How to Project Manage the Sh*t Out of Your Wedding

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Recently engaged and already overwhelmed by the wedding planning process? It might be time to put your project management hat on!

When you think about it, your wedding is essentially just one big project – it’s going to require timelines, checklists, team members, objectives and a budget. Which is why approaching your wedding from a project management perspective might just help you simplify the process.

From establishing your project goals to delegating tasks and creating a schedule for the day, keep reading for our ultimate guide on how to project manage the sh*t out of your wedding!

how-to-project-manage-the-sh*t-out-of-your-wedding!
Photo by Meraki Weddings

Establish Your End Goals

First things first, you’ll want to establish some end goals for the project. What are your key objectives for the day? What will make this project a success?

Each couple is totally different, so your end goal (otherwise known as your wedding vision!) should be unique to you and your partner. Sit down as a team and discuss what your dream wedding looks like and feels like. What are your priorities and values for the day?

If you’re both serious foodies, your priorities might include a beautiful meal and a carefully curated wine list – or, if you consider yourselves party people, maybe a festive atmosphere and live entertainment are going to be at the top of your list! Your priorities can also include things like feeling relaxed on the day, looking your best, or ensuring guests are comfortable.

Take some time to work out your top 5 shared priorities for the day, and use this as your “project criteria” moving forward whenever you’re struggling to make decisions. You’ll want to dedicate more time and money to these priority areas to ensure your objectives are achieved on the day. Grab our free wedding vision worksheet here to help you clearly define your priority list!

how-to-project-manage-the-sh*t-out-of-your-wedding!
Photo by Paula O’Hara

Crunch the Numbers

Just like any other corporate project, your wedding will also need a budget. So, it’s time to crunch some numbers!

To figure out your overall wedding budget, you’ll need to consider your current savings, your capacity for savings in the future, and any financial contributions from family members. Once you’ve arrived at a realistic figure, make sure this also aligns with the amount of money you actually feel comfortable spending in the first place.

After your project budget has been established, you’ll then need to break this down accordingly. You’ll want to create some rough estimates for each project “category” – from venue hire and catering to styling, beauty and entertainment. Not sure how much everything should actually cost? See our wedding budget breakdown for some helpful guidelines to follow.

Next, you’ll need to design a system to track your budget throughout the project. You might want to create a simple excel spreadsheet to list all of your expenses, along with due dates for upcoming invoices. Don’t forget to include ALL outgoing payments, no matter how small – even the miscellaneous costs like postage can start to add up. 

Along the way, you may need to monitor your spreadsheet and make changes to keep your project within budget. For example: if you’ve decided to splurge on flowers, you’ll need to reduce the budget in another area, or plan some additional savings. 

how-to-project-manage-the-sh*t-out-of-your-wedding!
Photo by Amanda Olivia Photography

Create a Project Plan

Every big project needs a detailed project plan! This is where you’ll outline all of the tasks that need to be achieved for your project, along with a timeline for each one. 

Start by dividing your wedding into different categories (eg: venue, catering, attire, styling, miscellaneous). Next, use a digital wedding planner to create a list of tasks required for each category – from the big stuff right down to the nitty-gritty details!

As an example, your “venue” tasks might include:

  • Research wedding venues
  • Book site inspections
  • Secure wedding venue with a deposit
  • Sign and return venue contract
  • Meet with venue coordinator to confirm guest numbers, floor plan and wedding schedule
  • Organise ceremony rehearsal
  • Pay final invoice

While your “catering” section could look like:

  • Research wedding caterers
  • Secure wedding caterer with a deposit
  • Organise and attend menu tastings
  • Finalise wedding menu
  • Send wedding menu to stationery designer
  • Finalise guest numbers
  • Finalise guest dietary requirements
  • Pay final invoice

You can refer to our ultimate wedding planning checklist here to ensure nothing is overlooked!

Once you’ve outlined all of the tasks required to achieve your project, you can then start mapping out an estimated project timeline. Set a due date for each task according to priority, and aim to have all tasks ticked off at least 3 weeks before the day (so you can relax and enjoy the lead-up to your wedding!). 

Each task should also be assigned to the person responsible – whether that’s you and/or your partner, your wedding planner, family or bridal party members. You might want to share your project plan directly with each “team member”, so everyone knows exactly what needs to happen and when!

how-to-project-manage-the-sh*t-out-of-your-wedding!
Photo by Georgia Verrells

Streamline Your Project Management

As a project manager, your time is precious! The average wedding takes over 200 hours to plan – and considering you may also be juggling a career, family and social life, it’s important to streamline the process where possible.

There are a few clever ways you can save time (and stress) to help your project run smoothly. We love these project management hacks for wedding planning: 

  • Create a separate email address for all things wedding admin. Be sure to organise this with relevant folders for each supplier, so you can easily find things like contact information, contracts and quotes. This will also help you “switch off” from the project when you need some downtime!
  • Create a wedding website to share all of the important event details with your guests before the day, such as venue directions, registry information, dress codes and timelines.
  • Go digital with your wedding invitations so that guests can easily RSVP in one click. Online RSVPs also allow you to manage your guest details and dietary preferences in a central location, while following up guests automatically on your behalf.  
  • Batch similar tasks together to save time, like sourcing quotes, signing contracts or paying final invoices.
  • Set automated reminders for your wedding tasks to hold you accountable! Our wedding project management platform will even send you notifications and progress reports so you can see exactly how much you’ve accomplished, and what you need to take care of next.
  • Schedule weekly, fortnightly or monthly wedding planning “meetings” with your partner, to ensure you’re both on the same page. You might even want to go a step further by creating a meeting agenda with the key points for discussion (so you can wrap things up efficiently and get back to watching Netflix!).
how-to-project-manage-the-sh*t-out-of-your-wedding!
Photo by LA76 Photography

Create your Project Run Sheet

Finally, it’s time to create a run sheet or wedding day timeline for the big event.

Your wedding day timeline will become a helpful reference point for everyone involved in the logistics of your day, like your suppliers, venue, bridal party members and MC. It outlines exactly what’s happening throughout the day and when – from the moment you wake up in the morning, right down to getting home at the end of the night.

To create your wedding day timeline, you’ll need to: 

  • Pencil in your key times first – like your ceremony start time, reception start time and reception finish time. 
  • Then, work backwards and forwards to block out time for the other elements of your day – like getting ready, dinner service, wedding portraits and speeches.
  • Next, include the arrival and departure times for each of your wedding suppliers.
  • Finally, include a list of contact names and phone numbers for everyone involved. Make sure you’ve also designated someone as your emergency contact, so you’re not bombarded with phone calls on your wedding morning!

Once your wedding timeline has been created, you’ll ideally want to distribute it to the relevant “team members” at least 2 weeks before the day. See our complete guide on creating your wedding day timeline here!

Allow Space for Change

Our final tip? Expect the unexpected, and always be prepared for change! As with any other big project, there will likely be a few hiccups along the way – whether that’s a rainy weather forecast, a family member who can’t attend, or miscellaneous costs blowing out the budget.

Although it might feel stressful at the time, try not to let these unexpected changes upset you too much. It doesn’t matter if things don’t go 100% as planned – because at the end of the day, you guys will be tying the knot surrounded by the ones you love! So, take a deep breath, be flexible and take it all in your stride. We promise, it will all be worth it in the end.