Project management has had its importance underpinned in every industry and type of business and has long been a part of the business environment in various operations, activities and for various purposes (Carayannis and Kwak, 2002, pp. 125). In the wedding planning business, the application of project management has gained industry-wide popularity and acceptance. Like any other type of a project, the outcomes of the wedding event are highly important for the success of the wedding planner. There is room for uncertainties that can produce inefficient performance. Applying project management theory and tools allows improving project performance of a wedding event. This is the objective of the paper to explore the project management concepts and applications relating to the wedding event, based on literature and industry practice and to use this knowledge to allow wedding planners to improve their performance outcomes. Secondary research data collection sources are used, such as books, research articles, PMBOK, news paper articles and industry wedding planning reports.
Defining Project Management for Weddings
Project management is the process of applying knowledge, tools and techniques, skills and expertise to activities related to accomplishing a target or set of targets for a product, service or business function that has stakeholder interests and objectives tied to it (Turner and Muller, 2005, pp.50).
Project management has been long used as a tactical tool in business operations, however, it shares close ties with direct stakeholder objectives primarily profitability and high output performance. Peter Drucker’s “The Practice of Management” pushed forth the implications of management by objectives in effective project management and thus, first pointed out its importance as a strategic tool rather than the formerly considered tactical application of project management in organisations (Cleland, 1994, pp.102).
Project Life Cycle of a Wedding
A project life cycle is a set of sequential or overlapping phases of a project that are aligned with achieving the targets of the project at hand. Each phase has its own objectives and deliverables that are integrated with other phases and their deliverables. Overall, the success and effectiveness of the project depends upon the effective delivery and execution of each phase. For this reason, it becomes important to closely evaluate and monitor the performance and efficiency at each phase of the project and terminate or improve shortfalls as they occur (Cleland, 1994, pp.103).
A project life cycle is similar in concept to a product life cycle but different in practice as often the phases involved in a project life cycle occur in an overlapping sequence. Product development and management may involve various projects starting from market research of suppliers of services such as caterers, designers, bakers, jewelers, etc. down to hosting the event. The event day is the most crucial to the success of the entire wedding plan as it puts every effort in a bowl for the audience to enjoy. But an effective result is the outcome of carefully planning each activity and executing it in the allotted time frame, and budget and as per the target assigned (Jugdev and Thomas, 2002, pp. 10).
There are two broad approaches or methodologies that are taken on in project life cycle management that are applicable in wedding project plans: Waterfall Management Model and Agile Management Model. Each of these is different in principal and concept. Where one model places the entire focus upon the plan and scope and aligns cost and schedule accordingly, the other is entirely vision and target driven and takes schedule and cost as fixed constraints and determines scope based on them (Carayannis, and Kwak, 2002, pp.141).
Waterfall Management Model is entirely plan driven. The phases progressed sequentially in the implementation of the project. In waterfall project management approach, the scope of the project is fixed constraints that is realized as such in the planning phase and then based on the scope, the schedule and cost factors are determined (Milosevic and Srivannaboon, 2006, pp.100).
Agile project management methodology is unique especially in comparison to waterfall management methodology as it takes on a holistic approach to project management and its system and framework are quite adaptable and flexible in nature. In order to implement agile model, the organisational culture needs to have a flair of flexibility, decentralized decision making and a team playing culture that permits integration and shared problem solving (Carayannis, and Kwak, 2002, pp.145).
The wedding project is nothing short of a non-uniform pattern of activities. The unique nature of the project is that multiple activities take form at the same time, within which uncertainties play a due role, time frames and budgeting has to remain flexible to accommodate these. As much as the existence of minimum uncertainties is the sign of effective wedding planning, several external forces induce these uncertainties in every wedding event (Cleland, 1994, pp.120). These are family problems, natural hazard, such as rain, snow, etc., and shortfalls by the service providers. These sources of uncertainties have to be curtailed in a way that project has to be given a holistic approach to management whereby knowing what is to be achieved and aligning activities and coordinating them that makes sure that the end result is exactly what is desired and better. This calls for the use of Agile Project Management model.
Project Phases of a Wedding Event
According to the Project Management Institute (2008) there are five key phases and processes of project management that induce its relevance in successful wedding planning performance each of with embed the focus of project management and its alignment with the event strategy and the performance orientation of the wedding project (Roney, 1999, pp.102). These phases are initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling and closing (Turner and Muller, 2005).
Initiation is the process whereby the new project is formally authorized to begin. The clients are the main cue that allows the initiation phase to begin who provide their requirements to the planner. The planner prepares the scope and time frame for the delivery of the project (Carayannis and Kwak, 2002, pp. 125). The scope and time frame are framed and initiated purely based on the objectives of the overall strategy, though broken down into specific problem areas and aspects. The main constraints in the wedding project are the scope, quality, budget, schedule, resources and risks involved. Coupled with stakeholder requirements, these constraints have to be balanced throughout the project management by the wedding planner.
