Wedding Etiquette Forum

Fragrances and Other Scents - Be BOLDLY unscented!

I happen to be the daughter of one of those people who often struggle to leave the house because they are so strongly affected by the chemicals in public places. This has become a huge issue for wedding planning — my mom's biggest stress of anything coming is that she'll be forced to stand up and leave the ceremony. I'm sharing this because I've seen some pretty negative feedback toward brides who request that guests go without perfumes and colognes, which are some of the worst offenders, and this needs to change.

To brides who have guests with frequent reactions — BE BOLD! This is not some kind of Bridezilla or unreasonable request; it's about your guests' ability to enjoy the event. You wouldn't serve meat to a vegetarian guest. To others, please consider including this request as part of your wedding. Chemicals are something which literally determine where my mom can go every day; she can't handle a full church service, much less a normal wedding. You may make the difference in someone's ability to attend.

For those who are willing to consider it, here's a sample of what I'll be putting on my website and on invitations:

We kindly request that all guests, as much as possible, refrain from using scented products such as perfumes, colognes, and other fragrances. Your consideration will allow others with severe chemical sensitivities and reactions to more actively participate in our wedding. Thank you!

Has anyone else had experiences with this issue?
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Re: Fragrances and Other Scents - Be BOLDLY unscented!

  • I bring albuterol, benedryl, and epinephrine everywhere.

    Leave a gap or two between her pew and everyone else.
    knottie83bd5c83a89b9680PrettyGirlLostsilver0319
  • AlexisA01AlexisA01 Dubai, my royal playground. member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    I have my own but different experience. I had a friend who got married and the guests weren't really receptive to that idea at all. Mainly it was one person who had that issue of scents and they were set a different table. Some of her guests were peeved and the rest were pissed because they wear scented deodorants, lotions and their favorite perfumes to special events. They ended up wearing scented stuff regardless because they have their own beauty habits that is comfortable to them. After the wedding, a group of my friends complain about how it irked them.

    Live fast, die young. Bad Girls do it well. Suki Zuki.

    MyNameIsNot
  • Great idea. I was already thinking of putting an air purifier somewhere nearby, but a good one isn't exactly discreet. Thanks!
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    Yeah....are people not supposed to wear deodorant or shampoo their hair as well?
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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    knottie83bd5c83a89b9680KittyKaty20PrettyGirlLostmelbelleup
  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    I love perfume but I would respect this request, especially if I personally knew that someone in the WP had a severe sensitivity. I do think it's a little odd to have such a long note about it on the invitation though.

    Good luck and I hope your mom is able to enjoy your wedding without any issues!
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    chiualoverSayMoi
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    I hate to sound like a grouch, but I think the note on the invitations is rude.  Spread the word by mouth or MAYBE put it on your wedding website.  Leave a gap between your mom's pew and everyone else, and get a small air purifier.  Seat her at the reception with close family who know about her sensitivities, so she is a little farther away from guests who might wear perfume. 

    Personally, I have extremely sensitive skin and try to avoid fragrances as much as possible.  But the only shampoo, conditioner, and lotion I own are scented; so even if I saw the invitation note, my only option would be to buy completely new toiletries.  And honestly, I would not buy 100% new items I would never use again.
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

    knottie83bd5c83a89b9680PrettyGirlLostcrunchymamaof2
  • doeydodoeydo Southwestern Ontario member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    One of my FI's relatives has some health issues and goes into a coughing/can't-breathe fit every time someone around her is wearing perfume/cologne or smoking.  I understand that it is hard for these individuals with scent/chemical sensitivities and I do think that people as a whole should be more considerate about such things.  I wouldn't side eye a memo or something (about one of the employees being sensitive to scents) in their place of work or school.  However, at general social events or public places, I think that you can't really ask/tell people what types of products to wear or not wear.  I think most people would be kind of annoyed if they were invited to a wedding that had a note on the invitation or website like in the OP because that is probably asking them to refrain from using their regular hairspray, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, perfume/cologne, scented deodorant, etc.  
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  • Just as it is rude to tell people what clothes to wear, it is rude to tell them how to groom or smell.
    KeptInStitchesknottie83bd5c83a89b9680KittyKaty20
  • HaileyDancingbearHaileyDancingbear Arkham Asylum member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I would try to spread it by word of mouth, and even if you do mail out your invites saying not to wear perfumes, I'd suggest you prepare for the fact that you WILL get guests who show up with perfume anyways.  If I were you, I'd focus on asking the people that will be sitting near your mother not to wear any fragrances. You can't get every guest to listen to you, but assuming your mother will want to be seated with close family members, it wouldn't be hard at all to ask close relatives to skip the perfume for your mother's sake.  You can have your mother sit with them at the ceremony as well and have an air purifier as mentioned above in other comments.  As long as you make sure the general area your mother will be seated in is fragrance-free, you don't have to worry as much about your other guests, who may or may not honor your request.
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    knottie83bd5c83a89b9680
  • I hate to sound like a grouch, but I think the note on the invitations is rude.  Spread the word by mouth or MAYBE put it on your wedding website.  Leave a gap between your mom's pew and everyone else, and get a small air purifier.  Seat her at the reception with close family who know about her sensitivities, so she is a little farther away from guests who might wear perfume. 

