The Enthusiasts Guide from “Yes” to “I Do”

Host Leah Longbrake is pulling back the veil to bring you honest advice and creative ideas from those in the wedding industry. From the Engagement to the Honeymoon, get all the details you need from wedding and event experts on how to make it your best day ever!

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All the Parties: Planning Your Engagement Party, Bridal Showers and Bachelor/Bachelorette

All the Parties: Planning Your Engagement Party, Bridal Showers and Bachelor/Bachelorette

Engagement, Bridal Shower, Bachelor/Bachelorette...there is A LOT of celebrating to do before your wedding day! Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire, shares her advice on how to plan and enjoy all of the parties leading up to your big day.

Get to know Jeffra:

As part of her role at WeddingWire, Jeffra leverages her keen eye for detail and visual aesthetic to constantly identify new wedding trends for engaged couples in the U.S -- from floral arrangements and bridal dress silhouettes to creative food options and new venue styles that deviate from traditional norms. After a decade in the wedding industry, Jeffra is an invaluable resource for couples and vendors, providing perspective on the latest trends and unique ways couples can personalize their special days.

Jeffra oversees the video production and creative teams, driving success for the company through content and visual marketing efforts. She loves reviewing WeddingWire ‘real weddings’ content to see how engaged couples are taking a cue from the year’s trends and adding personal touches to make the day their own.

Jeffra holds a degree in communication and studio art from the American University. She was recently interviewed on the TODAY Show, The Weather Channel, and Great Day Washington, and she has spoken at several large industry events including Create + Cultivate, The Special Event Conference, and WeddingWire World.

Follow WeddingWire on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!


This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producers David Moss, Gerardo Orlando, Production Director Brigid Coyne and Audio Engineer Eric Koltnow

Leah Longbrake:

Jeffra, welcome back to Weddings Unveiled. So happy to have you here again.

Jeffra Trumpower:

So glad to be back again. Thanks for having me.

Leah Longbrake:

And we're going to be talking about the other parties, and I want to start with the party that would kick it all off, which is the engagement party. Are you still seeing this as being a trend? Are people still having engagement parties?

Jeffra Trumpower:

What we're seeing is that couples are actually doing this on a smaller scale, and maybe in multiple different increments. So instead of having this very large and elaborate engagement party, typically, maybe hosted by a group of friends or a family member, we're actually seeing the couples do these smaller gatherings where maybe a friend hosts 10 people as a little celebration, or renting out a very small area of a restaurant. And so it's not as elaborate as it was, but we are still seeing couples celebrate and do it in, again, a very thoughtful way, just so that people can share in your joy.

Leah Longbrake:

And would you invite basically everyone that you would have on your guest list for the wedding? Or should you just keep it immediate family and friends?

Jeffra Trumpower:

It would just be small. So keeping this one small, you have the opportunity to invite all of those people to future events. So this is one of those pieces where enjoy a moment where it's just the nearest and dearest to you. And again, having even multiple smaller ones is the best way to do it because then you really have that intimate setting, if you will, to say, "Okay, I can really be with my five best friends, or my family and my siblings," or whatever that looks like. Really just keeping it intimate is the goal for the engagement parties nowadays.

Leah Longbrake:

And it really should be the least complicated of all the parties are going to have in the next year and a half.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Exactly, yes. And so don't overthink it, don't overstress it.

Leah Longbrake:

So moving on next to the bridal shower. Who should be hosting it and how do you delegate with it?

Jeffra Trumpower:

So however a couple wants to celebrate leading up to their wedding, whether it's a bridal shower, a wedding shower, a co-ed shower, or even not having one at all, but everyone is different and that's completely okay. Really, it is a fantastic way to celebrate, bring everyone together. And again, it is a bigger event, but really depending on how you want to do it. We do say that this typically either comes from one parent who is celebrating that particular, their son or their daughter, or it's coming from the wedding party. But again, it really depends, because I'm saying this based on what we've traditionally seen, but you really could have anyone throw your party, as long as it makes sense. But typically having somebody within the wedding party throw it, or a family member is, is what we've seen.

