Bryan Rafanelli's Favorite Things

Chelsea Clinton's planner and a celebrity favorite, Bryan Rafanelli has merrymaking down to a science

Updated 05/29/12

This content originally appeared as "Party Tricks" in Brides magazine. Prices and other information in this story were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual designers and vendors.

Person + Killian

Motto: "Plan to perfection and something fantastical will happen!"

Courtesy of Bryan Rafanelli

Favorite inspiration: My parent's wedding. On rainy days, when we were kids, my parents would send us down to the basement to watch reels of their wedding. Their wedding was pretty grand, for the time. My parents got married in a cathedral in the morning and then went back to my grandmother's house, had this giant breakfast, and then had a seated dinner for 400 people at a hotel that night. One thing I joke with my mother about is that they didn't do table flowers—there were bottles of vodka and shot glasses instead.

Pictured from left: Bryan's mother and father, his uncle Ray, and his mother's young cousin, Richard

Genevieve De Manio Photography

Favorite venue: We get married in tents a lot, and usually at the family's home. Getting married in your backyard presents all sorts of amazing challenges for the family. If you think it's easy, you should rent "Steel Magnolias" and watch the first part. If you think you can get through that, then you can get married at home. Obviously when you're hiring a company like ours, we're making it seamless. But if you're doing it yourself, you have to be ready for that kind of pressure on your family, your house, and your mother.

Genevieve De Manio Photography

Favorite current color palette: Gray and pale blue with a touch of silver metallic and blush

Favorite flower: Gardenia

Favorite movie inspiration: The birthday party scene in "Meet Joe Black"

Sharon Eliasi Photography

Favorite way to personalize the ceremony: The true value of the wedding ceremony is all in voice, song, and word. I had a couple that chose a seven-part reading where each part was read aloud by a different friend. The more you can include friends and family into the ceremony the more unique and interesting it becomes, and the more it reveals your respect for those people.

Matt Teuten Photography

Favorite layout: Mix your tables. As a guest, if you walk into a room with 30 round tables, the party is over in terms of what you absorb. If you walk into a room, look to the left and see a long table, and look to the right and see a round table, and look across and see a square table, then you're going to feel more inclined to hunt and gather in a space where not everything is the same.

Genevieve De Manio Photography

Favorite over-the-top wedding: Fenway Park reception with fireworks synchronized to pop music

Amy and Stuart Photography

Favorite way to personalize the party: Tell a story about yourselves. If you're serving Parmesan risotto because it's what you order at your neighborhood restaurant every time you go, tell people that in a very well-edited sentence on the menu card. Same thing for wines. It helps guests connect. If you love oysters, you should have an oyster bar. Or maybe you met your fiancée in Wellfleet, Massachusetts one summer, over oysters. This creates a dialogue and gives more information about who the bride and groom are or who their family is. That's critical.

Courtesy of Parlophone; courtesy of Interscope

Favorite processional: "Trumpet Voluntary"

Favorite dance song: "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga

Courtesy of Relish

Favorite dessert: Cupcakes from Relish in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Courtesy of Vali Entertainment

Favorite splurge: Music. If the band you are considering is available on your date, ask them questions and see how they answer them. Ask them for headshots, if they're flexible on what they wear. Ask them if they play continuous live music, and if you can see the song list for the last wedding they did. If they're flexible and forthright, good. In New York, Vali Entertainment is number one (pictured left).

Getty Images

Dream clients: Sasha and Melia Obama

Philip Gabriel Photography

Tradition that should come back: Giving each guest a piece of cake to place under their pillow at night

Favorite wedding clichés: The choreographed first dance, if it's a complete surprise to the guests and not a waltz. Do the Tango or Cha Cha. I'm also pro-bridal party.

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