Use this gift from nature to stay calm and happy on your big day.


Five Ways Aromatherapy Can Help Enhance Your Wedding Day Experience

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If you’ve ever buried your nose in a fresh rose warmed by the sun and inhaled deeply, you’ve probably experienced a moment of olfactory pleasure. Those floral scent molecules were at work, sharing their feel-good gifts, direct from nature to your nostrils.

That little boost isn’t just for experiencing while roaming a flower garden; you can actually harness the power of scent to make you feel good, calm your nerves, and raise the energy levels at your wedding. That’s aromatherapy, and with a bit of knowledge on a few key fragrances, it’s easy to incorporate these wellness tools into your big day.

Simply inhaling a beautiful, fragrant flower can shift your mood in a positive way.

How essential oils work

When inhaled, essential oils—the delicate oils extracted from plants, herbs, and flowers by steam distillation and other means—travel through the nostrils into the scent receptors in the brain, stimulating the limbic system, which in turn sends signals to other parts of the brain, resulting in often profound mental, physical, and emotional effects. When directed to the hypothalamus, scent molecules can immediately affect our mood; when they reach the pituitary gland, they can promote feelings of well-being and even euphoria!

Because essential oils are minuscule enough to be easily absorbed into the skin and traverse the blood-brain barrier, they also offer near-immediate effects when applied topically (usually with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, coconut, or virgin sesame oil), spritzed into the air as a homemade or store-bought spray, or inhaled through a diffuser. 

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Brides in ancient Rome wore aromatic garlands in their hair for good luck. | STEMS BROOKLYN PHOTO

History of aromatic weddings

The first use of the bridal bouquet has been traced to the ancient Romans and Greeks, who either carried rustic bouquets or wore garlands in their hair featuring herbs and flowers meant to bestow good luck and keep misfortune at bay; in reality, the fragrant greenery likely warded off bugs that caused diseases, which would indeed render a newlywed couple fortunate.

Later, in medieval England, the use of fragrant blooms became an important part of the wedding ceremony as a way to mask unpleasant bodily odors in a time when daily bathing was a luxury reserved for the upper classes. Besides sweet-smelling flowers, brides were also known to carry garlic and rosemary, which were easy to source and full of pungent smells of their own.

In medieval times, brides carried blooms that helped mask unpleasant bodily odors. | CLUNEY PHOTO 

Wedding aromatherapy 101 

Whether you're eloping or hosting a celebration with 200 of your closest friends and family, you're bound to experience a range of emotions on your wedding day, and plant oils can help you ride the wave, create a special mood, and add an extra sensory element to the celebration.

"The exquisite aromas of essential oils can add an incredible ambiance to wedding events,” says Shanti Dechen, director of the Colorado-based Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy. “Aromatic products can be as simple as an essential oil room spray or extraordinary perfumes.”

Whether using a diffuser, a spray, or an oil blend rolled onto your wrists or temples, the magic of these powerful oils has the power to shift your mood, elevate your spirits, and make your guests feel good, too.  And bonus: scent also has the power to reach your hippocampus, the memory center of our brain, which helps root memories in a time and place. So if your bouquet is brimming with fragrant lilies, each time you smell that heady aroma in the future, you'll immediately be transported back to your wedding day. 

Five ways aromatherapy can support you on your wedding day

1 Purifying and sanctifying the ceremonial space
Sage smudging has become somewhat trendy in recent years, but it has a history stretching back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, who used it in the ceremonial practices, and by indiginous cultures in North America as a sacred tool for spiritual cleansing. We can borrow from these traditions by adding sage essential oil to a diffuser near the altar, to "clear" the space and literally clear the air of bacteria (one of its many beneficial properties).

2 Keeping you calm before and during the ceremony
Lavender is the superstar of the essential oil universe, due to its efficacy in supporting our mental, emotional, and physical well-being, from treating burns to soothing headaches. On your wedding day, you can apply lavender essential oil (blended with a carrier oil) to your temples to provide a gentle sense of calm and serenity with immediate and lasting effects. Keep a miniature roller bottle on hand throughout the day to offer on-the-spot relief from anxiety or stress.

3 Keeping you energized during the reception
You've got a million hugs to dispense, some dancing to do, and maybe even a wedding after-party, and essential oils can help you stay energized, naturally and without side-effects, for the duration! Generally speaking, you can't go wrong with citrus essential oils, incuding lemon and orange, but grapefruit is especially efficiacious and has the benefit of aiding with digestion after indulging in a second slice of wedding cake! Try it in a diffuser near the dance floor to keep the entire party's energy levels dialed up.

4 Infusing the your celebration with a joyful ambiance
You're already feeling joyful on your wedding day, and essential oils can nurture and enhance those feelings. Bergamot, another essential oil from the citrus family, is particularly suited to supporting you through the wild ride that is your nuptial celebration. Try it in a diffuser, blended with a carrier oil and rolled onto the wrists, or blended with purified water and spritzed over your head and hair to make the good vibrations last.

5 Laying the foundation for romance 
On the island of Java in Indonesia, the delicate yellow buds of the flowering ylang ylang tree are incorporated into wedding ceremonies, both for their beauty and fragrance and because their essential oils are believed to hold aphrodisiacal properties! If you want to test the theory, try blending a few drops of the potent oil with a carrier oil and giving your betrothed a massage before retiring. At the very least, you will both benefit from its relaxing and good-mood-enhancing properties.

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