Planning is the next step. The broad objectives of the strategy and the specific activity are broken down into various processes and activities of the project that allow for in collaboration the accomplishment of the overall goal assigned to the project (Toney, 2002, pp.262). Within the project, a proper managerial command takes place whereby the management plans and creates strategies for the execution of the project and its organisation that ensures allocation and utilization of the available resources and the application of the assets to make sure the desired outcomes are achieved (Turner and Muller, 2005, pp.51). The planning phase develops a proper scientific and systematic framework of management for the execution of the project. In this phase, project managers use various technological tools and techniques such as Gantt Charts, Work Based Schedules (WBS), Project Plan Evaluation Technique (PERT), etc. all of which are focused on getting the maximum out of the resources and time available to produce the maximum output, owing to its implied and indirect link with the company strategy of efficiency and effectiveness in performance which also entails maximum utilization of resources to produce maximization in profits (Carayannis, and Kwak, 2002, pp.146).
The main deliverables of the planning phase are activities and tasks and budgeting. The following activities are involved in the wedding planning (Roney, 1999, pp.110). The client is involved in planning each of these activities.
- Selection of the venue
- Hosting the bridal shower
- Selection and booking the photographer
- Discussion on the cake design with the client and booking the baker
- Deciding on the wedding party composition
- Deciding on the wedding attire
- Preparation of the guest list
- Formation of travel plans for the invited guests
- Design of the invitations
- Selection of the flowers for the wedding as per the theme chosen
- Registry for the gifts for the bride and groom
- Planning for Hosting the rehearsal dinner
- Selection for tables and chairs for the wedding day and seating chart of the guests
- Selection for hair dressers and makeup artists for hair and makeup of the bride and groom
- Selection of the marriage commissioner
- Preparation of the wedding speeches and vows
- Planning and hosting of the reception dinner/lunch
- Honey moon arrangements
The budget is based on the client’s resources. Each activity and the final outcome has to be limited to this budget.
Planning is proceeded by the phase of execution, whereby the project plan is implemented based on the allocation of the resources. Each activity is assigned a time frame and performance outcome to make sure the desired result is attained. The technical tools that offer aid in scheduling and organizing the tasks and roles are used in execution on a scale of day to day activities (Carayannis, and Kwak, 2002, pp.154). Herein, the tactical and operational roles are performed by the project management. This phase consumes the major time frame of the overall project management initiative (Milosevic and Srivannaboon, 2006, pp.112). The execution involves carrying out each of the activities, phase by phase, and the final events in the form of the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner and the wedding day.
Monitoring and Controlling
Monitoring and controlling phase goes hand in hand with the execution phase where the work that is being carried out is closely monitored against the planned activities and associated outcomes as aided by the technological tools. The key focus is to stay on the budget and not exceed costs and resource utilization.
Closing is the last phase of project management whereby the wedding planner closes the project with details of the accomplishments and the recovery of the loopholes with evaluations of the progress and performance so as to determine the contribution of the project to the organisation and is overall effectiveness in doing so (Turner and Muller, 2005, pp.55).
Each wedding project has similar phases and processes that are based on different targets, goals and objectives of the project at hand. Not all projects can be a success and the success and effectiveness of each project depends upon several factors and mainly the approach taken or the model chosen for project management. Every project is different in nature owing to differences in environments, goals, objectives, strategies and targets, the project management approach and methodologies differ. Agile Project lifecycle model of project management that takes a holistic approach to project management is most useful for a wedding event as it allows keeping eye on the targets and scope and ensuring that uncertainties are addressed in the management and execution of the project. But one thing that is common in all projects irrespective of the model chosen is that all projects undergo a project life cycle with four key phases (Cleland, 1994, pp.112). The use of project management tools such as Gantt Charts, WBS and PERT allow ensuring that efficiency is achieved and the client returns satisfied with the service of the wedding planner.
My Analysis of the Project and How it is to Benefit in My Future
Ever since, project management has only seen a growing set of practical applications with a growth in formalized structures and enhancement and development in standardized setups and frameworks for the assistance and execution of projects. Several tools and techniques have been specifically designed and developed to aid in the accomplishment of the targets and goals of the projects more effectively and diligently (Carayannis, and Kwak, 2002, pp.151). Due to the ever growing importance of the phenomenon of project management, it has caught the attention of wedding planners who apply the theory and concepts to execute successful wedding events. The project has allowed me to expand my knowledge of project management as well as its application in the wedding planning and management (Cleland, 1994, pp.102). Wedding events require proper project management techniques, methods, models and tools to be applied to ensure success in the final outcome. Upon reviewing the common industry practice in executing wedding events and contrasting it with the project management frameworks and models, I have developed the understanding that effective performance outcomes are achieved by balancing the stakeholder requirements, with time, and cost constraints and inducing flexibility and adaptability to the planning to ensure that the uncertainties are properly addressed.