The five non-sappy perfumes of wedding season

Grab your fascinators – it’s wedding season. Lizzie Ostrom has the perfumes to see you from vows to vol-au-vents 

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By Lizzie Ostrom on

I really tried to begin this without talking about Four Weddings And A Funeral. But I’ve failed. It’s a bit sad that, in 2017, my most vivid reference for weddings relates less to the ones I’ve been to as a guest and more to a film from 1994 which some of us have seen so many times we expect to see Simon Callow throw some shapes at a real celebration. 

Four Weddings came out a few years before a spaceship of critters called fascinators invaded the Earth and colonised millions of heads. The millinery is, therefore, spectacular in scale. Some of Andie MacDowell’s hats are so huge they could have been the UFO housing all the fascinators.  

Because the wedding-guest fashions are so forceful – double-breasted drop-waist blazers with gold buttons, and sashes with bows the size of a rib of beef – I have correspondingly strong notions on what perfumes each of the Four Weddings female characters would have worn. Scarlett, her orangutan-coloured hair clashing wonderfully with her princess-peach bridesmaid’s dress, will have nicked a bottle of Givenchy’s Ysatis from someone’s quilted Chanel bag, which is ylang ylang and coconut on a hungry rampage. The projection is so huge guests would detect the perfume in their mini Quiche Lorraines. Kristin Scott Thomas as Fiona, standoffish yet magnificent in her black waistcoats and defensive saucer hats, would have the intimidating oak moss hiding a gentle heart in Paloma Picasso’s eponymous fragrance.  Andie MacDowell I picture in Christian Dior’s Dune, which, in the mid-1990s, was most fashionable and conceptual, intending to smell of sand, sea breezes and sun-warmed woods.




All three fragrances, dating from the 80s and 90s, are certainly a statement if you would like to be a wedding guest who is "noticed". And, as they’re now so neglected, they are available for a steal – Ysatis and Paloma Picasso are under £26 for 30ml.

But. They’re not for all. Depending on the caterer, some of you may actually want to taste your food. As the day is usually so long – a good 12 hours of merry-making with all that booze and heat – it’s easy to over-apply fragrance at a wedding. I once took a large bottle of Carnal Flower, which took up all the space in my bag (that and hotel keys), and because I couldn’t smell it after a time, I kept spraying it on every time I went into the loo. By the end, soused and sweaty, the tuberose resembled meaty Portobello mushrooms and I wanted to run away from myself. 

Whatever perfume you take to a wedding – and it’s got to be jaunty and fun – it’s helpful if it’s got good staying power, so you can avoid needing to top up. Atelier Colognes are well worth sampling because, while they’re vivifying and keep you fresh all day, they have a succulence about them that makes them more interesting than most. Their mowed-lawn clover scent, Trefle Pur, will maintain you on the dancefloor for hours – an eye-opening stimulant. Cedrat Enivrant is a wearable French 75 cocktail, which smells like lemons grown out of control under ultraviolet lamps. And the Oolang Infini is a cooling, smoky tea which will calm you when, in a Portaloo after a few glasses of wine, you rue your decision to wear a jumpsuit.


If you get stuck on the table which my friends and I call "Dud Island", it might be worth having something unusual in case you become desperate for talking points beyond "How long do you think the best man’s speech will last?" Your table companion may not ask you what perfume you’re wearing, but that’s not to stop you bringing it up anyway, even if it suggests extreme narcissism. Needs must. One of the most intriguing fragrances I’ve smelt for a time is Ukiyo-E, one of three created for tattooed skin by Gri Gri perfumes, which I wouldn’t worry about, as it’s mainly a marketing conceit – if you don’t have a tattoo, the perfume police won’t come for you. Ukiyo-E is the Japanese-themed one which starts with yuzu citrus and then moves into a genmaicha scent – that green tea that has puffs of rice in it. It is nutty, toasted and almost savoury, utterly delectable and strange. It plays nicely with champagne, too.



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