With wedding season just around the corner, brides and grooms-to-be are gearing up to tie the knot. And because wedding planning is like gas — it expands to fill every nook and cranny of empty space — couples organizing their own nuptials will find the process seeping
into work hours.
It’s no shocker that wedding planning happens on the clock. Orchestrating a major event requires dealing with vendors who are only available during standard work hours, and some 63 percent of couples prefer to email vendors so they can contact them while at work, according to a 2015 WeddingWire survey.
Despite strides toward gender parity and male feminists coming out in droves, women still handle the wedding planning. Some nine in 10 women say they put some company time into planning their wedding. On average, women spend 10 hours a week on wedding planning, and nearly 30 percent of that time is on the job. What's more, 90 percent of brides said their fiances devoted less time to wedding planning than they did, according to survey from Forbes and TheKnot.com.
Dr. Amanda Miller, a professor of sociology at the University of Indianapolis, says this gender division can make it harder for working women to balance work and wedding prep.
"Women are getting married at older ages than in the past, which likely means they are in jobs that have higher levels of responsibility,” she says. “Your 30s is often when [you're] more indispensable in the workplace.” The balancing act can be especially stressful if your job is funding the big day. Here are a few tips for working women who want to avoid a pre-wedding meltdown.
Know what you're up against
Knowing the social and cultural factors that shape expectations about gender and weddings is key.
“The pressure to plan a big extravaganza probably came about after the Princess Diana [wedding] in 1981," says Dr. Katherine Jellison, author of “It’s Our Day: America’s Love Affair With the White Wedding, 1945-2005" and history department chair at Ohio University. "After that, we saw the increase in average people spending a lot of time and money and effort creating wedding spectaculars.”
Another reason women bear the brunt of planning is the notion of "kin-keeping," says Miller. “Kin-keeping is really this idea of keeping family relationships tied together, and that’s almost always considered to be women’s work. Weddings are an extension of kin-keeping — it’s a big family event, and usually it’s considered women’s work to get the family together.”
Get organized and delegate responsibility
For type-A individuals who want to excel in all they do, planning poses a unique challenge. “You have a group of women who seem to be superwomen,” says Miller. “They’re good in the workforce, and they’re good in their home lives, and I think one of things that will help them throw the weddings they want is organization. Start a binder, start a website where you and your groom or bride can keep and check responsibilities and keep lists of places to call."
That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for help. “It’s like when people are ill or they have a life crisis, the advice is always take people up on their offers to help,” says Jellison. “Especially if you’re sort of looking at this as a life crisis — balancing your work life and your wedding planning life — take people up on their offers of assistance, either in planning the wedding or in taking on tasks at work.”
Know when to unplug
Sites like Pinterest and Etsy have ostensibly made wedding planning easier and vendors more accessible. But constant accessibility isn’t necessarily a time saver, suggests Jellison.
“It reminds me of the argument early in the 20th century that if women had all the right electrical appliances in their household, that housework would take up less time, and then just the opposite happened: You had all the equipment that was supposed to make it easier, so tasks that you maybe did once a week you did everyday, like wash the clothes. And so technological innovation might change the labor involved, but it often times extends the amount of time involved,” she says.
Take it in stride, and plan accordingly
Wedding planning ebbs and flows, says Miller. “There tends to be a flurry of activity that happens shortly after the engagement, and there seems to be a lot of down time in the middle, and then a flurry again at the end. So a suggestion for working women is to keep those timelines in mind, when the wedding activities will be most strenuous, and see if you can plan big work projects accordingly.”
It's important not to lose perspective. “Just know that something inevitably will go wrong, and that might end up being your favorite part of the entire experience,” Miller says.