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 Planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer Shares What Guests Actually Care About (and What They Don't!)

Wedding Planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer Shares What Guests Actually Care About (and What They Don't!)

Wedding planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer shares with us how you can save money (and your sanity!) by not purchasing things guests don’t really give a flying flamingo about. (Hint: almost no one cares if you have a program or not). Jamie also discusses her personal wedding experience, and what inspired her to start her highly successful- and super helpful!- YouTube channel.

Follow Jamie on YouTube and Instagram!

Get to know Jamie:

Broke bride turned wedding planner turned YouTuber, Jamie Wolfer is a wedding planning junkie who enjoys long walks through Pinterest boards with a healthy dose of budget reality. She shares weekly advice and tips on wedding advice on her channel, helping thousands of couples worldwide feel equipped to plan their wedding day masterfully.

In her spare time, she watches far too much Harry Potter, stares at her too-many houseplants, and is probably ordering more chickens when you turn your back. Oh, and she has a pretty rad husband and some funny, cute kids to boot.


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:
Jamie, I am so excited to have you on the show today. Congratulations on 90,000 subscribers to your YouTube channel.

Jamie Wolfer:
I cannot, I know it's so overwhelming and thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Leah Longbrake:
So, for those not familiar with you, tell us about your wedding planning business and how you got started.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. So I'm a wedding planner that's based in Central Texas now. But we still have an office fully operating in Southern California. I got started because I planned my own wedding and realized that the wedding industry was not catered to people with my budget, as it shouldn't be. I mean, I had a $10,000 budget, so most professionals wouldn't even make any money helping me. But I saw a need, I saw the budget community kind of being underserved. So I decided, why not? Let's fill the gap. Started my planning business at the end of 2015, and then realized that there was just large amounts of misinformation or not enough information for the budget community, and everyone just had questions. And I just wanted to start a YouTube channel secretly, so I decided to start it with wedding planning tips and tricks and it's all just kind of been history from there.

Leah Longbrake:
What's the biggest thing you gained or learned from doing this YouTube channel now? It's been three years, right?

Jamie Wolfer:
It's been three years. Golly, the biggest thing? One is there's a whole mass of people out there that are just hungry for information that also feel like they're not being heard. So it reaffirms why I started all this, which has been a really cool experience. Also, I learned that my view of weddings is not the same as everyone else's and cultures are very different, so I've had to learn to be very careful with my phrasing and just being aware that the way that I do things is different. It's also given me a massive schooling, a wonderful schooling in just wedding culture around the world, which has been really exciting.

Leah Longbrake:
And now your company, is growing rapidly. What's the transition been like from Southern California to Texas?

Jamie Wolfer:
Well, I mean, luckily because of YouTube the transition feels pretty seamless. All of my girls are still out in Southern California, it's just building up a new team here. So we're seeing it like a second home base, so to speak. So it hasn't been too drastic. Learning vendor prices though, Texas is a little cheaper than California.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh yeah.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
That makes a huge difference in budgeting.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah, because I would look at a quote and be like, ah, you're only charging what? Wait.

Leah Longbrake:
So, speaking of saving money-

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
You personally saved me moolah based off of your videos.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yes.

Leah Longbrake:
And the one in particular, and I think it's one of your most popular videos still to this day is, What Guests Don't Give a Flying Fart About.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. That's the exact language I used in the video too.

Leah Longbrake:
Yes.

Jamie Wolfer:
Flying farts, which looking back I probably would have phrased it differently, but here we are.

Leah Longbrake:
If you want to be nicer, because certain younger ears might hear-

Jamie Wolfer:
Oh yeah. Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
But yeah, share some of these great tips and I'll kind of fill in where you saved me the money part.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah, I just realized after a few years of doing this that there are a multitude of things that guests just aren't invested in, that they don't care about, that I would watch at these weddings and be like, do people not know that an entire layer of their cake is being thrown away? Do they not know that favors are left behind like crazy, and then your wedding coordinator or your family is left cleaning them up? It almost felt to me couples were sticking to these traditions, or what they thought were norms because they had to. So the intent behind the video was to release them of that obligation, you don't have to do favors because so many people leave them behind. So I put together a list of things that I had noticed that guests don't care about and they're just not invested in.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh my gosh. In the video, the cell phone video you used to call the favors at the wedding, so that's where you definitely saved me money because we didn't do favors. After I saw that I was like, you know what, we're doing a photo booth, that's their favor.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yes.

