Wedding planning might be a full-time job, but chances are you've also got that other full-time job -- you know, the one you had long before he put that ring on your finger. Even if you've hired a hands-on wedding planner, you probably still need to decide on some things yourself. How to deal? Plan for some serious, um -- let's call it multitasking. Here's how to find the time do it all without winding up in hot water with your boss.
3 Tricks for Not Getting Caught
Stay on Task You want to fly under the radar -- if it's blatantly obvious that your work time has become wedding time, you risk the wrath of your coworkers or even worse, your boss. You can't let wedding planning take up your entire day, but you can definitely let it replace time you would have spent instant messaging. The key: Stay on top of your normal tasks and goals, and don't let planning affect your performance.
Go Online Do not, we repeat, do not bring your wedding binder to work. A notebook full of decor ideas and fabric swatches is way too obvious (unless perhaps you're an interior decorator). Leave the real deal at home and add ideas to a digital notebook (like the one on TheKnot.com) at work. You can save articles, photos, and gowns you like -- and remember, if you really need something you can actually hang onto, you can always print out the pics.
Watch Your Back It should be obvious, but use your best judgment when it comes to planning your wedding while you're supposed to be working on your work (you know, the stuff they're actually paying you to do). Don't leave a wedding-related web page or document on your screen if you have to step away from your desk -- close or minimize it. And keep more than one window open so if someone comes by it's easy to tab over from your reception site's floor plan to something more legit.
When to Do What Finding Vendors: Daytime
Researching vendors online -- checking out sites, listings on the local pages of TheKnot.com
, or reading other to-be-weds' recommendations -- is an obvious one for that spare five minutes before you have to run into a meeting. One caveat: Make sure the volume on your computer is turned off, or at least way down! If a digitized version of "Wedding March" starts blasting, you are so busted.
Finding Inspiration: Daytime
Here's another instance where the Internet is your best friend -- browse for gowns, bouquets, and more online (just check out the image search on TheKnot.com for thousands of wedding photos of, well, everything). You're more likely to have an aha moment the more you see, so spending time online is a good way to get through the doldrums of your work day (like mid-afternoon, when lunch is ancient history and it feels like the end of the day is never going to come).
Visiting Vendors: Free time
Unless you're just doing a drive-by to check out their digs, keep actual vendor visits to your days off or weekends.
You're going to want to visit most vendors as a tag team, so you'll need your fiance with you. More importantly, if you really like the vendor, you can talk much longer without worrying about going over your lunch hour. Better to play it safe and plan visits for when you know you don't have work commitments.
DIY Stuff: Nighttime
Did you really think you'd be able to assemble programs at your desk? Or that your boss won't notice you printing out 200 favor cards on the color printer? Wedding projects (like tying the bows on all those favor boxes) are definitely a nighttime activity -- kick back with a glass of wine and a DVD of the last season of Grey's Anatomy while you fold 300 sheets of vellum.
Making Lists: Anytime
Playlists, guest lists, and even to-do lists -- whether you manage them online or on paper, keep these at your fingertips so whenever you think of something, you can update them.
4 Ways to Max Out Your Free TimeYour Commute
In the subway? Read wedding magazines or go over your lists. On the train or a bus? Use a laptop or Blackberry to email or surf the web wirelessly or, if it's not too loud, make a few quick check-in phone calls with vendors before their day gets too busy. Driving? Use the voice notes feature on your cell phone to record any sudden bursts of inspiration. No matter how you commute, use your iPod or CD player to preview potential ceremony or first dance tunes -- you'd feel lazy sitting around your house doing it, but if you're stuck in traffic, why not crank up Pachelbel's Canon in D?
Your Lunch Hour Plan to devote at least a few days a week to vendor phone calls. The key is to plan out your conversation beforehand and make a list so it can be swift and tactful. That way, you'll still have time to enjoy that grilled chicken salad.
Your Workout Don't just watch CNN scroll by while you're pedaling away on a stationary bike. Instead, use some of the time for wedding-related reading (for example, print out a bunch of ceremony or vow ideas to read over). If you go to the gym at the end of the day, that's a good time to read back over your to-do lists, check off what you've completed, and jot down notes for what you need to do next.
Making Dinner Whether you're waiting for the oven to preheat or unwinding while your fiance does the work, use the time in between prep work and mealtime to hop online. A watched pot never boils anyway, right? Hit the message boards, Real Weddings, or gown search on TheKnot.com and make that spare 5 or 10 minutes count.
3 Things to Watch Out ForLimit Your Sources
If you're asking your coworkers for a bit of wedding advice -- even something simple like, "Do you like periwinkle better than peach?" -- make sure they're on your invite list. The more a work pal feels involved in your wedding, the more she'll feel snubbed when that big square envelope doesn't arrive. The exception: if you've already made it clear your guest list is going to be limited.
Get Your Apology Accepted You're running late handing in an update on a project, your boss comes over to check on you, and -- uh-oh -- you're on TheKnot.com message boards. How do you deal? First, fess up. In this case, honesty is the best policy. Tell her the project's actual status, and say that you just needed a minute to clear your head before plunging back into your work. Then try not to let it happen again. If you arouse your superior's suspicions, you'll be monitored that much more closely.
Protect Yourself Look up your company's policy for computer use. No employer wants you to use your computer for personal reasons, but what you need to check out is just how extensively your online activity is monitored. If it seems like Big Brother is watching, you may need to scale back your at-work wedding planning -- but don't worry, you'll still find a way to get it all done.
-- Kate Wood
See More: Wedding Planning Basics