Is love in the air or is that a personalised wedding perfume?
For some brides and grooms the answer is yes to both. In a quest to make their weddings even more memorable and distinctive, they are ordering up custom fragrances to wear on their big day, hoping to leave an aromatic impression with their guests and new spouse.
"Once a memory association is created from a scent – and is then connected with a person, place and event – it's hard to associate it with something else," said Pamela Dalton, an olfactory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia.
"People are recognising how useful it can be in recreating and triggering these emotionally potent events," Dalton added, "and they want to do it with something that bonds them in a meaningful way to that experience."
Just as no two weddings are exactly alike, neither are bespoke perfumes and colognes, with prices varying widely. Brides and grooms can each have their own fragrances created or opt for one designated scent. The cost can range from $110 to $43k, depending on the ingredients used and services provided.
Anne Serrano-McClain, the founder of MCMC Fragrances, offers a one-on-one, three-hour, private perfume workshop at her studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. During that time you'll assess 75 single ingredients.
"We spend an hour smelling," she said. "Then we talk about editing down the choices to six to 15 ingredients. We go outside and evaluate. Then we talk about the direction of the fragrance. Perhaps it's an Oriental, heavy with amber or a beautiful powdery musk."
Once a decision is made, three different versions are created. Some ingredients may be swapped out or omitted, or the ratio of components changed. The couple goes home with these samples, decides on a winner, which is then sent to them in a larger, more ornate bottle.
Serrano-McClain said that a third to half of her requests are for weddings.
"I'm not trying to recreate their love story, but I do want to create a perfume that symbolizes some piece of their love so that when they smell it again, it conjures up all of that love, and that special day," she said.
Hennessy, an heir to the long line of cognac makers and grandson to the founder of the LVMH Group, offers four, in-person sessions and spends several months selecting specific oils and ingredients. (He keeps 200-plus notes in his Paris lab). He also consults with perfumers with niche specialties, from masculine scents to flowers.
When crafting wedding scents, Hennessy considers how a perfume reacts on someone's skin and how it will expand throughout the night.
"I would build the scent with a few head notes to feel fresh, beautiful and romantic, because that's how one is feeling at the beginning of their wedding," he said. "I want something that opens very lightly during the event, because perfume cannot take over the ceremony."
"I would build with 80 per cent in heavy, dry, down base notes, like woods, vanilla or Oriental," he continued, "because they have long-lasting diffusion. As the body heats, perfume accelerates. At its peak is when you want it fully opened."
Hennessy has two boutiques, one on Washington Street and another on Madison at 74th Street.
Cost: $35,000. bykilian.com. This includes a black lacquered box with a crystal carafe, made by the French crystal manufacturer Saint-Louis, containing 650 mL of the bespoke perfume; six additional glass 50-mL bottles with engraved plaques; two travel sprays; and a funnel.
Sue Phillips, chief executive and founder of the Scentarium, a perfumery in TriBeCa, says business has tripled from last year, with same-sex couples making up about half her clientele.
"The 90-minutes experience is about personalisation and authentically reflecting who they are," she said. "It's how do you want that fragrance to reflect what someone feels on that special day?"
Clients are first asked to fill out a short questionnaire. Among the questions: Describe your dream house. What kinds of foods do you like? What is your favourite season? Phillips then places clients in one of four fragrance families: fresh, floral, woodsy or Oriental.
She has already created 18 fully blended perfumes, which showcase a full fragrance palette. Each is smelled, and placed in order of preference. Then the top choices are combined together. "I'm looking to create a complete character, something smooth and consistent with no jagged edges," she added. "I don't want one particular note jumping out over another."
Cost: $750 for a 20-mL atomizer. scenterprises.com
Some couples might want to gift their "wedding scent" for guests to take home. This is a service provided by Sharon Farsijani, the owner of Desert35, a year-old luxury perfume and cologne company in the Gramercy area.
"There's beauty in simplicity," she said. "Too many scents and you don't know about the ratio of how they blend together or if the scent is based on quality."
Farsijani hired a master perfumer who creates the final fragrance. Two months later, 100 15 mL designer bottles, engraved with the couple's initials and celebration date, are ready.
"It's as powerful as a photo or a video," she said. "The smell takes you back to the memory of the event, which is based on the couple's creativity, which is really an extension of the couple."
New York Times