6 Tips for Choosing a Fragrance for Your Wedding Day

Plus: How to apply your perfume so it lasts all night.

A bride holding perfume on her wedding day.

Photo by Deborah Ann Photography

You’ve got the dress, selected your shoes, and now there’s just one crucial element of your outfit left: Your wedding day perfume! “It’s the most important accessory you can have because scent is very much connected to emotion and memory,” says fragrance development pro Tami Katz. “Pick something you genuinely love, because you’re going to remember what you wore for the rest of your life.”

Meet the Expert

Tami Katz is a co-founder of boutique fragrance consultancy Serendipitee NYC. She is based in New York.  

If your everyday perfume doesn’t feel up to the task, it’s time to choose something more worthy of a special occasion. Here, Katz breaks down her best tips for selecting a wedding day fragrance that will suit both your body chemistry and your big day. 

Go With the Eau 

For the most part, the scents we wear are a mixture of water, alcohol, and concentrated fragrance oil. When shopping, you’ll typically encounter three fragrance types: Eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne. Eau de parfum has the highest level of fragrance oil (typically 15 percent and higher), followed by eau de toilette (around 10 percent), and then eau de cologne (two to four percent).  If you like your scent to pack a punch, go with an eau de parfum. If you’re looking for something more subtle, select an eau de toilette or cologne.

Consider Your Vibe 

Your venue and overall wedding day vibe should definitely influence your fragrance, so let it guide your initial direction. “If you’re doing a beach wedding, go for a lighter, airier scent,” says Katz. “If you’re in the city or a big ballroom, be a bit more sophisticated with deeper, richer florals, or some wood or amber notes.” This will help whittle down options when you start feeling overwhelmed by the fragrance wall at Sephora!

Seek Out Notes 

As mentioned above, certain scents play better with certain ambiances. Here, Katz breaks down fragrance notes to seek out according to different wedding styles:

Soft and Romantic

“Do light, airy florals—dewy rose, peony—sheer musks, and very light woody notes,” says Kats. Fragrances that hit these marks include Gucci Bloom, Chloe, and Love in White by Creed.

Sexy and Sophisticated 

“Go with a bolder fragrance—something a little more ‘in your face’ and deeper,” says Katz. “Look for decadent gourmand scents, spicy notes, and woody notes.”  Some options: Black Opium by YSL, Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdijan, and Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf.

Boho and Beachy 

“Light, airy seaspray and ozonic fragrances, or even something coconut-y, work well,” says Katz. Her picks: Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt cologne, Bvlgari’s au thé blanc, and Byredo’s Gypsy Water.

Classic and Traditional  

Looking for something more unisex or masculine? Katz loves Acqua di Gio by Giorgia Armani, Bleu de Chanel, Sauvage by Dior, and Santal 33 by Le Labo.

On Trend 

“Rose is definitely making a big comeback,” says Katz. “Some people associate rose with being old-fashioned, but it’s such a beautiful note, and it’s one of the most-used florals in all of perfumery.” Per Katz, It works well for the moment because it’s being mixed with other notes in fresh ways, and you’ll find beautiful examples of this in Young Rose by Byredo and Portrait of a Lady by Frédéric Malle

Test It Ahead of Time 

“Your wedding is not the day to try something new,” says Katz. “It’s the time to wear something you feel comfortable in.” So if you are going to be debuting a different scent for the day, be sure to really test drive it ahead of time. Wear it on multiple days at multiple times of day, within the same season as your wedding date. This will give you a feel for how the scent will hold up in multiple scenarios (e.g. when you’re perspiring, when the temperature drops, when it’s late at night, etc.). Take care to notice how long the scent lasts, and whether or not you receive any compliments while wearing it. If the perfume is firing on all cylinders for you, it’ll be something you love in multiple circumstances. 

Wear It the Right Way  

The best way to test a scent is to be sure you’re maximizing its application. Katz recommends spritzing the fragrance on your wrists, behind your ears, and by your belly button, then spraying a few bursts in front of you at face level and walking back and forth between the mist. “Fragrance tends to stick to clothing and hair very nicely,” says Katz.

Apply your fragrance before putting on clothes, especially white garments such as a wedding dress. “If the fragrance has color to it, you don’t know if it will stain,” says Katz. 

Trust Your Gut

“Fragrance smells different on everyone,” says Katz. “It depends on your skin, the foods you eat, the medications you take, the vitamins you take. Just because someone recommends a scent doesn’t mean you’re going to like it—and there’s nothing wrong with that.” So, above all else, let your nose, not best-seller lists, lead the way when it comes to selecting your wedding day perfume. If you don’t like it on your body, move on to the next option.

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