On Monday, I mentioned my conversation with @Kathleenincanrah on Twitter about how for her, wedding planning hasn’t really been about project management. Well, turns out she had more than 140 characters to say on the subject, and it turned into a post. Since we’re now elbow-deep in wedding season, the APW staff said f*ck it. It’s time to talk about wedding planning from all different perspectives. To shine our flashlight around in the corners and see if we can figure this thing out (and also, maybe look at a few pretty pictures and DIY projects while we do that, to relax). So here is Kathleen, on managing the What-Does-It-Mean list.
I read last week’s post about wedding planning as project management and cocked my head to the side, squinted my eyes, and looked around my empty office for some verification that this was actually wedding planning they were talking about. Throughout the day, I swung between envious and confused. Envious, because easy and calm and organized is exactly what I thought (due to both experience and temperament) I’d signed up for, and confused because, yeah. HA. That is so not what I’m experiencing.
What I’ve found about halfway through a six-month engagement and wedding planning process is that no to-do list can capture the work of wedding planning. (Take that, The Kn*t!) I should say though, that my partner and I—we are doers. We are deciders. We are not by title project managers, but we are get it done, don’t look back, celebrate and have a drink-ers.
And while wedding planning is certainly partially to-lists, that’s been the easy-ish stuff for us—we are ahead of schedule, we are under budget (on a wedding we are paying for ourselves), and we’ve dealt with little-to-no family or friend stress/advice/bullshit. On paper, this is the easiest wedding planning process ever.
Oh, but guys. That doesn’t even begin to explain my experience—it has been work. There have been tears. There have been hard conversations. And here’s why:
I don’t think wedding planning is to-do lists. Some days I convince myself it’s to-decide lists, but even then I don’t think that’s accurate. It’s actually “What does it mean?” lists.
By “What does it mean?” lists I mean the emotional work of the wedding planning. By and large, with the only exception maybe (maybe!) being the menu, our to-do list has fostered big, important conversations about big, important things. For us, our to-do list has actually been a way for us to hash out and dig into the bigger ideas and questions and desires about and for our partnership. While I wish it were all simple task flow charts, we get stuck or caught on items not because we can’t decide on colors or centerpieces, but because we get deep into the meaning and significance of our wedding, as we hope it will accurately capture and communicate what we believe and want our partnership to be.
Here’s a list of items that could just be to-do, but for us have been what-does-it-mean:
- Rings (to wear or not, diamond or not, buy together or not)
- Ceremony (religious or not, private or not, in our home or not, create our own or not)
- Guest list (family or not, intimate or not, East Coast/West Coast or not)
While I sometimes wish these were simple decide-and-move-on items (and know that for many people they are), for us they’ve opened up some of the most important conversations I’ve ever had. This is both the stress and the surprise and the gift of wedding planning for me.
I can’t overstate that I know that I’m in a very lucky space—little money or family or uninterested partner wedding planning anxiety. I can’t imagine general planning stress on top of the emotional work, though I know it’s the most common experience. But I can say it is still work; it is still important; it does still demand my thoughtful and clear heart and attention. And it cannot be summed up in a to-do list.
Photo by: Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor)