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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Save the Date! Invitation Advice with Esther Lee, Senior Editor at The Knot

Save the Date! Invitation Advice with Esther Lee, Senior Editor at The Knot

From the Save the Dates to the Thank You cards, Esther Lee, Senior Editor at The Knot, breaks down how to choose your invitation style, when you should send them out to your guests, and what you definitely should and should not include. We also discuss the brand new Invitations and Stationary collection from The Knot!

Get to know Esther:

Esther Lee is the Senior Editor of The Knot, covering and editing all-things-related to weddings and love at the leading brand in the U.S. She has successfully overseen multiple content initiatives at The Knot, including prolific team coverage of the 2018 Royal Wedding and a content partnership with Warner Brothers for the world premiere of Crazy Rich Asians. Most notably, she has served as the force behind the accelerated growth of News content at The Knot since 2016.

She is a voracious reader with an inherent gift for storytelling and an unquenchable thirst for answers. Esther currently resides in New York City and surprise: on occasion, she doesn't mind if you flip the switch and ask her questions instead.

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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:

So Esther, to start, how did you get involved in The Knot? What's your wedding journey?


Esther Lee:

Sure. So it was around 2016, actually, when I was working at Us Weekly at the time. I was covering celebrity news and also breaking news beats. And I was recruited to join The Knot, to oversee its news section, which was super exciting for me because I've always loved the narrative of weddings and engagements and proposals, and how it's filled with so much joy. And so from there I ended up pivoting and, kind of growing up in news sites presence, and now I'm overseeing top editing copy for digital, and I have my hands in various projects everyday. And during this time, of course COVID has been so crazy this year, so helping couples-

Leah Longbrake:

Oh yes.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. Helping couples and vendors navigate this time has certainly been a really profound experience, actually, because I really do feel like we are helping people during a really challenging period, and so just happy to be here, and to be touching the most joyful day of couples' lives. It's so exciting.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. I'm so excited to have you share your advice on our topic today: Invitations. And before we get into it, something couples should know and hopefully you can speak more on this, is The Knot has their own stationary now, which coincides also with the wedding website, which I think is awesome.

Esther Lee:

Yes. It's actually such a neat product that we just launched this year. It's a one-stop shop for everything. So you can have your stationary match your wedding websites, which is the dream because you want this cohesive branding... You know how Millennials and Gen Z are. We want this cohesive branding experience your wedding day, too. So now you can have that in one place.

Leah Longbrake:

No, and it's so true. So 2019's when I got married, and we had a vibe with our wedding website from The Knot, and your invitations and stationary weren't out yet, so we actually did utilize the chalkboard theme, which we had on The Knot, and put that with our save the dates, and then tied in this greenery and all that, because we got married at a brewery so we had a whole greenery and hops vibe with the invitations. So if we were to have waited another year, although it would've been COVID, but we could've had that. But we did work to try to have that cohesiveness. So it's so great you offer that in one place.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. And well, thankfully you did get to avoid that. So yeah. I'm happy for you. That sounds like such a cool wedding, a brewery wedding.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. Oh thank you. Yeah, Great Lakes Brewing Company. Shoutout to them. And I feel for all the couples this year. I have... Oh my gosh. Five or six friends that were supposed to get married this year. A couple went through with it in their own ways and will do bigger things later down the road. The rest have postponed. And just the challenges that they've been through. I feel for everyone out there that's had to try to make a decision on if they're going to go forward or not this year.

Esther Lee:

Yeah it is a really challenging time, and we want couples to understand that there is this component of mourning. And yet, we've actually seen some really beautiful, heartfelt events emerge from this period where so many are having micro-weddings, and they're coming up with alternative ways to celebrate the day. And it's actually much more intimate than they would've ever imagined. And therefore, it leaves such a profound experience on their hearts.

Leah Longbrake:

So there actually could be a silver lining, we'll say, in the wedding world when it comes to having to get it together during COVID. When you have to think fast and on your feet, and what do you really want to do? I mean you can still do elaborate down the road, but the intimate wedding, I think, is such a beautiful thing. And I think it's going to be a big trend for years to come.

Esther Lee:

You nailed that one on its head actually. It's one of our 2021 wedding trends for sure. We have this little saying called Tiny Toasts. So couples are asking their guests, the ones that are actually present, to just give a toast from afar about how they're related to the couple, how they've seen the trajectory of their love story. I've heard from wedding planners that there have been more tears at these particular COVID weddings than they have seen in a very long time. So it's abundant. The emotions are very rife, and obviously people are celebrating now for all the right reasons, which I think is so special.

