A Tale of Two Project Managers

I have a few confessions:

  1. I’m a reluctant wedding planner.
  2. Wedding planning is not what I thought it would be.
  3. Wedding planning does not have to be hard.

These thoughts have come to me over my short engagement, as illustrated by a recent conversation between my FH* and me over our DIY invitations:

FH: Are you okay? Am I doing enough to help with the wedding planning? I am not overwhelmed and wondering what I’m doing wrong.
Me: Me too. I’m okay; almost finished embossing these stupid envelopes.
FH: Yeah. (thinks) I thought maybe you were doing all the work and making my life easy.
Me: Ha! Nope. I’m here to make you miserable for the rest of your life. Pass me the heat gun?

The wedding planning process has been a great experience, thus far. In the first two months of a six-month engagement, we’ve planned three parties (one destination ceremony/dinner for immediate family, and two post-wedding receptions for our respective hometowns). Our experience has us mostly on-budget, on-schedule (our own, not the WIC’s), there is no pending litigation, no violations, and no one has died.

Did I mention that my FH and I are both environmental project managers?

As a reluctant wedding planner, I admit that this process has been less painful than anticipated. I’ve watched lovely friends become raging beasts, bundles of nerves, and crying procrastinators. In my first engagement, the groom-to-be fought me on everything—which is more telling about our relationship, his lack of understanding of finance, and our poor communication. So, with a ring on my finger in February, I prepared for war. Thus far, I’ve found that planning a wedding does not deserve its sullied reputation.

Before every stressed-out bride-to-be begins trying to find me with the desire to stab me with her floral wire, please understand how we view our wedding. It is just another project to manage. We do this on a daily basis. We keep multiple balls in the air for multiple projects, every day. If something goes wrong? My boss gets dragged before Congress—and nobody likes that. This wedding is (thankfully) a project on a small budget, a small high-functioning team, with no complicating hazardous wastes, no tribal negotiations, no cooperating state/federal agencies, and no multi-billion dollar project depending on our schedule. All deadlines and (most) expectations are self-imposed.

My FH and I are the project team. It may be unromantic, but viewing the wedding as just-another-project works for us. We do not need to define ourselves, our relationship, or our future through one day. We acknowledged before our engagement that this is something that must get done for the family; we agreed before getting engaged our wedding is not about us.

Okay, well some things are about us. We are getting married in Pennsylvania because a self-uniting marriage is important to us, much to the chagrin of my WASP family and his Catholic-when-it-suits-them family. Our self-uniting ceremony will be self-written, sometime in the next few weeks. Yes, I understand that doesn’t give us much time. We will get to it, but we can effectively accomplish one task at a time. Right now, we are working on our DIY invitations. All else we will handle after accomplishing this task. After all, there is no need to do other tasks if the invitations do not go out. No invitations = no guests = no need for further planning.

Most of the other stuff is not about us, and that keeps much of it in perspective. If Plan A won’t work, go to Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work, find Plan C or negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate. Wedding planning is a multi-step project encompassing a series of problem solving tasks. The details in this project do not define us; we define the details.

Is everything easy? No, of course not. My mother’s expectations, desires, and demands are very different from FH’s and my vision. Mom wants All The Things. She worries that I will have red flowers mixed into my wildflower bouquets, which will “ruin my day by clashing with my nieces’ lavender dresses.” FYI, Mom bought four mother-of-the-bride dresses and is stressing about over-spending and what she’ll do with the un-returnable gowns. She hates my favor selection and is determined to leave no-website unsearched to convince me of something better/more classic/less unique. And… well, let’s just say that I’ve received several unnecessary lectures about how I should behave, dress, walk, talk… I found peace with my mother’s insecurities long ago.

Family relationships aside, discussing the wedding and parties with my mother is an exercise of project consultation. To help her feel empowered, the party in my hometown is mostly about my mother (and conversely for the party in FH’s hometown). The budget is mine, but I am happy to negotiate if she is willing to be a funding-partner with money at the table. I’m patiently consulting and negotiating to blend her vision with mine, but not at the expense of the project’s success. I will help her have a party to be proud of with a newly wedded-daughter to show-off, with favors more to her liking, all within the confines of good project management.

