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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Wedding Etiquette Advice with Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire

Wedding Etiquette Advice with Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire

Even though there really aren’t too many “rules” in weddings anymore, there are still proper ways to handle some sticky situations. Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire shares her advice on how to best deal with dilemmas that may arise with family, friends, co-workers and vendors.

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.

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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

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Leah Longbrake:
Jeffra, welcome to the show. So happy to have you with us today.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Thank you for having me.

Leah Longbrake:
Etiquette, so it's such a formal word and you always think like the proper classes and all that. But with etiquette, there are things that I know a lot of couples are curious about that still need to be followed, that might be old-school, and there's probably some newer versions of etiquette, some updated ways. And to start with that, once you get engaged, you're super excited and you probably want to post it on social media. Should you share the news right away? Is there a way to handle the big news?

Jeffra Trumpower:
With social media? This is a very tough question because you really want to go out there and just literally spread the word. But our advice is to actually take a moment to revel in the joy with you and your partner first. So take that moment, take a beat, whether it's an hour or two or a whole day. And then the most important thing to do is pick up your phone and actually call people, especially obviously your parents or friends and family that you really want to have that personal moment with first. Once you've been able to get a hold of everyone via phone or video chat or even driving over to see them, then you can definitely post to social media and make it more of a broadcasted announcement.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. Grandma shouldn't be finding out on Instagram.

Jeffra Trumpower:
No, absolutely not. Definitely not the right way to go.

Leah Longbrake:
Okay. Moving from there, let's go right to guest list. We'll get to bridal parties and all that, but I think the guest list is one of the most stressful parts of all planning. So I just want to tackle it. How should you go about with planning your guest list because there's a lot of stress with inviting co-workers and extended family members? And if parents are helping financially their friends, how should you properly tackle this topic?

Jeffra Trumpower:
I want to approach this in two ways, mostly because COVID is top of mind for people planning their wedding right now, but let's actually just take it back to our normal time. So thinking about what it would be like when you can have a lot of people in one room. The most important thing to think about is what type of venue do you want? The venue size is going to dictate how many people you can have, your wedding budget is going to dictate how many people that you can have. And then really getting down to, "Okay, how big are our families?" So start with your families and say, "Okay, we now have X amount of people on both sides of our families that have to be on that list." What is your number look like? Does that fit into your venue? Does that fit into your budget?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Once you have an understanding of what that venue is, you will then be able to really dictate your guest list size by the cost per head that your venue has provided for you. So if you know that it's a certain number that it's a cost per head... I really don't like to put a cost to a guest, but really weddings do come down to cost. And so really starting there helps you define for both your family members on both sides what your limit is. So if you know that, "Okay, based upon our family sizes and based upon our budget, we can now have, let's just say for an example, we can invite another 100 people," then divide that up as you see fit based upon who's actually paying for the wedding.

Jeffra Trumpower:
So if a certain percentage is coming from the one side's parents or the other, consider that and dividing it that way. If you decide that that doesn't matter, then that's a conversation you should have with whoever is primarily paying for the wedding. So if it is also you, if the couple is paying for the wedding, then you have every right to say to your family, "We're forking the bill. So you get 25 people and 25 people and we get 50." So it really does come down to numbers and budget because that's the easiest thing to get down to where it doesn't offend anyone on either side. And you're really just saying, "Okay, not to bring money into the conversation, but if you want more people, you're more than welcome to pay for them to come." But that's just the best way of doing it.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And in terms of when it comes to your own personal dilemma of, "Okay, I have that 25 people, who should I invite?" The best advice that we have for couples is really get down to in 20 years when you look at these photos or you're thinking back on that day, is a co-worker somebody you're still going to be friends with or really want to look back and say, "Wow, they jumped in on that big photo with all of my high school friends that I'm still friends with, like who is that person?" So really thinking about it, not just in the moment, but what does it look like 10, 20, 30 years from now when you're looking back on your day?

Jeffra Trumpower:
And that can be hard when you might be really close to a co-worker right now, or you might be really close to friends that you just were in college with, but drilling down, "Okay, here's who I know I want to see in my photos and who I really want to be there with me," is important. I do believe that couples are getting more specific about who they are inviting to their weddings.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, absolutely. So with that, something that was personally so awkward for my husband and I to have to deal with in our planning and I know so many couples have to deal with is extended family members or friends or co-workers that assume they're invited and talk to you like they're invited or just say they are and they're not. How do you handle that? Oh, it still freaks me out and the wedding's long gone, but like, "Oh, it's just so awkward." How do you handle that?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Confrontation is not for everyone and it's really not for anyone. I don't know anyone that loves confrontation. And just basically disinviting someone from your wedding, whether you didn't really properly invite them but they're going to feel disinvited, will make it really hard to really salvage that relationship. It's really as simple as that, which I know is why you're asking this question. So the question you also have to ask yourself is first and foremost, is it enough to include them for some reason or another? Is it worth thinking, "Okay, you know what? It's two more people"? And what are the repercussions of not inviting them.