    Personally, I have extremely sensitive skin and try to avoid fragrances as much as possible.  But the only shampoo, conditioner, and lotion I own are scented; so even if I saw the invitation note, my only option would be to buy completely new toiletries.  And honestly, I would not buy 100% new items I would never use again.
    I agree with the bolded.  Honestly, even if you put a note on the invitation, a lot of people either won't read it, remember it, or follow it.  Same as when people try and put notes about what to wear on the invitations.  You still have people who don't follow it, so you'll need to take all the same precautions anyway to protect mom.

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    KittyKaty20
  • I don't think you should put that in the invitations but definitely find a way for everyone to know about it. I understand your motivation though. I have an uncle who is severely allergic to nuts, like if he even smells pecans he gets really really sick, so everyone in my family is have very strict no nuts policies at family functions. We have a lot non-family members come to several of our get togethers and whoever is hosting always makes it clear that they shouldn't bring anything with nuts in it.
    SayMoi
  • I usually agree with most of the great ladies who have commented here but I don't on this one.  If someone truly has chemical sensitivities I don't feel it is rude at all to make this known.  No one is being asked to not wear deodorant or wash their hair, they are being asked to skip the perfumes and colognes because someone at the wedding has a tremendous sensitivity to them. 

    While the person I know who has the issues isn't a close friend, she is an acquaintance and her sensitivity is crazy.  Migraine, asthma out there crazy.  An air purifier for her would be a joke at a wedding.

    We are talking perfume and cologne here not personal hygiene.  My DH is really sensitive to odor.  Not as bad as my acquaintance, but fruity, floral smells make him nauseous and give him a headache. He went out of town for 10 days a few years ago and I was living it up wearing some perfume and burning candles.

    I really don't think asking guests to refrain from perfume and cologne because of the situation is asking too much.
    emmyg65Sabinus15SayMoi
  • HaileyDancingbearHaileyDancingbear Arkham Asylum member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    kmmssg said:
    I usually agree with most of the great ladies who have commented here but I don't on this one.  If someone truly has chemical sensitivities I don't feel it is rude at all to make this known.  No one is being asked to not wear deodorant or wash their hair, they are being asked to skip the perfumes and colognes because someone at the wedding has a tremendous sensitivity to them. 

    While the person I know who has the issues isn't a close friend, she is an acquaintance and her sensitivity is crazy.  Migraine, asthma out there crazy.  An air purifier for her would be a joke at a wedding.

    We are talking perfume and cologne here not personal hygiene.  My DH is really sensitive to odor.  Not as bad as my acquaintance, but fruity, floral smells make him nauseous and give him a headache. He went out of town for 10 days a few years ago and I was living it up wearing some perfume and burning candles.

    I really don't think asking guests to refrain from perfume and cologne because of the situation is asking too much.
    I don't really think it's rude or too much given that her mother is so sensitive to perfumes, I just think getting every guest to not wear perfume is an uphill battle, and no matter what you do you will always end up with guests that for one reason or another just don't listen.  I think OP is fine in asking guests to accommodate her mother's sensitivities, but she should really have a plan b.
    image
  • If one of your guests has a severe sensitivity to chemical scents, I see no issue with putting an insert in your invitations politely requesting that people avoid wearing perfume or cologne. Of course you should still take other precautions in case people ignore or forget about it. But it's really not a huge imposition to skip your perfume for a day if it's going to make someone else sick.
    CrazyCatLady3Sabinus15
  • Most people with chemical sensitivities just deal with it and don't try to police others. They have the common sense to know that's not going to end well.

    The only thing I drama queen about is smoke/tobacco and that's more for carcinogens/etc. I can treat a migraine myself, lung cancer I can't.
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think whatever you do you should prepare for some guests to wear perfume/cologne anyway. If I received your invitation about a month before the wedding I would think to myself "I totally won't wear perfume that day." But when the day rolls around and I'm in my routine of getting ready I usually just put it on on auto-pilot. 

