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Pheromone Parties, Nerdy Nuptials, Wedding Day Preparedness

by Bethany Halford
July 30, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 31


When it comes to finding love, identifying a special someone with whom you have chemistry may depend on, well, chemistry. At least that’s what Judith Prays is banking on. Prays, an Atlanta-based Web developer turned matchmaker, recently started hosting pheromone parties, where singles meet potential mates on the basis of their scents.

The parties work like this: Guests are asked to sleep for three consecutive nights in a clean, white cotton T-shirt and then place the shirt in a plastic zipper bag, which they bring to the party. Each bag gets a label—pink for girls and blue for boys—as well as a number, which only the shirt owner knows.

When a guest smells something they like, they have their picture snapped with the number and the photo gets projected onto the wall at the party. If you see someone holding your number, it’s your invitation to go talk to them.

Prays tells the Associated Press she got the idea after getting involved with one particular fellow. “Even when he smelled objectively bad, I thought he smelled really good,” Prays says. “And so I thought, okay, maybe I should be dating based on smell?”

Credit: Hazelnut Photography
Chemical wedding: Celebrating with chemistry.
A reception table setup from chemistry-themed wedding features periodic table squares as table markers and flowers floating in beakers.
Credit: Hazelnut Photography
Chemical wedding: Celebrating with chemistry.

After years working in laboratories where solvent vapors permeated the air, the Newscripts gang isn’t so sure we’d trust our noses to ferret out pheromones. We do, however, know many chemists who’ve sniffed out love in the lab. And when two people are brought together by chemistry, the science can make a fun wedding theme, as Paul Bracher of the ChemBark blog recently noted.

Earlier this summer, Bracher attended a labmate’s wedding that had a chemical bent: Erlenmeyer flasks filled with flowers decorated the reception hall. And rather than just assign numbers to each of the tables at the celebration, the chemically inclined couple also named each table after a beloved molecule, including oxytocin, dopamine, and alcohol dehydrogenase. The placard at each table featured a structure of the molecule and a blurb about it.

Bracher also recalled another chemistry-themed wedding he attended a few years ago in which the newlyweds had element-themed tables and used test tubes as seat markers.

This got us wondering how you, dear readers, might have incorporated chemistry into your big day. Element cuff links? Periodic table bow ties? Something old, something new, something borrowed, and methylene blue? Drop us a line or, better yet, a photo, and we’ll post your nuptial nerdiness on the Newscripts blog (

Finally, if you do find yourself in the midst of planning a wedding, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has some advice for you.

Credit: Shutterstock
Bridezilla: Have your survival guide handy.
A cartoon of a female Godzilla in a wedding dress.
Credit: Shutterstock
Bridezilla: Have your survival guide handy.

“Being in the throes of wedding season, many of us here at CDC realized that planning for a wedding isn’t that much different from planning for a disaster,” notes the agency on its Public Health Matters blog. With that in mind, CDC’s “Wedding Day Survival Guide” offers a three-pronged approach to ensuring that getting hitched goes off without a hitch.

First, CDC suggests you make a kit, complete with water, snacks, extra cash, and anything needed “to bandage up a clumsy flower girl.” Second, the agency suggests you make a plan in case of a genuine emergency: Have guests’ contact numbers handy and learn the reception venue’s emergency plans and evacuation routes. Finally, CDC encourages all members of the wedding party to stay informed, whether it’s about the weather, which family members are feuding, or how to calm a bridezilla. “When you know what to do, you’ll be ready for anything,” note the preparedness experts.

Bethany Halford wrote this week’s column. Please send comments and suggestions to


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