TO HAVE and toHold! YOUR POCKET WEDDING PLANNER
With Expert Wedding Planner BRYAN RAFANELLI
A Custom Wedding Guide Produced by MOFFLY MEDIA
The Perfect Pair
Trade in Trade up
Table of Contents 4
M E E T OUR EXPERT
THE PARTY WHIRL
LET IT SHINE
THE RIGHT PLACE
FOR THE MEMORIES
YOUR AFTER PARTY
SET THE STAGE
IN GOOD TASTE
Â©ULIA KOLTYRINA/ADOBE STOCK
Every couple has a unique story, and our goal is to tell it so that everyone comes away with a feeling of connection to that story and wonderful memories. – Bryan Rafanelli
Meet Our Expert BRYAN RAFANELLI
ryan Rafanelli has been transforming his clients’ visions into unforgettable experiences for more than twenty years. His company, Rafanelli Events, has produced more than 2,000 events in 50 cities, 23 states, and 5 countries, for guest lists that range from 15 to 15,000 attendees. In 2017, InStyle magazine named him one of the top celebrity wedding planners in the business, and his work has garnered attention and praise in major national media. In addition to weddings and parties for high-profile clients in business and entertainment, Rafanelli has orchestrated holiday décor and state dinners at the White House and was commissioned last year to decorate Gracie Mansion in New York City for the holidays. Rafanelli built his business around his personal philosophy— that every event is a unique creative challenge, deserving a one-of-a kind approach. His projects reflect the highest levels of service, personalization, and thoughtfulness. For all of his events, weddings included, he sees himself as a storyteller. “Every couple has a unique story, and our goal is to tell it so that everyone comes away with a feeling of connection to that story and wonderful memories.” How will you tell your story? We’ve designed To Have and To Hold as a unique reference for brides-to-be and their families, full of ideas and suggestions from one of today’s most sought-after experts. Along with Rafanelli’s helpful thoughts on planning your perfect day, this guide features a list of sources and vendors to help you put all of the pieces together. Grab it, and you’re on your way.
For more information on Bryan Rafanelli and his events team please visit RAFANELLIEVENTS.COM.
PLANNING MAKES PERFECT!
ecause Rafanelli has a reputation for flawless events, we asked him how he defines perfection. “When you can imagine everything, from the start of the festivities to the last minute and the last detail, you will create an extraordinary experience. What we do, and what any wedding couple and their family or planners can do, is to construct what we call the architecture of the event on paper so that there are no last-minute surprises, except for those beautiful moments that are sure to happen within a perfectly prepared setting.” 6
TELL YOUR STORY “Good communication is crucial, so even if you’re not accustomed to sharing your opinions or listening well to others, this is a good moment to try.”
Rafanelli and his team set up an event outline in the first thirty days with the vision and its key elements identified. Most weddings are planned within a six-month to one-year window, with a longer timeline providing more breathing space. If you are using a planner, it’s important that he or she understands your priorities. “Keep emphasizing what you care about so the plan stays on track,” says Rafanelli. The experience of planning a wedding, with the couple and parents all weighing in on decisions, including budget, can be a great teacher. “Planning your wedding is a crash course on the rest of your life— learning to make choices that affect others. It may be the first time you have to work with your spouse-to-be’s parents, and he with yours. There may be some conflicts, but you will learn to navigate the rest of your life, creating a plan that everyone wants to invest in.”
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The Party Whirl CELEBRATE IN YOUR OWN STYLE nce a couple is engaged, there are many ways to celebrate their marriage, starting with an engagement party and concluding with the farewell brunch for departing guests after the reception. In between are many other gatherings: bachelor, bachelorette, shower (hers, his & hers). Where to put your effort? Rafanelli notes that the main event— your wedding ceremony and reception— requires the majority of any couple’s time, effort and budget. But other parties can make sense. “If you have a long engagement— a year or more—then an engagement party makes sense as the starting point, practically speaking,” says Rafanelli. “But don’t be pressured to produce.”
He also notes that if half of the guest list is coming to the wedding from a distance, a welcome party makes sense. “A welcome event is gracious and thoughtful,” says Rafanelli, “and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Pick a pub where everyone can gather.” His favorite of the constellation of wedding events is the rehearsal dinner, given for the key people at your wedding—family and attendants—because it provides an intimacy that you don’t achieve at the wedding. “It’s a treasure to bring everyone together for this last party before the wedding.” “Everything else should really meet the test of what feels good for you, your family and your guests. There’s no need to follow anyone else’s prescription.”
A welcome event is gracious and thoughtful,” says Rafanelli, “and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Pick a pub where everyone can gather.
