Wedding Etiquette Forum

How to tell guests not to wear perfume (for health reasons)

annaczellannaczell member
First Comment
edited January 2014 in Wedding Etiquette Forum

My future mother in law has a seizure disorder and one of the triggers is perfume/cologne, even heavily scented lotions, etc. Heavy perfumes can also be a migraine trigger for my fiance. So, needless to say, it is very important that everyone attending the wedding is aware of this. I'm wondering what is the best way to inform my guests not to wear perfume... I've read elsewhere to include an insert in the invitation, and also spread the word via word of mouth. Any ideas on the most appropriate way to do this and how to word it would be much appreciated! Thanks!

Re: How to tell guests not to wear perfume (for health reasons)

  • Short answer: you can't. Even with really great reasons, you can't do this.

    Try seating your FMIL only with people who know this about her and will abide by the rules of no perfume/lotion.

    Otherwise, have a small wedding with only immediate family present, so your FMIL and FI can be safe from triggers.
    Anniversary

    image
    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
    PrettyGirlLost
  • I would recommend word of mouth and posting this on your wedding website if you have one. Its tacky to put it with the invite. Your guests will likely still wear perfume or use heavily scented body washes in spite of this request. I would just be prepared with maybe an air purifier near your mom and FI's seat during the reception.
    doeydoPrettyGirlLost
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    AddieL73 said:

    I don't know how to go about it, but I'm wondering what she does in her every day life to avoid the problem?



    This. It is a lot easier to try and figure out a way for your Mom to handle these situations (such as how she deals with it on a day to day basis). Then to try and get 100+ guests to not wear something scented. Which as you know, is not always possible even when they are aware of the situation. Some people will forget or just disregard the request.

    AlexisA01doeydoPrettyGirlLostRebeccaB88
  • I would also appreciate knowing how she handles this on a day to day basis.  I know of a lady who suffers much the same as your FMIL and she is a receptionist for a counselor's office.  It is posted on the door from the street as well as the door into the office suite that the office must be kept scent/fragrance free.

    Does FMIL work?  How does she handle this?

    It may be wise to plan a much smaller wedding where you can keep it to close friends and family who can and will abide by her needs.
    HisGirlFriday13PrettyGirlLost
  • Website and word of Mouth. 
    Add an air purifier near where she is sitting. Make sure you seat her with people who are very conscious of this fact. And leave a row in between her and the "general public"
    Some people will say cut your guest list to 25, or don't invite her because its so offensive to ask your guests not to wear perfume. I do not agree with those people. It's her health and safety, and its your FMIL. 
    Personally, I feel health and safety win over etiquette any day of the week. I don't care if it's "tacky" or not. 
    Amyzen83PrettyGirlLostkmmssgjaprincess24
  • Website and word of Mouth. 
    Add an air purifier near where she is sitting. Make sure you seat her with people who are very conscious of this fact. And leave a row in between her and the "general public"
    Some people will say cut your guest list to 25, or don't invite her because its so offensive to ask your guests not to wear perfume. I do not agree with those people. It's her health and safety, and its your FMIL. 
    Personally, I feel health and safety win over etiquette any day of the week. I don't care if it's "tacky" or not. 
    I don't think ANYONE would say the above-really, girls on theknot are not psycho mean to suggest something like that.  If it could legitimately cause a seizure, then yes, I think its fine to mention by word of mouth that it needs to be fragrance free.  However, some people will forget, some will be traveling and will only have scented lotion, you get the picture.  She will need to prepare as she would for any public event and be prepared to take measures to protect herself.  You can certainly seat her with people who know her condition, and keep a buffer around her, but you won't be able to control the behavior of others.
    PrettyGirlLostAprilH81
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Well, there's no way you can put this in an invitation or on a website.

    You can seat her near an air purifier with people who understand her needs and can be counted on to avoid perfume.  But that's all you can do.  She will have to prepare for your wedding the same way she prepares for being in any public situation where she might be near other people who wear scents, and be ready to deal with it.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I have horrible asthma attacks if people wear heavy perfume or use scented hand sanitizer around me. ("Normal" things, like deodorant, are more subtle and don't bother me.) Fortunately, all of my close friends and family know this, so there were only a few relatives who came that weren't aware. Our wedding coordinator met people at the door to the chapel, and whenever she smelled heavy scents, she seated them away from the aisle so I didn't walk through a fog. Being in a large room helped dissipate it too.