I am grateful that my FH and I work well together and have good communication. I hoped for a transcendently romantic process in planning my wedding, but am okay settling for effective. In all honestly, there is no time to worry about lack of romance in the process. We have three parties to pull off (and a pending fourth, which will be a No Adults Allowed minimalist free-for-all) and only 80 days left. As a fan of efficiencies, my FH and I will not waste our time stressing when we can dedicate that time to productive progress. Finishing a job makes us happy. The worrying, fretting, and stressing are for my mother to do—and that makes her happy. Everybody wins.

*FH = Future Husband

Photo: Kandise Brown

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  • Carrie

    Love it! As a manager of a public resource for a state agency, I have a lot of experience working with stakeholders with competing interests. I pulled out all the consent-building tools I could when it came to negotiating the guest list. Work skills can sometimes be life skills, for sure!

  • Marina

    “Finishing a job makes us happy. The worrying, fretting, and stressing are for my mother to do—and that makes her happy. Everybody wins.”

    Haha, love it!

  • Megan

    I love that you are doing a No Adults Allowed Minimalist free-for-all! We are having one of these later the evening of our wedding and I’m so excited. Also, thanks for the post and the reminder to deal with our difficult conversations as if we were negotiating at work. That is a really helpful reminder as I enter the last few weeks of planning with my mom about ready to make me pull my hair out.

    • Mimi

      What is a No Adults Allowed minimalist free for all?

      • theemilyann

        I would assume that “no adults allowed” means no Parents, no Aunts and Uncles (unless they’re cool and almost your age) no Grand Parents, no old Teachers, no Family Friends, no Neighbors-from-when-you-were-a-kid. Its a party filled wtih all the people that you would have, if you were to throw a Mel Brooks Costume Party at your house on any Saturday night.

        “Minimalist” must mean a lot of alcohol. And maybe some cheese. I think we have a couple of apples here to slice up. Ooh here’s someleft over Pita bread that I didn’t eat at the office this week. Best Friend is also bringing a veggie platter. Done.

        “Free-for-all” for this, you should refer back to the first sentence of “minimalist.”

        I would definately attend this party!

      • ProjectWed

        We are planning a no favors, no cake, no dress-party for our friends after the receptions and wedding is all over. It is our reintroduction to our social life following the wedding-craziness.

        It may seem superfluous, but will be a much needed release of expectations.

  • Great post! I too am doing the effective, efficient wedding planning thing by using skills from one of my jobs in event planning. But oh what I wouldn’t give to have some help from my guy. I suppose it helps that your FH is a planner too, but do you (or any other readers) have advice for those of us betrothed to a person who is a major procrastinator, from a long line of procrastinators, that seems to think that events somehow come together by magic?

    I could plan the whole entire wedding myself. I would do a good job at it too, but I don’t want to. I don’t want it to be a surprise party for my fiancé, and you know, it is just nice to have a little help sometimes . I tried to suggest tasks that might interest him, like booking a band or DJ (he is a musician), but even then he will spend like 10 minutes googling, complain that it is difficult and then call it a night.

    It is not that he doesn’t love me or care for me or help me in other areas of my life, but I just wish I could get a little help over here with the wedding planning. Sorry if this is hijacking your post but I am reading this wishing my husband to be was as on-top-of it and engaged in the planning process as yours is.

    • Another Meg

      My FutureSpouse is also a procrastinator who believes that magic party fairies fly in and take care of details. I’m doing most of the heavy lifting, but he was a big part of the Dreaming phase which I’m thinking has helped him feel he has a stake in this. I’m sending tasks to him, one at a time, and I’m timing these emails to hit when he’s least busy so he can start on them immediately vs forgetting/putting off indefinitely. Also, lots of check-ins. I know this sounds like extra work, but if you’re a fan of to-do lists (as I am!), then “check in with B re: photographer search” is just one more quick item on the list, and we both feel it’s more like “our wedding” vs “my wedding.” I’ve also been pretty upfront on the “I need you to care about this, and if you don’t, I kind of need you to lie” issue. Not on big things, but I know what I need and sometimes I just need him to “care” about the mason jars I found online or the font of the invites.

      • Another Meg

        Actually, just being upfront with any major needs is a big help. We actually had a discussion about our strengths and weaknesses and what it might mean for wedding planning, and we strategized based on that.