Jeffra Trumpower:
If it is literally a third cousin down the line that you're never going to see again and you really don't need to worry about it, I think that that's when you just need to take a step back, call them on the phone, and be very honest with them and just say, "We have a certain number of people. We really love that you were so excited to be included in our big day, but unfortunately the circumstances have just not allowed us to have any more people added to the guest list." Honesty is the best approach here because what you don't want to have happen is your second cousin tells your third cousin that it was some other reason and then they're even more offended. So having that conversation and really just giving them the why is important. If the why is obviously difficult, then that's a different story.

Jeffra Trumpower:
But I also think that this is a circumstance in which most couples are getting better about the who on their guest list. And actually, I do think that COVID will even bring this more to the forefront because it is more about who are the most important people in my life that I want there on my wedding day and it is becoming less of the, "I need to invite my father's business partners, daughters, son." It's less about how many people can we invite that are like a make good in your life and more about who do I really want by my side? And I do think that we're going to see that more and more as couples decide that they're going to have smaller, big weddings versus big, just overarching, like lots of people wedding.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. I love that. That was something I know personally I found important. It was under 100, including us. You want to keep it the people that you feel the most comfortable with and you will run to the problem where you will have to explain why someone's not invited. And most, I think, will be understanding, at least from my end, they were, but there are going to be a few that unfortunately just aren't going to get it. And it's just one of those things and it sucks but-

Jeffra Trumpower:
And one thing that is hard, but you always can have a B list and that list can be accessed if people do decline. At WeddingWire, we do estimate that about 30% of people will decline your invitation. So have people that you otherwise would invite if you could have on that B list. I've been on a B list before and I knew it and you know what? We ended up with a wedding and it was great, but if we hadn't, it would have been okay. So not only is it something where I know couples have to have that understanding, but I know we want to raise more awareness that weddings, yes, they're a big celebration and they're really exciting, but there needs to be an understanding of the why behind that too. And just being okay and understanding that, "Oh, I wasn't invited because it just didn't work out."

Leah Longbrake:
Right. Yeah. With that, how do you address if you are deciding to have no children invited and if you're not giving plus ones for singles?

Jeffra Trumpower:
You have to set a hard rule. So we say that there has to be a hard, fast reason, again, it goes back to why if you're not inviting someone. If you are not going to have children in your wedding, but you... So let me give you a couple of different scenarios actually. So let's say you would like to have a flower girl and a ring bearer, and you have maybe it's a niece and nephew or something, and you don't want to have children at your reception. The best way to approach that is that you have the children at your ceremony and then you've hired a babysitter at the venue to then watch those children so that they are actually not at the reception. So it sets that precedence that we are not actually having a child-friendly reception and that makes sense, or you just say no children at all. And you don't include them in the ceremony. But if you do, it's really hard to say, "Oh, I'm going to have my son's three kids that are the same age as yours, but not yours."

Jeffra Trumpower:
It just gets to be this... Again, have a rule and set it. That's basically what it comes down to is sit down with your couple, with your partner, sit down with your family and as crazy as it sounds, everyone agree to, "Hey, here are the things that we're going to agree upon. And if it's no kids, then it's no kids." You're allowed to make that decision. It is your wedding day and you can make it however you want it to be. And whatever makes you happy is what you just need to put down on the ground and stick to it.

Leah Longbrake:
Yes. And same then for plus ones.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And then yeah, sorry. For plus one, it's the same thing. For my wedding, and I've said this a bunch of times too, we actually said that if you weren't married, you weren't bringing a plus one because, again, it goes back to [inaudible 00:12:20] but not everyone has to do that. But again, set the rule. If you've met the significant other or that you've met who they're bringing and it's somebody that you want to have at your wedding, then allow the plus one. But just saying, hey, you can bring another person and have no knowledge of who that is, if that's your steadfast rule, then that's completely okay.

Leah Longbrake:
So we touched upon if the parents are contributing, how to handle the guest list with them. What are some other basic etiquette that we should be aware of when it comes to outside financials, helping with the wedding?

