Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to Plan a Wedding while Working Full-Time - Laura Schaefer

Let’s get real about wedding planning. As excited and happy as you are to be getting married, the truth is planning the Big Day is a lot of work. There are a hundred decisions to be made and it can be tough to keep your head above water when you have a full-time job.

I’m getting married in August, and so far my strategy has been to try to tackle one task at a time and keep things as simple as possible. But no matter how determined I may be to stay calm, there are moments when I worry if it’ll all come together. I’m sure my fiancĂ© and I will forget something fairly important, like, you know, having chairs for our guests to sit on (BYOC!). With that in mind, I sought out some tips for women like me who planned their weddings with a lot on their plates. Here, the best gems from their helpful advice.

Limit the seemingly endless choices. “Give yourself two to three choices of vendors and don’t go crazy researching stuff,” advises Susan Koutalakis, a public relations manager in Boston. “The more options you have, the more confused you get. The larger boards tell you all that you need to do as a bride. To be honest, I’ve never looked at The Knot (other than their wedding checklist), because my wedding is about me and my future husband—not about up-lighting, a chocolate fountain, or even spending tens of thousands of dollars, which was the vibe I got from the more mainstream sites.”

Schedule planning time on your calendar. “It’s not romantic to treat wedding planning the same as a dentist appointment,” concedes Sarah Van Dyke, co-founder of Antics Flipbooks in Madison, Wis. “But when wedding thoughts pop into your head during your busy days it’s a relief to know that you have focused time blocked off each week or two to prioritize your to do list, discuss decisions with your fiancĂ©, etc.”

Work your Internet mojo. “Order your dress online to be made just for you, to your measurements,” suggests Lori Del Genis of State College, Penn., founder of Consciouselegance.com. “Let the dressmaker take care of the work and the alterations and such. Save the time and the hassle of driving all over town to try stuff on in wedding shops or to hunt for that perfect dress in a vintage clothing store.”

However, be careful not to let surfing the web get out of control during your wedding-planning sessions. “Monitor your time on the wedding blogs,” councils Sarah Shewey, founder of Pink Cloud 9. “Five minutes of Pinterest quickly turns into five hours and your productive work day has slipped away.”

Consider the all-in-one venue. “I work full-time at a nonprofit and also do freelance writing and photography on the side,” says Rachel Esterline, of Saginaw, Mich. “I’ve discovered that I really don’t have time to plan my wedding. I booked a hotel for my ceremony and reception. The ceremony will be casual and on the beach. The reception will be in the hotel’s banquet room. This saves me from having to find separate venues, pay separate venues and transport the bridal party and guests. The hotel also will handle the catering and bartending, so that takes another weight off my shoulders.”

Enlist help. “I work at a public relations agency in Dallas and am planning a wedding on August 18 in Tampa, Fla.,” explains Jenna Tuttle, a senior account executive at McCrory & Associates Public Relations. “I’m lucky to have a wonderful mom who is helping me plan, and I would recommend enlisting in a good friend or family member who doesn’t have a full-time job to help. I talk to my mom probably twice a week with updates and a list of things I need to do, and it works!”

Patricia Thompson, Ph.D., a corporate psychologist/management consultant in Atlanta agrees with this approach. “I was fortunate to have a 21 year-old cousin who was very excited about the prospect of getting married, and helped with everything from screening venues to designing the programs to making the ring-bearer pillow, to acting as a liaison with the hotel event planner the day of the wedding. Since I was willing to delegate tasks (I’m not a control freak), things were able to get done efficiently, and limit the time I had to take off from work.”

Have a long engagement. “The best decision we made was to set a date for the future and let me enjoy what I was building during 2010 and 2011—my education and my career,” offers Whitney Kerns, a marketing director in Bucks County, Penn. “We were able to enjoy a wonderful two-year engagement. I’m now done my degree, comfortable in my job, and have enjoyed the wedding planning over the past 9-12 months.”

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls and Planet Explorers Travel Guides for Kids.

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