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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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Cat Fight: Strategies for Disarming Bullying

cat fightI joined a graduate chapter of a very prestigious women’s organization. I was extremely active and financially supportive during my tenure. So you can imagine my shock when two ladies approached me at a group event one day and tried to get all cat fight and “I don’t like you just because” on me. I went from all smiles to being very disappointed about their poor behavior. It was at that moment that I realized that these women were actually trying to bully me.

When you belong to a prestigious organization there are rules that govern a member’s actions and interactions. So to keep in line with those rules, I was lady-like in the face of their bullying behavior. I really wanted to spew out the salt fire pumice that laid on the tip of my tongue onto them but instead, I slowed down the very essence of time by using the fullness of my dark brown eyes to pause the moment. So with a cold hard stare, I slowly invited them to enjoy the rest of the event.

This action did de-escalate the tension in the room and it did give me space to respond in a centered, grounded and empowered manner. I guess Louise and William Senft would say that I was “Being Relational with a Bully”. I know that this seems counter intuitive, but that technique actually worked. After I de-escalated the situation, I knew that I needed to gain perspective of what needed to be done next. I also pulled a little real-life wisdom from my big brother, Mirum.

Now my brother, who was an amazing fashion designer, was extremely funny and wise. During Fashion Week at his college he would often use me as a model for his clothing line. Before hitting the runway he would whisper “Don’t forget to flair your skirt honey.” Let’s envision that the skirt represented the national organization and the chapter represented the pockets that held the monthly dues. Hold that picture in your mind, now visualize that the members in good standing (like me) are the coins and the members acting poorly are the holes in the pockets of the skirt.

Expanding this conflict allowed me to see the financial interest of both the chapter and the national organization. At first, I just saw the ladies trying to be systematically mean toward me and others, but when I expanded the conflict, I noticed how their bullying behavior hurt our chapter as a whole. As a result, I took my grievance and documentation along with my account of my volunteer and financial support to the chapter president and asked; “Is this type of behavior reflective of this chapter?” Long story short, the “cat fight” for me was over! From that point forward those girls were busy with a whole new set of issues that eventually involved them, the chapter president and the national office.
In the end, my response was effective, but it also was a process. If you can keep the following tools in mind, you can create enough space and perspective to work on a possible solution for you too. Those tools are:

Deescalate the situation the best you can. I used a pause and stare.
Take time to respond, meaning just pause to think before you speak
Expand your view of the conflict. This means to do your best to identify the interest of all parties involved and look at the whole picture. Take a moment to objectively look at the entire situation.

Until next time, happy living everybody

Lauren Thompson Andrews
Graduate Student Intern
University of Baltimore – Conflict Negotiation/ Conflict Management

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