When we think weddings, certain visions come straight to mind—from décor, to music, to menus, the sensory experience matters. But there's another sense that's worth considering, and one that's often overlooked. With strong ties to memory and emotion, your big-day scent is something you should consider. And what better way to perfume your nuptials than with your bridal bouquet?
We spoke with Chris Hessney of event planning and floral design company Hessney & Co. in New York City for the lowdown on fragrant flowers. From the best-smelling (and budget-friendly) blooms to the dos and don'ts of infusing your celebration with scent, this go-to guide will guarantee your wedding-day nose a dose of aromatic bliss.
Stick to Your Budget
A fragrance-filled flower order doesn't have to be expensive. According to Hessney, there are perfumed blooms in every price range.
Low: Hyacinth, lavender, and freesia.
Medium: Tuberose, lily of the valley, sweet pea, and lilac.
High: Patience garden roses, peonies, and magnolia and gardenia blossoms.
Become a Mix Master
Not all scents complement one another, so take special care when ordering your arrangements. "I love combining hyacinth and mint or mint and garden roses," says Hessney, citing each pairing's sweet-but-refreshing aroma. Other tried-and-true options include jasmine and garden roses or sweet peas and garden roses. "They just belong together!" says Hessney of the latter.
Consult your florist for additional suggestions, as they may have access to more detailed scent information. "David Austin has this fabulous key that all wholesalers will carry," says Hessney, "that rates rose varietals based on their fragrance and vase life," for example.
On the other hand, certain flowers aren't meant for mixing. Overpowering scents, like that of lilies, are better on their own.
Keep Sensitivities in Mind
Smells can set the tone—for better or for worse. Because scent and memory are so tightly associated, personal experience may influence your guests' reactions, so try and avoid flowers with obvious negative connotations.
"I for one love the smell of lilies and they are in the entryway of my apartment weekly, because my mother always used to have them around and luckily my partner's mother did as well," says Hessney. "However most people feel adverse to lilies, seeing as they are often associated with death being so frequently used in funeral homes."
Other scents are strange or just plain off-putting. "Fritillaria Imperialis smells like a certain plant which can be legally smoked in a few states," and "flowering pear branches don't smell good at all," warns Hessney.
And, of course, avoid plants that make you sneeze. A pretty-smelling bouquet isn't worth red eyes and itches.
Consider the Message
Take a lesson in aromatherapy and choose a feel-good fragrance. "I always make sure to ask my brides what their favorite fragrant flower is and to make sure it's prominent in their bouquet," says Hessney. "It always helps to calm their nerves and bring out a smile before they walk down the aisle."
What do you want your scent to symbolize? Love? Serenity? New beginnings? Choose a flower to match. Hessney loves hyacinth for its strong, springtime-welcoming fragrance, and lavender is known to have calming, soothing properties.
For a noticeable fragrance, scented flowers need space, but where's the best place to put them?
To appeal to your senses (because ultimately, your enjoyment reigns supreme), "bouquets are always the best way to go," advises Hessney. "Adding fragrance under a chuppah or arbor always helps to keep the couple smiling throughout the ceremony," he adds.
As for where not to put them, it's best to avoid the dinner table. "My background is in hospitality in both hotels and restaurants," says Hessney, "so when it comes to the centerpieces I always opt to keep fragrance from the florals at a minimum." Instead, he accents with a supplement of herbs, which "complements the food and won't overpower the wonderful aroma that comes from a beautifully prepared meal by the caterer!"
Flower arrangements by Hessney & Co.