because I felt a desire to do something concrete and professional with this personal interest. I wasn’t really sure what my designated perfume path would be so I thought this would be a way to discover that step by step. In the last two years the blog has lead to some seminars, some freelance writing and a number of private consultations. I have gotten to know amazing people thanks to this and have had many inspiring experiences and thought exchanges. My profile has also formed itself a bit more and I do feel that I feel most likely will work in some way with scents for the rest of my life.

Some day I would definitely like to create fragrances, but it is not the most ardent dream or priority right now. I would however love to work with marketing and communication for a perfume brand that I believe in and who believe in a less excluding way of doing things. I get a genuine kick out of helping people with curiosity but limited knowledge to discover the world of scents. Many perfume bloggers are enormously knowledgeable and if you follow some blogs I am sure that you like me are impressed with their encyclopedic minds. I have at times felt a pressure to deliver in a way suitable to those eyes in this blog, which has occasionally paralyzed me a bit. Because what I initially and in many ways still want to do is to write for those who have no idea how to find a perfume, where to even start. Those who have never experienced finding a fragrance that feels really personal or found their scented style. I never get tired of talking about top notes, base notes and why a cologne always smells in a certain way or why a perfume does not feel right when you come home with it after having tried it for 15 minutes before buying. I love love love helping someone find their personality in the language of scent, translate their descriptions of themselves into olfactory notes. This means that if at this point I was offered to choose between making a perfume or writing a book I would choose the book. And among my long-term plans is to learn more about the neurological and psychological aspects of the sense of smell in order to someday work with scents as a therapeutic tool for example with people suffering from traumatic experiences, grief or Alzheimer, autism…I don’t know yet exactly. I suppose my perspective puts me in a crossroad between art and science.  I like that crossroad. They are lovers, science and art.

It is not likely that you will find me writing reviews here, although I do choose to highlight perfumes, perfumers, perfume brands that I find inspiring. I rarely write about perfumes or perfumers that I don’t like if not for some specific reason. There is so much to spend time thinking about and I prefer to look for the stories that inspire me and that I think deserve some spotlight.

I am very honored that you are here, that you spent the time it took to read the reflections above and I hope that if you follow my scented journey through life I will have the occasion to inspire and enlighten you at least once. If you have a question or want to share a thought on scents I will always be happy to read it, my email is s.z@lefumoir.com You can also connect through twitter or facebook.

I wish you a new week full of scentful sensations.