Personal – On Being a Planner

Photo from Unsplash

I am a planner by nature.  Give me an event or something that requires preparation and research, and I am all over it.  Parties, trips, finding an apartment, a house, moving, even how to play a complicated scavenger hunt game.  I will take all the available information, diligently move down my to-do list, and organize it into something awesome.

Right now I’m in something of a planners dream.  I’m planning a wedding – my wedding.  Weddings are awesome for planning because it’s not just one thing.  Theoretically, yes, you could just plan to go to the courthouse, and at one point there was a plan for that if that’s what the Boy had wanted.  But that most simple of ceremonies – showing up at the courthouse in clothes you already own, with none of your family and friends, and no plans to celebrate – is basically the low end.  You could literally do this at any time, and it wouldn’t make a difference beyond the date on the marriage certificate.  Everything else will require some level of planning, and then planning the bits below that.

For example, let’s say you were still going to do a courthouse wedding, but you wanted it to be a little fancier in what you were wearing, you wanted to have a few friends or family there, you wanted to get dinner afterwards, and you wanted a photographer.  There are so many choices to make, and you have to break it down step by step.  Will you wear something old or new?  If new, what is the general idea of what you want it to look like?  Where will you buy it?  Will you get hair and makeup done?  Where would that happen?  Will you carry flowers?  From a florist prepared in advance, or from the grocery store that you make day-of?  Will your spouse buy new clothes as well?  What time?  Will you send paper invitations to those meeting you at the courthouse?  Digital invitations?  Text messages?  Where will you go for dinner afterwards?  Will it be fancy?  Will you make reservations?  Will you tell them it’s a wedding party?  Will you try to get a cake delivered?  If you get a cake, will you go taste one in advance?  Who will pay for the dinner?  How long will the photographer be around?  What kind of pictures do you want?  Are they available and within your budget?

And that’s just the set of questions for a small civil ceremony at the courthouse.  As the party gets bigger, the number of questions increases too.  Sometimes you think you’ve made a choice that will cut down on the number of questions that need to be answered, but that’s not always true.  Maybe you say, “I can totally make my own wedding cake”.  And if you’re saying that, you probably can.  But unless you’re making a basic box mix with canned frosting (which, if that’s what you want, more power to you), you’re going to find a recipe, and ingredients, and find the time to make a cake in advance because having made a fancy cake in the past myself…it’s not a slow process.

So yes, I’m in the middle of planning.  But how am I doing it?  Lots and lots of spreadsheets and lists.  I’ve got my master spreadsheet which has 17 tabs along the bottom.  Only two of those haven’t been actively used.  I’ve got an entirely different address spreadsheet that gets tied in with email and mailing addresses.  I’ve got a to-do list that has unfinished business highlighted in yellow, so that my remaining tasks will stand out.  A few of those tasks also live over in Habitica.  There are timelines and space layouts and signed contracts and photographs.

All this, and we’re having a relatively small wedding.  The number of adult attendees is in the mid-double digits.  There will be a dozen or so children.  But still, my little planner heart flutters.  There are the big decisions to make – attire, ceremony, venue, food, flowers, cake.  And within each of these categories, there are dozens of smaller decisions to be made and tasks to be done.  With flowers, for example: will I hire a florist?  Do it myself?  Since I’m DIYing flowers, where will I get them?  Will it truly be DIY or will I hire a company that helps with design and ordering?  What is my vision for the flowers?  What is my budget for the flowers?  When will I have time to arrange them?  How many arrangements do I need?  What will the arrangements go in?  Who will transport the flowers to the venue?  Who will set them up?  I could make lists and diagrams and spreadsheets and organize until my little heart bursts.  I cannot imagine the decisions that would need to be made if you were having the standard American wedding that was at least twice as big as mine.

I can see why your average person would be tempted to hire a wedding planner or coordinator.  If the thought of endless to-do lists and tasks and spreadsheets and coordinating everything gives you hives, it’s completely understandable.  Spend that money to preserve your sanity.  But for those of us who get antsy when there isn’t something to plan for – that party, the life event, the next trip – a task like this is catnip.  It’s something on which I can focus.  Something that will end up making me happier because my energy is being channeled into something specific and concrete.  In the end, I’ll know whether the time and effort was worth it.  Did I save some sanity by doing so much of it myself?  Probably not.  But did I have fun doing it?  So far…yes.

And I can’t wait to plan the next thing.  I’m thinking vacation.

So – I can’t be the only person who is nuts for planning – for trips and house stuff and the wedding.  For those who are married, or getting married – did you do all the planning yourself?  Did you have friends or family help?  Is it useful to have multiple people helping with planning?  Or is it better to delegate specific tasks?  Did you do much/any of it yourself, or did you hire people out?  Because I’m sure there are pros and cons to both sides.

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