The Event Planner

Photo: Danny Kim

Bryan Rafanelli, Founder, President, and CEO of Rafanelli Events

Last summer, you planned Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. That must have been a handful.
It was at an amazing house, and America really celebrated with the family. In our media-crazed world, though, some things got propelled forward in a very strange way.

Like the all-vegan menu?
Their entire menu was not all vegan. But trust me: There are amazing vegan menus out there that wouldn’t necessitate a tattoo across the top of the menu card that says THIS IS A VEGAN MENU.

How important is it for the bride and groom to split planning duties?
When couples put a wedding together, you can see their future unfolding right in front of you. It’s a great training process because together, they’re managing money, learning to listen to each other, and discerning each other’s likes and dislikes. If we talk just to the bride and then present everything to the groom and he’s like, “Well, I don’t like the color red,” then we have to start all over again. It’s our job to make it work, but it can get a little frustrating if the people who can be involved aren’t. The influencers should be there from the beginning.

Typically, who are the influencers?
As soon as you get engaged, your aunt Gloria and the groom’s sister who just got married are all going to have an opinion. You have to decide who makes the most sense.

Sounds like influencers can be a huge nuisance.
They can be really fantastic, or they can be paralyzing. Remember, there’s the wedding your mother imagined for the past 25 years and the wedding you have been imagining.

So how often do you wind up playing referee?
It’s not just referee, it’s therapist, counselor, diplomat, firefighter…

Okay, let’s see how you do with this one: The bride wants to send out an Evite save-the-date, but her mother insists on the traditional paper variety.
It’s critical to establish your own personal style. This is your first big celebration together, and it’s a reflection of the bride and groom as a couple, but if the parents are paying for it, it’s a reflection of them as well. If you need to get a save-the-date out as fast as possible, you should do an Evite. It’ll save you money, and in the end, a save-the-date is just a save-the-date. People aren’t judging a wedding on this.

What do people judge a wedding on?
How present you are, the time you take, the handwritten notes, trying to say hello to everyone. For example, if you have guests who need to get from the West Village to the Upper East Side, tell them how to do it and what they can expect—it’s a nice touch. And cabs are fine. If that’s how everyone moves in a city, it’s absolutely okay to move your guests that way.

skip the favors

“You invite your friends and family to a wedding, and then you’re supposed to give them a gift? Isn’t the gift the wedding?”
Photo: Amana Images Inc/Alamay


The Event Planner