Ask anyone who works in special events about planning a wedding, and they’ll tell you that putting one together is like taking on a full-time job—which is why many women these days end up hiring a wedding planner. But plenty of employed brides-to-be relish the notion of planning their own nuptials. Basically, the trick is to allow enough time to execute your plan, define clear boundaries on how your wedding will encroach on your job (and vice versa) and stay as organized as possible from start to finish. Read on to see how two Main Line brides worked full time while planning their weddings and lived to tell about it—and how you can, too.
When it comes to planning your big day, the key to staying organized is to have one tool—and one tool only—available for all things wedding. Karen Nudy Pecora of Karen Pecora Events in Berwyn likes to keep things simple. She advises using a three-ring binder as a planner. That way, you can organize it how you want, not how some magazine says you should. “You can use different tabs for each category,” say Pecora, who’s been planning weddings on the Main Line for 15 years. “And you can keep all of your contracts and communications in one place.”
For any bride-to-be, it’s easy to succumb to visions of white tulle dancing in one’s head—just don’t let your boss catch you daydreaming. Mia Washington, 24, of Coatesville, tries to use her lunch hour for wedding-related tasks, so when she’s on the clock, she’s 100 percent on the job.
And stay off the Internet. “It’s very easy to sit at a computer and start a Google search at lunch—and find yourself at 5 o’clock still on the Internet,” says Pecora.
It’s crucial to project a professional image at work. So if you must do something wedding-related, make sure you store your bridal magazine tear sheets, sample menus or any other related materials in your Pecora-recommended binder—and not on your desk.
It’s easy to get caught up in wedding plans to the point where all conversation—personal and professional—seems to revolve around your upcoming nuptials. Though your mind may be elsewhere, always channel the professional at work and save the giddy bride for home. “It’s OK to talk about your wedding when you first get engaged because people understand that you’re excited,” says Pecora. “But then you have to reel that in, so talking about your wedding doesn’t consume every conversation.”
Laura Koster, an account manager at a PR firm in Wayne, found herself in a unique situation when she got engaged in January 2006. “I worked in an office with seven women, so naturally an engagement is exciting,” says Koster, who was married in West Chester in October and now lives in Berwyn. “They threw me a bridal shower. We were very close-knit, and it was a very supportive environment. I’m sure it’s not that way for all women.”
Washington was working at another job when she got engaged. But after she was hired for her current job as a marketing and PR coordinator for the YMCA, she wisely kept her wedding plans to herself at first. “I wanted my present company to see that I was 100 percent ready to work hard for them and not just hear that I was getting married and would be taking time off,” she says.
Eventually Washington told her boss, who is “very supportive of my situation.” Still, Washington talks about her wedding only when co-workers bring up the subject.
If you’re not planning your wedding on your employer’s time and you haven’t hired a planner, when can you possibly find time to plan your wedding? On nights, weekends and days off. “Sometimes it’s hard to budget out time to do everything,” says Washington, who took more than two years to plan her wedding. “But, luckily, many vendors work around a working person’s schedule and are able to meet after work or on weekends.”
Pecora concurs. “The majority of vendors in the bridal industry work evenings,” she says. Weekends are a great time to tour facilities because they’re often set up for weddings. And meeting with vendors when you’re off work means you’ll feel less rushed than if you’d squeezed in a meeting during lunch. Even better, it virtually guarantees you won’t be late getting back to work.
Taking a day off here and there is fine, just so long as skipping work to plan your wedding doesn’t become a habit. Make sure you give your supervisor plenty of notice and always take time off when your office isn’t closing a deal or planning a big event.
Koster had to skip work to apply for a wedding license. “It wasn’t something we could just do on a lunch hour,” she recalls. And it ended up being no big deal, as she’d given her boss plenty of notice.
Something obvious to remember about taking time off: Don’t burn too many personal and vacation hours before your big day. You may need them for the wedding and honeymoon.
If you’re feeling frazzled about your plans, there’s nothing wrong with calling in support. Koster couldn’t have pulled off her wedding without delegating an assortment of tasks to her mother, who lives in Chester County.
“I trusted her to do the initial outreach to vendors,” says Koster, who’d then plan trips home on weekends to meet with vendors approved by Mom.
Pecora also thinks delegating is important—so long as it’s the right person. “Sometimes people say that they want to help, but in reality they don’t have the time,” she says.
Pecora advises communicating with your friends, family and bridal party up-front to see what their availability is down the road should you need help. Ask them to be honest about their schedules. And if all else fails, you can always hire a wedding planner.
“If you’re a perfectionist or you want things done a specific way, hire someone to do it,” says Pecora. “It will take the emotion out of the decision-making, and it may save your relationships.”
It’s likely you’ve run into some controversy when deciding which family members and friends to invite to your wedding. You may face similar sticky situations when considering which work colleagues to include.
Some brides go with an “all or nothing” approach—that is, they invite everyone they work with or no one at all. Of course, if you’ve talked about your wedding at the office and you wind up excluding your work pals, do yourself a favor and do some damage control in advance. Explain to them that you’re unable (due to finances, space constraints or whatever) to extend an invitation to them. Being up-front and honest will protect your professional reputation.
When Koster tied the knot in 2006, she invited everyone from the office, with the exception of two new employees who’d come onboard very close to her wedding date.
Other brides create a rubric for determining whom to invite. For Washington, it was people from her department only. “Luckily, that’s only two,” she says.
Whatever you decide, the bottom line is this: As long as you stay professional and on task at work, you can feel confident your boss’ wedding gift won’t be a pink slip.