Leah Longbrake:

I love that. Tiny Toasts. Tiny Toasts. That's amazing. I love that. So we're going to talk a little bit down the line about if you do have to postpone your wedding, because there's ways to navigate that. But let's start off with, you're newly engaged. A lot of brides and grooms are getting engaged this year still. And the first thing that gets sent out is the save the date. So where do you think couples should start with that? How soon after the engagement should they have a date set and send them out?

Esther Lee:

Yes. Great question. You nailed that one on its head because we're in the thick of proposal season right now, so obviously a lot of couples are wondering: Where do you begin? We have three main, overarching suggestions that we highly recommend. The first is: Couples need to figure out their wedding style. And we have this great tool, it's a wedding style quiz. And you can swipe left or swipe right, Tinder-style, on any kinds of images of florals, color pallettes that you like or dislike, and then at the end it comes out with this distinctive wedding style that suits your taste, and your partner can take it too. And then it matches you up to vendors locally, or whatever area you want to get married. It matches you up and then you get to reach out to them directly so that they can help you with that day. So we tell you, though, definitely start with the wedding style because you don't want to send out save the date that's not representative of you. Yeah.

Esther Lee:

And then the next thing we do recommend is timing. So timing is so important, and we want to suggest that couples send out their save the dates eight to 10 months in advance. So at leas be aware of that when it comes to planning your wedding. Once you have the venue secured, once you have the planning started, you definitely want to get a move on those save the dates, too. And then finally, this is really important, the guest list. Make sure it's finalized. That's a big one. And the reason why we say guest list is because you don't want to send out a save the date to somebody who is on the cusp, and then you have to uninvite them down the line.

Leah Longbrake:

Yes. So awkward.

Esther Lee:

Just be sure. I know, it's so awkward. But yeah, I'm sure you've had so many awkward moments that you've had to overcome along the way.

Leah Longbrake:

So I actually spoke about this recently with Jeffra from Wedding Wire, with Etiquette. So this ties in with the save the dates. Make sure your guest list is solid. But also be prepared that people are going to assume they're invited to your wedding that you're not inviting, and it can be a very awkward moment. Whether it's a family member, a friend, coworkers. So just make sure your guest list is nailed down and you're solid on it so you don't feel the need to, "I guess I can add you." Even though you weren't intending on adding them.

Esther Lee:

Yeah that's so challenging, especially sometimes because things are per-person, and you want your wedding day to be your people specifically. And so definitely sit with your partner and get that guest list finalized as much as possible. And if anyone's on the periphery, you can always come back and revisit that later. But make sure that the core folks in your life who you really need to have there, that they at least get a save the date.

Leah Longbrake:

So there are a lot of great ways to send save the dates. There's obviously the paper version. There are magnets, which are really popular still. And then there's e-vites. Do you have a preference over what kind of save the dates get sent out?

Esther Lee:

So it actually really does boil down to each couple. There are some couples who really want that whole customized experience, so they'll go crazy with the entire suite, and some will look for a personal stationer who will create these watercolor invites, or really cool digital experiences. Some are even doing boxes. This is a brand new thing that we're seeing more of during COVID. But they're actually sending out these pre-wedding boxes that are so cool, to get people pumped up for the experience. So no, it's a matter of preference. But also it's okay to send out a digital save the date too, especially if you have more of a sustainability type of focused mind, and you're eco-conscious. That's another area to consider digital.

Leah Longbrake:

What are these boxes? This sounds really fun.

Esther Lee:

Boxes are great because, on the time of Instagram, who doesn't love an unboxing? Right? So we're actually marking this as one of our 2021 trends as well, but basically a lot of couples are having welcome boxes now at their events. And so rather than having a welcome bag, it's a box that's decorated so beautifully. And then guests get to experience the unboxing along with the weekend itinerary, and a few other details. During the time of COVID, there's wedding masks and hand sanitizers in there.

Leah Longbrake:

Oh yeah. Smart.

Esther Lee:

Along with the Advils and everything else you need for the weekend.

Leah Longbrake:

A bottle of water. Yeah.

Esther Lee:

Right. The bottle of water. But hopefully it's monogrammed. The standard. But it's a great way to receive your guests into any entryway point. So whether it's through the invitation or the save the date, or even through just the welcome weekend box, couples and guests will both be delighted.

Leah Longbrake:

So save the dates would be included in this, but especially once you get to invitations, we really need to get on budget first, because budget is key to everything in wedding planning. So what's a good healthy budget number that you think that couples should consider? And what is involved in the budget?

Esther Lee:

Sure. So yes, budget is very important. So according to The Knot 2019 Real Wedding Study, the actual average cost of invitations was $560. Again, that's an average. So what that means is that there are some couples who, again, choose that very hands-on experience of working directly with the stationer, which will then correlate to a higher cost. And then there are those couples who choose to go en mass, and they're not that focused on the customized experience. And there they tend to go down the different route. So this is really an average, and I want to remind people of that too.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. So that's actually going to be one of my questions. What really is, when you get down to the nitty gritty, the difference between going to a specific stationary company, maybe there's a local vendor, versus something, a bigger brand like a Minted, or a Shutterfly?

