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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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Give It to Me Straight- Communicating Directly and Constructively

verbal-agression-e1294095402272It is a widely known fact among my family and friends that I am direct. I am not a person who beats around the bush or sugarcoats. The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines beating around the bush as “To speak evasively or misleadingly, or to stall or waste time.” Merriam-Webster’s definition of sugarcoat is, “to talk about or describe (something) in a way that makes it seem more pleasant or acceptable than it is.” Many people I have found tend to dodge or pacify their delivery of certain messages to avoid conflict. Or, they dodge and pacify because being direct makes them uncomfortable. I am not afraid of conflict because I learned how to resolve and manage it efficiently and constructively, which is a skill everyone can learn! Even before learning these skills, I was direct. I have always been this way because I observed when I was growing up that when people are not straightforward they are leaving room for misunderstanding. I also feel there is a misconception that being direct means you must be nasty or hurtful. There is an art to delivering a direct message in such a way that it is received well, and the recipient is not offended.

So what is the best way to deliver a direct message?

  1. Plan out what you will say before the conversation happens.

My fiancé often thought I overly prepared when I was speaking to someone about an uncomfortable topic because I would plan out what I was going to say. However, recently he had an awkward conversation that required directness. He prepared beforehand and in doing so he felt that it assisted with the effectiveness of his delivery. I recommend saying things out loud because hearing the words spoken allows you to critique and alter whatever is needed.

  1. Talk directly to the person who you want to receive the message.

Never relay your message to someone and ask him or her to talk to the person in your place. First, this is a complete cop-out. Second, it can hurt the person’s feelings especially if the message being delivered is a difficult one. While technology has provided many outlets for communication, I believe face-to-face is always best. If you must give a message in a different form make sure you are the one doing it.

  1. Communicate the message honestly, but do not be hurtful.

Anytime a person feels like they are being attacked they will get defensive. The moment someone gets defensive the possibility of conflict increases. There are several ways to deliver a message directly so that it can be well received. I outlined my two favorite tactics below.

Tactic #1 – Ask a question. If a friend is consistently late when meeting you for lunch rather than saying, “Leah, you are late again, I have been waiting for fifteen minutes, and it’s rude.” Most likely, Leah will get defensive. Instead, you could say, “Leah, I noticed you are often running late when we meet for lunch, next meeting would it be more convenient to pick a later time?” The same message is being conveyed, but Leah will be less likely to get defensive.

Tactic #2 – Make a comparison/empathize. When I was on my high school’s dance team, we learned a challenging routine that we would be performing at a basketball game. One of my team members was struggling with a combination. I pulled her aside and said, “I noticed that this combination was giving you a hard time. I had issues with it too; let me show you a trick I used that made it a little easier!” I was able to address directly an issue and show that I too had struggled. Many times when people speak directly to others they can come across as condescending or snobby, pointing out your struggles and flaws can assist in keeping a the conversation balanced.

The more people practice being direct in a non-confrontational way, the least likely misunderstandings will arise.

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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