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The MBA Bride | November 20, 2017

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Begin wedding planning like this real MBA Bride: An Interview with Natalie Stokke

Natalie Stoke with her fiance, Mark

Newly engaged brides-to-be who are starting to plan their may feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin wedding planning. But MBA Brides, like Natalie Stokke, use practical business knowledge to start planning. Natalie is business-savvy woman balancing her Marketing Manager job with MBA studies at Boston University, not to mention bridal planning during whatever is left of her leisure time. Natalie has some unique and valuable insights into beginning the wedding planning process.

Tell us a little about your wedding planning so far.

I just started and have to admit, it’s a little overwhelming. This could be due to the fact that I have no idea what I want. I’m also one of those girls who never really wanted a wedding, just the party.

I’ve only been engaged for a month and we initially talked about a fall wedding in Vermont, which we may still have, but in order to accomplish that, the planning had to start ASAP. There is a chance that we may have the wedding in Southern California, giving us more time to plan. I’m a planner and love this stuff, so while it is intimidating, I’m ready to take on the task! At least once I decide which coast we’ll have it on.

How has your MBA coursework helped you to plan your wedding?

My coursework has helped me on all levels from negotiating to budget and timing of the wedding. The last 3 years that I have spent at BU has been a constant reminder to think about the strategy of the company or brand. What are the long-term and short-term effects of the business decisions that you’re making? What is at the core of the company/brand? And as funny as it may sound, those same principles have crossed over into my planning process.

I’m working with a very tight budget since we’re paying for it on our own, so really stepping back and thinking about what we really want has helped me stay focused and not get caught up in a lot of the items that are “nice to have.” I am still in the early stages, but to make a long story short, we won a contest early on and they were going to give us our “dream wedding” for about $30,000. I have to admit that I got caught up in it and became really excited about the whole thing. Then I stepped back and went back to the core fundamentals that we had in place when I first started the planning process – price and atmosphere. While the contest seemed wonderful, it did not align with our core desires. It was $10,000 more than we wanted to spend and the location/date that was non-negotiable were not ideal and really didn’t speak to who we are as a couple. Similar to situations that companies get into with “shiny object” syndrome, just because it’s there and available doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Which business school course has been most helpful in planning your wedding?

Organizational behavior courses, specifically negotiation, has been extremely helpful in the initial venue selection. As a bride-to-be, I know that vendors will try to take advantage of my lack of knowledge around pricing, so I want to make sure that I’m prepared. I have yet to nail down a venue, but during this process, I am also looking at venues that I have no interest in going to. By doing this I have a number of price points and comparisons to have a well thought-out plan for when I start the negotiation process with the venue that I actually want to book.

Which skills learned in business school have helped you so far?

As funny as it may sound, working in a team has been most helpful. I’m not really working with a “team,” but it feels like it on some days. While it’s “my day,” I’m really trying to take into consideration what my groom, my soon-to-be mother-in-law, friends who have kids, and close family members who may not have the means to travel far want too. It can be frustrating at times, but I have taken all of their opinions into consideration and will hopefully be able to work something out that everyone agrees upon and will enjoy.

What suggestions do you have for other business-savvy brides planning their weddings?

For someone who never even wanted a wedding, it is VERY easy to get caught up in the excitement. And while brides-to-be should get excited and caught up in the wedding planning process, my advice would be to remember to look back at what items were truly important to you and your groom. Stay focused and make sure the important items don’t get overshadowed by everything else.

Natalie and Mark in Europe

To connect with Natalie, you can find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter with the handle @natstokke.

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