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So I think about this in a way, like how do you like to go shopping? What is your shopping preference? Do you prefer to go to a big box retailer? And would you just like to grab some of the mainstream items? Or would you prefer to go to somebody who really specializes in this one area, like Home and Decor, or it could be silk dresses. I live in New York City, so obviously there's a retailer or a specialty designer for everything. So how do you like to shop? So the couple, once they determine that, some will choose... And again, the budget too. Some will choose the experience of going to a stationer who will sit with you and hear your story out, and illustrate and come back with these beautiful designs. And then there are others who want to shop at home, from the convenience of their couches. And that's perfectly fine. So it really does boil down to your personal preferences.

Leah Longbrake:

No that's a great way of putting it, because I never would have thought about that, is comparing it to how you shop. If you want more the boutique experience, or if you want more of going to a Macy's. I don't know. Or a Target. You know what I mean? Something more options that way. So when should you start looking at your invitations once you get going in your wedding planning?

Esther Lee:

Yeah that's a great question. So invitations, you should at least start browsing nine-plus months before you actually send them out. And again, that's a loose number because if you have to suppress production time too, if it's a really elaborate invitation, then you want to add in extra time. If a lot of your guests are out of country, again you have to mail also, suppressing that extra time to consider how long it's going to take for those invitations to arrive in the mail. Overall though, nine months is a very safe amount of time. So we do recommend starting there.

Leah Longbrake:

And then with so many shapes and styles and ways of doing it, what's a good way to break that down for a couple? Because I know first-hand it can be so overwhelming when there's so many options out there.

Esther Lee:

Oh yeah. That's actually a great question too. So the invitation, the way that you think about it, other than a save the dates, is that truly when they're opening this invitation, it's the first guest touchpoint for your wedding week, or your wedding day. So what you really want to think about is: What is your style? Again, I come down to that whole, take the quiz or figure that out, but it's so important because I think once you have that, it comes easier. You're able to narrow down the options and then determine a choice from there. Really, what I say is don't be afraid, though, to think outside the box, because some people think, "Okay, this is a task or a checklist item I have to get done." But really, you can have fun wit the invitation if you decide to put that extra thought and care into it. I am delighted by some of the invitations I receive from friends. Even the change the dates. I've received some really funny ones recently, and I can't thank them enough at least for the humor.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah, since you brought that up let's jump ahead a little bit to that, because it's nice to see that they have change the date options out there for COVID brides, but going forward even when we're not in a time of COVID, which hopefully will be sooner than later, you might have to change the date because natural disasters, death in the family. Circumstances arise, right? So what should you do if you need to change the date? What should be the plan of action, especially if the invitations are out?

Esther Lee:

Sure. That's a tricky one. And we are definitely seeing that it's a challenging time for couples to navigate changes. What we do recommend is as soon as you have a date, or as soon as you make a choice or a decision, get the word out as fast you can because that way your guests will be able to make plans accordingly, or at least be aware if they have flights booked, or hotel rooms booked, that at least they can make those changes. If you're having a huge or massive size wedding of 300-plus guests, feel free to tap your loved ones, your parents, your maid of honor, your best man, to help pick up the phone and make some calls. But you want to make sure that every single guest is accounted for. It's so important, because you don't want someone to show up that day. That's just a situation. I also say another easy way to do it is over email. Just send it out en mass, slap a link to your wedding website, and have an FAQ page on there so they at least have all the details at hand.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. And again the wedding website is key, because I had a majority of our wedding, especially wedding party, was coming in from out of town. And it's the quickest way to get information out there. It's a little trickier when you have maybe older relatives that don't really use the internet, so hopefully someone else in the wedding can help them along with the information, but it's the fastest way to help spread the word on any kind of changes or updates.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. And it's becoming increasingly more popular, and we're seeing some really creative wedding websites out there. I like how couples even use maps, these digitized maps, to refer people to date spots. Like, "This is where we had our first kiss. This is where we first held hands." Or, "Had our first dinner together."

Leah Longbrake:

Oh that's so cute.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. It actually adds to the guest experience is your wedding is held in the same region. Or it just gives them a reason to know your story further.

Leah Longbrake:

I love that. I'm such a romantic though. I love anything like that.

Esther Lee:

Same. I am also a true romantic. I understand you. I wear my heart on my sleeve for sure.

Leah Longbrake:

Right? Yes. So what should be included in the invitation? Because I feel like I missed a few things in my process. I wish I would've had more of your advice on this. So couples out there get the skinny on this. What needs to definitely be included?

