Whether it's a wedding, a film festival, a marathon, a family reunion...here are some very general tips on how to maintain in the midst of planning something big.
1) Don't do it alone. Even if you're a control freak, like me, have at least one or two people to whom you can delegate tasks, vent, or assign damage control.
2) Keep a handy Excel spreadsheet of things to keep track of--people, budget, venues, etc. It's good to have a few of these if you have a variety of categories that need to be taken into account.
3) Take breaks. Usually, if you're in the midst of planning something big, people are going to call you and ask lots of questions...or you might be tempted to work several hours straight, without nary the idea of quitting. That's no good. Make sure you take off a day that's spent relaxing--meditating, getting a massage, hanging with friends, what have you...as long as you aren't tearing your hair out working.
4) Talk to your support team (photographers, helpers, catering staff, etc.) at least two weeks ahead of time. If you have specific instructions for them, make sure they have a list in writing so you don't have to worry about hand-holding during the actual event.
5) Make sure you document what happens. Sure, with all the stress of planning, you might be just waiting to get everything over with, but you'll regret it if there isn't anyone around to videotape/photograph the fruit of your labor.
6) Pat yourself on the back. Being at the helm of something big is no small feat, so once it's over, remember to appreciate yourself and all your hard work, since everyone else is likely to do the same.
I planned my own wedding. Now, I do have to say, other than consulting your spouse, I disagree about delegating the planning. My mother in law would have decorated the place with Easter eggs and had a Patsy Cline impersonator if I had! Keep a special notebook with receipts and contracts. A spreadsheet is a great idea... I made one. If you need to "borrow" from one category to pay for another, at least you will still stay on track! But, even with all the planning, things will go wrong. It happens to everyone, so don't worry about it. I had to get up from my table several times, (in a $6,000 dress, btw), to chase after the caterers. And, when it came time to cut the cake, NOBODY would do it! I mean, the pieces after the first bride/groom piece. Also, the bartender opened ALL the bottles of champagne on hand at once. Hardly anyone drank it... so, eventually, the band got tanked.
Tamar, I recently planned my wedding as well, and you're absolutely right--not everything is going to go according to plans, no matter how well organized you are, so it's good to either have a backup plan or be extremely flexible. I think that delegating planning to a certain extent is important. Sometimes, as a bride, it's easy to get lost in the details and be a control freak about everything, but learning to trust other people can be extremely freeing if you know they've got your back and you can count on them. Now, I wouldn't trust my mother-in-law if she had the taste that you say yours does :) but I did have my sister and my best friend, who are very well aware of my tastes, helping me out. Planning can be very stressful, in general, so it's important to know how to go with the flow and not get too caught up with the small details.