Jeffra Trumpower:
This is also, again, the steadfast rules that you and your partner should be having, should be getting. This comes down to who's going wedding attire shopping with me, who is going to be involved in the tasting at the venue. There are a lot of things that parents are going to want to be involved in. And the best advice and the etiquette really because, again, it's all about transparency at the end of the day, there's a polite way to be transparent, but it's all about transparency, is set that stage with your partner and say, "Okay, I'm okay to have my future parents-in-law at this piece of it and my parents at this piece of it," or however you want to divide and conquer that, but go into it knowing that so that there isn't any hard feelings.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And then set that precedence with your family. Let them know that ahead of time. Say, "We have decided that when we go for a wedding attire, dress shopping, we definitely want to have you here, you here, and you here," or no. But again, the best way to approach it is to just be transparent in the beginning. What we are seeing when it comes to etiquette in weddings is you have to be polite, you have to do it properly. But there is no traditional way of doing anything anymore. And that allows you to have these more open conversations with your family and your loved ones to say, "This is how we are doing this." And granted, there are circumstances where if a parent is paying for a certain amount, that is, again, a conversation you need to have with them. What is their expectations? If they are paying for 50% of your wedding, they have an expectation. Get to know what that is so that there aren't hard feelings later down the line.

Leah Longbrake:
And if you get any pushback, what's the best way to address that?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Well, I wish I had advice on that.

Leah Longbrake:
I know it's so tough. But hopefully, you won't have to, but it's just one of those things like... Like you said, it's your day at the end of the day.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. Sometimes you just have to take a... It's what you will want as a hard, fast rule. Hopefully, my mother's not listening to this, but I will tell you one quick story as to what I mean by that. But when my husband and I were getting married, she had a friend who baked cakes and we went and tasted the cakes. And honestly, this is the tell tale that you should never trust a friend of a friend to do anything for your wedding. Always hire wedding vendors. But we didn't want that cake at our wedding. And she said, "Well, I'm paying for it."

Jeffra Trumpower:
I remember my mother and I getting into the back and forth, I ended up paying for the cake myself. I just said, "You know what? I don't want to have this argument with you. I don't want our wedding cake to cause a pain in our relationship. I will pay for our cake because I want something specific and it's my day." And you know what? That's how we solved it. I know that that's difficult. In some circumstances, couples can't do that and that's something where that's why I just feel like expectations needed to be set at the beginning because it's no different than any other piece of our life. Set the foundation so you can always go back to that and say, "But we said this."

Leah Longbrake:
No, but that's a great way of trying to resolve it though. If you do have the means in that kind of situation to where you can purchase it yourself, definitely go for it. I really think that that was a stellar way of handling it.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. It was still a difficult conversation, but we forgot about it a lot easier than one of us holding a grudge against the other.

Leah Longbrake:
And such a great tip to go with professionals that have done tons of weddings. I'm not saying don't give someone new a chance, but there's a lot more cons than pros to going with someone that doesn't have wedding experience.

Jeffra Trumpower:
There's so many con... sorry, cons to going somebody who doesn't have a ton or to go with a family friend. Not to keep bringing up my wedding, but I feel like I don't want to-

Leah Longbrake:
No please.

Jeffra Trumpower:
... use other people's examples, but I had my cousin say, "Hey, I'll just bring my video camera and I'll videotape your whole entire wedding." The camera died when I was walking down the aisle.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, no.

Jeffra Trumpower:
So it's just always hire professional. Definitely hire professional every single time.

Leah Longbrake:
If that story doesn't strike fear into all of you couples out there, I don't know what will because that just to me sounds like the ultimate nightmare, aside from like being stood up at the alter obviously. But you're counting on having this moment captured for the rest of your life and show your children and grandchildren and you did make it down the aisle and the camera died like, "Ah, that's so frustrating." So the next thing I want to talk about is the bridal party. It can be really fun to choose who you want by your side and to ask them be in it. But what's a good rule of thumb when doing this?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Okay. We're going to take this as an if statement. If you or your significant other have siblings, they are first in line. It is the most polite, etiquette-driven way to approach your bridal party. So they should be included unless there is some unforeseen circumstances as to why they shouldn't. It might be... or if they're too young or whatever that looks like. But they should be asked first. However, if it gets down to then what's like the who and the next, the other thing you have to decide first and foremost is what is our number? Because there's a lot of things that happen when couples have one side's too many and the other side's too few, or it just gets to be too many.