Esther Lee:

Oh yeah. So you definitely want to include the wedding date and the location, for sure. And the time. So make sure that you have that information on there for your guests. Also, you likely want to include your name and your partner's name, so that your guests know exactly what they're celebrating. So those are the two highest points that I want to call out in terms of suggested information. And then from there, we tell couples, if you want to add parents' names, then sure. That's also another option. Along with the dress code and the RSVP information. But I just want to caveat that by saying, you don't have to put everything on the invitation. You can also add additional cards in the invitation suite so that people can refer to the RSVP information, your wedding website, and that's okay too. So it doesn't look so clunky.

Leah Longbrake:

So as far as putting the time on the invitation, this is another conversation that I had with Jeffra actually, I'm personally a stickler for being early or right on time. But when it comes to a wedding, you don't want guests walking in when the bride is supposed to be having her moment. So if you know you have guests, especially that are usually late to everything, what's a good way of making sure they're aware that this ceremony time means the bride's coming? Don't interfere.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So I won't say this is also an etiquette diplomacy issue that you should definitely work out with your friends. Use your bridal party or your wedding party. If this friend happens to be a friend of a friend, or whomever, maybe they can just be like, "Hey by the way, the wedding is actually strictly starting at this time. So if you guys could all just show up." Or maybe have your wedding planner send out an email, or utilize one of your pros to make that very clear, because overall there is no excuse for being late to somebody's wedding, period. Especially at that given time. To me, it's an etiquette no-no. So yeah, I mean at the end of the day, you don't want to be that person. So if you're a guest and you're listening to this, just know that you do not want to be that person.

Leah Longbrake:

Right. So RSVPs. When should you have the time? What should be the date on there? Because you want to give yourself enough time to get all the responses and have to chase people. Hopefully not too many of them. But what's a good rule of thumb on that?

Esther Lee:

Yeah so we actually say that you should request all RSVPs to be sent three weeks in advance of the wedding date so that you have enough time to actually share the final guest count with the caterer. And then on top of it, of course you've been through this before. Seating charts. You want to be ready to print that. How was your experience with that Leah?

Leah Longbrake:

Oh. So I knew I probably had to chase some people down. So our wedding was May 25, and I've mentioned this before on the show, but we gave a nod to our Irish and Polish heritage throughout the entire wedding. And so as a little Easter egg for our wedding, we made the RSVP mail into us date by March 17, St. Patrick's Day. So it gave us at least two months to have me obsess over the table seating, and get everything to catering, and chase people down. So we gave ourselves ample time. I recommend it.

Esther Lee:

Good. I think that's great. Better to be safe than sorry. And if you're the type of couple who likes to... Actually I like to think about it in terms of airport time. If you are the type of person who gets to a flight three hours in advance, and likes to sit in the lounge, or likes to grab a nice wine glass and sit before the flight arrives, then great. Send it out in advance. If you're a risk-taker, just know that three weeks is your deadline. So make sure that all RSVPs are back by then.

Leah Longbrake:

I love that you put it that way because I am that person that shows up to the airport majorly in advance to enjoy a glass of wine to calm my nerves before flying.

Esther Lee:

You strike me as a prepared individual based on what you're telling me.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah I try. I very much try. So you mentioned etiquette no-nos. What are some of the no-nos when it comes to invitations?

Esther Lee:

Oh yeah. So for couples, they absolutely should not be including their registry link on their invitations. And the reason why we say that is because it doesn't look good. But couples will obviously... They have wedding websites available already, so if you're registry is linked to your wedding website, they can at least refer to that. Yeah. And more than anything, just be aware of how guests will receive things in general. Just be aware of the guest experience.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. And you know what? Having the registry linked to the website is ideal, especially through The Knot, it connects you to all the different stores that you would probably be registering from, from Target and all that. It didn't at Home Depot, which I'm still mad at Home Depot for not having a registry because for older couples like me, we want things like that for our home. But you have the honeymoon fund, and all these other cool experiences. And it's so easy because everyone pretty much shops online anymore anyways, so they can go right to your website and click on the link from there.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. It's great. It's actually two-fold. We have retailers on The Knot registry, and then we also have The Knot registry store. So now you can actually purchase products directly from our store inventory, which is super cool. And no, it's really interesting to actually watch registry purchasing patterns. I think couples are getting creative. They want the honeymoon funds now, and they want the puppy funds, which I personally really enjoy.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. And experiences are huge too, right?

Esther Lee:

Yup. So some couples will choose to save for something like IVF. Others will actually ask for a year's worth of Domino's pizza. The range is really... It's tailored per couple, and that's what makes wedding planning so unique. It's just everything can be very personalized at this point.

Leah Longbrake:

I love that. That's so fun. I want to meet that couple, the Domino's couple. That's great.

