I’m a relatively organised and decisive person, not least when it came to my wedding. I knew which shoes I wanted to wear since before I got engaged and chose the first dress I found. I am also quite chilled. I don’t sweat the small stuff, so when our beauty & style director Sophie Beresiner asked what fragrance I planned to wear on the Big Day, my response was “erm, probably what I wear every day?” Cue: a lecture on how I couldn’t possibly wear my usual scent; how crucial it is that I find a new fragrance that I will forever associate with the most special day of my life; that I needed to immediately visit various perfumers for various fragrance consultations. Of course, in the name of investigative journalism, I obliged.
WHAT HAPPENED: My everyday fragrance is Blackberry and Bay, so I know I already love Jo Malone. When I met a bridal specialist, she quizzed me about my wedding. Where was it taking place? Was I a classic bride or a modern one? What about the flowers and the décor?
WHAT I SNIFFED: I smelled all colognes ‘blindly’, without being told which scent was which in order to be objective. I narrowed the options down to three different scents. The English Pear and Freesia was fresh, fruity and light – a little green but warming thanks to its patchouli base. Bit too fruity for my taste though. On to the Peony & Blush Suede. Not typically a fan of floral fragrances I had reservations, but actually, I loved this. Red apple made it feel crispy rather than powdery (as so many florals are), while the peony was sweet, green and fresh. On the shortlist! Finally, Nectarine Blossom & Honey. Without knowing, I’d picked a fragrance that included my favourite things – cassis and peach, honey and blossom. Ah! I had found the one. The specialist recommended I layer this, over my original, and it was heavenly.
PERKS WORTH NOTING: Finishing with a hand and arm massage. Oh and my two favourite scents presented in a Jo Malone box embossed with my initials and the motif of a ring (an extra £5!) as well as a decorative ribbon of my choosing.
THE COST: Complimentary consultation; £98 for 100ml fragrance
WHAT HAPPENED: Arriving at the bougie, rather ornate-looking store I was quite overwhelmed and, as someone usually found wearing trainers and with unbrushed hair, felt pretty intimidated. But anxiety soon allayed, I was whisked to a private consultation room, where a specialist and I broke down my fragrance loves and hates before spending an hour exploring.
WHAT I SNIFFED: So. So. So much. I smelled everything blindly before making my shortlist. There was the zesty Empressa, with blood orange, peach and vanilla, but woah - quite overpowering. My guests would certainly smell me before they saw me. Elizabethan Rose was beautiful, powdery and robust, but ultimately too floral for me. On the right side of zesty, I was interested in Orange Blossom, but the jasmine made it feel heavy and a bit serious. I started to feel a bit dejected and overwhelmed - were these beautiful and exotic fragrances simply too much for my basic bitch olfactories? Then, along came a zesty, spicy number. Fresh but not too light, with warm ginger, and rose (not too much, mind). It smelt like a dream. What a relief; perhaps I was not so basic after all. At the end of this journalistic exercise (the winner, up next!) I chose not to wear this particular fragrance for my wedding celebrations as it turned out to be a little divisive. When spritzed near my mother whose taste I trust implicitly, she literally turned her nose up at it. Ok, not my everyday, but I am certainly going to save it for an occasion where I feel more bold, haters be damned.
THE COST: Complimentary consultation; from £110 for 100ml perfume
BOOK by calling your nearest Penhaligon’s store.
WHAT HAPPENED: Like so many of us, I’m a Baies candle devotee. I’ve also dabbled with Philosykos and so I was particularly jazzed to head to this appointment. We started off by smelling the candles to figure out which ‘scent families’ I associated with most, before moving on to the fragrances themselves.
WHAT I SNIFFED: After falling for a mix of fruity, floral, herbal and citrus candles, it was clear I was in the market for something zingy and uplifting. Not Philosykos - I was determined to find something new, goddamnit. Ofrésia was fresh but had a peppery kick. Unusual but familiar, I realised it reminded me of my grandpa; a sweet sentiment, but I also worried it might stir some already heightened emotions on the day. Next up was the brand’s newest fragrance Eau Capitale, inspired by Paris - Diptyque’s birthplace. ‘WHERE has this been all my life?’, I cried. I was surprised to learn that, despite my previous snubs, it was in fact rose-based. Clearly I was wrong, and my fragrance education was nearly complete. So fresh and so green, Eau Capitale is a divine combination of rose, uplifting bergamot and sweet-yet-musky patchouli. Spoiler alert: despite my high praise, Eau Capitale was usurped at the final moment - a photo finish, you might say by L’Ombre dans l’Eau. Floral and fruity, it’s the best of both worlds - the umami of fragrance, if you will. Warming enough to fit my winter wedding brief, sweet but not sickly, and bold but not in-your-face. You can imagine my incredulity when I learnt that this is my beloved Baies candle manifested in fragrance form.
PERKS WORTH NOTING: A ribboned charm to hang around the bottle’s neck, on which my wedding date and new name was printed. Oh and accompanying minis of shower oil and body cream, to ensure the bougiest bath of my life, the morning of my wedding.
Everytime I have sprayed L’Ombre dans l’Eau freely since, I’m transported back to the best day of my life. As for the Eau Capitale I left behind, my new husband and I are heading on a mini-moon to Paris this month - if that’s not a good enough excuse to make a lunchtime trip back for my other new favourite fragrance, then I don’t know what is.
THE COST: Complimentary consultation; from £98 for 100ml eau de toilette