        • Good point.
          I could have had the Dj booked by now. Instead, I decided it should be my guy’s job and so I have spent 3 weeks saying “have you contacted any DJs yet?” all while sending him links to DJ reviews in our area, worksheets of questions to ask that I find on other websites.

          I have probably spent more time trying to get him to pick a DJ than I would have actually spent just picking one myself. I guess it comes to the question of which is more important to me: having it *done* or having it done *by him*

          and I don’t entirely know the answer to that

          • Ophelia

            Do you want to spend the rest of your married life doing all the logistical heavy lifting? If not, then it’s important that it’s done by him. Begin as you mean to continue, and all that jazz.

          • Granola

            I’m not sure that doing the bulk of the wedding planing means that you’ll be doomed to all of the logistical planning for every aspect of your married life. That seems a little simplistic. There’s something to be said for picking your battles and accepting that the other person won’t care as much as you will.

            As far as your particular DJ example goes, I feel you – he won’t do things on my schedule and it drives me nuts. But eventually it will get done and he is aware of the ultimate deadline.

            When I worked freelance I spent so many hours miserable and terrified at the thought that since I did the majority of the housework, it would still be like that if I got a full-time job and I didn’t want to be *that woman.* And what happened? I got a full-time job, his schedule changed. Not only is it balanced now, but he carries the heavier load in some areas, and stuff I thought mattered doesn’t. I don’t think you should give up on negotiating a solution when it’s really important to you with the knowledge that sometimes tasks are hard or boring but still need to get done. But no need to blow it out of proportion and worry that because he won’t give you a nuanced opinion on shades of purple you’ll never have help with anything, ever.

      • Lynn

        We went through this as well. We talked endless about what we wanted and then I started to work on it. I remember at one point, my bff and MOH made the statement, “It looks like you’re doing all the work for this. It’s PA’s wedding, too.” I laughed and said, oh just wait…his turn is coming.

        And it did. The two weeks before the wedding? When the 80 pounds of pork had to be smoked (which required 2 full days in the the heat)? And when the yard had to be cleaned up and painting on the property had to happen and all those millions of things had to be taken care of…he was doing it. He spent his spring break off from work…pretty much working non-stop to pull the wedding prep together.

        We both did the things that we were good at, and in the end, I think it all balanced out well.

        • Another Meg

          Exactly! Yes, I’m doing the heavy logistical lifting now, in the planning and organizing phase, because he is no good at either of those things and has little desire to get better. He’s actually slowly getting more into planning things, but it’s more like the trip we’re taking in two weeks instead of a huge wedding in two years. When it comes to tech stuff, like putting together our entertainment center and wireless network, he is all over that. He is also doing a lot of the work on-site for the wedding. We’re just playing to our own strengths.

        • Remy

          Our planning looks like this, too — as we get closer, and timing is tighter and people need personal contact, my sweetie is the one on the phone with them confirming details and arranging to meet during the day when I am at work. Trying to get anything done in person or on the phone during business hours would be EXTREMELY inconvenient for my schedule, and I am so grateful that she’s available to do that work while I am making up GoogleDocs and finding ads on Craigslist and so forth.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            While I of course want my presently barely-employed future husband to get a regular job, another part of me worries, “How will the planning happen if we’re both at the office 9-9, M-F and can’t make phone calls?”

            But, bridges to cross when come to.

        • Yes. I am very much a planner and my husband is a “now” person. Very in the moment. He did help some with planning, but I carried more of those kind of tasks. However, in that last week, he was all over the place picking up stuff, dropping off stuff and setting up and tearing down the whole venue (lights, sound,etc.) Tons of work, but consolidated into a short time frame. Which is probably how he would prefer working, to be honest. He hates planning and is happy to avoid thinking ahead about stuff. Yet, in the moment, he works hard. Maybe we balance each other out? Let me set up a nice spreadsheet and do some research and I am happy for hours. :)

