My fiancé and I are both project management types — at work, and in our general personalities. So, we have weekly wedding planning meetings with agendas that have been put together with a limited number of items that we must get through in that meeting. Enough to continually check things off the list, and not so many as to blow our meeting timeline — no longer than two-and-a-half hours, period. This has managed to keep us sane, speaking to each other, productive, and focused on other things, like unpacking the house we just bought, getting through a terribly hectic time at work, enjoying each other, and focusing on my nearly-six-year-old son.
Here's how we plan our wedding, Project Manager-style…
We send the upcoming week's agenda to each other at least three days before the meeting and agree that these are the items we'll deal with. There's opportunity for back and forth on what we'll cover, but we have each agreed to a finalized agenda, and to avoid springing something on the other without forewarning. And they're not all “make a decision!” items. Some of them are things like “Officiant: determine and list possibilities and considerations.” Once we do that within the meeting, we're done. We'll identify next steps and revisit those at the next meeting.
There are some tools we use at work that we signed up for with personal email addresses to help in the planning as well. They're primarily team management and collaboration project management tools, but they're FREE and SUPER HELPFUL. Trello is my favorite, and I can't get past the fact that it's free, SO easy to use, and 100% private.
When we disagree about something like the guest book in the meeting, we hear each other out because it's our natural inclination in that setting, due in part to the fact that we both lead teams and are naturally predisposed to being careful with people in meeting settings. And also, we're not drinking. We take notes, write down all the ideas, and identify next steps for resolving the issue, along with a date that we will next discuss the guest book.
We'll also cover lessons learned at the beginning of a meeting if necessary.
I joke that we often talk like we're at work: “this item is out of scope for the next meeting” or, “we've identified all we need to in terms of the limitations of this agenda, so let's move to the next point.” But seriously… It. Is. A. Lifesaver.
All of this, I know, is a really dry and somewhat cool (as in, not-quite-cold) way to approach the major items, but I've gotta say, it takes NONE of the romance out for us and does remove a LOT of the conflict when we disagree about something, like the guest book. When we're discussing it over whiskey and a bonfire at 1am on a Saturday, the guest book can seem like the Biggest Possible Issue We Will Ever Face and if we can't agree on something as trivial as a guest book, how will we EVER agree on ANYTHING?!
Once we started approaching this like any other project we manage at work, we've gone from being pissy with each other (for the first time ever!) to actually feeling pretty calm and on top of things.
We've got seven months, start to finish, to plan this relatively big wedding, and we've got SO MUCH nailed down that neither of us are feeling behind or pressured at all.
In two months we've identified and contracted for the date, venue, caterer, menu, budget, photographer, videographer, my dress, my accessories, my shoes, bridal party, processional plan, day-of timeline, roles for family, the hotel we'll be staying at for the wedding night, where my son, my girls, and I will be getting ready, where he and his guys will be getting ready, the photo booth, the activities, the dessert, the table layout, the table sizes, the linens, the guest list (with most addresses collected), the invites, rehearsal time and space, rehearsal dinner, coat check tags, design and timeline for development of centerpieces and decor, honeymoon, the wedsite, first dance, family dances, officiant, parts of the ceremony, and (ha ha) the guest book.
We're a team. We communicate for a living, and with each other. I love project management. Really, I'm a geek like that. But, now that it's helping us plan our wedding, I super love it.