The job under analysis is a wedding planning project that lasted for 10 months. The concerned couple chose not to hire a wedding planner, so they shared all the planning responsibilities with the bridal team. The following people were involved in the project: the bride, groom, groomsmen (the best man led his group), bridesmaids (the maid of honour led her group), four close friends, the bride’s parents and groom’s parents.
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Project scope, roles and responsibilities and scheduling
The project scope is summarised in the work breakdown structure (refer to the appendix). It covered five major aspects: Initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and closing. The initiation phase entailed coming up with a budget, setting the date, choosing the wedding venue and estimating the number of guests in the event.
The planning phase covered securing the wedding venue, working on the theme and overall look of the location, selection of the caterers, decor, clothing, presiding minister, and entertainment. The third phase involved the monitoring phase where the team would look at the ongoing project activities and compare it with the projected costs and scope.
Some corrective actions were identified and other factors altered in order to meet the control aspects of the team. The fourth phase was execution which involved collecting the dress, transporting the team, catering, and overall implementation of the ceremony. The closing phase involved the honeymoon where the flight to the set destination was determined and payment of cheques.
The roles and responsibilities are specified in the responsibility matrix (refer to the appendix). The bride and groom were in charge of venue selection, cake design, the guest list, invitation design, entertainment, hair and make up, wedding speech, vows, ring choice, honeymoon selection, decor, composition and order of the wedding party, marriage licence, and seating chart.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen handled photography, bachelor and bachelorette party, travel plans and accommodation for the guests, floral arrangements, and their dresses. The four friends in the team looked into table and lighting arrangements, gift registry as well as ushering services in the wedding. The mother and father of the groom and bride handled the financing of the wedding. They also contributed to the creation of the guest list, and the rehearsal dinner.
The project schedule is summarised in the Gantt chart as found in the appendix section. In the first week, the team came up with the date of the venue. It also identified the venue of the church ceremony as well as the reception within that same month (in the fourth week). The team established their budget in the second week of planning. Estimating the number of guests was done concurrently with the budget in the second week. In the subsequent month, the bride and groom reserved the wedding venue.
They worked on the guest list and stuck to their pre-established head count, which was 150. In the ninth month to the wedding, the team booked the minister who would come from the bride’s church. In the second to fourth week of that month, they started getting contact information for a range of event service vendors such as florists, caterers, photographers and live bands.
In the third month of the project, the group hired a videographer and many other photographers in the first week. In the next two weeks, the team booked entertainers by examining a number of live bands and DJs and choosing the most impressive ones. The last week involved meeting caterers and booking them. Window shopping for possible wedding dresses began concurrently.
In the fourth month, the team reserved a hotel room for guests that was close to the wedding venue. The group also registered at three retailers who had a heavy presence near the location of the wedding. In that same month, the group selected a calligrapher who made the invitations.
The bride and groom also prepared for the honeymoon by booking the location, updating their passports as well as streamlining other items that were needed in order to leave the country.
The group started working on the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s tuxedos by shopping for potential vendors. In the last week of the fourth month of planning, the team sent out cards that identified the date of the wedding. They also met with the church minister who informed them about all the documents and processes they had to go through prior to the wedding (Barry 2011).
The fifth month of planning involved working on the utilities, transportation and florist deadlines. At the time, the group booked chairs, lighting aspects and portable lavatories for the event. In the second week, it identified and booked the wedding florist; she would decorate the venue in accordance to a selected theme.
Thereafter, transportation arrangements were made for the wedding party as well as the guests. In the last week, the group started on the schedule for the wedding day such as cake cutting, welcoming the couple, doing the first dance etc. In the sixth month, the group looked into the wedding invitations in order to ascertain that everything went according to plan.
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They team examined a number of cake vendors before selecting and ordering their cake in the second and third week. At this time, the bride started selecting some wedding shoe vendors. She also started doing her first fittings (Barry 2011).
In the seventh month of planning, some hair and makeup artists were examined and one was one of each was selected. At this time, the team also worked on the music that would be involved in the event; some of it would be played at dinner, during the reception as well as in the evening party.
In the third and fourth weeks of the seventh month, the team finished selection of the flower and menu components. It also compiled a list of the people who would speak during the reception and consulted with them. The bride and her party also ordered for undergarments and did fittings. Project team members completed the order of events in the church ceremony and the reception. They printed menu cards, bought the rings and send the order of events to their vendors.