Esther Lee:

Believe it or not, Leah, people are looking for that all the time.

Leah Longbrake:

Really? Things like that?

Esther Lee:

Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:

That's so awesome. That's so fun. So you had mentioned, obviously with The Knot's website, what are other tips that couples are looking to be sustainable? What are things that they can do if they want to be more green?

Esther Lee:

Oh yeah, the wedding websites are actually one way you can be more green. So in order to trim down the amount of paper card inserts that you're including in your invitation suite, if you are sustainably minded, just have a link to your wedding website and include a lot of information on there about accommodations, directions, all of that can be included there. On the other hand, if you are the kind of truly sustainable couple, but you want to have a paper invitation, there are so many types of different options in terms of card stock that you could be using, such as seed-infused paper. So I don't know if you've heard of this before.

Leah Longbrake:

No. What is this?

Esther Lee:

Yeah. This paper includes little tiny seeds, and the guests can actually plant it after they're done using this invitation, and it can grow a plant in your backyard if you're into gardening. So it really does help the environment and help our planet in some ways. Of course there's hemp paper. There are so many options, which is really great. And sustainability is actually really front of mind for us, too, at The Knot. I think this year, we made a commitment that for every invitation suite that's purchased, we actually plant a tree to help with the deforestation or other types of disasters that are happening around the country. So we've actually partnered with American Forest to do that for those who are in crucial need.

Leah Longbrake:

That is wonderful. Kudos to you guys for doing that. That's amazing advocacy on your part. And this seed invitation is so fascinating. I want to utilize that for future invitations. That's such a cool idea to recycle.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. It's really special. And you can actually see the tiny seeds embedded in the paper, but the paper quality is still so nice and it feels lux. Yeah. So it really is a great option and I'm glad that we're talking about it because more people need to know and protect our planet.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. I've never heard of that. Obviously you hear recycled paper. I've heard of hemp being used. But never heard of the seed. That's so incredibly awesome.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. Leah, let love grow.

Leah Longbrake:

Oh I love that. Yes. So one of the stressful parts of invitations, especially if you're not having a professional do this for you, is addressing the envelope, because it can be really tricky, especially etiquette wise. If you're not inviting the entire family in a household, especially if kids aren't invited, or if you're not including a plus-one for a single. Or they're a doctor, military, divorced. There's so much to it. What are the proper etiquette and dos and don'ts for addressing an envelope.

Esther Lee:

Yes. So traditional etiquette calls for the full name of the invited guests, or guest, along with their actual title. So if it's a doctor, then "Dr. Michael Lee." Would be a way to spell it out. And if Michael Lee happens to be married, it could be "Dr. Michael Lee and Mrs. Vivian Lee." So those are ways that you could approach it traditionally speaking. But again, times are changing in the wedding industry, and also among couples. So there are those couples who find titles these days to be restricting, and almost exclusive. And for those couples, I say if you want to be inclusive with how you address your invitations, then text your guests and ask them how they choose to be referred to. Or, just leave off the titles entirely. That's okay. There's no offense taken there.

Leah Longbrake:

No that's a great point, especially for our LGBTQIA community. There are special ways that they would probably want to be address that maybe people aren't aware of.

Esther Lee:

Yeah exactly. And you had mentioned the children earlier, too. I did want to double-click on that one, because it is a hot button topic.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah definitely.

Esther Lee:

Leah, I don't know... I'm curious to hear how about how you approach this, too. But what we say is, with your wedding invitations address it to each guest who is invited. So if your friends have kids, if their children are not addressed, then the truth is they're not invited. And so overall that's one of the main pieces of advice that we have when addressing your guest. Make it very explicit, and make it very clear. Usually people can read between the lines.

Leah Longbrake:

You would think. There are still people that don't realize that. But that's okay. That's why we're talking about it, so hopefully more people can know that that's what it is. With our wedding, the only children invited were the bridal party. We had three flower girls and a ring bearer. And actually only one of the flower girls stayed for the reception. The rest went with their grandfather and hung out at home. But for those that were part of the bridal party, we address it to the so-and-so family. So it was everyone in the household. And then other couples that we knew had children, it was just their names. But a few still was like, "Hey it says our names on the invitation. Can we bring so-and-so?" "No. Thank you for asking instead of just bringing. No. Love them, but no."

Esther Lee:

I know. I'm actually sitting here with my... You don't see it, but I have my hand over my face right now. Actually, this week our social team at The Knot came up with this really funny meme that was basically, it was Charlie Brown themed. It was "Say it louder for the people in the back." It had to do exactly with this particular topic. No. If you don't get a plus one, you don't get a plus one and that's just how it is.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. To me, it was a little less awkward than dealing with the people that assumed that they were invited to the wedding and weren't. But it's still not an easy conversation. "I love your children, but you get to have date night with an open bar. You're welcome."