Leah Longbrake:
They can take home the memento, we get to have the fun pictures of them in this scrapbook that the person put together for us. And that's like a win-win.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and those favors in the video, if anyone hasn't seen it, they're cute little succulents and beautiful little terracotta pots and they're so well done and they were at everybody's seat, with their names, a name tag sticking out of them. I mean, it was really well done. You'd be hard pressed to think that you're not supposed to go home with it. And still over 50% of them were there at the end of the night. We're passing them out to people as they're walking by. I was just like, this is nuts.

Leah Longbrake:
Take them. Take them out of here.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. I think I went home with 15 of them, myself.

Leah Longbrake:
What do you think would be a good favor though? Someone is really dead set on sticking to that tradition. What would be something that maybe is budget friendly and not a total waste?

Jamie Wolfer:
Oh, I love this question. Anything edible. Anything edible, if you have a cookie bar, if you have a candy bar or literally a bar of chocolate, something like that, where people can consume it, maybe it has cute label on it. That is going to end up in the trash but at least you know that those things, maybe they snack on it on the way home-

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Jamie Wolfer:
... or it's something that sits in their purse for the next seven days and they go, oh, hey, I forgot I had a cookie. But anything with a monogram on it, like koozies with your name, I know they're fun, but a lot of people aren't going to hang on to those or a glass that's monogrammed with your wedding dates, that's probably not going to be something that sticks around in someone's cupboard for a very long time. So I love things that are edible. I mean, even honey or the little mini bottles of tequila, if you're into that kind of thing.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. The little coffee bags.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yes. Something that's consumable is a great way to go if you're interested in doing favors.

Leah Longbrake:
What's something else couples tend to waste money on that guests just, they don't care?

Jamie Wolfer:
Okay. I get roasted for this one a lot, but it's cake. It's not that people don't like cake, it's that it's made for your entire guest counts or a high number of them. By the time the cake is cut and served, people have already left and they're already out on the dance floor so they probably won't be coming back to eat the cake. I kid you not, any time we have a several to your cake, there is a generous chunk that's being thrown away after we've saved the top tier because there's just no one there to eat it. And on top of that, there are people that don't like cake. I happen to be someone who's just not super invested in it.

Jamie Wolfer:
I'm not a very sweets type person, which it's not my personal opinion that's framing the whole cake set up. But it's sad to see, because I know how much couples spend on it, but there's nothing else for us to do. We don't have a box, do you want to go home with two tiers of your cake? What would you prefer we do in this situation? So I just see a lot leftover afterwards.

Leah Longbrake:
We're not huge cake people, either, my husband and I. So what we did was there is the two small layers that we cut into for the whole thing and you have the tops to take home. And then the rest of it was these Flintstone push-up pops, but they were cake-

Jamie Wolfer:
Yes.

Leah Longbrake:
... and they had a link to it. So you could walk around with it, you could shove it in your purse and it went like that, gone, right? But we really listened to our wedding planner and the baker when it came to don't get X amount. I don't think you have to have X amount because of per person, put it in half because most people aren't going to. I think a lot of people budget thinking, okay, I have a hundred people, so I'm going to have a hundred slices, but only 40 eat it.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. And I also think that varying up the desserts that you're offering, you're going to please a lot more pallets. I love dessert tables or dessert tables that have snacks, maybe of pretzels and popcorn. So you still get that full table effect that you're looking for but now you're pleasing a myriad of pallets instead of, let's say the 60% of your guests that actually like cake that have stuck around, you're right, it's gone from a 100 down to 40 people. So you've bought a cake for a 100 people and 60% of that is getting wasted.

Leah Longbrake:
Are you a huge proponent for the sheet cake, the secret sheet cake in the back?