In the ninth month of planning, the group evaluated its position by meeting with all the vendors and ensuring that they were on course. They determined ways of meeting their set deadlines in a cost efficient and faster way. They met with photographers on some of the shots to be taken, and the band and deejays on song lists. The group then sent out the invitations so as to provide guests with a six-week window to prepare for the wedding. The bridesmaid organised a bachelorette party at the end of this month (Barry 2011).
In the tenth month, the bride and groom followed up on people who did not respond to the invitations. They also worked on the marriage license and mailed invitations for the rehearsal dinner. The bridal party visited dressmakers for their last fitting. Drinks were ordered, confirmations for hair and make up were made and seating assignments were also done. The venue was decorated in accordance to the theme.
One week prior to the wedding, the team confirmed the arrival times for all vendors as well as delegated point mans for each of these vendors. The group picked up the dressed and wrote cheques for the concerned members. Spa treatments were done involving manicures and pedicures a day prior to the wedding.
The caterer received her last guest list 72 hours to the wedding. Welcome baskets were made, and the bride and groom packed for their honeymoon. On the morning of the wedding, makeup and hair were done and the wedding party transported. The project culminated with the wedding day where most of the planned activities went according to plan expect for a few hiccups.
An assessment of the wedding planning project
The project management triangle is a useful tool in examining the level of success within a certain project. It works by looking at the constraints within the project and the team’s ability to cope with them (Harrison & Lock 2004). Shown below is diagrammatic illustration of the project management triangle.
One of the components of the project management triangle is the project scope. Scope management involves identifying all the work that will be required in order to complete the project successfully (Kousholt 2007). These activities often stem from needs of the stakeholders, who in this case were the members of the team. The bride and groom wanted a standard wedding with approximately 150 guests. They opted to have a church ceremony and reception at the same venue.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen were 12 in number. They also had a ring bearer and someone who accompanied him; these two were ten years old. The wedding was to take place inside the city. For accomplishment of all activities, the group needed to outline the responsibilities for carrying the out the tasks before hand. The bride and groom had a rough idea about the activities as seen through the budget that they made at the beginning of the project.
However, the budget was a big generalisation that merely covered general sections. The project team leaders should have clarified all the project activities in order to minimise confusion and time wastage. In other words, they should have had a project scope statement. Furthermore, every member of the group should have been responsible for particular activities. The team preferred assigning these tasks as they went along. They would have been more organised if they had laid this out from the beginning.
The group had not accommodated certain aspects of the planning process. For instance, it did not think about the soil conditions inside the chosen venue. Two days prior to the wedding, the couple realised that the entrance to their venue was partly flooded. They had to ask a number of colleagues to assist them by adding gravel and dry soil on that same day. If they had planned for this condition, then they would not have to request for favours from their friends.
The wedding couple did not plan for vendors’ meals. The food was supposed to accommodate only 150 guests, inclusive of the bridal team. However, on the day of the wedding, the bride and groom realised that there were approximately 15 additional mouths to feed, and they were all vendors.
The project team had not accounted for this group when making the food arrangements. Consequently, the project leaders had to convince the caterers to feed the group and pay for them later. It was a situation that caused a lot of confusion in the course of wedding, yet it could have been avoided if the project scope was well done.
With regard to the time needed to complete the project; the team had ample time to prepare for the wedding. The ideal time is usually 12 months, but the 10 months that the project team had to do their job was sufficient (The Knot 2009). The wedding planners in the group had very strict restrictions about time because once the wedding date was chosen, it could not be altered.
The group did not have a comprehensive project scope, so this also undermined its scheduling. Wedding planners always work from the project scope activities in order to specify the time needed for each one. Furthermore, the team mostly worked in terms of months or weeks; it should have narrowed down these tasks to daily responsibilities in order to make the most of their time.
A good time schedule ought to be one that accommodates emergencies (Stevens 2002). The project team made a wedding program and order of events without considering possible time delays. The bride was one hour late owing to traffic. The team did not check on competing activities near the venue that could affect the traffic situation.
It turned out that there was a charity event near the chosen location thus explaining why there were so many people heading to the same area. Risk management is an important part of a wedding planner’s duties, so the group should have anticipated this risk and accommodated it in their plans.
In order to save time, the project team should have used its vendors to lead them to other vendors. For instance, if they visited a photographer, they should have asked for references on reputable florists. Instead, the couple and their team preferred to deal with vendors separately. They spent too much time comparing the vendor services available and this added to the pressure that they had to deal with towards the wedding date.
