2/21 Real Bride Megan: Strategic Planning Cycle

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After spending six years in the military, I’m known to apply my military training in daily life, even after getting out. For wedding planning, I liberally applied the strategic planning cycle theory. Mostly unintentionally, but once I realized what was happening, I went with it.


The down side is that I begin to use military terminology around people that have no idea what I’m talking about. I considered the beginning of the wedding planning process like research and development (R&D). In the military it means that you should brainstorm all the best ideas! But just go ahead and be aware that we won’t select any of those. We’ll select the cheapest option, probably.

R&D is the best and worst part of any project for me, for multiple reasons:

– Ideas are endless. (But, I need somewhere to start. Someone please point me in the right direction, otherwise, I’m going to drown in all these ideas.)
– I could do all these things!  (But all of these things have to be within my budget.)

See how bittersweet R&D is?

Wedding R&D was simultaneously overwhelming and exciting. After getting a date range from our potential German guests, I got the ball rolling. At any given point in time, my computer had no less than 10 tabs open at once, with a majority of those tabs being potential wedding vendors. At first it was way more than that, but eventually, I started narrowing down realistic options.

Timo told me that he wanted to be involved in the process which was great for me. It meant that he vetted all decisions or helped me choose between several options before I sent out notification to the vendors we had selected. What this really meant for him was that for one week, we had appointments every day after work. We met with a photographer, a coordinator and scoped out two different venues. We rarely plan things on “school nights” because we’re actually old people that live inside 30-something bodies and we thrive on routine and consistency. It was truly an exhausting week, but well worth the exhaustion.

While Timo went to those appointments with me, there was a constant stream of activity that he wasn’t seeing. Activity that was leading to frustration and heartache and disappointment.

I’m a nerd at heart and I often struggle with the belief that my way is the right way and if you’d have done it my way the first time, we wouldn’t be here rehashing the thing. This wouldn’t have mattered except that I was using the Internet as my primary resource of all things Wedding R&D. The problem I was running into was crappy websites. Another struggle I have is my high expectations. I feel that businesses have expectations to meet with their website. If people go to a website, they are often looking for specific information.

In the case of wedding vendors, people who visit the website are often looking for availability, prices and how to contact said business. So many websites I was looking at were missing pertinent information. Other websites were disappointing in other ways. They may have had all their pricing info, but to find the contact info was a hurdle. They may have had a contact page, but the page would be practically illegible because of contrast/font issues. Even worse were the vendors that didn’t actually have a website, only a Facebook page.

As I mentioned, I may have some high expectations. But as a bride-to-be and someone that is about to drop some cash into the wedding industry, I feel like my expectations were mostly reasonable. You should have an actual website (a Facebook page does not count in my book). I should be able to read your website. I should not have to contact you to find out pertinent information about your services. While I understand that initiating contact means that I’m possibly more likely to use your services, I’m just as likely to waste our time when I find out your services are way over my budget.

I spent a week and a half in R&D before moving on to the decision-making part of the cycle when I started presenting Timo with options.

Our budget is $10,000.
The initial breakdown looked like this:
Music: $500
Food/Cake: $1500
Alcohol: $500
Venue: $1200
Photography: $4000
Dress, etc.: $1000
Suit, etc: $300
Rings: $1000
Paper: $300
Wedding Planner/DOC: $1000
Tips/Paperwork: $500
Decorations: $500
Total: $12,500 (oops).

Already something had to give and I knew, much to my dismay, where it had to come from: photography.
I am well aware that a good budget that is flexible, so I was prepared to sacrifice.

With options in mind and numbers to beat, we started making decisions.

Did you have to make sacrifices in your budget?  Where did you cut from?  What did you add money towards?  Did you over or under estimate?  Did you include your honeymoon in your wedding budget?




Megan emulates an old-lady in Charleston, SC. She's a fan of the oxford comma, all things Disney, most things chocolate, handy-dandy notebooks, earning medals for running, giving inanimate objects names, and laziness. Timo, Phil, and Meri alternate between driving Megan insane and keeping her sane. She knows it's all about balance, but if you could please pass the run, or the gin will do, too. When she isn't wedding planning, she blogs at Can I Decide Another Day?.