Esther Lee:

Talk about silver linings. Yeah. You're being very positive about this. It's good.

Leah Longbrake:

That's my way of looking at it. That was my teaser. "You get to have a date night with an open bar. You don't have to pay for any of it. It's great. Just show up. Leave the kids at home." They were all fine about it in the end. No one gave a hard time, luckily, about that. But I mean it's a tricky situation. But use the date night open bar thing. They'll understand.

Esther Lee:

That's a good one. I should lean into that more, actually.

Leah Longbrake:

Telling you. So what are some more trends that we're going to see for 2021, 2022.

Esther Lee:

So, for wedding invitations, you saw that Pantone released its color of the year this week right?

Leah Longbrake:

Yes. That yellow color.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So it's actually right on par with one of our 2021 trends, and 2022. We're seeing couples return to this idea of celebratory pallettes, so very bright, bold suites that are full of pops of color, over the simple white invitations. We're done with the neutrals for now. And then we're also seeing couples be much more cognizant of types of custom invitation styles. So illustrations on save the dates, or pressed flowers. So there's lots of different options that people are taking as it relates back to the décor elements of the actual invitation itself. Obviously I cannot... I have to address this again, but they're actually being much more aware of addressing their guests. So more exclusivity as it comes to addresses overall. I think that in the years ahead, we're going to see a true thoughtfulness around how people are addressing others and their loved ones.

Esther Lee:

And then we're also seeing an emphasis on digital. So, because of COVID... And COVID has actually really impacted our trends in so many ways. Of course. Why wouldn't it? But yeah, many couples have had to postpone their weddings, or they're re-imagining or pivoting their plans. So obviously if you're having a micro wedding or an elopement, they're going to turn some of the components of the invitation to digital, to make it easier to communicate. And again, we're seeing the rise of change the dates, and helping customers reschedule with those change of dates, of course.

Leah Longbrake:

That's awesome. So, you had this really great article on theknot.com about how to invite a president or celebrity to your wedding. And I really wish this article would've been out a year ago, because I would've taken advantage of this. But how can we do this? There's some advice in this article.

Esther Lee:

Yeah of course. Actually, before I get into it, who would you have invited? Who would be on your list?

Leah Longbrake:

Oh gosh. That's on the spot. I don't know. There's a lot of people I would've been like, "Hm. Let's see if I can get them here." Off the top of my head, I don't know. Maybe the Obamas. Yeah I don't know. There's so many people. I mean I could go right into wedding world, everyone from Randy Fenoli to Vera Wang.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. Well this is good to know. So if you were to have had a few invitations left and you were going to send it out to celebrities or people that you really admire, you would put them to good use by actually addressing your invitations to their contact information, which you can actually find on this website called fanmail.biz. So you can see these generic addresses to Oprah, Taylor Swift. I don't know. Beyonce. Whomever. And obviously they have received these invitations because once in a blue moon, there is an opportunity where a celebrity will crash a wedding, especially if they're in that locality or that local area. And then that's really trying your luck, but at least you tried. And if not, oftentimes dignitaries will respond. They'll write a nice little note, and that could be a nice piece of memorabilia for you to keep from the wedding day. So definitely, if you have leftover invites, that's the way to put it to use.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah definitely keep that in mind. That's awesome.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. And then if you really do want a celebrity to... If you want Bruno Mars to perform at your wedding, guess what. There is a price that comes with that. But you can hire a professional to make it happen.

Leah Longbrake:

If you had your choice, who would you invite?

Esther Lee:

Well hands down right now, number one, BTS. Do you know the boy band, the global hip hop band? Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:

TIME's Entertainer of the Year for 2020?

Esther Lee:

Yeah exactly. I have so many, actually. So people would be very surprised to hear my go-tos. Andrea Mitchell is a hero of mine. She's a journalist. Yeah. So she's another one. I loved her memoir many years ago, and I just look up to her so much. And then of course there's now, today, this is timely with T-Swift just came out with an album. So it would be a dream. It really would be. I hope she hears this.

Leah Longbrake:

Speaking of Tay Tay, do you think Folklore and Evermore are going to influence the wedding world, because her first video out of the gate is very romantic and wedding-esque in some ways.

Esther Lee:

Yes. Taylor Swift has, especially in the last few years, she's really pivoted to this really romantic, soft, alternative type of vibe as it comes down to her music. And we are seeing couples increasingly add it to their first dance song playlists. Mirrorball is definitely going to be one of those songs that we're going to be hearing increasingly. And now her new album, which I was listening to today, I was like, "This is so beautiful." I see this being played at weddings everywhere.

