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Bride planning a wedding at work

Don’t let your wedding cost you your job

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This is a column for all the brides-to-be out there. I’m just here to say: I know your pain, I feel your struggle, and I really don’t want you to lose your job over it.

Movies, TV shows and bridal magazines tell us that weddings are a big deal. HUGE. People keep getting married, weddings keep getting bigger and more elaborate, and planning the event (or “big party”, as my fiancé likes to call it) takes on a life of its own – and takes over yours.

I’m getting married in three weeks, so I get it. It’s stressful. After you get engaged, you’re basking in the glow of the proposal (or the bling of your new ring) and proudly showing it to all your friends and colleagues. Then the questions come. When are you getting married? Where are you doing it? How many people are you inviting?

Crap, you think. People really want answers to these questions. Better stop talking and start planning. So you begin the researching, reading, calling, questioning, saving, booking, securing, and confirming.

(Then you take a break to drink an entire bottle of wine by yourself.)

Then come more questions. “How’s the wedding planning going?” and “Are you on top of everything?” and “You don’t have your wedding shoes sorted yet? Better hurry up!” (Haha, thanks for the super helpful advice, jackass.)

I know you probably answer these questions with a smile plastered on your face and say, “It’s going great, actually! I’m pretty on top of everything”. But in reality, your inner bridal beast is screaming to be let out, and all you want to do is punch everyone in the face, grab your fiancé and elope.

This is where weddings can get a little bit dangerous, because if you’re not careful, the stress of planning could cost you your real job.

Some research was done a few years back which found 90% of employees who are getting married plan their wedding during office hours. While only a third say they think their work was negatively affected by this, I’ll bet most bosses wouldn’t be too happy about a staff member spending up to two hours (according to the survey) per day calling caterers, florists and dressmakers.

Thankfully, I have a wedding planner based in Sri Lanka (where we are getting married) who helps with all of this, meaning I am not the one who needs to be on the phone, making the arrangements. (Pro tip: Get a wedding planner. Seriously. Do it now. Even if you’re not getting married yet, just book one in advance.)

But with the average woman-to-be-wed spending 10 hours each week wedding planning, it’s easy to see how it could turn into a part-time job. And it won’t take long for colleagues – and then the boss – to notice. I asked a few friends about their own experiences.

One friend, a manager, said:

“If it was just for a week, it’s no problem, let them have their moment. However, if it was clear that it was going to be an ongoing thing I would take them aside. I’d keep it positive, remind them I am open to flexible hours, and let them know I’m happy for them. I don’t have a problem with them making some calls in the office, however, they would need to be discrete, as I don’t want them disrupting everyone else, and one way or another they would need to make up the hours.”

Another friend, who got married a few years ago, said:

“I would say at least a few hours a week were dedicated to the wedding – maybe even one hour a day during the invitation-making bonanza! My boss didn’t officially know as I tried to hide it, but he definitely suspected! I also had my dress in my office for a few weeks as I didn’t want [my husband] to take a peek. I may have tried it on for a few staff members. I also sent a lot of emails about the cars, cake, venue and, of course, the honeymoon! I was pretty bad now I think about it. For one to three months I probably spent 30-60 minutes each day on the wedding.”

And another soon-to-be-married friend’s opinion:

“I do some stuff at work, but if you’re a valued employee who has always gotten results, I don’t think it’s such a big issue. I don’t give off the impression that I’m doing wedding planning at work and if I do make the occasional phone call it’s never for more than a few minutes. My colleagues all know and ask about the wedding as well, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what’s acceptable at your workplace.” 

The key here is clearly time management. As an employee planning a wedding, you’ve got no choice but to be able to plan your day and work smart, making sure you can complete all necessary tasks on time. If you can manage this, then when you get called up for chatting to your wedding DJ at 10am on a Thursday, you can tell your boss you’re on top of everything.

Similarly, as an employer, try to keep an open mind. A few calls here and there isn’t going to massively impact productivity, but keep an eye on their output. If it drops, is it because they’re distracted by wedding stress, or could it be something else? Help them manage their work schedule better so that what you need them to get done, gets done.

Remember, after the wedding and the honeymoon you’ve got to go back to work. If you’ve turned everyone against you because you’re a terrible planner, then expect a few bumps in the road. And if you’ve really slacked off, then you might not have a job to return to.

Image: Shutterstock

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Rebecca Lewis
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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