Costs refer to the budgetary constraints of the project. A standard 150 person wedding will require a £37,000 budget (The Knot 2009). However, the bride and groom only had about £20,000 for the same number of people.
Therefore, the team needed to use creative ways in order to accommodate the dreams and wishes of the bride and groom. One way in which they achieved this was by selecting the same venue for the church ceremony and the reception. The group also did a good job of comparing prices in order to make sure that they settled for the most cost effective vendors.
Since the wedding entailed a budget that was almost less than half of the ideal amount, then the project team should have thought about other ways of saving money. Wedding purchases were done separately; none of these were consolidated into one specific payment system such as a credit card.
Furthermore, the group did not maximise on some of the opportunities that existed prior to committing to a vendor. It was possible for the team to negotiate the duration of their meal courses. For instance, dessert might last for more than one hour if the project members asked the vendors for it.
Vendors are often willing to give bonuses and other incentives before clients commit to them. When clients make requests about additional features later on in the contract, then vendors may have less motivation to meet those needs (Dinsmore 2005). It was difficult for the bride and groom to get certain additions that had not been specified in the contract because it was already too late. Consequently, they had to pay extra to have these needs met.
On the other hand, the team was favoured by the number of guests who confirmed their interventions. The final guest list reduced by 27 after a number of people cancelled. The simplest way to cut wedding costs is to reduce one’s guest list as this has a direct effect on expenses. Luckily, the project team did not have to make this decision; it was already made for them. Furthermore, the project leaders were strict about the people who could accompany the invitees. All members were only allowed to bring one additional person.
A lot of extra expenses arose at the last meeting, such as covering the muddy part of the venue, paying for extra meals for the vendors among others. The project team anticipated last minute problems, and thus allocated some extra financing for the same. The major problem was that it was not enough.
As a rule of thumb, a wedding team ought to leave 5-10% of their budget for these emergencies (Systemation 2012). The group chose the lower end of the recommendation (5%) for their wedding. If they had designated a larger sum for emergencies, then they wouldn’t have to ask for favours from friends as the case was with the issue of mud.
All aspects of the outer project triangle (cost, scope and schedule) have a direct effect on the quality of the project. If the scope is large, then the team would need to increase on time and cost. Failure to adjust these last two parameters could compromise on the quality of the project. Furthermore, if a project has a small budget, then it needs to increase the amount of time allocated to project activities as well as reduce the project scope.
A small time frame necessitated increased costs and minimisation of the scope. In the case of the wedding, the team had a smaller budget than expected; it needed to have a large amount of time and a smaller scope. The wedding party could not increase the time available for the project so it should have thought of this aspect earlier. However, it had the opportunity to minimise the scope, which it did not do successfully (Kerzner 2003).
The turn out in the wedding was quite on point; however, it seemed a little crowded. Waiters, guests, and entertainers occupied every bit of space in the venue. The team ought to have thought about manoeuvring space when selecting the location. Some guests had to struggle in order to use the rest rooms or make their way to the podium.
The seating arrangement also exacerbated the situation by requiring most of the guests to pass through a series of other individuals in order to get to their places in the middle of the row. Circular arrangements might have helped. Furthermore, members appeared to wait too long for the cocktails during the evening party, yet this could have been improved.
It is a rule of thumb that one bartender can comfortably handle 50 guests; therefore, the party needed three bartenders in order to offer superior services. However, the evening party only had two thus causing many guests to wait in line before getting their cocktails.
Besides the project triangle, the project management cycle (with five phases) can also assist one in understanding what could have been improved in the wedding. In this cycle, project members must start with the initiation phase, and then proceed to the planning phase. Afterwards, they should monitor, implement and finally finish the project. Although the project team tried to follow these phases, as described in the scope, there were a number of things that could have been done differently to alter results.
The project initiation phase was arguably the most crucial aspect of the project plan because without it the rest of the project would not have had direction. This phase ought to have a project charter in which the members identify the tasks, deliverables, schedules and costs of the project (Ireland 2006).
The bride and groom did not do a comprehensive project initiation because they merely had a rough idea of what was to come. Most of the members did not know about the tasks involved until later on in the project. Project initiation also encompasses carrying out a stakeholder analysis, which could have been done in a better way. The team underestimated vendors’ food requirements, which could have been avoided if they had identified them as stakeholders in the project.
A financial analysis ought to be done in initiation through the budget. Although the team had a budget, it would have been more effective if they made it more specific and if they had set aside more money for emergencies. Perhaps the most important aspect of the initiation phase is setting measurable goals.