    • I’m in the same position. And I don’t think my answer is the “right” answer, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s wrong by feminist standards. And of course, your situation may be different, but here’s the peace I’ve come to with this:
      I am the one who wants a wedding. My fiance would rather just go to the courthouse, with no one but his daughter there. Also, I am a planner, and a damn good one, even without any official event planning experience. I’m enjoying planning the wedding, and he would not enjoy it. I realized that my desire to have him help was not really out of wanting help (I’ve handled it fine on my own); it was really responding to feminist expectations and not feeling good enough when I heard about other women’s partners helping.
      I kept saying the same thing as you: I don’t want the wedding to be a surprise party for my fiance. But now, I’m actually kind of excited to be surprising him with the fun activities and details I’ve planned. I mean, I tell him about them, but I’m sure he won’t remember when the time comes, nor does he have a vision of the day.
      There aren’t really any tasks he needs to do on his own, so when there are things I really need his input on (meeting with the photographer, picking out the venue), I tell him that he needs to come and give his opinion, even if he doesn’t want to. Just like I went outside to check out the new pool vacuum he bought.
      Once I let go of the external expectations of his role and realized that we were both actually fine with the way things were, I felt much happier. And less ashamed that my fiance wasn’t participating.

    • MDBethann

      My DH was married before and would have preferred something small with just our immediate families, but he knew this was my only wedding and that I wanted my rather large extended family there. So he obliged and went through the whole process with me because he wanted to be married but I wanted the married plus the wedding. Since I knew he wasn’t excited about the “production” but I wanted his input, my approach with my introverted fiance/DH (which works for us in other areas too) was as follows:

      (1) Do the searching myself & present fiance with a set of choices I liked. Have him pick his top 3-4 (this worked for venues in particular, but also for honeymoon destinations) and those are the ones we visited/interviewed.

      (2) I scheduled appointments with venues, DJs, photographers, and bakeries. We interviewed vendors together, compared notes together, and decided together. I confirmed the decisions and signed the contracts.

      (3) Gave him specific jobs (like stuffing & stamping envelopes) that would help me out a lot but not be something that he really didn’t want to do (like calling vendors – he hates that sort of thing and is happy to make me our family spokesperson).

      (4) I got family to help with addressing the invitations

      (5) I write the thank yous, but told him he has to sign them so they are actually from both of us.

      I don’t know if any of this will help you at all – some people just don’t care about the details and/or don’t realize all of the work and planning necessary to throw a party, even a small one. And it doesn’t mean they don’t love you or your relationship, party planning just isn’t on their radar. That’s okay, but then see if maybe he can help out in other ways while you plan – can he make dinner? Run to the grocery store or do other errands that you normally do? Help with other chores around the house? Those tasks are maybe ones that he can relate to a bit more and by doing them for you, you can do wedding stuff. And as long as you talk to him about what you are planning, he won’t be surprised on your wedding day. Good luck!

      • Oh, the thank you’s. Oh…I had blocked those out. Yes….those were a struggle. I wanted him to help more, and he just dreaded it. So I did all “my people” from “my side” and then after much arguing about it, I then drafts of all of his too (they were in my second language), which he edited. Then I hand-wrote them and he signed them. I only insisted that he hand-write the ones his parents and a few other very close friends/family who helped immensely. Whew, glad that is over!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      If it’s true that men are more visual and more analytical, play off of that.

      Show him one of those eternal to-do lists from the other wedding web sites, or show him one of the bigger spreadsheets here. That should make his jaw drop.

      Then point out something like “buy rings,” and explain how that’s not like “buy milk.” You both have to be sized, which requires going to a jewelry store. You have to consider what you like and can afford, which requires research. You have to actually make the purchase, then have to consider an appraisal and insurance. You have to make sure the right people have the rings and get them to the ceremony. So, this physically tiny thing that will take 2 minutes, max, of your wedding day, actually involves 5 or 6 steps.

      Then look at that eternal to-do list with its 150 items, and multiply them times the 5 or 6 steps a lot of those items can involve. If his jaw’s not on the ground by then, I think you’re in trouble.

      Also, schedule this conversation. “Saturday evening I want to spend two hours with you discussing to-do lists for the wedding.” Depending on the complexity of your wedding and how long you’re engaged, repeat every month to every six months. We got by with one long conversation at the beginning of the engagement, shorter, unplanned conversations throughout the following 9 months or so, and now, 4 months from the wedding, we need another whole-evening review.

    • Marina

      I had a lot of, uh, shall we say “discussions” with my now-husband about this while we were planning our wedding. Safely on the other side, I can say that it’s not so much that he’s a procrastinator, it’s that he genuinely does a good job on things at the last minute. I get super stressed when I’m doing things on a tight deadline and tend to not put in my best effort, but he really shines in those situations. And he KNOWS this about himself, so of course he doesn’t feel the need to avoid that kind of situation.