    I like the PPs suggestions of seating her with breaks between other guests for the ceremony and at a table with her close relatives who are sure to be in a habit of not wearing scents around her.
    jenniferurs
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    lc07 said:
    I think whatever you do you should prepare for some guests to wear perfume/cologne anyway. If I received your invitation about a month before the wedding I would think to myself "I totally won't wear perfume that day." But when the day rolls around and I'm in my routine of getting ready I usually just put it on on auto-pilot. 


    Exactly. 
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
    image
  • masgrande said:
    Most people with chemical sensitivities just deal with it and don't try to police others. They have the common sense to know that's not going to end well.

    The only thing I drama queen about is smoke/tobacco and that's more for carcinogens/etc. I can treat a migraine myself, lung cancer I can't.
    Expecting someone with extreme chemical sensitives to deal with it is BS and far more rude than asking guests to skip the cologne.
    You are right though - a couple of times my husband and I have had to "deal with it" by leaving an event.  DH isn't as sensitive as OP's mom sounds, but "deal with it" is some rude BS.

    OP - I do think you should be prepared for the fact that some of your guests are going to go on auto pilot and use their perfume.  It is going to happen, but I am still in the camp that it is not rude to let her guests know that someone has very severe sensitivities.
    Sabinus15
  • kmmssg said:
    masgrande said:
    Most people with chemical sensitivities just deal with it and don't try to police others. They have the common sense to know that's not going to end well.

    The only thing I drama queen about is smoke/tobacco and that's more for carcinogens/etc. I can treat a migraine myself, lung cancer I can't.
    Expecting someone with extreme chemical sensitives to deal with it is BS and far more rude than asking guests to skip the cologne.


    (stuck in box)

    And yet, we do. Every day. All the time. Everywhere.
  • masgrande said:
    kmmssg said:
    masgrande said:
    Most people with chemical sensitivities just deal with it and don't try to police others. They have the common sense to know that's not going to end well.

    The only thing I drama queen about is smoke/tobacco and that's more for carcinogens/etc. I can treat a migraine myself, lung cancer I can't.
    Expecting someone with extreme chemical sensitives to deal with it is BS and far more rude than asking guests to skip the cologne.


    (stuck in box)

    And yet, we do. Every day. All the time. Everywhere.
    but if you are hosting an event you can help that person out.  That is different than going to the store or a movie, etc. If it is a legitimate medical issue for those with extreme sensitivity and asking for no colognes or perfume it is the right thing to make the request.
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    I do think this is tougher than food allergies. We're hosting our own wedding, so we can make sure that there's no peanut/tree nut dishes, stuff like that. But it's hard to ask guests to groom a certain way.

    Here's how I would handle it:

    If you're not planning on having a wedding website ... change your mind and have one. Include a link to the website on save-the-dates and invitations, and encourage guests by word of mouth to check it out.

    Have a frequently asked questions page, and fill it with useful information. We're super proud of our FAQ page--we put questions like, "How do I get to the venue?" "Is there a block of hotel rooms?" "I have a medical condition; can I bring my own meal?"

    I recommend adding, "What should I wear?" as a question, and answer it with vague suggestions (before you jump on me--people have already asked me what they should wear--one of my lady friends was worried that we wanted her to wear a dress, since she is NOT femme and doesn't own one). In your answer, I would write (in bold): There will be guests at our wedding with severe chemical sensitivity; we respectfully request that you avoid wearing perfume or cologne."

    Additionally, let the information spread through word of mouth, and at the wedding, seat your mother with family members who already know about her sensitivity, and who can be counted on to respect it.

    Finally, I would talk to your mother about any potential solutions in case she starts feeling not-so-great. Is there a room at the reception where she can rest for a bit if she's not feeling well? Are there are medications that can lessen the severity of her symptoms (in case scented deodorants are triggering her)?
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  • I have to ask, for clarification, how is this any different from asking people not to smoke at your wedding? I remember a post a little while ago where a bride wanted to ask her mother and MOH (I may be wrong on the people) to not smoke on the day of the wedding and everyone said that was rude and wrong to ask someone to change their habits for one day. How is this different? I am very sensitive to strong perfumes and cigarette smoke so I just leave the room when I start developing a migraine or my face starts to burn. 

    I am just curious, not trying to stir up trouble.
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  • I understand the difficulty in avoiding chemical sensitivities. My mom has MCS which basically means that is she is around smoke or perfumes or many types of cleaning agents, her lungs completely shut down. And there is nothing doctors can do about it. You can either avoid the problem or hope that the steroids and allergy medications are enough to get you through. My mom was hospitalized for a week simply because she took the dog for a walk and ended up running into a patch of dandelions. Of course everyone isn't this sensitive...