Leah Longbrake:

I think the older-school tradition, which still runs strong, is you invite all the women that are invited to the wedding.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes, that is the standard. Or we are also seeing that in same-sex weddings, couples, depending on whose side wants to celebrate what, it could be also that it is a co-ed experience, and in which case you would have all of the most important people in your life. So I do want to say that one thing that we are noticing is that it isn't just about having all the women in your life in one room, and it's definitely just who are the most important people in your life, and having those people in one room to celebrate.

Leah Longbrake:

So you don't have to go with the old traditional route of inviting this X amount of people, you can keep it smaller if you want to. Just because you're invited to the wedding doesn't mean you have to be invited to the shower.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Exactly. And this just goes to that intimate moment that you're trying to preserve before the big day. And it also has to do with budget too. Not to bring money into it, but it really depends on can you have an elaborate engagement party, bridal shower, wedding shower?

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah.

Jeffra Trumpower:

All of these things leading up to the big day. And so it's just figuring out what's the best thing for you, and what do you want, and who do you want to be there? But I do see these starting to be smaller, more intimate events as couples are really just trying to surround themselves with their nearest and dearest before the big day.

Leah Longbrake:

And like you said, budget, which is the number one thing with wedding, period, is your budget. And with this, it's not even just your budget. You have to consider maybe your maid of honor or your mom is hosting it, so it's a cost for them. And then guests purchasing more gifts, and it all adds up.

Jeffra Trumpower:

It definitely does. It absolutely does. And one thing too, just to go back to the guest list, because I don't want to forget to say this, even though it doesn't have to be everyone that you've invited to the wedding, but if you invite someone to an engagement party, a shower or any of the pre-wedding events, they have to be invited to your wedding.

Leah Longbrake:

Yes. That's such a great point because how awkward, if like, "Hey, you can come to my shower, and give me this gift, but you're not invited to the big day."

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes. So don't try to have one of your pre-wedding events be a B-list type of thing. It definitely has to be people that are going to be with you on your big day too.

Leah Longbrake:

So really by the time you get to your shower and your bachelor, bachelorette, you really should have your guest list nailed down and done.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes. Yes.

Leah Longbrake:

So with the bachelor and bachelorette, what does the guest list look like for that? It's going to be definitely different than your shower, because grandma's not probably going to be at the club. And if she is-

Jeffra Trumpower:

Great.

Leah Longbrake:

There are a lot of hip grandmas out there.

Jeffra Trumpower:

There really are.

Leah Longbrake:

Technically. But who should you make sure is included in this party?

Jeffra Trumpower:

This is usually your wedding party, your close friends and any extended family. We've seen very elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties, but really keep it as tight knit as you possibly can. I would say the best way to do it, so that you really do get the best out of the event is 20 people max, and that's still a lot. But definitely including everybody that again will be invited to the wedding.

Jeffra Trumpower:

But to go back to your point on the grandmother piece, or even if you want a parent involved, having them come in for some of it is totally okay. If there's a luncheon that's being planned for midday, and it's something that they would like to come to or an event that they can easily travel to, have them come. It's fun. It makes it different. And if that's what you want, again, personalize that, make it you.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Have them there.

Leah Longbrake:

What are some trends that we're seeing in bachelorette parties right now?

Jeffra Trumpower:

Well, right now, unfortunately not a lot.

Leah Longbrake:

Well, yeah. COVID aside.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yeah. But in terms of what we've actually seen is, it is this much more elaborate thing. There's travel involved.

Jeffra Trumpower:

I remember my mother saying that she just went to a bar in their hotel, the night before the wedding. But it's definitely a travel, going to a specific place. We're seeing that there are certain cities popping up that are really popular, Austin, Nashville. Miami is still a really popular place to go. Las Vegas is still on the list. And really, it becomes this weekend-long getaway for you and your closest friends. And that's really the trend that we are seeing.

Jeffra Trumpower:

It is a fully planned out, to-the-minute, scheduled to the date weekend. And really, we're not seeing that go away. If anything, it's just become another, honestly, in my opinion, great excuse to get all of your favorite people together in one area.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah, and kind of get away.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yeah. Just go and have a great time. And you hopefully only get married once, so whatever is within your means, go and have a great celebration. If you don't have the ability to do a longer celebration, which can be financially a lot, and it is a lot to ask of the people that are coming, we are still seeing couples do stay-at-home bachelor and bachelorettes, where it's still within where they live, but it's a schedule of events that can be fun to plan.

