Royal vs. Commoner Weddings

AAhhhhhhh, the royal wedding. It was an exciting event for me last Friday. I watched all the specials on TLC and E! earlier in the week and by time Friday rolled around I had decided that I wasn’t going to look at any pictures of Kate Middleton’s dress until I got home that night and watched the entire 5-hours of coverage at the royal wedding screening I had. I did catch a little glimpse of Kate Middleton’s shoulders and head on my Yahoo homepage but besides that, there were no sightings until I told to my co-workers not to say anything about what the gown looked like. Then the teasing commenced. I have to admit I was being a little ridiculous, wanting to make Kate’s dress a surprise so I was laughing along with everyone. At one point, I walked away from my computer for a few minutes and when I came back my desktop background had been switched to Kate in her gown. It was pretty funny albeit a bit of a gown surprise let down.

It was a huge wedding, I don’t think there is any other way to describe it. Tons of flowers, live trees brought into Westminster Abbey, lots and lots of hats, a designer wedding gown, Elton John, Posh and Becks…And it was all planned in sixth months.

There is a concept in project management called the project management triangle (often called the triple constraint). The concept simply states that there are three factors in every project: scope, time, and cost and they are all interdependent. If you change one of them the other two will most likely have to change as well unless there is flexibility in one side of the triangle.

Let’s look at the royal wedding as an example:

Time: Kate and Wills were only engaged for sixth months. That is a relatively short amount of time to plan a wedding. If you are a commoner it takes 3-5 months to order a gown, most venues and photographers get booked at least a year in advance, you need time to notify family and friends so they will be able to attend.

Scope: A royal wedding is a big deal, so Kate and Wills had an extravagant requirements list that included a designer gown, an attendance list of about 2,200 for the ceremony, security for all of London, and more flowers than you or I could ever imagine just to name a few.

Cost: The royal family has lots of money so I can imagine that not a lot of expenses were spared. One of the television shows I saw reported that the Windsor family contributed about $9,000,000, the Middleton family $250,000, and the people of London a whopping $20,000,000 just for security.  I would like to get a glimpse of that wedding budget.

I think it is safe to say that cost was the flexible side of this project management triangle and time and scope were the constraints. Without a large budget, the wedding would not have been able to take place in sixth months and all the requirements would not have been met.

royal project management triangle

Now let me give you a more down to earth example, my wedding:

Time: When Justin and I were engaged we were flexible on time. We weren’t in a rush to get married but wanted to walk down the aisle in about a year’s time.

Scope: We are also flexible on scope. We are willing to put in the leg work to find vendors that will accommodate us and our budget, and also don’t feel like we need anything outrageously fancy or expensive.

Cost: There is a budget involved, we don’t have unlimited resources.

Justin and I are in the exact opposite situation as Kate and Wills (go figure).  Cost is our constraint whereas time and scope are more flexible. Justin and I have to make compromises on when the wedding is and how large the scope is to make sure we don’t go over budget.

commoner project management triangle

As the planning for my wedding continues, the triangle may change a little. We recently booked a venue so now the time is a constraint as well because we can’t change the date at this point. The only side of the project management triangle that remains flexible is scope. Down the road, if we were to change the date or venue, we would lose our deposit and possibly have to pay a higher price for a different venue. This would make our budget go up. And if there was no way for a budget to be increased we would have to decrease the scope.  As you can see, it’s a very delicate balancing act but an important one to get good at.

In the early stages of planning a wedding it is good to know how the different sides of the project management triangle affect your wedding situation. It is good to be prepared because unless you are a member of the royal family, you will have to make adjustments.


  1. Dad/Laird
    May 23, 2011

    The triangle concept is very interesting. Does it apply to the Rockies’ season, with money not fixed but scope (making the playoffs) and time of course fixed at end of September?

    • lcagan
      May 31, 2011

      Interesting idea Dad. I guess you could say that the project management triangle does apply to the Rockies’ season. Hopefully if they use proper project management they will get to the playoffs.

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