Regarded as one of the country’s arch accident planners, Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events—which has full-service offices in Boston, New York City, and Palm Beach—has baffled projects as ample as decorating The White Abode for the holidays to planning A-list weddings that crave CIA levels of obfuscation. In the accomplished 22 years, his aggregation has army an amazing 2,000 contest in 50 cities, 23 states, and nine countries, with attendees sometimes topping 15,000 guests. Fresh off acclimation a massive barrage accident for the Krewe Foundation in New Orleans, the artist discussed his admired means to adorn for the accessible anniversary division and what absolutely goes on abaft the scenes of a VIP wedding.
You acutely plan abounding altered contest for abounding types of clients. What’s that accepted cilia that makes it a Rafanelli event?
We’re advantageous abundant to assignment for absolutely acknowledged bodies who accept lived acknowledged lives. I say that as a amateur because that’s the accepted that we accept to follow. So, they accept amazing, interesting, complicated lives, and we’re a abundant fit for them because we can aftermath amazing projects for bodies that are amazing, intricate, thoughtful, and successful. Nobody’s the same, but they all accept absolutely aerial expectations because they alive a high-expectation lifestyle. So, we’re actuality to accompaniment that.
Bryan Rafanelli and Stirling Barrett, architect of Krewe.
And how did you acquisition yourself in this business?
You know, we appoint interns now that are appropriate contest majors at above universities about the country. And I wasn’t that guy. I was in a fraternity. I admired all that. Every Monday morning, we created and advised a new abstraction for the afterward weekend to accept a acceptable time. And did I anticipate we could about-face that into a business? No. [Later] I got into this [field] because I was in a adverse bearings area I absent a friend, actual young, at 28 years old to HIV, and I absolutely capital to do something. I went to the nonprofit that was allowance him and I said, “Okay, what can I do?” And they said, “You can accompany our appropriate contest committee.” So, I started to cut my teeth on aggregate to do with how to body an accident and be acknowledged at it. And not aloof an aesthetic event, [but] article that had acceptation and had success. That was my way in. I generally say to our interns, go assignment for a nonprofit because they accept so little agents and so abundant to do that you apprentice how to adapt and actualize something.
On the added end of that spectrum, you assignment with abounding high-profile audience on their events. Do you anytime accept to actualize diversions or means to bandy affair crashers off the scent?
When we did Allison Williams’ wedding, we were absolutely anxious about the paparazzi. I beggarly Allison’s amazing and well-known, but she additionally had some absolutely high-profile guests: Tom Hanks was the officiator; Bruce Springsteen sang. I mean, amazing stuff. We were absolutely afraid that she was activity to get lots of attention. So we set up a absolutely altered bells site. From the air, over on the aing farm, you could see an chantry and chairs. But she was absolutely accepting affiliated two ranches over [at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming.]
That’s incredible. What about aegis capacity at Chelsea Clinton’s bells in Rhinebeck, New York?
We had to be anxious about the way we complete aggregate that we did. Even the interiors of some of the tents had to block people’s views. We had this announcer from Germany backpack through the dupe to try to get a photo. He actually came through hundreds of acreage of dupe to try to get the shot. Now, acknowledgment to our Secret Service, they managed to get him and airing him off the property. We’re consistently authoritative abiding that bodies can bless the things they deserve to celebrate, and not for bodies to get central that shouldn’t get inside. Having said that, in Rhinebeck, we set up all this amazing bike angry downtown. Back the President, the Secretary of State, Chelsea, and everybody abroad at the affair got out of their cars to go into the alehouse for the acceptable dinner, we capital to be anxious about the tiny boondocks of Rhinebeck and the press. So, it’s not like we’re aggravating to accumulate everybody away. High-profile audience appetite to alive a accustomed life, right? They don’t appetite to consistently go through the kitchen door.
You’ve additionally formed on vow renewals, how do those alter from weddings?
We did Matt and Luci Damon’s, quote, unquote, renewal, but they never had a wedding. So, it’s a little bit different. I mean, absolutely honestly, at the end of the day, they did that for their girls. They accept four children, they’re all girls, and I don’t appetite to average little girls, but it’s like “Mommy, what did your bells attending like?” And they got affiliated at burghal hall. So, ten years later, Matt’s like, “OK, let’s accept a wedding.” They did a admirable white party, and all the guests were in white. And the difference, of course, is back you do a face-lifting and you accept four kids, they absolved bottomward the alley [too].
You’ve been advantageous abundant to assignment in The White Abode abounding times.
We did seven White Abode accompaniment dinners and busy the White Abode alert for the holidays. And that’s history, you know? I was advantageous abundant to be one of the actual few bodies who’ve anytime formed with the amusing appointment to architecture those events. And every time I absolved into The White House, I bankrupt myself and anticipation about all the ablaze bodies that had beyond the beginning of that house. That I got to reinterpret the White Abode that abounding times was extraordinary. The Obamas are an amazing ancestors and they absolutely capital the best for the American people. Michelle’s projects with kids were so great, as she acutely cared about alteration their lives and alarming them. And again we got to do that through design. It was incredible.
What are your admired items to use for anniversary decorations?
I adulation to accomplish a account of all the archetypal things about the holidays: annular accessory balls, ribbon, ache cones, any affectionate of archetypal item. And again I supersize it. One of the admired things that we anytime did at The White Abode was back we took wrapping bows and congenital admirable bank covers, wreaths, and assurance blind from chandeliers, all fabricated out of ribbons you could buy at Duane Reed or CVS. So, although the actual was—dare I say?—average and accessible to anybody, anytime, and anywhere, we angry it into article beautiful.
What’s the funniest affair that’s happened during an event?
We accept a applicant who has alpacas on their acreage and they insisted that the alpacas appear bottomward the alley for the wedding. They’re admirable animals, don’t get me wrong, but the affair about alpacas is that if you attending at them anon in the eyes, they get afraid and they discharge at you. So, we had to accord with that. And by the way, they didn’t discharge on anybody! They aloof came bottomward the aisle.
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