Jeffra Trumpower:
So what is the total number that you actually want to have? Is it six on each side, seven, eight, whatever? I was in a wedding where it was 10 on each side. A lot of couples do different things. So make sure that you have that number that you want and then decide, "Okay, let's sit down and think about who are the people." Again, thinking about your guest list that you want to see in your photos 20 years from now. And if you really can drill that down and it ends up only being a couple of people on each side or maybe it's just you both have a person of honor on each side, that's okay. There's no set number. It's really just, again, who do you want standing by you when you marry the love of your life and who do you want those photos for the rest of your life. I think that that's really the biggest question. I do think that couples get really wrapped up in, "But if I invite one of my sorority sisters, I have to invite all of them."

Leah Longbrake:
It's so funny I was just thinking like things like sororities and frats and high school friends and college friends and...

Jeffra Trumpower:
That's also something where you could consider... And we've seen couples do this too where maybe you just say, "I'm not going to have any of my sorority sisters. I love you all and you'll be invited to all of the events, but I'm just going to have my sister or my brother stand by my side or simplify it." You don't have to do anything. Again, tradition out the window. You don't even have to have a wedding party anymore. You could literally just say, "I'm not going to do anything, but I want you guys to be involved in all the fun stuff. But Hey, you don't have to buy an outfit or whatever the reason." Not that I don't want people to go out and buy wedding party outfits because I do. But the point is do it how you want it to be done, but also don't be afraid to simplify it.

Leah Longbrake:
Aside from COVID, were you seeing more of a trend of having little to no bridal party?

Jeffra Trumpower:
It actually goes both ways. We are still seeing huge bridal parties and then we're also seeing very, very simple bridal parties or wedding parties, I should say. The average number hasn't fluctuated that much in the past few years. So I wouldn't say that it's going one way or the other.

Leah Longbrake:
Is there a best way... I've seen so many fun things on Pinterest and of course on WeddingWire and The Knot of fun ways you can ask people to be in your wedding, the different boxes and gifts and stuff. But do you think that there is a best way to ask people to be involved?

Jeffra Trumpower:
I do. First of all, personalize it. Make sure that it feels personal to that person that you actually are delivering it to. If they live far away, make sure that it's delivered in a special way. If you are not going to call them personally, I wouldn't suggest just sending a card unless it's something that is really personal or something that-

Leah Longbrake:
So labyrinth.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. Just because I feel like, again, it's similar to what we talked about when announcing your engagement. Having that personal touchpoint when you have that conversation with somebody is really important. So my suggestion and I think the best way to do this and what we have... We do have a lot of inspiration on The knot and WeddingWire. It's usually call and ask, get their blessing first so they actually want to be involved, and then send something to everyone who has accepted and say, "I'm so glad you want to be a part of my wedding party." And it's kind of a yay, thank you gift versus a proposal gift.

Leah Longbrake:
I love that. I think that's so much better because what if you send this elaborate gift and like, "Mm-mm (negative), I don't want to be in this. I don't want to be a part of it."

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah, or I can't. Maybe they have an obligation or whatever the reason being. But yeah, you definitely don't want to be caught going and spending a bunch of money on a gift and then they say, "Oh, nope, can't do it." Yeah, I would definitely say ask first and then send this like, "Thank you for being a part of my day gift."

Leah Longbrake:
I can speak from personal experience that you can have your bridal parties planned out and everyone's accepted, but then people have to drop off. Like my sister-in-law, she got pregnant and was going to give birth at the time. She gave birth a little early and she has to bring my three-week-old nephew to the wedding. But she could actually be in the wedding because the chances were risky. And then another bridesmaid had a drop off because of family obligation and a groomsmen had a drop off because of a conflict. I was like-

Jeffra Trumpower:
Oh my goodness.

Leah Longbrake:
... "These kind of things can happen, so we can roll with it." And it's not a bad issue as to why they can't be a part of it, but-

Jeffra Trumpower:
Well, and again, it's why you can't really hold yourself to the equal number on both sides or this kind of like... Don't be thrown off if it doesn't go the way that you exactly wanted it, which I know is hard. It's so hard, but because these things happen.

Leah Longbrake:
And that's why we're here to let you know that things are going to happen, but it's going to be okay. Promise.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yes, everything's going to be fine. Everyone survives some of the things that happened on your wedding day and that's still okay.

