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Kanban Wedding

The core purpose of what you do is the one thing that need not change.


Kanban Wedding

A wedding is one of the most important days of your life and is worthy of doing with intention. Weddings can be fun, stressful, and/or dramatic. It all depends on how it's managed. Wedding planning is so vital that an entire industry has arisen around it!

One of my favorite things to write about is how business techniques are really life techniques. I'm a firm believer that the models we use in Fortune 100 companies also apply to our personal lives. I think it's fair to say that a wedding qualifies as a significant enough event to warrant leveraging business planning techniques, such as the Kanban board.


Kanban Board

The Kanban Board is a simple board with three or four sections. More often than not, teams will use a dry erase board and sticky notes to create it. All you do is write at the top, "To do," "Work In Progress (WIP)," and "Done" (optionally you can write "stuck" or "issues"). Then you write each task that needs to be complete onto a sticky note and place all of them in order of priority in the "to do" category. That's it, you've created a Kanban board.

In a typical Kanban board (we'll get to the wedding specifics later) an employee will "pull" a task (sticky note) from "to do" to "WIP" when they start working on it. If you put things in priority of most important on top, then the employee will pull the top sticky note. This way they are always working on the most important item.

Note than you don't have to use sticky notes, they are simply useful for the stickiness. Many companies use index cards or specialty made cards so that they can write the task, who's working on it, what are the dependencies, etc. For this article, however, that's not necessary.

The primary benefit is that you now have a visual representation of where you are in the planning process. You have something to stand in front of, touch, manipulate, and point to when discussing your project, in this case a wedding. You'll be able to see how many things are done compared to how many things still need to be done.


Wedding Planning Made Fun And Easy

So how can we use the Kanban board to make wedding planning fun and easy? Well, let's first look at what all can go wrong. Wedding planning is a whirlwind of details and timelines. You are negotiating prices with vendors (photographer, caterer, etc.) while keeping track of signing their contracts, paying deposits, budgeting final costs, scheduling timelines of service, predicting attendance and navigating the political sphere of who to invite. You're basically managing a business at that point.

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Oh yeah, and at some point you may have time to focus on it being fun! You're at a high risk of being overwhelmed in the minutia of planning your event that you may forget the purpose of the event. Wedding planning gets so complicated that many couples forget that it's a celebration and are instead simply relieved that it's over.

Is that what you want for your wedding? If not, then try the Kanban board.

Kanban Wedding

In his book, "Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time," (link below) the author, Jeff Sutherland, uses weddings as an example of a non-business way to use a Kanban board. So when I proposed to my now fiance, you best believe I went out and bought a giant dry-erase board to start planning.

The kanban board keeps all of the tasks you need to perform in one place. It allows you to see everything that needs to happen at one time. It helps you keep track of which tasks still need to be worked on or are being worked on. You can even add updates to the sticky notes so that it helps you keep track of the most recent activity or what needs to be done next.

The first thing I liked about it is that it gave us a chance to dream. We gathered around the board, her on a chair with a blanket over her lap, and me standing a little too energetically next to the board. The talked about what we wanted in the wedding and when we decided that we wanted something, we wrote it on a little sticky note and added it to the board. This instantly gave me a feeling of the pending wedding being real. I had something tangible to say "we're going to have wedding bands."

The second thing I like about it is that it gave us an easy way to share what was important to us. As I said earlier, you place the post-it notes in order of priority. My fiance and I talked about what was important to us in the wedding, what we're willing to spend significant money on and what we could care less about. Choosing a venue? We both agreed that's a top priority. Having a guest book? Maybe there's a DIY idea we can use.


There's something romantic about dreaming and sharing what's important to each of you. If you're engaged, you should be dreaming about your life together, your goals, and how your wedding will look. You'll each have different things you focus on, and that's how you'll compliment each other. The wedding is no different.

Maybe the bride is extremely passionate about the flowers and the groom just wants to make sure there's an open bar. There's value there. Chances are that the bride wants to ensure the event is visually stunning so as to portray the significant of the ceremony to your friends and family. Similarly, chances are that the groom wants to ensure your friends and family know how much their attendance and support is appreciated and he wants to celebrate that with them.

The only way you can understand the values behind what each of you want is by having a conversation around it. Even in the best of times, these conversations can get awkward or downright difficult. Having a tool to facilitate the conversation makes it a bit easier. It's difficult to say "this is important to me.... do you feel the same way?" But it's easy to put a sticky note on a wall, knowing it can be moved if something more important comes up.

As a final note, I have a Kanban board in my living room for my own wedding. Every day I walk past it and smile to myself. Wedding planning is notoriously a blur and being in the moment is a challenge, but having this on my wall is a constant reminder, both of what I need to get done, but also why I'm doing it. Every note on that wall is a goal my fiance and I talked about, shared our feelings about, and came together around. It's a reminder of how much we love each other.


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