It's widely known that Kate Middleton incorporated her favorite fragrance into her big day (she lit Orange Blossom candles by Jo Malone inside her ceremony venue, Westminster Abbey). Aromatic additions aren't just for royal nuptials, though. We spoke with three team members at Charleston's Candlefish—Cat Brantley, Jennifer Gorline, and Jordan Napper—to learn more about a concept called "scentscaping" as it applies to weddings.
What is scentscaping?
"Scentscaping is a popular way of creating a customized atmosphere or mood in a space through fragrance," shares the trio. While it's commonly employed in places like hotels, you can also apply the design concept to event planning—including wedding planning.
What themes can scents convey?
Before you start scentscaping your wedding, you'll need to decide what type of mood you want to set. According to the Candlefish team, there are nine fragrance families, each with its own personality.
Citrus: Sparkling, clean, fresh, energizing
Epicurean: Indulgent, nostalgic
Floral: Romantic, feminine
Fruity: Lively, fun, young
Green/natural: Innocent, natural
Oriental: Sweet, heavy
Spice/herbaceous: Natural, therapeutic, exotic
Water/fresh: Clean, fresh, ocean
Woods: Warmth, depth, richness
Honing in on a category can help you choose your wedding's specific scent. Do note that some categories are better for events than others. "Crowd-pleasing fragrances are usually in the citrus, floral, and woods families, while epicurean and fruity fragrances can be more polarizing," advise the Candlefish staff members.
How else can a couple decide on a signature wedding scent?
Alternatively, you can turn to memory—another thing scent is closely associated with—instead of mood. Reflect on something (or someplace) meaningful to you and represent it through fragrance. Let's say your partner brought you roses on your first date. Mimic the smell of that memorable bouquet. If your partner proposed on the beach, try a scent with marine notes. "Think of scent as an integral piece of your story that you're sharing with your friends and family," the team says.
Of course, there are other possibilities. Candlefish's scents are numbered from one to 100, which inspired one of their staff members to choose big-day candles based on her wedding date!
Can a couple combine scents for a customized wedding aroma?
Yes and no. Candle scents are actually combinations of multiple fragrance notes, which were already expertly mixed together. "Blending two of these fragrances would be like using every color in the crayon box—they're beautiful on their own, but not together," the trio explains.
That being said, there are workarounds. "If a couple would like to use candles of multiple different scents, we recommend choosing a note as a theme, or choosing from a single fragrance family so the fragrances play nicely together," the women say. "For example, you could choose 'gardenia' as your theme and have a candle with notes of gardenia and rose at your ceremony and gardenia and honeysuckle at your reception." Just don't have more than one scent in a single area.
How can a couple incorporate their signature scent(s) into their wedding?
The obvious answer: candles. Use the home décor items in any number of ways, from working them into your centerpieces to turning them into table numbers. You can even send your signature scent(s) home with guests. "We recently created a mobile candle library that we've taken to corporate events and weddings around the Charleston area," shares the Candlefish team. "The couple selects 10 of their favorite fragrances from our library and we create custom 2.5-ounce tins labeled with fun details like the date and location of the wedding, their monogram or logo, etc. Our Chandlers (candle-making experts) guide guests through these 10 signature fragrances to help them select their favorite fragrance that then becomes their favor! It's a huge hit and a fun activity."
We'll end with a few cautionary tips. First, not all venues allow lit candles. In that case, oil diffusers, room sprays, or naturally-fragrant decorations like flowers might work. Second, skip strong fragrances at meal time. (They "can interfere with the sensory experience of enjoying the food you selected," says the trio). Third, moderation is key. You don't want to overwhelm guests.