Event planner Bryan Rafanelli’s tips for success

Well-known Boston event planner Bryan Rafanelli visited campus late February to share his success story and offer advice to students, especially those in hospitality and event management. (Photo by Tina Nalepa)
Well-known Boston event planner Bryan Rafanelli visited campus late February to share his success story and offer advice to students, especially those in hospitality and event management. (Photo by Tina Nalepa)

Tina Nalepa – 1851 Staff

As a student at Syracuse University, Bryan Rafanelli loved planning events and socials in his fraternity and as he kept planning events, his passion grew.  He began his first career at Filene’s after graduating where he learned how to run a businesses well as buy and market products. At this time, he was taking classes to further his education in architecture. After landing an internship and being successful there, he started his own business. 

Today, Rafanelli is well known in the event planning industry because it is a Boston-based company working with non-profit and corporate events. Rafanelli has planned events like The President State Dinners at the White House, the Clinton Foundation, and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

He is always looking to do the next big thing and already planning his next idea. Rafanelli said, “I am very lucky to have had so many great opportunities in my career, that’s what keeps me going. All the events I have done are just the dinner and I want to get to the dessert.”

A recent event Rafanelli planned was a wedding on a Boston Harbor barge. He shared a video during his presentation, focused on the process of creating the wedding.

Rafanelli said, “When the mother of the bride came to me, she wanted a wedding for her daughter that no one has ever experienced and could never be recreated. What popped in my head was to show Boston is a world class city and give guests an experience of a lifetime.”

What separates Rafanelli from other event planners is his dedication to the clients’ needs and aspires to get them what they want. He talked in his presentation about how great it is to keep a Pinterest board and to pin the things you like.

“It’s even better to see those ideas in person because they will lead to more ideas and potentially better ones,” said Rafanelli.

Rafanelli finds inspiration everywhere he goes and tells students that his job is very demanding. Although he plans all the events, he only attends around 65 each year, he said. “My work is my life and my life is my work.”

His advice to aspiring event planners was, “Go after what you want and know what you want,” said Rafanelli. “When I am looking for an employee or an intern, I am looking for confidence and a great public speaker that way I know they will get the job accomplished.”

Although he is successful, he still faces obstacles. He explained he has to be creative with what is offered to him.

Even though his ideas are extravagant, he works with the client and creates the best product with their budget in mind.  Another obstacle is telling a bride that her ideas aren’t realistic with her budget.

Junior Amanda Ehrenreich said, “I enjoyed how he shared so many of his experiences in the field and told us his highs and lows in the field. Overall, he was very inspirational and made me excited to get into the business. After listening to him speak, I know that I am in the right major and minor.”

Rafanelli travels around the world to places like the Caribbean Islands, London, New York, and Boston to give clients an experience they will not forget.

But this is a dual role relationship between the clientele and the company. Clients are giving Rafanelli the opportunity to further grow his business and keep his company as one of the biggest name event planners in the nation.

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