Leah Longbrake:
From failed cameras to lack of bridal party, anything can happen.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Leah Longbrake:
On the more negative and I guess the bridal party things, you can have, especially in the... I don't know how often it happens with groomsmen. But with bridesmaids, there tends to be sometimes unfortunately maybe that one person in the party that's negative and bitchy and doesn't like the bridesmaid's dress and doesn't want to participate in activities and help out. And usually, it's jealousy. But how do you deal with someone that's in your party that's giving you a hard time?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. This happens a lot, and which is very unfortunate because it should be... You're surrounding yourself with your wedding party because they should be the most supportive people in your life, which goes back to one of our earlier discussions on who do you invite. Make sure that whoever is standing by your side, you think will be able to handle the job of being in your wedding party. It is not easy to be in a wedding party. It is not all glitz and glamor. There are responsibilities and you need to know that the person can live up to that or at least be a part of that. But it also goes back to setting expectations. I keep repeating that because it's not only just a fundamental courtesy to have to set up your expectations out, but it just helps you in the long run. And being upfront, not to bring up... We're not really using the word bridezilla anymore because it does have a very negative connotation and also has a very negative connotation towards females, which we obviously don't want to have.

Jeffra Trumpower:
But I do think that there is... If you set your expectations and maybe it is in that initial phone call before you send them the thank you for doing all of these things gits, say to them, "I would love for you to be a part of my wedding party. These are the things that I am going to want or need," and set that out on the... You're asking them to do a job. It is fun in most cases, but you're going to be asking them to put on a shower to plan a bachelor or bachelorette party to purchase a dress, all of these things. So set that up front.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And then if you have to have a difficult conversation, which it is very... it's not uncommon that that happens, just make sure that you don't do it in the heat of the moment and that you really just take a step back and make sure that that conversation is needed. And then just say to them, "Let's talk about this. Do you want to continue to be a part of this?" And really just have that open conversation with them. And again, go back to your expectations that were set at the beginning and say, "I know that this is a lot and that's okay." And just try to find the equal playing ground.

Leah Longbrake:
No, that's great. Great advice. I want to go to out-of-towners because so many of us have family and friends that come in to share in our big day out of state. What are the best ways to help accommodate them and make them feel welcome? Are there things that we should be making sure we do since they're coming in from elsewhere?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yes. Two things, which is... Again, COVID is actually been a really big learning for a lot of people when it comes to communication with guests. And this is actually where wedding websites like on The Knot and WeddingWire actually become really powerful communication tools because it allows you to communicate things, whether it's updates, or to your question, how do I make them feel more welcome, more prepared, things of that nature if they are coming out from out of town. Your wedding website is going to take a little... It takes a little elbow grease to get it there, but there's a reason why we do provide so many elaborate pages to put on there, like accommodations, activities, things to do, where to eat, where to stay, where's the closest airport, where can I rent a car?

Jeffra Trumpower:
All of this information makes it so much easier. And if you are the expert in that area, imagine how much time you're going to save on your guests having to research, or you also don't have to worry about fielding questions from all of these people coming in. So have all of that on your wedding website and make sure that you just direct people there. If you have the ability to also do a card printed and the invitation, or if you are being a little budget-conscious, you could just send it within the people that are coming from out of town as a list of accommodations, where to stay, and then have your wedding website on there to link out to it and say, "For even more information, click here or go here." That way, you're just overcommunicating.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And remind your guests, whether it's on your save the date, or if it's on your wedding invitation, make sure that your wedding website is there and say, "For most updated information, go to dot..." and then list the URL. Because then if there is something, let's say the weather is going to change, or let's say you have to go to plan B or something happens, people know where to go to find that information. And then you're not scrambling to find 300 people's email addresses to email them or... There are circumstances where you have to get on the phone and we won't go into those right now. But I do think that that's the best from a technology standpoint to lean into.

Jeffra Trumpower:
I also love welcome baskets. I think that they are the most genuinely sweet thing that you can do when out of town people are showing up. And this is actually becomes so much easier when you work with your... If you're doing a hotel room block, you can work with the people at the hotel to set this up for you, or you can just have drop off the stuff and they do it all for you. And it doesn't have to be elaborate. It could be something so simple as a granola bar and a bottle of water and just say, "Hey, welcome. Thank you so much for coming so far," a little note from you and your significant other.

Jeffra Trumpower:
These little touchpoints and these personalization, like these moments of personalized approach, makes such a big difference. It also is a great distraction from the other stressful stuff that you're doing [crosstalk 00:31:26] to be able to take a moment and be like, "You know what? I'm going to work on my welcome baskets tonight." I'm just saying. It's like mindless matter. But that is also one of the biggest things for me. And again, it doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't have to be super expensive. But just even just something small, it means so much to your guests that have come out of town.