    As far as my reception, I just limited contact with them and tried to take very shallow breaths. If it got bad, I'd excuse myself and go to the door to get some fresh air.

    As far as every day life, it's pretty much a nightmare in situations like subways and planes. Anywhere else, I can pretty much get away, but if I'm stuck on a plane or subway with someone, I have a light scarf in my purse that I can hold over my face. People either assume I'm crazy or sick, and that's okay with me.

    At work, I have my own office, and it has a "no scents" blurb on the door. I keep the door shut, and I have an air purifier near my desk. Also, I use a gym that has a "no scents" policy, and I'm impressed that people abide by it, even in the locker room. I've never encountered anyone reapplying perfume after a shower.

  • tammym1001tammym1001 Akron, Ohio member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    I thought about this thread today because I went to the doctor and they had a sign on the door that said "No fragrances, allergy alert". Luckily I hadn't put on any perfume before I went, but I wondered if my doctor would have refused to see me if I was wearing perfume. There was no notice before I got there and I would have been pissed if I had to reschedule. 
    image
    PrettyGirlLost
  • I thought about this thread today because I went to the doctor and they had a sign on the door that said "No fragrances, allergy alert". Luckily I hadn't put on any perfume before I went, but I wondered if my doctor would have refused to see me if I was wearing perfume. There was no notice before I got there and I would have been pissed if I had to reschedule. 
    Fairly common at a doctor's office and they would likely let you know 'for next time'.
    A wedding is a more formal affair though...you get dressed up and put on good stink juice :)
    PrettyGirlLost
  • tammym1001tammym1001 Akron, Ohio member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    LDay2014 said:
    I thought about this thread today because I went to the doctor and they had a sign on the door that said "No fragrances, allergy alert". Luckily I hadn't put on any perfume before I went, but I wondered if my doctor would have refused to see me if I was wearing perfume. There was no notice before I got there and I would have been pissed if I had to reschedule. 
    Fairly common at a doctor's office and they would likely let you know 'for next time'.
    A wedding is a more formal affair though...you get dressed up and put on good stink juice :)
    LOL! That's very true. I know it would be hard for some people. My FI is one of those people. One of the first things he does when he gets out of the shower is spray on cologne. I don't think he even thinks about it anymore so he would totally screw it up if he wasn't supposed to wear it.
    image
  • Thanks all for the input. I respectfully disagree with the answer "you can't". This is not a preference, it is a legitimate medical condition. She once had a seizure in church because one of the other ladies in the choir had perfume on, so they simply informed everyone so they all know now. I feel it's worth taking any precaution I can, knowing what is in my control, to prevent a seizure. I'm going to be careful to not choose extremely fragrant flowers for the centerpieces because that can also cause migraines for her. I am not worried about her side of they family, they know. And I see no problem letting my side know via word of mouth, they are very understanding people. My guest list is on the smaller side anyway, and the ceremony is on an outside deck area. We will strategically organize the reception seating chart. Of course, even if people are told, they will either ignore of forget. And that is out of anyone's control. She has to be prepared for that on a daily basis (her husband goes everywhere with her in case she has an episode, unfortunately she is not allowed to drive anymore and was forced to retire). My fiance just limits his exposure to people once he knows the smell is there... I do see why it's an etiquette no no to include something with the invitation, but have actually read that as a suggestion on other sites (something like "For the comfort of our medically sensitive guests, please refrain from wearing perfume or cologne"), so I wondered what the masses thought, or if anyone had encountered this issue before. 

    japrincess24
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited January 2014
    annaczell said:

    Thanks all for the input. I respectfully disagree with the answer "you can't". This is not a preference, it is a legitimate medical condition. She once had a seizure in church because one of the other ladies in the choir had perfume on, so they simply informed everyone so they all know now. I feel it's worth taking any precaution I can, knowing what is in my control, to prevent a seizure. I'm going to be careful to not choose extremely fragrant flowers for the centerpieces because that can also cause migraines for her. I am not worried about her side of they family, they know. And I see no problem letting my side know via word of mouth, they are very understanding people. My guest list is on the smaller side anyway, and the ceremony is on an outside deck area. We will strategically organize the reception seating chart. Of course, even if people are told, they will either ignore of forget. And that is out of anyone's control. She has to be prepared for that on a daily basis (her husband goes everywhere with her in case she has an episode, unfortunately she is not allowed to drive anymore and was forced to retire). My fiance just limits his exposure to people once he knows the smell is there... I do see why it's an etiquette no no to include something with the invitation, but have actually read that as a suggestion on other sites (something like "For the comfort of our medically sensitive guests, please refrain from wearing perfume or cologne"), so I wondered what the masses thought, or if anyone had encountered this issue before. 

