Monday, April 12, 2010

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Wedding Planning

I've been reading a lot of business and personal management books lately. How to be more efficient, how to be more effective, how to be happier(there is no way to happiness, happiness IS the way. Think about that.), how to be better, faster, stronger, and keep forging ahead. YES! Some of them I've even had the time to finish.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a classic by Stephen Covey. And it occurred to me that these 7 Habits apply really well to wedding planning, too:


1. Be Proactive. Proactivity, Mr. Covey tells me, isn't just a matter of taking initiative, it's a matter of taking RESPONSIBILITY. It's your responsibility to make things happen for your wedding. As a planner, I often hear a lot of cant's and dont's and wont's - "I don't know where to get started planning my wedding", "I don't have a big enough budget", "I don't have enough time to plan my wedding", "My venue won't let me do whatever", "I can't, I don't, I won't, all these outside forces are preventing me from getting my way." Gah! Stop focusing on what you can't do and what's preventing you from doing it, and focus on what you CAN do something about, like finding the solutions to these problems. If you don't know the solution, if you don't have a work-around, keep asking questions and keep looking until you find someone or something that does. It's out there, I promise. Seriously ,all I do all day is ask questions so my couples can get what they want. You are smart and mature enough to decide to get married which means you're smart and mature enough to use your resourcefulness and initiative to get the help you need to have the wedding you want.

2. Begin with the End in Mind
Mr. Covey goes on to explain that that all things are created twice - first in the mind and then physically in the world. I ask every bride and groom that meets with me two questions: 1. What are the three things you MUST have at your wedding? 2. What do you want your guests to feel like at your wedding? That is what you want your wedding to look like. Set your priorities, and keep the answers - the end - in mind as you move forward.

3. Put First Things First

A lot of women get the ring, then run out and get their wedding dress, before they've figured out when and they're getting married, what type of budget they have, how many guests, any of that stuff. I can't really blame them for focusing on the Pretty, a wedding dress has some powerful, poweful mojo. But do yourself a favor and put first things first - DATE, BUDGET, GUEST COUNT, WEDDING AND RECEPTION VENUE. The date may determine what kind of venue you have, your budget will determine how much money you have to spend on everything, including your dress, your guest list will determine how much you need to spend on your wedding and reception per person, you wedding and reception , which is going to take up half your budget, will also determine what you have to spend on everything else, yup, including your dress. See what I mean? I'm not giving you a hard time if you've already got the dress, you just need to work backwards a little. If you're not sure how, well, see #1.


4. Think Win/Win

This is especially important as you're meeting with vendors. You get the services you want at the rate they want. Win/Win. The last vendor you talk to is not the last option you have. Look until you find what you need from someone who is able to give it to you. Make sure you are happy with the deal. DO NOT get yourself into a Lose/Win situation. It's no way to walk into your wedding!
And that applies to personal situations, whether it's your fiance who wants something that you don't, family members,friends, etc. Talk it out, figure out what you're willing to do, what they're wiling to do, to make it work. Go for the Win/Win every time.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
Or, as I like to think of it, "Help Me to Help You." Once you've determined the service you want, ask your vendors what they need to give you what you need. A certain amount of set-up time? A certain amount of space? What's going to help them help you? Communication? Very important when you're planning your wedding.

6. Synergize
My interpretation of this is "Don't re-invent the wheel". Instead of coming up with an entirely different way of doing something, ask someone who would know. For instance, say you've got the venue, but you need a caterer? How do you find a caterer? Ask your venue. Ask your friends. Need a videographer? Ask your photographer. Work together with the resources you have to get what you need. Even better, you'll find people that are comfortable with each other, which means less stress for you.


7.Sharpen the Saw

Wedding planning can take over your life. I've heard many a bride talk about wedding planning being a second job, except that you're spending money instead of earning it. It can be stressful, overwhelming, and just a pain in the ass. When it hits you, do two things: 1. Think about the end of that day, when you will stand together as husband and wife, surrounded by all the friends and family that love you. 2. Get the hell out of the house and do something fun. Don't talk about the wedding, at all. Focus on him, focus on cool things going on in the rest of your lives or in your friends lives. Rejuvenate. Laugh a lot and laugh loudly. Take a break, for crying out loud. Your wedding will be there when you get back.

So, to sum up - Your wedding is your responsibility. If you need help, ask (I, for one, will be happy to help you). Set your priorities. Communication is key. Use the resources you have to get the resources you need. Stop stressing out for a minute and go outside. That's an order.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events
310-801-3602
(All photos by B&G Photography. Thanks, guys!)
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