      For my guy, he needed tasks that he could do on his own schedule. So booking at DJ wouldn’t have been a fun task for him, because that’s very dependent on the DJ’s schedule. Making the invitations was a great task for him, because I gave him a deadline of when I wanted to send them out and it really didn’t matter when he did it as long as it was before that deadline.

      And I had to let it go. I had to take some biiiiiig steps back. I had to give him FULL responsibility for his tasks, not conditional responsibility. What that means is that I had to stop nagging, I had to stop stepping in if he didn’t do it the way I did it, and if it didn’t get done that had to be his responsibility, not mine.

      • MM
      • R

        I think full responsibility vs. conditional responsibility is key. If you completely hand a task over, the other person knows that they’re on point for that task. If you keep feeding leads, and appointments, etc., it’s entirely reasonable for the other person to think that if they just wait long enough, you’ll do the entire task for them. (Not reasonable for them to actually let you do it yourself, of course- but a logical train of thought) Of course, that means you also have to be ready for things to turn out differently than they might have had you done something yourself- which can be scary!

    • Jashshea

      So. Me, too. I pretty much just do all of the legwork. And I don’t do it because I love weddings and linens and fonts and stuff. I just do it because it needs to get done. I pull everything together so that there’s 2-3 options left where I like both and let him choose (he chose the linen options because, quote, they look like camouflage. Um, DONE.).

      Why do I do that? Neither one of us is very good when options approach infinity. We’re both excellent internet searchers/researchers and can easily pull together thousands of inspirations/ideas/etc in minutes. I’m also a professional proj manager* and what we bride-types call “inspiration” is something us PM-types call “analysis paralysis.” I don’t make any decisions when there are endless options, I just keep adding more options or comparing some smaller number of options until my eyes cross. He does the same thing. Have you ever watched someone do that? SO. F’ING. ANNOYING.

      So, my advice is decide what you care about, individually and together (Me: Food, Booze, Dancing, my outfit; Him: Food, booze, pictures, his outfit). Spend however long you want making those decisions together (Um, meet with 10 caterers, whatever. Try on 30+ dresses.). Everything else gets less rigor from me and “looks like camouflage” rubber stamps from him.

      I used to get mad that I was doing everything, but I realized that this isn’t my job. My professional job, I mean. I’m a really conscientious worker and work really hard to make my projects run smoothly and to make my customers happy. A point of pride for me is that my customers don’t have to ask me for something twice (and often get the information from me before they ask once). I don’t have to be good at this – Being average or even bad at wedding planning doesn’t reflect poorly on my professional career or me as a person. And that goes for him, too.

      *Total aside here: One of my fmr coworkers told terrible/wonderful jokes. One of his jokes was to say “Not Professionally” when someone asked him if he did a specific something.
      Person: Do you watch baseball?
      D: Not professionally.
      It was as stupid as it sounds, but so hilarious.

    • This touches on advice I read on some other wedding websites that drives me a little batty.

      I often see the suggestion that the way to get the male half of the couple (if there is one) involved in wedding planning is to only “give” him the tasks that interest him. “He cares about food and music and booze? Let him do those and handle the rest yourself!” It suggests to me that men only need to be involved in the areas that interest them … but still leaves the onus on women to do all the stuff that doesn’t interest him, even if they’re no more interesting for her, or more difficult for her to do.

      • ElisabethJoanne


        I prefer to think of all wedding-planning tasks like chores. First, figure out what each partner enjoys and does best (not necessarily better than the other party, but what are those tasks at which each partner excels). Each partner gets the things s/he enjoys and does best. Then divide up the rest equitably.

        [I got the chore advice from glamour.com. Even a broken clock…]

        Since I simply cannot make personal phone calls during business hours, he gets all those. Since he knows nothing about my church or flowers, I get all that. I enjoyed researching caterers, until I got to the fourth spreadsheet trying to compare pricing structures. Then I said, “I’m not having fun any more on this aspect. If you feel we need to research more, you’ll have to do it.” Since he has the MBA, he did the initial budget analysis. Since I enjoy it, I do the budget updating. Since I’m the lawyer, I review the contracts. Etc., etc.

