Cynthia Viola Photography

Project Manager

Community Series - Samantha Gratton - Project Manager

Vendors, Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola2 Comments
A goal without a plan is just a wish
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Duke Gardens Wedding

Since I'm not an especially "planned" person (I'm an ENFP, not an ENFJ after all) I tend to attract the same type of couples when it comes to their wedding photography. Adventurous, laid back, go with the flow couples love the fact that I'm willing to travel anywhere and climb any tree to get the shot, not to mention being able to work with the scheduled being changed at the last second. 

That said, like me, many of my couples don't do well with making and sticking to plans. This is where it's super helpful to have a wedding coordinator like Monica at Nouveau Events here in Raleigh or Meris at The Whole Shebang in the mountains. 

Being organized isn't only important on your wedding day though. There are many job, home and event related things that could use a little extra management from someone who understands details well and can make connections quickly. 

Whether you hire a wedding planner or not, there are so many decisions and details that you'll have before your wedding. So, I asked my favorite project manager to share her tips and tricks to help new couples think through what is most important for planning their big day. 

Samantha Gratton Project Manager

Samantha Gratton is a great project manager and has worked with a number of small businesses, everyone from life coaches and public speakers to occasionally freelancers and tech companies. She helped me get my workflow together two years ago when I rebranded and went full-time. She was vital when it came to dealing with things like creating my list of tasks and researching and preparing everything I needed to make it happen. She helped keep it organized and kept my goals on schedule. I loved working with her then and highly recommend her now for other freelancers and small businesses. 

I asked her to write a guest blog post to new couples helping them think through what is most important for planning their big day. Here's what she had to say:

Project Management Tips for the Newly Engaged Couple

The wedding day is a BIG day. A ton of details and people and plans go into that big day, regardless of the size of your event. Pulling from my experience as a project manager, I wanted to share a few key tips for making your wedding day (and the planning process) a success.

Pick your priorities

There seems to be a moment of realization when a couple goes from dreaming of their ideal wedding to planning their actual wedding. Just like any project--time, money, and availability create some limitations for you.

Instead of stretching yourself and your budget thin, pick your favorites. Do you love music and want to have a live band? Are you a foodie with a particular palate for what is served for dinner? Do you have an eye for design and love the opportunity to throw yourself into the invitations or decor? Have you always dreamed of the dress and this to be a high fashion event? You’ll probably have elements of each of these categories but figuring out where you want to go big and where you can save some time and money helps a lot.

Tip: You’ll want the photographer (hello, Cynthia!) to be one of the main priorities when wedding planning. They are with you all day long and interacting with your bridal party and all of the other vendors making a big impact on the day. Plus, the photos are one of the few things you keep after the wedding is over.

Aspen Wedding

DIY: Delegate It Y’all

Let’s change the name of the game when it comes to DIY. Instead of “do-it-yourself” for your wedding day, think: “Delegate It, Y’all!”  

Sure, you can make all of your centerpieces or have a Pinterest-perfect day, but as crafty as you may be, you can’t actually do it all yourself, especially on the wedding day itself. Release yourself from that burden because people often would love to help!  

Make a list of all of the things you have to do, everything from the list of decisions to the list of the details. Not only will you feel better knowing it isn’t all just floating up there in your head anymore, but you can look at it a bit more objectively.

What are you looking forward to doing on that list? What can easily go to someone else? And what items are you willing to let go of control a bit and trust someone else with?  

Think through all of the categories this could apply to: hair/makeup, decorations, music, photography, organization, wedding planning, floral arrangements, invitations--you name it and there’s probably someone who can help you out with it. In some cases, it means hiring a professional and in other cases it’s asking a friend or relative for help.

High Grove Estate Wedding

Know the goal

In the midst of wedding planning it’s easy to get caught up the in details. It’s always important to step back and look at the big picture. Throughout the process, remind yourself what you’re really working towards.

At the end of the day, you’re marrying your best friend. Then, you’re throwing a party to celebrate alongside friends and family.

That’s it really. So before you get too overwhelmed or stressed out when something doesn’t go quite right or someone else is upset, remind yourself of the primary goal. Keeping focused on the big picture instead of being too bogged down by the little things will make the entire process go so much more smoothly.

Grandfather Mountain Bridal Session

Samantha Gratton is a writer and project manager in Raleigh, NC. She loves hearing life stories and helping people achieve their goals. Lover of lists, Samantha has been known to make multiple spreadsheets just for vacation plans! She knows not everyone works that way, so her goal is to meet people where they're at and find the system and process that fits best for them. If you ever need help getting your workflow organized or a kickstart to your next project, find her at