Design lessons from getting married (and why we’ve been all flakey and lame for three months)

As some readers may already know (hi Mom), we just got married. It was awesome. It was also the most massive, insane design project I’ve ever worked on. Luckily, I learned some valuable lessons and would like to share them with you. Sorry if it doesn’t make up for missing the red velvet mini-cupcakes. Or the last two months of blog entries.

1. The amount of complication grows exponentially with the number of people involved. Probably more than exponentially. What’s higher than exponentially? Super-exponentially? I’ll put it like this: try getting 150 people in the same place at the same time. Then try feeding them, sheltering them from the elements, getting them to follow a schedule, entertaining them, arranging them for several cameras, and praying they can all get along for five hours. Then get them all drunk. It’s basically your typical TV commercial shoot, only you don’t get to cast the relatives.

2. The level of fun is directly proportional to the level of pain. Take any really awesome, fun game. Chances are, the more fun it is for you, the more pain went into it. The same goes for events. Everyone at the wedding told us they had an amazing time. We spent six months banging our heads on hard surfaces to make it happen. Worth it? Completely. But we’re kind of masochistic.

3. Choose your collaborators carefully. We feel extremely fortunate to have a group of extraordinarily brilliant, talented friends and relatives who just happen to be DJs, photographers, dress makers, stylists and budding party planners. Seriously: really really lucky. We also carefully thought out who should play what role and whether we’d be better off with someone else. While it all worked out in the end, some parties were a lot harder to work with than others. (*cough*OaklandParks&Rec*cough*)

4. Just fork out the cash. We all like to think tough budgets can be smudged and smeared to cover an unlikely amount of costs if we simply step in and just do a bunch of stuff ourselves. This is sort of true. But if you’ve ever had a client tell you he’ll just finish the design himself, you know how this ends. (We did much of the the design ourselves. But we’re actually designers. But it still didn’t get finished the way we wanted it to.)

5. Trust. The hardest part of a project that depends on a whole bunch of people to work? Depending on a whole bunch of people. As designers who have to constantly explain and justify our work to clients, creative directors, interns, and strangers, it can be hard to remember that everyone else on a project genuinely wants it to be awesome, too. Just because a big project is your brainchild, doesn’t mean you have to control every aspect of it through completion. At a certain point, you have to kick back and let the experts do their jobs. If you did good on number 3, you’ll end up with something better than you ever expected.

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