      • meg

        Also, I think it sets you up for a lifetime of hurt. I mean, what if you had kids, and then you had to “give” your partner parenting tasks that interested them. Like, what? They play with the kid, while you feed them and change them? No effing thanks.

        So, while guys (if you have a male parter) often work and think differently than you do (should you be female), the trick is to learn to work together and create a true partnership… now. In that way, wedding planning is the best practice you will ever have, I think. It was for us at least.

      • Yeah, I agree. It does bother me that men are supposed to be responsible for only the things that they like. Since I’m planning the wedding basically on my own (see my comment above), I’ve pretty much nixed anything I’m not interested in doing. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed wedding planning so far.
        Also, I have an insane love for internet research and spreadsheets. So, I’m sick that way.

  • “If Plan A won’t work, go to Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work, find Plan C or negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate. Wedding planning is a multi-step project encompassing a series of problem solving tasks. The details in this project do not define us; we define the details.”

    From beginning to end, THAT is wedding planning, and frankly, life follows a similar suit. From one Project Manager to another…

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Thank you for this. We’re similar. I’m an attorney. He has a MBA. People keep asking if I’m very busy or very stressed with wedding planning. They don’t accept my honest response: “Not really. I’m an attorney. He’s in finance. Contracts? Deadlines? We do this stuff in our sleep.” I suppose that does sound smug, but of course the assumption that I am busy or stressed has its own unhappy connotations. When pressed, I add, “We also have carefully planned for as simple as it can possibly be, and still be a solemn high Mass and dinner and dancing for 100 people.”

  • Rachel

    “Catholic-when-it-suits-them family”


  • Mia Culpa

    The idea of “wedding as project” is the best. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by too many details, leading to anxiety and depression. So my husband and I split up things: I Pinterested ideas for him, researched venues & caterers, secured the hotel, got a friend to do our cake and other friends to do photos. We collaborated on the stationery, and I worked really hard on the ceremony.

    And then he stepped in and project managed the ever living shit outta the rest. I’m talking Basecamp project lists, DIY crafts volunteer group emails, and wedding party conference calls. Every time I started feeling guilty about it and feeling like a terrible bride, he’d say “You’ve done a ton of work. You set it up for me to implement your ideas. I do this every day at work, so let me do this for you.” He was so amazing that his daughter started calling him a Groomzilla. Hell, on the morning of my wedding day I was looking for ways to kill time, because there was nothing for me to do except hair and makeup.

    Granted, we were really lucky because no one in either of our families insisted on having a part in the wedding planning process. Everyone just wanted to help implement our vision.

  • Remy

    Wedding planning is a multi-step project encompassing a series of problem solving tasks.

    I’m not a project manager or an event planner or a high-powered professional, but a lot of this sounds familiar. I’m a library school student (also working full-time) with a background in theatre. I really like to-do lists. I like planning in advance and making things happen according to plan. I like being in control of a lot of things (so that I can accept when some things refuse to stay under control). Sometimes I don’t like being very busy, because I need alone time to recharge, but I usually AM, and I’m used to it.

    I’m really enjoying wedding planning. A LOT. We’ve seen some bumps in the road regarding our venue(s) — we’re on about Plan E currently — or family drama, and there have been a few moments of panic and stress — but they WERE moments. The rest of it feels comfortable almost all the time and also exciting, because I’m doing this important thing with my beloved, the way that makes us happy — AND I get to have a big project, too!

  • Thank you for writing this. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing it wrong because I’m also about 80 days out (I think. I don’t really keep track.) and I’m not at all stressed out about it. Actually, we’re both enjoying it. We’re both very Type A people who love planning, so I guess this is right up our alley. I mean, there are definitely moments of stress, but those almost always have to do with managing the expectations of other people (usually his mom) and less to do with the actual time crunch of planning. I am rarely the source of my own stress.

    • One More Sara

      This reminds me of one of the side banners for the book that shows up sometimes… “Wedding planning: you’re doing it right!” Try not to worry about not feeling the way you are “supposed” to feel, and recognize that the feelings that you are having are yours, and whatever those feelings may be, they are okay.

  • 39bride

    “We do not need to define ourselves, our relationship, or our future through one day. We acknowledged before our engagement that this is something that must get done for the family; we agreed before getting engaged our wedding is not about us.”