Jamie Wolfer:
Okay. Here's my deal about the sheet cake in the back and it may be controversial. But my cousin is a wedding baker, so and this is what she does. She does dessert tables specifically. And she said that, sheet cake doesn't cost any less time or any less materials. It's not that it's astronomically less expensive. Sure, maybe you don't need to stack it or the frosting doesn't need to be as well done, but it's still all the same ingredients. So some people may charge less for a sheet cake. Yes, there are definitely bakers out there that do that but other bakers go, I'm literally not saving money by making you a sheet cake it's the same exact thing. So I think it's worth asking your baker about it specifically.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. Because if you're still wanting fondant, it's still going to cost what fondant costs.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yes, precisely.

Leah Longbrake:
What's something else couples really should just not waste their money on?

Jamie Wolfer:
Well, here's one thing I've learned from having my channel. It's a careful line of who considers it to be pointless because your guests may not be invested in it, but if cake is your number one thing on your wedding day, you do you sis, just don't do it because people expect you to do it.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, amen.

Jamie Wolfer:
So for me another thing is stationary or paper goods for your wedding. Your guests aren't going to care if you have a program or not. Most of your invitations will end up in the trash, there will be a portion of your guests that save them. If your invitation is important to you, mine was important to me, I handmade every single stinking one of my invitations, all right? I had wood paper, I got accustomed stamp, I went in, I went hard. But I also didn't fool myself into thinking that other people would be just as invested as I was. I chose to make that financial decision because it was important to me. A majority of your guests will not care about any of your stationary goods, programs, escort cards, invitations. If you do a full invitation suite or if you do a digital invite, most of them will not care.

Jamie Wolfer:
So I think that's an area that people feel pressured to spend a lot of money. I spent a lot of money on mine, but that's because I chose to and it was important to me. And yeah, I still have like seven of them saved because I love my wedding invitation that much. But that doesn't mean that my guests do too.

Leah Longbrake:
So were they escort cards because you still have to let people know where to sit and kind of go. Are you more in favor of couples spending money on more of these? Like it's the mini bottle of wine or liquor with their name on it so they can drink it at their table and know where they have to go or the donut walls. Is that something that you think is more interactive or you think it's still like it?

Jamie Wolfer:
Well, I don't hate escort cards in general. If you have to have assigned seating, that's a great way of communicating that. Actually, wait, I don't prefer escort cards, because the second the wind kicks up, your girl is chasing those everywhere. So preferably if you can do an escort card, attach it to something or maybe you're inside, make your coordinator's life just a little bit easier. I love the idea of combining an escort card with the favor. So like a little bottle of wine or a little shot of tequila, whatever it happens to be. Or maybe I have one client that did chapstick and everyone got a Burt's Bees chapstick so they were held down by the weight of it so it was cool.

Jamie Wolfer:
But you can also just do a giant seating chart. It's that you don't need to get the gold filigree, handmade paper, going really, really far out, unless that's a precious moment for you and you want that photo captured and that's an important element. No one or almost no one will notice if I showed up at your wedding, I would totally notice. I'd be like, oh my gosh, those are so cool but how much did those cost. So it's not the cards that I hate necessarily, they have a purpose, it's just, you don't need to go all out.


Leah Longbrake:
So let's move to the positive side. What are some things that couples should consider because guests do notice or might enjoy and you can do it without blowing your whole budget?

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah, I think you got to start off with basic needs of people. If someone is hungry, if they're too hot, if they're too cold or dairy say it, if they're bored, they will want to leave. So I don't want to put that out there and make people feel like they have this huge amount of pressure to entertain and dance and get everyone involved. Don't feel the pressure to do that but if you don't take care of a guest basic needs, if there aren't enough restrooms, if you run out of water, if it takes an hour and a half from first plate to maybe the second to last table, people are going to get antsy and then they're just going to want to go because they're hungry or they sat still for so long.

Jamie Wolfer:
So that goes for toast going for too long or cocktail hour being three hours or those sorts of things where it's like, if there, and it sounds a little harsh, but if you can kind of pull it back to, if they're not entertained, there's a chance they will leave. It'll help you to refocus everything. Take care of people's basic needs first and then you can add on top of that.