Leah Longbrake:

To your point about how it can be costly, what do you do if there's one member of your bridal party that just can't afford to do it?

Jeffra Trumpower:

So this is one of those tough conversations. And I will say that even though we have seen that 40% of bachelorette and bachelor party attendees actually do fly somewhere and spend almost $1000 on the event, which is a lot of money, you have to be respectful of the people that you are inviting. So I know it's hard to know what someone can afford, but having some understanding of what you're asking of that person and being respectful of that is important. So as you think about planning that, or even just giving a nudge to your person of honor that's planning it, making sure that they know that, "Hey, four days in Las Vegas for everyone on that list is not feasible. Maybe dial it back a little bit." And also, being respectful to know that, yes, you want it to be this big ordeal, but it's also who do you want to be around and who can actually afford to be there with you.

Leah Longbrake:

Right. I don't know what you ended up doing for your bachelorette, but with mine, we kept it just the bridesmaids, just the bridal party. And they surprised me with the chef's table at one of my favorite restaurants and the chef and owner, obviously was in the kitchen, cooking and made this elaborate 12-course meal, and then we just bar hopped around it. And it was the best time ever.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes.

Leah Longbrake:

We had this elaborate meal and then we just went to all these fun dive bars that we love. What did you do?

Jeffra Trumpower:

I did the same thing. We did not travel. It was my very, very close friends. I actually had all of my cousins as my bridal party, because I just wanted to keep it simple, talk about just not having to worry about inviting everybody. So we actually just did the same thing. We went out to a wonderful dinner and then we hit a bunch of bars and had a great time and all slept over at one of our friend's apartments. And it was wonderful, and it was affordable and it was great, and everyone loved it. So it doesn't need to be elaborate and you don't need to fly anywhere. I'm just looking at the overall what we're seeing, and a lot of it is that. But I will say, for all of you couples out there listening to this, do what makes the most sense. It doesn't have to be what everyone else is doing, and do what you know is going to, again, surround you with the people that you love.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. My friend's sister, she just got married, and what they did was there was a local campground, just a couple hours away, and they rented a cabin on the water, and they just hung out at the cabin for the weekend. So simple.

Jeffra Trumpower:

So simple. And that's the thing you don't, something you're aware you all live is completely the best way to do it. Take a short drive. You can still save money that way, and obviously trying to keep the festivities closer to home is just easier on everyone. And like I said, then if you do want to have your grandmother come to the lunch or something, then you're nearby to do that. And so it feels like such a broader celebration too.

Leah Longbrake:

When it comes to planning the different parties, what is something most couples don't consider, but you think they absolutely should?

Jeffra Trumpower:

It is definitely the budget. No, I do think that they are considering that. I would say... I do keep coming back to budget, when I come back to it because I do think-

Leah Longbrake:

But it is so important.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yeah. And I do think that sometimes it's overlooked because depending on how it's being planned and who's planning it, everything is different, but a lot of the times the couple is actually not putting up money towards the event. Everyone might be chipping in for them, or maybe you're paying for your flight, but they're paying for everything around the time. So what I do think that couples aren't thinking about is what that means for other people's budget and their expenditures.

Jeffra Trumpower:

But I do think that also, one thing to consider is when you actually plan these parties and how long your engagement is. So spreading it out a little bit and making sure that not only are you doing that for yourself, so that you're prolonging your celebrations, but just being aware of who you're inviting, how often, when are those parties, things like that. Don't push it all to the end, don't have it all at the beginning, try to spread that out.

Leah Longbrake:

Don't do what I did and have everything in one week. I did, because everyone was coming in from out of town, it'd be so hard to have the bridal party be a part of a bachelorette or a bridal shower months in advance, because they're all over the country. So we kicked off the week with the shower on Sunday, had the bachelor, bachelorette Wednesday, the rehearsal Thursday, got married Saturday.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Oh my goodness.

Leah Longbrake:

And Monday was Memorial Day, so they could all have a little buffer to travel. It was a very long week.

Jeffra Trumpower:

But you were also being thoughtful of people's travel time too. So I think that that's something to consider as well.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. That was the number one reason for doing it, because there was no way that everyone would be able to attend everything spread out, and I really wanted to make sure, especially my bridal party, that they could be a part of all of it.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yeah, absolutely.