Leah Longbrake:

And in the first video, she wears this beautiful, beaded headpiece that seems to be very on trend for 2021.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So Taylor, she's really good at melding the vintage and that storytelling aspect with the current times. And headpieces have been on the rise for the last several years. [inaudible 00:36:12], I don't know if you've heard of her. She's actually created these beautiful bridal headbands that have pearl appliques, and very ornate designs. So there is a lot of interest in bridal headbands and headpieces too. For a while, tiaras were really hot because people wanted to be princesses. So we do see that. And then the flower crowns had its moment. So we are seeing a resurgence in different types of headpieces. It's always fascinating to see how it evolves, but also returns in different ways.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. And obviously celebrity and royal weddings help navigate that I think as well, right?

Esther Lee:

They sure do. Yeah. I mean I would love to have access to Queen Elizabeth II's inventory of crowns. But overall, it's aspirational in so many ways, these celebrity weddings, because it really is the most romantic moment that you see play out publicly. And then you can take elements of it and add it to your special day if you're interested.

Leah Longbrake:

What are some other invitations that couples should be considering, especially with their budget?

Esther Lee:

Other invitations. Do you mean in terms of aesthetic?

Leah Longbrake:

No. I mean bridal shower, I'm assuming someone else would cover that for you. But if not, and would you want that to tie in with your wedding? Bachelor/Bachelorette? And then your thank yous.

Esther Lee:

Yes. Of course. Love that you're asking this question. So wedding stationary isn't just solely the save the date and the invitation. It actually is this cohesive package, if you choose to make it such. So you can also add on thank you cards that match your wedding invitations, too. And you have this option, actually, on theknot.com for our invitation section now. But we are seeing an increased interest lately in bachelorette party, or bach party invitations. Because it is such a special experience, why not make it the full, on suite, cohesive, "Hey girl, you're invited." Or, "Hey best friend. Send this out to a bunch of people." So it depends who's hosting. And your MOH usually does end up carrying a lot of that weight. I don't know if you've been a maid of honor before, Leah.

Leah Longbrake:

I've been a bridesmaid like five times, but never a maid of honor.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. I mean, the bridesmaids carry much as it comes back down to bachelorette. But that's how you make it fun. You want to get people excited for that experience.

Leah Longbrake:

But you can say to them, "Hey this is the theme that we're going with. If you'd like to tie it in, please do." Or should it be just let them do what they think will be cool?

Esther Lee:

If you're the bride and you think there's a special theme that you had in mind and you want them to do it, then say it. I mean, I wouldn't demand it, but I would just suggest it and hint at it. Say something like, "Yeah. Our wedding is going to be a winter wonderland theme because we're going to Aspen to go skiing for our bachelorette trip, I thought there would be a fun way to tie that in somehow. I defer to you."

Leah Longbrake:

And with the thank you notes, what's the timeframe that couples need to know to make sure they get their thank yous out to their guests?

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So we do say that thank you cards, if you want to be proactive throughout the process, as you start as you start receiving those gifts, start writing the thank you cards already in advance. And the reason I say that is because you could choose to sit down at the way end and get a hand cramp with your partner and do that. Or you can take some time and actually thoughtfully respond to each guest, especially if they're sending gifts early. So if they send you a Dyson in advance, say, "Thank you so much. My apartment has never looked cleaner and we were so happy to have you as part of our big day. And thank you."

Leah Longbrake:

Oh something with budget I want to bring up, I brought it up in the very first episode with wedding planning, but since we're talking invitations I think it should be reiterated, and hopefully you have more to expand on it. But in your budget, also factor in stamps, because you don't realize how much in your budget that they actually are until you're having to pay for them for your save the dates, for your invitations, for any other invitations, your thank yous. It adds up.

Esther Lee:

Yes. Absolutely Leah. That's a great point. You want to consider actually stamps, and you want to consider the weight of what you're sending out. So I think some couples, they end up being very surprised when they end up at the post office. They're like, "No, no, no. You're envelope is not sized correctly so you have to pay double or triple the amount of what it would cost." And so I think it's really important that couples do their due diligence up front and at least that sort of information. So stamps is a great point, and also the weight and the size of the envelopes is a good one too.

Leah Longbrake:

Definitely. Anything else about invitations you think couples should know?

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So we had talked about timeline, but I just want to reiterate one more time. So with save the dates, you want to be ready nine-plus months beforehand. So as soon as you get engaged and you lock in that venue, you do want to move quickly on the save the date process. In terms of ordering your invitations, so you want to order them five to six months before the wedding, the actual date. And then you want to mail them eight to 10 weeks, minimum, before the wedding to ensure that they get to you guests, just so that they can reach that RSVP deadline. The more time that you're able to give, I think the more courtesy there is there. So also for yourself, you don't want to be stressed out sending these out. It's another fun part of the experience.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah. Absolutely. So last question for you. It's a fun one. What is your all-time wedding movie, or movie that features a wedding?