Leah Longbrake:
No, I'm so glad you brought that up because I forgot all about the hotel bags. So we did that. Our wedding was right outside of downtown in historic Ohio City, but the hotel that we set up for the wedding was downtown. So I went to Destination Cleveland, which is our tourism center, right in the heart of downtown, and got the free Cleveland tour bags from them that they give to people to pull their pamphlets and stuff. I got the 2019 guidebook and a bunch of different things that they could do around town, put it in there. And threw two bottles of water, Malley's Chocolates, which is a Cleveland-based chocolate company and everyone loved it. It was just so simple and cost next to nothing. And then they had a little something, [inaudible 00:32:37] thank you card on it, but you can do it so cheap.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. It doesn't need to be these... Don't get me wrong. If you have the budget to do the elaborate thing, go for it. But to your point, you can find a lot of that stuff. And yeah, go get maps and things like that from the tourism board or whatever, it makes it easy. But yeah, I just feel like every single time someone's traveling that far and they walk into their hotel room and it feels like... maybe not, just, "Hey, I'm in a hotel room." But that moment where they see it or it's handed to them at check-in, it is like, "Oh my God, they thought of me. They're welcoming me for all this effort that I've put forth."

Leah Longbrake:
Just feeling a little swag bag.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah, and it's part of the experience of that couples are really leaning into right now. They want it to be an experience. So that welcome bag, it's kind of that first touchpoint.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. And you brought up... Before that, you talked about WeddingWire and The Knot having the website for couples and I can attest it was so helpful because I'd say over 50% of our wedding and definitely pretty much the entire bridal party came in from out-of-state.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Wow.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. So it was so nice to have that though so people held more information about how to get to the location of the ceremonial reception, things that they can do around talent, the museums and stuff, get to know who the bridal party was. We had that feature set up. So take advantage of WeddingWire and The Knot's website. I really can't stress that enough. Firsthand, it was so helpful.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Oh, that's great. That makes me so happy to hear. No, it does. I do feel really strongly that wedding websites have made a huge difference in the wedding industry and just a really quick plug, which is The Knot actually just launched our stationery line that you can now match to your wedding website. So there's all these great features that we're adding that allows you to just promote it and make it feel like the rest of your aesthetic, which I do think is really important, it goes to that personalization aspect is you can make it all feel like one seamless thing and tie it into your vibe or your style.

Leah Longbrake:
That's very cool. I can't wait to check that out. So let's talk ceremony. The first thing with it though is because I am such a stickler for being early or on time. I'm one of those that-

Jeffra Trumpower:
Me, too.

Leah Longbrake:
... if you're earlier on time, you're on time, you're late if you're late. Don't bother showing because you missed out. How do you handle putting on the invitation the time and expecting people to know that if it's three o'clock, the bride's probably walking down at three o'clock, so don't show up at three o'clock, but don't show up at two o'clock either?

Jeffra Trumpower:
No, exactly. I know. We have advice on this, which is again, going back to just being as transparent as possible and overcommunicating. Couples can actually set a welcoming time almost or a seated time or to be seated time or however you want to phrase it. But basically, you should definitely have this on your wedding website without a doubt. But then also on your invitation, it could say almost treat it like a theater, so not saying like doors open, but like-

Leah Longbrake:
No, that's great though.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And maybe it's something where you offer a glass of champagne, or if you want to... granted everyone's different, but you could have it be like, "Hey initial welcoming between 3:45 and 4:00 and then ceremony starts at 4:15," or something. Allowing like that buffer. I've also... granted I don't want to fit people and I apologize for all the guests out here. But a lot of the other option and what we've seen is ceremony start time on your actual invitation, let's say it says four o'clock, you don't have your guests sitting there for half an hour. That's very rude. But if you wanted to do something where you set an arbitrary like, "Hey, start time," and in your mind, that's, "Hey, the start time of when everyone should be seated," and then there's a, "Okay, ceremony begins at X time," that is the best way of doing it. You're always going to have people coming in late. It's one of those things where it's like... I have a friend that I tell her that we're meeting at six o'clock when really like the reservation's at 7:00.

Leah Longbrake:
And to get there like at 6:30, 6:45.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah, exactly. So you're always going to have those people, but I do think that that is the most important thing is just knowing, again, in the back of your mind that there might be someone that's walking in the door after you've walked down the aisle, and again, you just have to be okay with it. There's also this one piece of it too because... And I want to bring this up because I do think it's really important when it comes to the ceremony and distractions. So a lot of times what may or may not happen is people are just on their phones, or they are not really ready for the ceremony to start because they're taking pictures with their phones, or whatever that looks like in the arena that you're getting married. Having an unplugged sign is the best trend that I've seen in years, which is you literally have a sign when people are walking into the ceremony and it says, "We are having an unplugged ceremony. We really appreciate you putting your cell phone away. We've hired a professional photographer. You don't need to worry about..."

Leah Longbrake:
You spent a lot of money on this.

