Scrum your wedding: how to plan your wedding like a software developer

Guest post by Hannah Kane
Hannah and her husband. Photos by Urban Light Studios
Hannah and her husband. Photos by Urban Light Studios

Last April, I married my husband during an eclectic, playful, colorful wedding where we were joined by 60 of our closest friends and family.

Not only do I remember the wedding as a fantastic fun-filled day (people told me it would go by in a blur; I actually remember feeling very present the entire time), but I also look back on the wedding planning process as a joyful and creative time where I worked closely with my husband, and received a ton of support from family and friends.

Our wedding planning process was smooth and enjoyable in large part due to my husband’s and my day jobs. He’s a software developer and I’ve been a “Scrum Master.” It sounds like a made-up title, but it’s actually a real thing. “Scrum” is a popular methodology used in software development and manufacturing, and my husband and I found it was perfect for wedding planning as well.

Scrum makes use of something called “iterative planning,” which simply means doing the most important things first. Think of it like this: what would you need to get married tomorrow? Maybe it’s a marriage license, rings, an officiant, and a pretty spot under a tree at your favorite park. Sure, it may not be your dream wedding, but technically, you could get married tomorrow with just those things. Let’s borrow from software again and call that version one or “v1.”

I’m guessing that you’ll want to expand from there (I know my husband and I did). For us, “v2” included guests! And, of course, with guests we had to have a few more requirements: invitations to send to them, a venue big enough to hold them, and a plan for feeding and watering them.

v3 included more fun things like wedding clothes, a killer playlist, and fresh flowers.

Of course, we kept adding new versions for as long as we could. Everyone will have different priorities. The point is, each iteration gets you closer to your dream wedding, but each iteration is also entirely independent of the next. It made me feel better to know that, once we’d nailed down those basics, at pretty much any point we could stop and have a wedding and it would be great.

Because my husband and I are both familiar with scrum, we noticed that we naturally fell into two of the main roles on any scrum team…

My husband, who is very creative and loves to make things, became the “Product Owner.” On a scrum team, the Product Owner holds the creative vision, and my husband had tons of ideas for DIY projects. Under his direction, we made a LEGO sculpture, a couple sets of marquee lights, and all of our signage, among other things.

I’m hyper-organized and love to make lists, so I was a natural fit for the “Scrum Master” role. Scrum Masters own the process, so I was in charge of making sure we were hitting our own deadlines and staying on track. Another option for us could have easily been having my super helpful older sister play the Scrum Master role, and my husband and I share the Product Owner role.

One thing that helped during the planning process was designating certain times for talking about wedding stuff. Scrum teams work in cycles called “sprints.” For most of the wedding planning process, we worked in two-week sprints. Every sprint started with a Sunday evening “planning meeting” over dinner where we’d look through our list of tasks, and decide what we could reasonably commit to over the next two weeks. Every sprint would end with a Saturday morning “review” of what we’d accomplished. We also designated Tuesday and Thursday dinners as “wedding talk” nights. Having those designated times allowed us to keep wedding talk to a minimum the rest of the week.

One other thing we borrowed from scrum: wedding planning artifacts. I’m sure many couples have a version of what’s called the “product backlog” — a list of every task you need to complete between your engagement and your wedding. The scrum process also gives you an extra tool, the “scrum board,” which allows you to track progress on the two-weeks worth of work immediately in front of you during each sprint.

The combination of the clear roles, the designated times to talk about wedding stuff, and a good system for visualizing progress were the key ingredients to our pleasant, argument-free planning process. In fact, I was so happy with how smooth the wedding process was that I ended up writing it all down in detail.

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Comments on Scrum your wedding: how to plan your wedding like a software developer

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. We have just gotten started in the planning process. With FH having so many big projects, deadlines, and grad school on his plate, he has had a hard time with bandwidth for wedding convos and planning. We also have a very long list of savings goals in addition to funding the wedding which, while a small budget, we are paying a good portion of that ourselves and it all adds up to a big chunk of savings to accomplish over the next year. Needless to say, it was already causing stress and a few snips and tears even early on in the process. I have a goal of my wedding planning being tear-free (unless they are happy tears), argument and frustration free. And not become Bridzilla. 😛

    This tool sounds like the perfect solution for us and my accounting, IT savy FH. When I emailed him the link to your post he was resoundingly enthusiastic about using it as we move forward. So a big, big thank you for the tool to help our wedding planning be a happy, pleasant affair.

  2. Wow, I went to read through the guide (click on “Writing it down in detail”!) and it’s super impressive and a little intimidating for the uninitiated.

    My fiance works in tech consulting, so we were already doing something pretty similar with meetings and action items. It helps me have an outlet for all my scattered researching and helps him not be overwhelmed with questions he’s never considered before. I’ve totally stolen the backlog idea and CAKE prioritization, those are things of beauty. My Google Doc grows 😀

    • Thanks for reading the guide, Valerie! And thanks for the feedback. I think it’s probably a good idea for me to simplify it, so it’s not so overwhelming.

      I’m glad you like the CAKE prioritization! Mmm…cake. 🙂

  3. Ooooh.
    We recently switched to Agile at work, and I don’t know why this didn’t click. Wedding-wise, we’re mostly done planning now, but I think a scrum board and a product backlog would be useful for the remaining things (mostly the DIY, but a few big things left).

    Thanks for this brainwave!

    • YES! As I read this article, I was also like “huh, I never realized that the Agile Manifesto applied to planning my wedding!”

      In the OBB Tribe, I sometimes felt out of place, as a STEM PhD student with engineering work experience who is not particularly artsy, crafty or focused on beautiful details, in contrast to a lot of the most active posters. (This is not a criticism–it’s logical that someone who is crafty would post a lot of questions/answers about crafts, and so on.) I felt like the skills I have gained from my education and profession were not relevant. This article shows that they are! It’s just a matter of framing and terminology!

  4. This should be required reading for every offbeat bride and groom. Such a savvy, clear as you go orientation. And your example up front, of ticking off the very basics of license and ring and then adding layers, makes it so clear. It doesn’t preclude multi-tasking, but this approach helps lift that “We can’t possibly get it all done” feeling that too many people wear with pride like some sort of badge of honor when planning a big event. To dedicate yourselves to enjoying the journey..isn’t that what you want your marriage to be about anyway?

  5. Oh this just saved my butt! We’re just over 2 months out and I’ve been managing (controlling?) the whole planning process so far. But I’m losing my mind and we’ve been almost-fighting over getting things done. My fiance, however, works in IT and when I brought up scrumming he lit up. Trello is my new best friend–our scrum board can harass my fiance so I don’t have to! Yeah! Seriously, thank you for this post!

  6. Haha I’m a software developer and have also been a scrum master. This is awesome. Scrum definitely applies for weddings 🙂

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