Love, it’s a special day
We should celebrate and appreciate
That you and me found something pretty neat
And I know some say this day is arbitrary
But, it’s a good excuse
That I love to use baby
I know what to do baby
I, I will love you
I’ll love you
– Kina Grannis [and performed by my sister on our wedding day]
So after much anticipation (this, this, and this), we finally got married. And it was beautiful. It exceeded my expectations in every single way – and if it wasn’t so expensive, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was THAT much fun. Me, my best friend David, and my 400 closest friends and family. I couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular event. Even now that it’s been almost 2 weeks, I still replay and savor the events in my head. Here are some snapshots submitted by our guests:
We’ve received a ton of positive feedback from our friends and families, as well as a ton of questions from newly engaged couples. We did all our planning ourselves, and as a management consultant, wedding planning was pretty intuitive. We created Gantt charts, RACI matrix, slide decks for all components of the wedding so that none of it would fall to us on the big day. All our decorations were catalogued in a detailed inventory list and labeled with sticky post-its, so that our designated decorators would know where to place everything. We did our due diligence with each and every vendor, in some cases, interviewing 3 or 4 different vendors for the same position. We qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated each vendor before making a selection. All the detailed planning paid off – and it was a beautiful day. Here I would like to share my top 5 tips for wedding planning – more or less the same as my tips for any kind of good project management.
1. Stay organized
My Gantt charts, RACI matrix, item inventory, daily scrums (yes – David and I had daily scrum meetings), all paid off. They may seem excessive, but at the same time, it made the day itself stress-free, and I was able to engage in the day rather than worry about the granular details. David and I also programmed an MS Excel index array lookup sheet for out seating chart of over 400 guests, so that guest check-in would be effortless and efficient. I highly encourage using Google’s free suite of organization and collaboration products to keep you on top of everything. I used Google Sheets to track budget and timelines; I used Google Keep to manage my day-to-day tasks; I tracked all my vendor meetings in Google sheets; I used Google Presentation to create my setup maps. This way, you have a single source of truth for everything and aren’t having version control and miscommunication issues.
2. Be decisive
Having worked in the wedding industry, I’ve noticed that brides can be incredibly waffley – as in, flipfloppy; as in, indecisive. When I interned with the girls at Vo Floral, we would have brides change color schemes or types of flowers last minute, and would demand refunds for not having their orders meet their new standards. This is not OK. Be decisive early and stick to your decisions. Better yet, record those decisions (in text and also supplemented with images) in a Google Sheet or Google Presentation, so that all your vendors can also view them. This keeps the communication transparent across all the vendors – and your vendors are perfectly clear on what the decisions are and what the final look is.
3. Trust your vendors
Having managed million dollar projects, I’ve learned that you need to have a good working relationship with all your vendors. You hired a vendor because you trust him/her, so please trust the expert to carry out your vision. In most cases, a nice bride will get everything she asked for and then some. Good vendors are happy knowing their brides + grooms are happy. Also, don’t micromanage your vendors – again, if you’ve done your job to communicate your vision, color scheme, etc., then leave it to the experts. You don’t have the time to look through all 200 silver linen options (taffeta or crushed silk or lace overlay etc) or determine the exact layout and placement of the dessert table, trust me.
4. Don’t bargain too much
This is in the same vein as #3, but you get what you pay for. Of course, find a vendor that meets your budget and who understands your vision, but do not push him/her too much. They are on your side but need to earn a living too.
5. Have realistic expectations
I think Disney, StyleMePretty, TheKnot, Pinterest, etc. may have ruined us. We have these grandiose visions of what our weddings should look like, and often times, we do not have the budget or time to support such visions. So, be realistic about your expectations – you’ll have a much better time if you aren’t disappointed that the flowers aren’t like this, or if your groom isn’t wearing this, or if your ballroom doesn’t look like that. Also, don’t expect your wedding day (or night) to be a transformative experience. If anything, it’s just another party with your closest friends and family – so have fun, lighten up, and assuming you’ve done the proper planning and hand-off to your vendors, it’s going to be great regardless.
Do you have other bits of feedback? Please share in the comments section! I’ll be sharing my 5 tips for surviving the wedding day itself and another 5 tips on infusing personality into your wedding, so stay tuned.
Good luck future brides & grooms!