Business Lessons I’ve Learned from Planning my Wedding

Everyone pictures being engaged as Pinterest-perfect. You’re marrying the love of your life, you get to fulfill the dreams and ideas you’ve had since you were a little girl. In reality, I’ve found that planning a wedding often feels like running a business, and that requires budgeting, delegating tasks, and even legal processes as you go through changing your name and joining finances.

While I’m not a business expert, I have learned some lessons while planning my wedding that closely resemble the business world.

1. Know your vision

Your wedding can’t be everything to everyone; figure out what you’re aiming for. This goes beyond just identifying your color schemes. There are church weddings and destination weddings. Weddings that focus on creating a jaw-dropping experience and weddings that focus on your friends and family. Party weddings that end at 3 AM and weddings your puritan grandmother would approve of.

Likewise, as a business you must have a vision for where you’re going and how you’re going to operate. It’s important to identify your goals (both for your clients and for you), and how those goals work together. Once you have a clear vision of what you want your business to be, step back and consider—are you consistently implementing your vision and staying true to your values? If not, what needs to change?

2. Understand the scope of your undertaking

Your mother may want 2,000 guests and a registry as long as the 1994 census, but is that a reasonable undertaking for you? Be realistic. You likely don’t have an unlimited budget, so you have to start prioritizing what you want to invest in. You also have a stress limit; consider how much sleep is worth losing over this wedding.

With your business, you are the one steering the ship. While supply and demand may impact your course, and the unexpected may happen at any time, you must have a clear understanding of the resources and opportunities that will facilitate your operations. Consider your short-term and long-term projections, and what reasonable investments you are prepared to make. Analyze what resources you’ll need – both financial and staffing – to reach your goals.

3. Make a game plan

Many brides are soon hit by a wall of stress. Everything is ahead, and everything needs to be done in a short timeframe. When you don’t know who is doing everything, or even what there is to do, it is easy to be overwhelmed.

Having everything looming ahead of you will do you no favors when it comes to stress or efficiency. Write things down, including dates and people involved. At Kolbeco, we call it a blueprint, which captures each project, each task, deadlines and assignments. This provides a structure to pull everything together, and serves as a communication tool to collaborate and keep the ball rolling. When in doubt, write it down, talk it out, and write down some more.

4. Learn to delegate

You cannot do it all by yourself. Find people you trust and let them operate according to their strengths. Sometime that means a friend, and sometimes that means a vendor. Either’s fine, but you cannot do it all.

Likewise, it’s not realistic for you, the business owner, to do everything yourself. It’s important to get the right team of players in place to help you execute upon your vision. You’ll find that others have strengths and points of view that complement yours, and make getting the job done well more efficient. It also may not be realistic for your business to do everything in house, so outsourcing certain functions may be wise. Ultimately, you focus on doing what you do best, and let others do what they do best.

5. Build Community

All those wonderful ladies at your church or your mom’s book club? They want to know what’s going on. They’ll be celebrating with you, so take time to keep them informed. It’s incredible what networking can happen from a simple conversation. Before you know it you may have 100 yards of tulle someone said you could have for free, or even just a note of encouragement. Your community is important and very often helpful; don’t cut yourself off just because you are busy.

For businesses, it’s important to not only stay networked with other businesses, but also to stay in touch with your client base. If there’s something coming down the pipeline, let them know, let them get hyped. If they reach out to you, reply to them in a timely manner. Go above and beyond for them. Support them in any way you can, even if it has nothing to do with business. They are your community, and community helps each other.

6. Be Flexible

There are many things that can go wrong before a wedding (and during, and after, but let’s just stick to before for now). From realizing your dream dress wouldn’t come in on time, or finding out your dream venue is booked for the next five years, at some point your vision and goals will be stunted. In the end it won’t affect whether or not you get married. You can either let it ruin your mood, or find the next best option.

As much as you plan, budget and delegate, things will fall through. Unfortunately you can’t plan for these mishaps, but expect that something will and be prepared to respond positively.

7. Keep your eye on the prize

In the end, your wedding isn’t really about your wedding; it’s about your marriage. One day with 300 hundred people is not nearly as important as the rest of your life with that one special someone. Are your priorities straight? Are you spending more time on the wedding than with your future spouse?

In business it’s important to differentiate between your vision and your mission. You may have a vision of the business achieving recognition and running like a Swedish clock, which is great, but that is not your mission. Don’t get so caught up in the cogs and the details you lose sight of the reason behind it all. You need detailed planning and realistic goals for your business to run at all, but never forget why you started the process in the first place.

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