    I would suggest avoiding the invite faux pas. But I think it would be appropriate list this request on your wedding website if you are having one. If not then perhaps you can adjust with the air purifier idea.
  • kmmssg said:
    but if you are hosting an event you can help that person out.  That is different than going to the store or a movie, etc. If it is a legitimate medical issue for those with extreme sensitivity and asking for no colognes or perfume it is the right thing to make the request.
    To each their own, but I won't be asking guests not to wear a ton of stinky stuff, not to smoke, or anything else that makes me sick or uncomfortable (like the god-damn FB-ing everything).

    They don't care, they won't listen and it's a better use of my time to make sure I have my emergency kit and tag in a few people who do get it to run interference. It's my responsibility to make sure I am safe (be it from chemicals, food, environmental allergies, etc) and not anyone else.
  • AlexisA01AlexisA01 Dubai, my royal playground. member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    ChemFanatic25
    My thoughts exactly. It's people's habits,personal hygiene, and to some degree what they are wearing.  I see countless post about how rude it is to tell people what to wear and considering that perfume and cologne is something people wear/put on.

    Live fast, die young. Bad Girls do it well. Suki Zuki.

  • It's established that you can't tell people to not wear scents. But will it be a hot day on your wedding day?  Provide bottles of Evian mist in the bathrooms, and maybe a few other nice unscented products, and maybe some people will sort themselves out.
    image
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I am one of those people who sweats quite a bit.  I have gone through countless brands and types of deodorant trying to find one that works for me, everything from all-natural to prescription strength over-the-counter, deodorant stones to gels to solids.  I have four partly used deodorants sitting around my house right now - various ones I've tried.  The current one I use is scented.  So while if I saw that insert, I would probably try to avoid perfumes and such, there's no way I would leave off deodorant.  And for me, it's not a simple matter of going to the store and buying an unscented one for the day, because it just won't work for me.

    Basically, there will be people who will wear scents no matter what you do.  And yea, pretend I said what @phira said.  She had some great advice, especially the last two paragraphs.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • kmmssg said:
    I usually agree with most of the great ladies who have commented here but I don't on this one.  If someone truly has chemical sensitivities I don't feel it is rude at all to make this known.  No one is being asked to not wear deodorant or wash their hair, they are being asked to skip the perfumes and colognes because someone at the wedding has a tremendous sensitivity to them. 

    While the person I know who has the issues isn't a close friend, she is an acquaintance and her sensitivity is crazy.  Migraine, asthma out there crazy.  An air purifier for her would be a joke at a wedding.

    We are talking perfume and cologne here not personal hygiene.  My DH is really sensitive to odor.  Not as bad as my acquaintance, but fruity, floral smells make him nauseous and give him a headache. He went out of town for 10 days a few years ago and I was living it up wearing some perfume and burning candles.

    I really don't think asking guests to refrain from perfume and cologne because of the situation is asking too much.

    Thank you for understanding how serious this can be. I suffer from this also. Medications do not help. I have to remove myself from the situation. Period. Please people, do not make light of this sensitivity. Is it really that difficult to not where perfume/cologne?


     

    Sabinus15SayMoi
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    kmmssg said:
    I usually agree with most of the great ladies who have commented here but I don't on this one.  If someone truly has chemical sensitivities I don't feel it is rude at all to make this known.  No one is being asked to not wear deodorant or wash their hair, they are being asked to skip the perfumes and colognes because someone at the wedding has a tremendous sensitivity to them. 

    While the person I know who has the issues isn't a close friend, she is an acquaintance and her sensitivity is crazy.  Migraine, asthma out there crazy.  An air purifier for her would be a joke at a wedding.

    We are talking perfume and cologne here not personal hygiene.  My DH is really sensitive to odor.  Not as bad as my acquaintance, but fruity, floral smells make him nauseous and give him a headache. He went out of town for 10 days a few years ago and I was living it up wearing some perfume and burning candles.

    I really don't think asking guests to refrain from perfume and cologne because of the situation is asking too much.

    Thank you for understanding how serious this can be. I suffer from this also. Medications do not help. I have to remove myself from the situation. Period. Please people, do not make light of this sensitivity. Is it really that difficult to not where perfume/cologne?


     

    But the OP didn't just ask for people not to wear perfume/cologne.  That I could sort of understand.  She said please "refrain from using scented products" and then gave a couple examples of perfumes/colognes.  But by saying scented products, I assume she means all scented products and only listed the strongest-smelling ones.  It would be better if she removed "scented products" and just said "please refrain from using perfume/cologne."  (Although, I still think that is kind of rude and she be spread word of mouht.)  Unless, of course, she really is asking people to stop wearing anything scented.

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