In a strange, new world we all live in, we need strong project management skills to help us overcome the issues with change that no one saw coming – especially when it comes to project delivery or event management. Or in my case, wedding planning.
I was due to get married on 16 January 2021 but that has now been delayed until 15 January 2022. I originally took a laidback approach to wedding planning and simply ran off checklists of things that popped into my head as and when. Then the pandemic hit and the wedding was continually put on hold at every ‘monthly review discussion’ between my fiancé and I – until now.
Having assessed the progress already made (venues and registrar booked and successfully rescheduled), I realised we were in an early enough stage to plan the rest properly from scratch. I decided this time to practice what I preach in my professional life and use the various project management skills I have, as well as best practice, to plan the rest of the wedding. I gave myself a deadline of the 31 December 2020 to complete a project schedule, RAID log, finance tool and resource documents.
The wedding breakdown structure
With some quick research, I determined my key workstreams or ‘wedstreams’ as I’m calling them. These include standard things like catering, transport and guest accommodation. For each wedstream, I did a work breakdown structure to highlight my milestones and tasks, and then gave a best estimate of dates when these needed to be done by based on online research about people’s wedding experiences (lessons learnt, if you will).
I highlighted dependencies such as the fact that invitations need to go out six months before the day. As a result, for example, our complementary information website to go with the invitations needs details about transport arrangements and dietary information. The fact that so much needs to be booked and organised before the invites can go out so that everyone can plan their arrangements means a year is looking a bit tight. However, now we have the critical path shaped up nicely and that all important project float has been identified.
A wedding RAID
In a separate RAID log I noted risks and opportunities with actions, and the dates they need to be resolved by – these mitigating actions were then fed back into the schedule to ensure they were actioned. This log will be reviewed at least fortnightly; especially with COVID-19 a long way from being resolved and social gatherings being limited. Looking again at lessons learnt from previous weddings, I worked out what percentage of the previously agreed budget would be needed for each wedstream and we now have a high-level budget worked out.
The steering party
The next thing to do was identify who could help us with the mountain of work piling up to make this day a success. So, I set up a steering group (although I assure you, I have not called it a steering group in front of them) involving the bridal party. I asked them how much time they thought they could spare to help with some of the tasks on the plan and also took into account their skills and interests. I assigned them tasks based on this, for example, my maid of honour loves all things beauty so she’s on dress, hair and make-up. With that, some of the pressure was off us wedding project managers, and I and could easily identify who could help us with what within the schedule.
A bridesmaid’s assurance
The final and absolutely most crucial thing for me personally was to get some assurance on what we had produced. We didn’t want any nasty shocks around time, budget or scope later down the line which, from what I’ve seen, is a huge cause of wedding stress. I asked one of my bridesmaids who is both recently married and a project manager by profession if she would assure the plans and tools I had produced. Having that fresh but informed pair of eyes look over the plan of action was such a relief – especially when additional risks and scope that we hadn’t thought of were identified.
Project management keeps us sane
So, with that I think we are now firmly in definition stage. There are some things we know we want and some things need much more time gathering requirements. I can’t say it will be plain sailing all the way through, but what project, I mean wedding, is? Hopefully by using the best possible practice I know and the project skills I’ve got, it will at least be an enjoyable and wonderful experience – only time will tell when the benefits are realised.
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Image: Ivan Galashchuk/Shutterstock.com