Leah Longbrake:
What do you find with COVID and everything, obviously it's made everything in weddings changed, but what do you think has been the most positive impact from going through everything with the pandemic?

Jamie Wolfer:
I think giving couples permission to let go of a traditional wedding picture. The traditional idea of a wedding, it's really caused it down. We've boiled it down to the meat, to the essentials, to what really matters. It's also given couples permission to have a minimony, guess what? It could just be you and your parents and it still counts. Or you could just go to the courthouse and sign a piece of paper and celebrate later. I think introverts around the world have celebrated this season because they could have a tiny little service and then eat a sweet little dinner together and not have to worry about all of these pressures.

Jamie Wolfer:
One of my favorite things is watching couples recognize or realize that they've been given permission to cut away the things that they don't want. We've been so entrenched in tradition for so long and with good reason, I think there's a lot of beauty in tradition, but now that we're in 2021, it's giving people permission to break free of that. So I think, although the Rona didn't do great things for the wedding industry, I think it's given a lot of couples just pause and purpose and lets them off the hook for what they feel like they had to do.

Leah Longbrake:
What advice do you want to give couples out there planning their wedding? One biggest piece of advice, I know there's a lot to give.

Jamie Wolfer:
There's so much to give.

Leah Longbrake:
So if you could only give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Jamie Wolfer:
Write down your top three priorities, write those down. Is it going to be hanging out with your guests? Is it going to be rocking out on the dance floor? Is it going to be photography? Is it going to be having a moment alone on your wedding day? Just write down your top three things. You can do it with your spouse to be or separately, and then come together and figure out what the most important things are and then look at those and say, what products, services, or vendors will most help me achieve those three things and that's where you put your focus. That's where you put your money, that's where you put your time because we're not just spending money on your wedding you're spending time. There's more currencies than just finances here.

Leah Longbrake:
Absolutely.

Jamie Wolfer:
So if you can maintain your priorities and any time it gets stressful just pull yourself back to those three things, the most pure things that you want to have happen on your wedding day or those things that are most important to you. Heck I even had one bride say her dress was one of the most important things and that's okay. So we made sure that she had a bunch of time to go shopping for it. And she actually ended up getting a custom one and it was one of the best dresses I've ever seen. So write down your priorities and bring yourself back to that anytime things start to get a little bit overhead.

Leah Longbrake:
You have planned so many weddings and been a part of so many weddings, no matter what, what is your favorite moment in a wedding?

Jamie Wolfer:
Oh, okay. I'm such a goober. I get teary-eyed if not full on cry at a majority of our weddings, and it's the first dance for me. It doesn't matter if it's sweet, if it's silly, I always pull my phone out and text my husband and tell him that I love him. And I know it's cheesy, it's borderline cringe, but for me it's like, this is why I do what I do because hopefully they're on the path and they're going to be what my husband and I now are. And I just want to keep reminding myself of where we started and how far we've come. And the fact that I just get to be a part of someone's big day and they trusted me with that and now they've made it to their first dance, I'm like, oh, it's going to be a party from here on out, everything is great so that's probably my favorite moment.

Leah Longbrake:
As a fellow cheeseball I love that. What was the song that you and your husband danced to for your first dance?

Jamie Wolfer:
I Don't Dance by Lee Brice, because he doesn't dance and he hates dancing and yet for our wedding day we danced to that, which was really sweet. But that's okay because we ended up walking in, our grand entrance song was Rammstein. Yeah. So I got mine and he got his, all right.

Leah Longbrake:
I love that, that's hilarious. Jamie, where can we get more information on you

Jamie Wolfer:

Oh, well, you can find us on, well actually we're in the middle of a rebrand, so we're going to be JW Coordination for a couple more months and then we will be Wolfer and Company because I didn't like the connotation that we were just coordination. So you can find us on Instagram. If you want to find me on YouTube, obviously just my name, Jamie Wolfer. I just started TikTok so I'm trying to be really cool. So we're Wolfer and Company over there it's a hot mess until the rebrand is done.

Leah Longbrake:

Well, thank you so much for being with us today.

Jamie Wolfer:

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

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