Jeffra Trumpower:
By having an unplugged ceremony, you really are allowing for people to understand that like, "Okay, don't be distracted. This is the time that the ceremony is going to start." And really, it just allows them to focus on the purpose, which is that they're here to watch you come down the aisle and get married.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. I think that trend is so cool. I wish we had that sign up because I could definitely see some people standing up to take pictures of that, but it is what it is now. But yeah, just to be respectful and be present in the moment too.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yup, exactly.

Leah Longbrake:
With that too, what are some cultural etiquette that we should be aware of in the various houses of worship?

Jeffra Trumpower:
When it comes to cultural and religious ceremonies or celebrations, this is another thing that makes your wedding website really impactful because you should definitely allow a space on your site to tell people what to expect. So if they need to dress a certain way, if they need to just come at a certain time or if there's specific elements of your celebration that are important for them to know, definitely just be open about that so that there's not a guessing game.

Jeffra Trumpower:
The other thing to do as a guest is if you know that they are going to be incorporating a specific custom from their culture or religious background, do your own research as well. We actually provide a lot of information on The Knot about how to attend all the different types of religious and cultural background ceremonies, which really just help guide you into knowing what should my attire be? Are there certain elements I should just be aware of? That is the best approach.

Jeffra Trumpower:
And just be really excited about that experience because it is definitely so fun to be a part of something that is different from maybe something you've attended before and dive into that. That's the whole purpose of the couple having that celebration that way is to give you some light into who they are and how they want to celebrate the future of their lives together. Bottom line is make sure you do your research and make sure that you as the couple are providing the information needed.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, I love that. And yeah, there's so many great tips on both WeddingWire and The Knot if you want some more insight, if you're being invited to an Indian wedding or a Jewish ceremony or something... And you may not be familiar with the customs. So, definitely check it out.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Exactly.

Leah Longbrake:
So let's head to the party, the really fun part, the reception. What are the top do's and don'ts when it comes to reception etiquette?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Okay. So this is one that... I know I keep saying I'm going to dive into the COVID items. I do think that it's important for this one specifically, just to start with that, but knowing that hopefully in the future things will change. Where we are leaning towards right now is the do's and don'ts. The first do is prioritize health and safety right now. I just have to put that plug in there because it is so important to ensure that your guests and you yourself feel safe during your celebration if you are planning to have your wedding in the next several months.

Jeffra Trumpower:
But going back to normal times, which is hopefully not too far away in our future, the other thing is that we don't necessarily believe in do's or don'ts when planning a wedding reception. Each couple is different. And it goes back to the fact that you are making your own tradition, you're paving your own path. So you should be able to do your wedding in your own way because everyone is different. So if you want to have a singles table, if you want kids, if you don't want to have kids, if you want an open or a cash bar, if you are having a buffet versus a sit down dinner, there's really no do's and don'ts anymore. I think that that's the best part about the wedding industry right now is that we are not saying to couples anymore, "This is the way you should be doing your wedding and here's the general timeline," all the things that historically we've done. We're now saying, "Do you," like not to say that cliche comment, but really-

Leah Longbrake:
No, that's great. And then what about feeding and tipping vendors because I know that's something that can be really confusing for couples?

Jeffra Trumpower:
The best etiquette is if your vendors are going to be with you for the duration of the evening, so let's think band, wait staff that might be at the venue, your wedding planner, people that are going to be, again, with you for the duration of the evening, the best thing to do is to feed them. That's just proper, being respectful of their time. Tipping vendors is important. Do what you think is right, do what you think is best. There is no rhyme or reason with this and everyone's budget is different. And do it at the end of the night of what you think is best. That is the most proper way of handling it and the most respectful way of thanking your vendors even more so for a wonderful evening.

Leah Longbrake:
So this isn't really... I don't think an issue as much any... an issue at all, period, but personally. But there might be some family members or friends that feel like if this isn't your first rodeo, if you're second or third or fourth time bride that you shouldn't wear white, or you shouldn't register for gifts, or you shouldn't have a shower. What do you think of that?

Jeffra Trumpower:
The short answer is if somebody is getting married for the second or third or 10th time and that person wants to wear a white dress or a black tuxedo or whatever their attire is, then they should be able to. Again, there's no rhyme or reason. This goes back to the, "Hey, we're not holding you accountable for that traditional element anymore." It's just about whether to do it, where is your limit and what do you think that respectful line is? But I don't think that it's fair to say to anyone, "Don't enjoy that moment with your second or third marriage in the same way that you did the first time." But again, it's really dependent on you and what you want that personal experience to be. And hopefully, the people that you are inviting to your wedding are not the same people that would judge you for that. And it again goes back to your guest list, is that you want to be inviting people that are there for you and support you no matter what decisions or what you decide to have your big day be.