    Regardless of how serious her condition is, you cannot tell your guests to refrain from behaving in a certain way that is otherwise acceptable.  Your FMIL will have to deal with it the same way she has to deal with being in public and potentially in the presence of those who use perfume.  Medical needs are not an excuse for being rude.

    We gave you some suggestions on what can be done, but making a request that no guest use perfume is not only not polite but probably also ineffective.  Someone will forget.

    HisGirlFriday13AlexisA01
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    You can request and tell all you want but your FMIL still needs to be prepared for the very real possibility of people forgetting or just ignoring your request. Unless you plan on kicking any person out who has too much of a scent to them there is really nothing you can do to prevent it 100%.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • `While you can't prevent people from going ahead and wearing cologne,  I am in the minority here and think it is fine to get the word out and make the request.  If she had to retire and can no longer drive because of this I say you can ask your nearest and dearest to refrain.  My desire to smell good vs her severe medical condition are not equal.  Sorry but I disagree with saying you can't do this for such a severe condition.  As a guest in this situation, I just don't feel I am being trampled and treated rudely.
    japrincess24
  • Ok, here is what Miss Manners has to say on this topic:  (go to the bold at the bottom)

    Dear Miss Manners: Ice cubes in wine might not be a breach of etiquette, but the sight of them there would certainly give pain, not only to the serious oenophile, but to all but the least cultivated and caring consumer (i.e., wino). It just isn’t done, however unobtrusively, not as a matter of propriety, but of taste (in both senses of the word). It is like putting ketchup in bouillabaisse.

    Since it is central to Miss Manners’ view of etiquette that offense not be given nor pain caused, the writer invites her to reconsider this particular matter. If one needs to dilute one’s wine, a little ice water might be discretely added, but always in liquid form.

    Gentle Reader: Miss Manners would not care to have a wino leaning over her to peep into her wine glass, but she would be even more disturbed by the same attention from a serious oenophile.

    Not that she would dream of offending either one. But as ice is readily available (unlike ketchup, which would have to be requested with one’s bouillabaisse, thus commanding everyone’s attention and giving the cook apoplexy), and as Miss Manners requires that ice be slipped into the glass discreetly (no dramatic splashes), and as polite winos and serious oenophiles are confined to staring into their own drinks, the possibility of giving offense to others by diluting one’s wine with ice does not exist.

    Dear Miss Manners: I have a cousin who spent the night and that evening she was going through my things and looking all through my closet. So the next morning I asked her to pick up all the things she took out, but she just sat there. So I asked her again, and she looked at me and turned around. So I told her that she couldn’t spend the night any more. Do you think I did the right thing?

    Gentle Reader: Almost. You should have resolved to do everything you could from preventing her from sharing your room again, but you should not have announced this to her.

    Miss Manners realizes that this is a subtle point. Going through the hostess’s closet and leaving her things in a mess are both violations of etiquette that deserve banishment. But chastising guests and announcing they can’t return are also violations of etiquette, however justly prompted.

    Besides, there is the matter of making your decree of banishment stick. She is your cousin, and to bar her from spending the night in your room again (the relationship will undoubtedly allow her to get back through the front door) may require the sympathy and understanding of your parents. They are more likely to be on your side if you are able to show that you, at least, exercised mannerly restraint.

    Dear Miss Manners: I am the mother of a groom, and I’m looking forward to my son’s wedding to a lovely lady.

    However, I have one concern: I am allergic to perfumes, cologne and fragrances. I will get throbbing headaches if I am with people who wear it, and that will ruin my pleasure.

    Is there a polite and cordial way to indicate on the wedding invitation or enclosure that refraining from wearing perfume or the like will be greatly appreciated?

    Gentle Reader: Miss Manners is afraid that even the mother of the groom has limited power over the guests. Curiously enough, they may set the standard for dress on the invitation but not for the use of toiletries.

    Nevertheless, Miss Manners sympathizes with your problem, as she trusts your son and the lovely lady do, too. It would be particularly nice of them to spread the word among their guests, by word of mouth or separate notes, that they would deeply appreciate special cooperation in protecting you from your allergy problem.


