February 5, 2010

Critical Care

Posted in Planning at 4:03 pm by Andrea

When I first graduated from grad school about four years ago, I got a job in Toronto with a well-known non-profit. I handled a lot of their internal and external communications: writing employee memos, handling media calls, organizing media events etc. Since a lot of this work was extremely deadline driven, my boss tried to make sure that we had plans in place ahead of time. One day she came into my office and told me I needed to, “get a critical path together right away!” Being the green, eager-to-please new grad that I was, I confidently said, “Sure thing!” My boss was barely out of sight when I picked up my phone and called my then coworker (and now super cool friend) and in a panicked voice asked, “What is a critical path?!” Turns out she didn’t know either. Ultimately Google provided me with the answer and all was once again right with the world.

A Critical Path is basically a detailed plan. You look at the project you have ahead of you (like, um, I don’t know, a wedding?!) and work backwards to determine all the steps that need to occur between the now and the end of the project. Then you set deadlines for every single task, and these deadlines ensure that tasks gets completed in the correct order and that, ultimately, if you follow the critical path, you will have your project/event/deliverables all ready at the right time. You know, all your ducks in that proverbial row.

So, ever since that fateful day in the summer of 2006, I have treated critical paths as though they are my best friend. I use them for every project and mention my love of them in every job interview. So, obviously, I needed me some wedding critical path action.

So, yesterday, I decided to make use of my sick day to get to work on the wedding critical path on which I’d been procrastinating.

Here’s what it looks like:

That is merely the beginning portion. I divided it into several categories:

  • General
  • Ceremony
  • Reception
  • Decor
  • Attire
  • Flowers
  • Paper
  • Logistics
  • Gifts
  • Beauty
  • Photography
  • Miscellaneous

In total there are 196 items on my critical path (and I’m sure I will add a few more that I’ve forgotten). They range from the most basic (e.g. wrap Bridal Party gifts; make sure there are pens to go with the guest book; ensure Bridal Party spouses have transportation) to the more serious stuff (e.g. write vows; finalize reception seating plan; pay outstanding reception balance). It feels glorious to have it all on paper (er, virtual paper) now, rather than rolling around in my head and keeping me awake at night.

How are you keeping organized for your wedding? I rely on Excel, but I know there are tons of other methods out there too: binders, filing systems, organized chaos(!) etc.

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