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Organization and Communication – Surefire Ways to Reduce Conflict When Planning Your Wedding

love-1284492_1920Did you know that there are 6,200 weddings a day in the US and that June is the most popular month for weddings in the US? According to Sound Vision’s article on wedding statistics, the average wedding budget is $20,000 with 178 guests attending the event.  Organizing a wedding is no small feat when it comes to communicating a vision, creating a plan and coordinating all of the moving parts including service vendors, bridal parties, family members and guests.

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful process whether you are having a large or small event. There is potential for conflict to arise all the time, particularly between the bride and groom. My husband Bernard and I are newlyweds; we got married in September of 2015, and we had a 200 person wedding in the city of Baltimore.

I won’t sugarcoat anything, despite being the happiest day of our lives, planning a wedding of that size was incredibly stressful and overwhelming at times. However, the one key way I minimized the stress and sidestepped a lot of conflicts resulting from untold details was remaining organized and constantly communicating. On more than one occasion, vendors would say that I was the most organized and communicative bride they had ever met; a title I wear proudly.

Why are organization and communication so important when planning a wedding? 

Unless you are lucky enough to have a wedding planner, chances are the bride and groom (but most likely the bride), are doing the majority of the planning. There is a lot of details that go into making the day the magical one you envisioned. Being able to keep track of everything is necessary to ensure miscommunication and confusion don’t lead to conflicts.

How can brides stay organized and effectively communicate when planning their wedding?

  1. Get a Binder. My binder became my bible during the planning of our event. I had it organized into sections by the vendor; and I included my contract, pictures of what I wanted, etc. from each particular vendor filed in their section. While I know, it may be easier to have everything located on the web somewhere; I enjoyed having something tangible to hold so I didn’t have to sort through my phone to find stuff.
  1. Imagine What You Want. I am a very decisive person so when it came time to plan our wedding I had a very clear-cut idea of what I wanted which I think made things much easier when delivering my vision to our vendors. I know not every bride is like that, so vendors are great resources for sharpening your ideas. However, it important that you go in with some idea for them to springboard off of that way you don’t end up with a theme or colors you didn’t want.
  1. Ask Questions. I had a vendor tell me they felt like they were in an interview when I came to inquire about using their services because I asked so many questions. Before my first meeting with each vendor, I Googled, ” Questions to ask your [ fill in vendor].” I found that I not only covered a lot of ground, but I was able to see if they would be the best fit for the event.
  1. Create an Itinerary. You may think this is a little much, but I strongly recommend sending out an itinerary the week before your wedding to anyone who is involved: vendors, bridal party, readers, etc. The itinerary I created for our bridal party beginning with the rehearsal and ending with ceremony covered everything they needed to know from what to wear to the rehearsal and times they needed to be there to a checklist of what they needed to bring the day of the wedding. By sending this plan out, I was able to minimize my stress the night of the rehearsal and the actual wedding day, and I avoided having to answer repetitive questions.
  1. Speak Up. I have heard many brides complain after the fact that they didn’t like something a vendor/bridal party/family member did; or were disappointed by something a vendor/bridal party/ family member didn’t do. My rule is if you don’t say it or clarify it you cannot expect them to know what you wanted or didn’t want. Many brides fear being labeled a “Bridezilla” but if you hold back your wishes or don’t make sure everyone understands when things don’t go as planned you cannot blame anyone but yourself.

 

Have a Great Weekend,

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

 

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The Gifts that Keep on Giving – Forgiveness, Communication and Peace. Holiday Gift Giving that doesn’t cost a dime!

gift-687265_1280December has now become a month full of stress and anxiety over picking the best gift. There is no disputing that Christmas has become a commercialized holiday where the whole point appears to be finding and giving the best gift to your loved ones. I created a holiday gift list in a previous post, presenting my picks for presents to give this season to the peace-lover in your life. I also compiled a gift list this week for those who find themselves in conflict with a loved one; that wouldn’t cost you anything.

Forgiveness. The ability to forgive someone can be difficult, especially when a lot of damage and heartache has occurred. Holding on to grudges and anger can be detrimental to your health and can destroy your relationships. The holiday season is the perfect time to let go and forgive. How can you forgive?

  1. Look inward and analyze. Acknowledge your feelings and take a moment to think about what and why you are feeling the way you do.
  2. Invite a face-to-face dialogue. Invite the person to have a conversation. Then, speak to the person directly, expressing your honest feelings letting them know you want to forgive and move forward.
  3. Write a letter. I lost a family member suddenly a couple of months ago, and before their passing, I had felt a lot of anger and hurt towards him. I lost the ability to express my feelings to him verbally, so I wrote him a letter and found that filling the pages was very therapeutic and allowed me to let go of my anger and hurt. You can write a letter to someone who is still here as well; you could seal and give it to them or not, that choice would be up to you!