    Yes, yes and yes! There are a few things we’ve decided are “must-haves/really-want-to-haves,” but most everything outside the words of the ceremony is for our friends and family. There are things I/we like and are trying to aim for, but everything is still geared around, “What would they like/enjoy?” Even the colors are kinda “eh, that looks nice.” LOL

    We would’ve eloped if not for the pain we know it would’ve caused everyone, so we’re doing it for them. I can’t say I’ve been as mellow as you, though, so I think you’re my new model.

    And I love the comments above–yes, planning a wedding is definitely a lesson in each others’ planning styles. My FH tends to delay/procrastinate a bit, but when it comes to the important stuff, I can always count on him to get it done when it needs to be done so I’ve been learning to tell him what we need and then let it go. The advice above about sharing checklists and processes to educate a reluctant fiance is right on in my experience. Mine was a bit disengaged even though he was positive and said he wanted to be included… until he saw my checklist on WeddingWire.com after he was dragging his feet on getting a suit 2.5 months out. Yup, jaw on the floor. His first words were a chagrined, “53 things done so far and I’ve done maybe two of them.” I explained why things were scheduled for certain times when they could theoretically be done at other times, showed him how to add/update an item on the list, and explained that if we could stick to the list we might be able to have a weekend I had blocked out to be wedding free. Very plugged-in FH after that! :D

  • Jashshea

    And after my lengthy post on a side-post above, a quick comment on the OP: Great way to look at the process and I love how you sum it up. Doing is always better than worrying. When I catch myself freaking out, I make lists and sub-lists and master lists. And then I do the things.

  • Kelsey W.

    Wedding planning is the first real project management I’ve done (I’m pretty fresh out of school, in a professional setting for only about 2 years so far)- and I’ve been surprised by how much I like being indisputably in charge. I am also approaching it from a more professional mindset, much to the chagrin of my more emotional mom (like yours, who wants all the things). I don’t mean this in the sense of bossing people around and acting like the bad stereotype, but in the sense that I can make the decisions and negotiate with people and delegate to peoples’ strengths/level of interest/emotional investment. It feels empowering- maybe I’ll get a boost of confidence to be a little more aggressive in the workplace as a result!

  • kathleen

    I’m envious of the ease of approach here— and wish that I could agree. While I admire the project management approach, and in many ways am using that same process/tool set, I’ve found it’s difficult not because of the to-dos or to-decides, but rather for the what-does-it-mean. The emotional work of wedding planning (creating our own ceremony, ritual, language for how we present our family in invites, etc) is the real work of it to me, not the picking of dress or flowers or location. I so very much wish that I could make a task flow chart for wedding planning, but I’ve found it consists of so many unexpected stalls and hold ups. And the surprising part is that these stalls and hold ups- the conversations about why and what are we saying with this and does it matter to us- are both the hard part and the best part of wedding planning, and they will never show up on a to do list.

  • I’ve also found wedding planning to be not so stressful and have commented to people that I’ve been waiting for the “bridal meltdown” because that’s what I’ve been taught to expect. Honestly though, the few time I have become overwhelmed, it has nothing to do with the planning details and everything to do with the values/expectations/fear behind it.

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  • Yes, we looked at our wedding as a lot like theatre production, since we both work in theatre. I think our experience was super helpful in knowing how to do this kind of event. But I hadn’t accurately anticipated the level of emotional involvement and the exhaustion that can come with all the family-creating/defining/negotiating work that happens in engagement. I knew it would make planning a wedding different than planning and mounting a production, but I just didn’t know exactly how it would be different until it was all over and I was wiped out. (And this is why I suggest people take a honeymoon after- ANYWHERE. We only took two nights at a hotel in town, and we really could have used a good bit longer to recover.)

  • Chi

    I vote that we start a movement to encourage couples to put their weddings on their resumes!

  • It is good that both of you are project managers- but how often does that happen? Most people do not understand project management and when you try to practice with someone who has no PM experience it is tough for them to understand why you are doing things a PM does. So both of your were very fortunate to understand each other on everyday that you planned for your wedding and mitigated your identified risks.

  • I personally believe it’s always great to take a PM approach to one’s own wedding planning. I mean Gantt charts, budget matrix, vendor management strategies and regular ‘team’ communications with one’s fiance over dinner.