In one month it will be a year since I got engaged, and in six months, I will be walking down the aisle. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. As I look back on what the past year has brought me, I also like to reflect on my six-and-a-half years in the public relations industry. From graduating college and diving right into the PR world, not knowing what a media list or editorial calendar was, to traveling across the country for clients, planning and executing events, and securing coverage, my journey as a Boston-based publicist has been an exciting and educational one.
Now, you might be asking, what does public relations have to do with her wedding? My years of experience in PR, creating timelines, researching vendors, managing budgets and more, has helped me effectively take charge of my wedding planning (with a huge help from my mom, too!).
Below are a few tips and tricks I am taking from my PR career and translating into wedding planning. Hopefully they can prove useful to those who are just starting out in PR and those who are recently engaged and navigating through the wedding planning process.
Make a budget. One of the biggest hurdles my fiancé and I had to overcome was sticker shock. Weddings aren’t cheap, even when you are trying to cut as many corners as possible. It’s much of the same planning an event for your client. Room or restaurant rental fees, swag bags, spokesperson compensation, influencer fees, decorations – it can all add up very quickly. Whether you are planning your wedding or getting ready to plan an event for your client, my first recommendation is to set a budget and stick to it. Knowing what you are working with from the start can dictate where you want to splurge and where you will have to cut back. Personally, the venue and photography were most important to us, so we based a lot of our budget around that and have filled in as needed. The same can be said when you are determining where you want to host a client event. Determine what your client’s must-haves are and what can be tweaked or eliminated to help keep your team on track and within budget.
Create a timeline. When you have a big presentation or event coming up for your client, it’s best to have the end-date in mind and work backwards. It’s easier on the PR side because you can choose what date works best for all parties involved. On the wedding side, your date is pre-determined by what venues have availability (pro-tip: venues book at least a year in advance, so keep that in mind when you start shopping around!). Once you have a date set for your wedding or event, take a look at what needs to be accomplished and in what timeframe. Does your team have a deadline for completed PowerPoint slides? How far out do you need to book a caterer or find your wedding dress? Setting up a timeline keeps your team (colleagues or family members) on track to make sure details aren’t missed and you aren’t rushing around last minute.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is much easier said than done (especially for me). From the beginning, I jumped in head first trying to accomplish a lot of wedding planning early on so I wouldn’t be rushing around last minute. As I come up on the final six months, I’ve realized I need to slow down for a moment and take it all in. As my mom has said (repeatedly), this is the best time in your life and it will fly by, so take a step back, breathe and remember that those table runners or Pinterest wedding signs you keep stressing over won’t be remembered. It’s the memories and total excitement of the day that will leave a lasting impression. The same can be said for PR. Sometimes our clients or our internal teams can get caught up in the nitty-gritty details (which are important!) but in the grand scheme of planning an event or pitching a story, so long as the most important details and key messaging is captured, everything else will fall into place.
Have fun! And to end, have fun! I love PR for the thrill of the chase and working hard to get my clients featured in stories. The same can be said for wedding planning. It can get stressful and chaotic at times, but when it comes down to it, you are planning one of the biggest days of your life and doing it with your best friend and family by your side. Have fun and enjoy the ride!
My fiancé Cody and our golden retriever Maverick at the top of Mount Willard in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. May 27, 2017.
Mary-Catherine “MC” Citarelli
Senior Account Executive