The group did not have explicit goals, which could have been their greatest undoing. The party should have stated what they wanted concerning all the wedding deliverables and possibly quantified each of the goals. They should also have provided timelines for all the concerned aspects.
As with the initiation phase, the planning phase also determines how successful a group can be in achievement of its objectives. This aspect involved project team selection, creation of a work breakdown structure, estimation of costs, scheduling and risk planning. In the project team, some deficiencies could be seen in risk planning as the group had not anticipated challenges that arose on the very day of the wedding.
There were also deficiencies in the work breakdown structure since the bride and groom seemed to be doing almost everything. They should have designated at least one team member to help them out with their tasks or give an opinion on their choices.
When doing project planning, members need to determine the activities that are needed in order to achieve certain deliverables and then arrange them in a logical sequence. The bridal team did not follow this aspect thus explaining why they were rather haphazard in the completion of their tasks.
The phase entails completion of project scheme. Some of the deliverables needed to be revisited in order to ascertain that they were in order during the wedding (Lewis 2000). For instance, although the bride’s and bridesmaid’s dresses had been completed, the parties needed to go back for a last fitting, so this took up a lot of time.
Additionally, execution of other deliverables could only be done on the wedding day, such as floral arrangements, food and photography. Therefore, the team had to keep confirming that everything was in order. Although different members were in charge of the project tasks on the actual day of the wedding, it would have been more effective, if these individuals took on leadership of the deliverables prior to the wedding day.
Monitoring encompasses observation of project execution in order to identify problems and take corrective action. It should occur in three phases that include measurement of project activities, assessing project variables and taking of corrective action. In this plan, the group only met once to assess the entire project. Other meetings mostly focused on specific deliverables. The team appeared to lack a holistic approach, yet this is indispensable. There was need for a more systematic approach to problem solving and corrective actions in the report.
It was difficult to finalise or close a wedding planning project because some activities coincided with actual occurrence of the wedding. However, once the deliverables were received, then the group knew that it had accomplished its goals. Contract settlement can also by another way of indicating that the project is complete. Most of the vendors were paid on the wedding day via cheques.
Planning and initiation phases of the project were the most sensitive aspect of the project. If the wedding was redone, the group ought to have a clear scope statement and measurable goals for all the deliverables (Carayannis 2005). They can achieve this by specifying what they require on the wedding day and then work backwards.
An example of an overall project goal for them would be “To prepare for a resort-themed wedding that caters to 150 guests for £20,000 in ten months time”. In addition to having a scope statement and clear measurable goals, team members need to create a time schedule for all the major and minor tasks in the project. This should allow them to effectively monitor the project by comparing where they are with where they need to be.
A number of strategies are available to cut down on costs if the team has the same amount of money to work with in a similar project. First, all wedding-related purchases can be placed in one card so as to accumulate bonuses. The bride and groom can then use the bonuses to pay for their honeymoon and thus save costs. Additionally, they need to request for incentives prior to signing contracts with their vendors.
This will prevent them from having to pay extra for them during the project. With regard to meals, the team should have a less expensive meal plan for support staff in order to minimise feeding costs. The group should leave 10% of the budget for emergencies; otherwise, the project leaders may get into debt.
The group could also save on time by checking on potential activities that may be taking place near the wedding venue. If there are other activities, then transportation should begin early. Sticking to the time schedule laid out in the project planning phase could also help (Hamilton 2004). The party should also examine the location of the wedding to ensure that even the external area is in good condition. Visitors from out of town should be accommodated near the venue of the wedding in order to minimise delays.
There are number of things that could be done in order to improve the quality of the event. First, the party should consider making circular arrangements so as to facilitate ease of movements. It should also look for a bigger venue in order to provide guests with 25-30 square feet of space. The entities should also use one vendor to gain access to other vendors as this will give them access to reputable providers. More bartenders are needed for the same number of guests.
The project team could have been more coordinated and organised. If the project had been done differently, then the team ought to compile images of things they like from magazines in one binder. The same file should also contain observations and communications made with vendors. Instead of relying on memory, the project leaders should always write important things down and put them in one location that they can access easily. Even the cell phone numbers of the vendors should be stored in the same document.
The wedding planning project was a success even though no professional project leader was hired. Perhaps it was this lack of a professional that caused the team to adopt a haphazard approach to project management techniques.
An improvement in project initiation and planning phases would have led to better outcomes. The team needed to have a specific time schedule as well as a comprehensive scope statement and measurable goals. It is likely that those changes would have prevented some of the hiccups that occurred on the wedding day.
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