Jeffra Trumpower:
The registry thing is this is something where you should also be able to register for the gifts that you want. But I would say that what you should do is just ensure that you are being thoughtful about what those things are. So think about the stage of life you're in, think about maybe ways that you can even personalize it even more. Wedding registries have gotten so elaborate that you can literally register for anything. So if this is your second marriage and you and your new significant other love camping, put a bunch of camping stuff on your registry. Have it be more fun and you can still just... You should be doing that on your first [crosstalk 00:47:20]. But the point is you don't have to go and register for what we historically have said are traditional elements.

Leah Longbrake:
The blender.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. You don't have to put all that stuff on there. But if you want a blender, register for a blender. Again, life is all about surrounding yourself with the people that support you and understand you. So I would say that if you feel like it's okay and you aren't second guessing yourself, then do it if it makes you happy. I don't want to say that anyone shouldn't be having a gift registry or wearing white on their second wedding because you have to do what makes you happy in that sense, but in a respectful way.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. So, the thank you notes. I know it can be daunting, especially if you have a very large guest list, but you need to do it. What do you say is the top and best etiquette points when it comes to your thank you notes?

Jeffra Trumpower:
This is one of the traditions that I actually will say needs to stick. I really feel so strongly about that. Thank you notes are so important and they are just a respectful thing to do. I know that they can be time-consuming, but the best advice I have is write them as soon as possible. If you get a gift, or if you just had one of your showers, or one of your engagement parties, or wherever you've received something, just write the thank you notes right then and there. I would even say when you order your save the dates, order your thank you notes at the same time. So then you just have them in your house and whenever you get something, you write it right away. But also, if you do receive a gift before the wedding, so let's say you're in the last little bit of planning and you receive a gift and you're thinking, "Oh my God, I cannot send a thank you note right exactly on this day," you really have like two to three weeks is that perfect buffer.

Leah Longbrake:
That's customary.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Yeah. So while I'm saying send it as soon as possible, that's more just to, "Hey, remind yourself." But if you can't, you have two to three weeks to send it."

Leah Longbrake:
Don't send six months later.

Jeffra Trumpower:
No. There are some instances where people say, "If you received your gift after the wedding, you have up to three months." Yes, but you always want to consider if it was you. And let's say you are sending a gift through... With all the technology we have nowadays, if you are sending a gift through The Knot registry or something like that, you want to confirm that you received it. So I do think the sooner you can confirm that is the best etiquette.

Leah Longbrake:
No, that's a great tip. So my last question for you is a fun one.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Okay.

Leah Longbrake:
All right. Jeffra, what is your all-time favorite wedding movie or movie that features a wedding?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Oh, okay, so no judgment, right?

Leah Longbrake:
No. Judgment free zone here.

Jeffra Trumpower:
I actually have two, and they're... Oh, man. Okay, so I'm just going to go with the... No, I'll just go with the one, but Father of the Bride is the best.

Leah Longbrake:
Yay. The original one or the Steve Martin or both?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Well, the Steve Martin one. Yes. Actually, the original one's still pretty good, but I love Steve Martin, I love Martin Short. That whole movie is just so perfect and it embodies all the different emotions that someone goes through. I feel like to bring our wedding planning process across like the mother, the father of the bride, this Beyonce, the brother, all the things. Anyway, that would probably be my all-time favorite.

Leah Longbrake:
Did you see the table read they did recently?

Jeffra Trumpower:
I didn't. I didn't even know what happened. This is just like so COVID that I'm like living in a bubble of TV, but I haven't. But I heard it was fantastic.

Leah Longbrake:
You can find it actually on YouTube.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Oh, I'll have to do it.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. If I see the link, I'll send it over to you.

Jeffra Trumpower:
That would be wonderful. Thank you.

Leah Longbrake:
Well, thank you so much for being with us today, Jeffra. We've learned so much, the great etiquette tips. And how can we get more information from you and WeddingWire?

Jeffra Trumpower:
Definitely go to weddingwire.com and follow us on Instagram as well. You can also go to theknot.com for additional etiquette and advice and follow us on The Knot on Instagram. We are updating it daily. Our editorial team is constantly on the grounds trying to get the most up-to-date information. And all of our suite of tools is there for you to help plan your big day as well.

Leah Longbrake:
That was great. Thank you so much, Jeffra.

Jeffra Trumpower:
Thank you so much. This was so fun.

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