Communication. The gift of communication to a loved one you are in conflict could change the course of your relationship. Effective communication allows you to build rapport and trust. Defensive communication causes confusion, anger, and blame, etc. The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your loved ones and resolve conflicts. How can you communicate effectively?

  1. Actively listen. The point here is to speak less and listen more.
  2. Clarify. Miscommunication arises when you don’t clarify what a person says, which then causes false assumptions and confusion. An example: Aunt Mary told Aunt Penny she needed to bring another dessert for Christmas dinner. Aunt Penny agreed to bring a dessert but didn’t clarify what kind of dessert Aunt Mary already had. Christmas day arrives, and Aunt Penny arrives with homemade gingerbread cookies only to find that Aunt Mary had already made that same family recipe. An abundance of gingerbread cookies is not a huge conflict, but if Aunt Mary was hoping for variety, she might be annoyed.
  3. Practice. Good communication requires practice, so listen often, ask curious questions to show you care. This is the ultimate gift.

Peace. Merriam-Webster defines peace as, ” a state in which there is no war or fighting; an agreement to end a war; a period when there is no war or fighting.” Achieving world peace in time for Christmas seems a bit unattainable, but peace with your loved ones is something that can be achievable. How can you achieve peace this holiday season?

  1. Apologize. Say, “I’m sorry” genuinely for whatever wrongdoing you might have done.
  2. Take a time out. If two weeks is not enough time to work through a conflict and an apology just won’t be enough, speak with your opposer and suggest putting the conflict aside for the holidays.
  3. Be empathetic. Try placing yourself in the other’s shoes. A favorite quote of mine by Ian Maclaren proposes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” During the holiday season, the battle could be financial, emotional, physical, or mental, so be kind because you never know what someone might be experiencing.

The gifts given during the holiday season do not need an expensive price tag. A simple act of forgiveness, communication, or extending an olive branch for peace could bring more cheer to a loved one you are in conflict with than any store- bought gift you find.

 

Happy Holidays,

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

 

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Repairing Relationships: How to Handle Conflict with Friends

FriendConflictClipartConflict really is inevitable in our lives. Whether it is with a neighbor or a coworker, conflicts of any size can easily arise. I am reminded of that fact, when I found myself recently in an unexpected conflict with my roommate. I have lived with the same student for almost three years now, and we have been friends even longer. The two of us have similar interests, get along pretty well and have not experienced any major conflicts over the past years as roommates. There have obviously been minor conflicts and verbal disagreements, but never anything serious or prolonged.

A couple of weeks ago my roommate asked me to pick up a prescription from the store. I went to the store, but it was too late, and the pharmacy had already closed. The next day I texted my roommate and told him that I would be able to go to the store after my class, but that I was really busy. He replied and asked for some apple sauce. I went to the store and was waiting to pick up his prescription, but the pharmacist repeated there was nothing in the system with my roommate’s name. After texting my roommate and waiting in the store for a while, I received a reply from him saying that he already picked it up earlier. I got upset that he did not let me know, and I had been waiting in the store the whole time for no reason. Due to an already stressful day, I got home and started arguing with him. After a few pointless insults had been thrown back and forth, he went into his room, and we did not talk for a couple of days.

I was upset that he did not communicate with me, and he did not seem to care that I unnecessarily went to the store and waited for a prescription that was not there. In contrast, he was upset by the way I reacted to the situation. After a few more days, we eventually started to talk to each other, and both agreed to sort things out. I apologized for entering the situation so angrily and starting the heated argument. In the end, it came down to a simple miscommunication. When I texted him about going to the store after class, my roommate interpreted that I was simply going to the store and not specifically for his prescription. Misinterpretations like this often lead to misunderstandings, lack of communication and often to snap judgments and angry reactions.

It is interesting how conflicts can easily arise between friends and even family members. After letting the conflict with my roommate settle, we started to communicate again and eventually resolved the conflict. An article in the Huffington Post, written by Rory Vaden, discusses some Rules of Relationship Conflict Resolution that can be helpful when dealing with conflict between friends. The first rule draws attention to not yelling and escalating the emotional aspect of the conflict. When one person begins the screaming match, it is common for the other individual to return the aggression, and this just delays any chance of resolution. The next rule stresses the fact that we should always remind the other individual that we want to resolve the issue and that we care about them. If you are arguing with the other person, it is important to remind each other of the major goals of finding a solution to the issue. The third rule states the importance of being able to accept that you may have a made a mistake even though you do not believe you did. This rule may be difficult for some people to implement because it is hard to admit mistakes and accept responsibility for your part of the problem. Still, if another person is clearly angry at you, there is a good chance that you played some role, however small, in that conflict.

Finally, I feel like the most important rule in the article focuses on striving to be the first to apologize when a conflict arises. Even though this may seem like you are admitting fault to the issue, you are taking a crucial step by opening communication and allowing for the conflict to be resolved. Ultimately, it is not about who is right, but rather focuses on the right way for us to solve this conflict.

John Wagner

Student Intern

Salisbury University – Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution

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