    So - you can't put it on the invitation, but you CAN spread it by word of mouth or separate notes to your guests.

    ashleyep
  • kmmssg said:
    Ok, here is what Miss Manners has to say on this topic:  (go to the bold at the bottom)

    Dear Miss Manners: Ice cubes in wine might not be a breach of etiquette, but the sight of them there would certainly give pain, not only to the serious oenophile, but to all but the least cultivated and caring consumer (i.e., wino). It just isn’t done, however unobtrusively, not as a matter of propriety, but of taste (in both senses of the word). It is like putting ketchup in bouillabaisse.

    Since it is central to Miss Manners’ view of etiquette that offense not be given nor pain caused, the writer invites her to reconsider this particular matter. If one needs to dilute one’s wine, a little ice water might be discretely added, but always in liquid form.

    Gentle Reader: Miss Manners would not care to have a wino leaning over her to peep into her wine glass, but she would be even more disturbed by the same attention from a serious oenophile.

    Not that she would dream of offending either one. But as ice is readily available (unlike ketchup, which would have to be requested with one’s bouillabaisse, thus commanding everyone’s attention and giving the cook apoplexy), and as Miss Manners requires that ice be slipped into the glass discreetly (no dramatic splashes), and as polite winos and serious oenophiles are confined to staring into their own drinks, the possibility of giving offense to others by diluting one’s wine with ice does not exist.

    Dear Miss Manners: I have a cousin who spent the night and that evening she was going through my things and looking all through my closet. So the next morning I asked her to pick up all the things she took out, but she just sat there. So I asked her again, and she looked at me and turned around. So I told her that she couldn’t spend the night any more. Do you think I did the right thing?

    Gentle Reader: Almost. You should have resolved to do everything you could from preventing her from sharing your room again, but you should not have announced this to her.

    Miss Manners realizes that this is a subtle point. Going through the hostess’s closet and leaving her things in a mess are both violations of etiquette that deserve banishment. But chastising guests and announcing they can’t return are also violations of etiquette, however justly prompted.

    Besides, there is the matter of making your decree of banishment stick. She is your cousin, and to bar her from spending the night in your room again (the relationship will undoubtedly allow her to get back through the front door) may require the sympathy and understanding of your parents. They are more likely to be on your side if you are able to show that you, at least, exercised mannerly restraint.

    Dear Miss Manners: I am the mother of a groom, and I’m looking forward to my son’s wedding to a lovely lady.

    However, I have one concern: I am allergic to perfumes, cologne and fragrances. I will get throbbing headaches if I am with people who wear it, and that will ruin my pleasure.

    Is there a polite and cordial way to indicate on the wedding invitation or enclosure that refraining from wearing perfume or the like will be greatly appreciated?

    Gentle Reader: Miss Manners is afraid that even the mother of the groom has limited power over the guests. Curiously enough, they may set the standard for dress on the invitation but not for the use of toiletries.

    Nevertheless, Miss Manners sympathizes with your problem, as she trusts your son and the lovely lady do, too. It would be particularly nice of them to spread the word among their guests, by word of mouth or separate notes, that they would deeply appreciate special cooperation in protecting you from your allergy problem.


    So - you can't put it on the invitation, but you CAN spread it by word of mouth or separate notes to your guests.

    I was reading that and going "what the heck does ice cubes in wine have to do with it?"

    I would say the wedding website could probably count as a "separate note"
    Anniversary
  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited January 2014
    I've seen similar threads on this board before, in which people have said, "If I received a request not to wear perfume, I'd wear extra just to piss her off."

    So yeah. Not the most gallant or mature way of honoring a request (and I get mad every time I think about that post since it was a matter of the bride having a serious asthma attack, not just being pissed off), but there you have it. Even if you did put it in the invitations, some people apply it out of habit, so the only thing you can really do is try to deal with it the best way possible. You have my sympathy.

    kmmssg
  • She probably deals with this everyday and can figure out how to handle at the wedding. You can't ask anyone to not wear perfume. 
    The best thing to do is tell your closest family and friends and just hope word spreads, but unless she never leaves her house, she has a way to deal with it- she has to 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • She probably deals with this everyday and can figure out how to handle at the wedding. You can't ask anyone to not wear perfume. 
    The best thing to do is tell your closest family and friends and just hope word spreads, but unless she never leaves her house, she has a way to deal with it- she has to 
    Sorry - but Miss Manners says you CAN ask them and she should.
  • oh my gosh, so embarrassing... well if "Miss Manners" says, then I am surely mistaken
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