Esther Lee:

Okay. Thank you so much for asking this question. Does it have to be all-time? Just the one?

Leah Longbrake:

No. I mean if you have a few, go for it.

Esther Lee:

Okay. I'm really excited. So the first that really made an impression on me was actually The Wedding Planner, starring Jennifer Lopez. Just watching Jennifer in that outfit with her headset making sure that everything was organized and completely coordinated was such an enthralling moment for me to witness in my youth. And I think back to just how much meaning there came to even the industry through that movie. So that was an interesting aspect of it. In terms of an actual wedding movie, the scene made me cry, I will tell you Crazy Rich Asians, surprisingly.

Leah Longbrake:

Oh yes.

Esther Lee:

Yeah. So we partnered with Warner Brothers in 2018 before the world premiere, and it was such a beautiful experience because they not only had the stereotypical crazy bachelor party, but on a greater scale, but they also had just the way that the ceremony, how it looked, the music. I think people sometimes forget that weddings really are this sensory, 360 panoramic experience, which is why it felt so beautiful watching that scene play out in the movie, because then you also have a separate love story seen happening there too. And then third, I just actually recently watched this movie. Maybe it's really fresh. But have you heard of the movie All My Life?

Leah Longbrake:

No.

Esther Lee:

Yeah, so unfortunately we're in the middle of COVID, but it really should've had this huge release in theaters. So it came out a few weeks ago, and it's based on a true story between a woman named Jennifer, and Jen Carter and her husband Solomon Chau. He proposed and then several weeks, I believe he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. So this is based on a true story in 2015. Yeah. And this couple in the movie, you watch them really wrestle with whether or not they want to move forward with this life stage of celebrating their union, knowing that this is imminent. I don't want to spoil too much for you, but the story is out there. But they end up going forward with this wedding, and I felt like it was right on par with what we are currently experiencing as a greater society, in that it really showcased what weddings are, and that is celebrating the union of two people who just magically find each other and they're set together for life. I think that we are returning to that messaging as a society, and this movie did a beautiful job of displaying that.

Leah Longbrake:

Oh I have to check it out. That sounds so romantic.

Esther Lee:

Yeah please watch it whenever you have a moment. I know it's going to be released again soon.

Leah Longbrake:

Yeah absolutely. And I have to say, my favorite wedding movie is also The Wedding Planner.

Esther Lee:

Oh really? What's your favorite scene?

Leah Longbrake:

I have it basically memorized. My husband laughs because it's been free on Amazon Prime and Netflix the last few months.

Esther Lee:

Oh yeah.

Leah Longbrake:

So he'll walk past me while I'm cooking and I'll have it on.

Esther Lee:

Oh yeah. I rewatched again. I too did.

Leah Longbrake:

Right? It's just so good. My favorite scene. You know what? Even though I'm so happy she and Matthew McConaughey end up together, I have to say one of the most romantic proposals is when Massimo proposes to her with the dollhouse, and then she says yes with the Scrabble letters. It's like, "Ooh if Massimo would've just been the right one, this would've been ideal. This is perfect."

Esther Lee:

Yeah. It really would've been one of those sweeping proposals. Again, in terms of proposal, I think about that Sweet Home Alabama proposal all the time.

Leah Longbrake:

At Tiffany's.

Esther Lee:

When Patrick Dempsey just walks in and goes, "Pick one." And every girl in America was like, "Yes. Pick one."

Leah Longbrake:

It's still one of the greatest proposal scenes, I think, in movie history. I love that scene.

Esther Lee:

Leah, I absolutely agree with you. Totally.

Leah Longbrake:

And Wedding Planner, here's a little nugget. If you've been a fanatic like I have been and I'm sure you are too Esther, because I believe beauty and fashion in movies are another character. If you watch how her hair is tightly in a bun or loose down, it goes with her mood based off of the relationship with Matthew McConaughey.

Esther Lee:

That's fas... I'm going to rewatch today, immediately.

Leah Longbrake:

I'm telling you. When she's being her stern, "I'm in work mode and I don't need love," her hair's in a bun. But when she's feeling more romantic, she's more vulnerable, her hair is down. Just saying.

Esther Lee:

I need to rewatch. Thank you Leah for that tip.

Leah Longbrake:

That's just a little thing I noticed. Well Esther, thank you so, so much for being with us today. It's been so fun to have you. How can we get more information on The Knot and all that it offers?

Esther Lee:

Oh thank you Leah. Just go to theknot.com. We are your one stop shop and resource for all things weddings, whether it be your wedding website, whether it be invitations, even etiquette. My team especially, our editorial team, really loves to support couples with planning advice. So if you have any questions, I bet you it's answered on theknot.com.

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