Leah Longbrake:

But it was a good rule of thumb. If you don't have the travel issue like I had, when should you have the bachelorette and the shower, in relation to the wedding day?

Jeffra Trumpower:

So it's usually between one and three months out.

Leah Longbrake:

So it's really up to you in that timeframe to pick.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yeah, exactly. Whatever makes the most sense for you, and again, people traveling and things like that. So I think to your point on the travel, if you're expecting people to travel to your wedding and also travel to the bachelorette party, having them a month apart might not be the best because maybe they have to take off work, or even just the cost of flying or driving or whatever. So really thinking about that timeline, I think is important.

Jeffra Trumpower:

It also depends on how long your engagement is. Most engagements are around 13 months now, but some people are waiting two years, some people are waiting six months. So it really depends on again, how long you're engaged for and how long you want to spread out and plan those events properly.

Leah Longbrake:

Anything else you think couples should be aware of when it comes to the parties?

Jeffra Trumpower:

I think that the most important thing is to just enjoy the moment, and don't worry about if somebody wants to have a celebration for you, let them enjoy and bask in that moment with you. I do think that a lot of the times, we become overwhelmed and we're like, "No, I don't want my Aunt Mildred to throw me a party as well," and all of these things.

Jeffra Trumpower:

My biggest advice is don't overdo it. Don't be again, too demanding of what is around you, but enjoy it. And if it means you have multiple mini celebrations in order to have everyone that loves you celebrate you, embrace that because I know it's cliche, I know everyone says this, but once the wedding is over, there's this moment that washes over you of, "Oh my God, it's over."

Leah Longbrake:

Yes.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Because there's so much planning and there's so many things that have happened, and you really do look back and you're like, "Oh my God, I hope I took every moment in stride." There is a little bit of this reflection, and so my advice is have those celebrations, and don't minimize that this is a really important and special time of your life, and allow people to enjoy that with you.

Leah Longbrake:

That is perfect advice. So last question, last time I had you on here, I asked you what your favorite wedding movie was. It was Father of the Bride.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes.

Leah Longbrake:

Which is a classic.

Jeffra Trumpower:

It is.

Leah Longbrake:

But now I would like to know, what is your all-time-favorite celebrity wedding or wedding dress?

Jeffra Trumpower:

So I'm going to have to actually say, because I'm thinking recently, Mandy Moore wore the most beautiful pink dress, and it was so incredibly gorgeous. And I just thought that, talk about having a wedding that's all you and not worrying about tradition. I would say that was one of the most recent ones, that is just like wow, so truly amazing. That would probably be the most recent one.

Leah Longbrake:

So on the floral episode, Mary, from Persephone Floral Atelier in Connecticut, she picked Mandy Moore's flowers.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Really?

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah.

Jeffra Trumpower:

That's so funny. Oh my gosh.

Leah Longbrake:

Mandy Moore's wedding is very popular here at Weddings Unveiled.

Jeffra Trumpower:

It is, because she just did it her way, and I love that.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah.

Jeffra Trumpower:

And I actually think that a lot of celebrities are doing that, but I just feel like hers just felt it was intimate, she wore a pink dress. Come on. It was just so perfect.

Leah Longbrake:

Pink with frills.

Jeffra Trumpower:

I know.

Leah Longbrake:

But not in a frilly way.

Jeffra Trumpower:

No. I hope I'm not talking about something that's wrong, but I think it was a Monique Lhuillier dress, which also wowed. The whole thing was just so great, and I just loved that she said no to tradition and went the way that she wanted to go.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah, I love it. It's such a great choice.

Leah Longbrake:

Well, Jeffra, thank you so much for being back with us today, and we look forward to having you back on again in the future.

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes.

Leah Longbrake:

And for those that maybe missed the first time you were on, which we'll let the go back and check out, how can we get more information on WeddingWire?

Jeffra Trumpower:

Yes. So go to weddingwire.com. We have a suite of tools that you can use to plan your big day, as well as hundreds and hundreds of vendors in your local area, to also help plan. Definitely, hire a pro is my big tip. And then also, follow us on Instagram. We have daily updates on inspiration and swipe ups to see what other advice and etiquette that we're writing about.

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