Wedding project

This semester I am enrolled in a Project Management class in the business school as an elective for my Interior Design master’s program. This is a very useful and informative class and one that I would urge all design students to arrange to take, even if it has to be done through another department or school. Design work is project work and these skills are invaluable for all design positions.

Our term project was to plan a multi-cultural wedding where the bride and groom were of two different religions (neither could be Christian). The wedding was to be high-society, it was to be held in DC, we could only bring 10 relatives from other countries, and we had to spend $1,000,000. Our deliverables were a business case, statement of assumptions and constraints, work breakdown structure, project network/schedule, risk and change management processes, metrics, and lessons learned. The work breakdown structure identified a range of wedding-related tasks, including guests, stationery, site, transportation, hotel, decor, food, media, security, and honeymoon. Our team of 8 divided up these deliverables and activities and each contributed to the final Powerpoint slideshow and notebook. The slideshow stressed the cultural aspects of the wedding and summarized the business deliverables; the notebook contained the full text of the business deliverables.

Our team choose a Nigerian bride of the Igbo people who follows traditional worship practices and a Muslim groom from the northern part of Sudan. We did a lot of research to learn about the very interesting wedding traditions of these two cultures. In both cultures, weddings go on for several days and festivities are usually held in tents, so we decided to plan for two days of wedding events – the first for the Nigerian ceremonies and the second for the Sudanese ceremonies. We would install three large tents in the meadow at the National Arboretum in DC – one tent to represent the groom’s family compound, another for the bride’s family, and the third for dancing. Both events would be held in the evening. (Links to websites that discuss Nigerian weddings: BBC News, article by Utibe Uko, Motherland Nigeria, Top Wedding Links, Chicken Bones: A Journal, African Wedding Traditions. Links to websites that discuss Sudanese weddings: Nile Kids, African Wedding Traditions, Al-Ahram Weekly.)

My particular area was the interior design, which included the tents, tent decor, lighting, flooring, equipment, furniture, linens, plants, and flowers. Because this was a business class, I wasn’t expected to go beyond listing activities, obtaining budget information, and developing a schedule, so I didn’t develop my design beyond the concept stage.

For the Nigerian ceremonies, my design concept was to create a lush tropical garden with dappled sunlight shining through the leaves. I envisioned filling the tents with tall coconut palms to create a canopy over the guests and using other tropical plants to create borders and dividers as needed to demark the family seating and guest dining areas, covering the ground with natural raffia or palm woven mats, and draping the tables with neutral but lush table linens. Because the guests and wedding party in Nigerian weddings typically wear very colorful traditional clothing, color would be provided by the clothing and by tropical flowers on the tables. Lighting would be a combination of accent lights shining through the palms to create dappled light and shadow, tiny sparkle lights in the palms and on the tent perimeters, and unobtrusive direct lighting as needed for dining, food service, and other tasks.

For the Sudanese ceremonies, my concept was to create the feel of an exotic and ancient bazaar with rich colors and textures and dramatic lighting. My plan was to drape the ceilings and walls with rich red silks and cover the floors with deep red carpets. Diners would sit on floor cushions of gold and black silk around low, custom-made square tables of dark wood. Palms would create boundaries and intimacy as needed. Lighting would be a combination of dramatic uplighting through the palms, sparkle lights around the perimeters, gentle downlighting as needed for food service and dining, and a profusion of warmly-glowing copper lanterns of all sizes hung from the ceilings, lining the pathways, and lighting the tables and seating areas. Food service would be on copper trays.

I pulled the slideshow together after each team member had provided input on her or his part of the project. Because this was a business class presentation and not a design presentation, my decor slides showed only the basic concepts. The slide show as a whole is interesting because it has lots of pictures and explains the wedding traditions of these two cultures. Click here to see the show in PDF format.

This was a good project – it was fascinating to learn about the wedding traditions of these two cultures, weddings are happy occasions so planning them is fun, I learned the various stages involved in the business side of managing a project, and I had a chance to experience team dynamics.

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