I now pronounce you … in need of a plan.

I tracked the RSVPs for my daughter’s May wedding like a hawk. During the several-week period when people’s responses were arriving in my mailbox, I would fastidiously add the “number accepted” or “number declined” to the Google doc my daughter and I were using to track the final attendance tally. I was ever mindful of how the ultimate catering estimate changed with the numbers.

The final count was due to the caterer five days before the wedding. 

On the due date, I emailed the caterer and told her the number I (the payer) had decided upon.

The response back from the caterer? “The coordinator said [insert different (and higher) number here].”

That moment paralleled many interactions I have experienced in my professional life: the moment you have to figure out who is in charge.

I sent the caterer a final email, copied my daughter and the wedding coordinator, and extricated myself from almost all of the wedding communications loop so there would be no further confusion.

A wedding is much like a project implementation (but with cake at the end)

I was talking recently with an acquaintance who began working at my previous employer after I left. He referred to a recent tech procurement the organization went through, similar to one I did several times when I was there. It is not an exaggeration to say that one particular procurement experience was among the five hardest professional times of my life. 

I said, “What these procurement/implementations all need is an impartial party keeping the whole thread together—someone whose job it is to make it work but who isn’t emotionally attached to any of the stakeholders.” 

Prior to hiring a wedding coordinator, I had thought our family could put this whole event together on our own. My daughter is scrupulously well organized. My husband and I are not strangers to organizing events. How hard could it be? 

Now that I am on the other side of the process, I see how our coordinator (Rachel) was that “thread.”

She had the time and expertise to be a sounding board for my daughter as the big day approached.

She was persistent in confirming the vendors.

She reminded the groomsmen to bring socks (you’d be surprised).

She told everyone where to stand as part of the wedding party, how to walk in, how to line up, what to do if a ring bearer or flower girl wandered.

Weddings aren’t just about love

You don’t have to have a big wedding to be legally married (I didn’t). But this was my daughter’s dream, and it was important to me to get it right. 

When I think back on the uber-stressful procurement I was talking with my acquaintance about, I see the parallels. 

In the procurement situation, my organization saw things through the filter of the families we served and their needs; the incoming vendor saw the directive to meet deliverables.

Just like a bride’s family is too busy to keep a cadre of vendors in line (and also possibly too unobjective due to family relationships, etc.) and too attached to their ideas of how things should go to take a step back and stick with the original script, you have to have someone who cares about doing a good job but doesn’t care quite as much about what anyone thinks.

In saying “I do,” just like in saying “let’s get this job done,” it’s OK to have someone in the mix who prioritizes checking boxes over sentiment.

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