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The Right Place THE IDEAL VENUE DELIGHTS YOU, AND YOUR GUESTS t’s not just a matter of the size or attractiveness of the space; the right venue for a couple’s celebration can be a wonderful reflection of their lives. Sometimes the choice emphasizes family. Planning a wedding where a bride’s or groom’s elders live so that relatives can attend is one good reason. Rafanelli notes that this wish led one bride-to-be to schedule her wedding weekend in Istanbul, so that her 93-yearold grandmother, who lived there, could participate. “It was an unforgettable experience for everyone who attended,” he recalls. For other couples, there’s a vacation location that they love that leads to a destination wedding. Home sweet home—the parent’s house—with a garden ceremony and tented reception is another very popular choice because of its meaning to all involved. Maybe you will decide you just want to be different; Rafanelli acknowledges that this motivation can also be part of the plan. One of his clients, a sister of another whose wedding he had produced at the 10
family‘s beach compound, decided she wanted a place where no one else could ever get married. Rafanelli’s solution? A dramatic reception on a tented barge— never to be duplicated, and totally unforgettable. “Every location doesn’t have to have meaning, but the meaning of a location will become clear as you put together all of the personalized touches derived from your passions.”
TELL YOUR STORY No matter where you hold your wedding, never put aside consideration for your guests: for their time, for great service, and for everyone’s feeling that ‘It was a wonderful night.’
A LANDMARK IS REBORN Restored, expanded and now available exclusively for private events
For the Memories O
ur connected world makes communicating the highlights of your wedding plans—and creating a multimedia record—more technically simple than ever. A profusion of wedding sites where you can post information about the big day (or weekend) makes sharing your joy and enthusiasm easy. 12
It’s one way to tell your story. Many social media sites can be private, so your words and pictures are available only to friends and family. Capturing the best moments of your main event with images and video requires a creative hand that is also mindful of staying all but invisible to
CAPTURE WHAT YOU WANT TO REMEMBER FOREVER
the wedding couple and their guests. That’s a talent, and an important one, as couples move away from formal portraits for their memory albums. “When you interview a photographer, ask them ‘What turns you on about being a wedding photographer?’ You want someone who is passionate about what they do.” “People are interested in real life,” says Rafanelli. When you are looking at websites to choose your professionals,
keep in mind the photographer or videographer’s ability to create a visual narrative. “If they can tell a story, they will get the pictures you want.” To prepare, make a list of every photo you want; use your event timeline to put them in order. Be sure to give this list to your photographer and videographer, and to someone you trust—perhaps your maid of honor—to help get it done on the big day.
TELL YOUR STORY Your photo list is the road map for your wedding album so that you get those pictures you must have. A good photographer will also capture those unplanned, real-life moments you will remember forever.
et The tage
YOUR INGREDIENTS: COLOR, TEXTURE AND EMOTION
ecorating choices can reveal a great deal about your family’s personality and style. Rafanelli advises brides to gather images of elements they’re drawn to—flowers, colors, table shapes, fabrics. Since any bride can accumulate huge files of what she likes, try to make note of why you like the images you choose. Gradually, you will be able to see a theme and its elements develop from your collected pictures and notes. Sometimes, the venue itself provides a backdrop—ornate, minimalist, natural— that will suggest a design direction. However, lighting, fabric, furniture and accessories can transform any space. Rafanelli loves tented weddings. “They’re a blank canvas, so we are free to create a look that is truly personalized to the clients, to the point where they feel they are entertaining in their own home.” While many brides leave the design elements in the hands of their 14
professionals, a bit of do-it-yourself can add a detail or two that make your presentation unique and personal. Rafanelli recalled that for a nephew’s wedding, the groom and his friends sliced rounds of wood from fallen trees near the wedding site to use as charger plates at the reception. “A handmade element connects everyone involved to the emotional meaning of the wedding,” says Rafanelli.
TELL YOUR STORY The environment you create for your wedding gives your guests a peek into your life.
The Perfect Venue for your
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In Good Taste DECIDE ON THE DELICIOUS DETAILS
here are so many choices for wedding food and drink: a tasting menu with a wide assortment of light bites; food and ice cream trucks for an outdoor party; cakes of all sizes, flavors and components; signature cocktails for the pre-dinner hour. Add to that the concerns of your guests, some of whom may have food sensitivities or special diets. It may seem like a lot to consider, and it is. Rafanelli has some general ideas about food. “Don’t overthink your menu. You should serve what you want! With everyone seemingly on a different diet these days, your guests can take responsibility for their particular sensitivities, and choose accordingly. Adults can handle it.” He does suggest a couple of rules. “Don’t make the menu too spicy or too complicated. And don’t go overboard with amounts. Select a menu that you are proud of and consists of ingredients and dishes that you want to eat.” 16
He has noticed that food stations are coming back into vogue, and some of his clients like to have a shellfish station or carving table; it’s a matter of choice and budget. The Rafanelli standard is three to five choices of passed hors d’oeuvres followed by a three-course meal. “Your guests won’t have to work too hard to try everything, and it’s a fair and gracious presentation. Plus, people will still have an appetite when they sit down for dinner.”
TELL YOUR STORY “A menu that includes families’ favorite foods and wines reveals another facet of your lives.”
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Joseph DeRuvo Photography
Magic Moments AD D A FEW S U R PR I S E S TO YO U R TI M E LI N E
eyond the traditions that are part of nearly every wedding—the toast, the cake, the bouquet toss—Rafanelli believes that the unexpected things, what he calls “wow” moments, make your party memorable. “Everyone will find different points in the ceremony or reception that best tell the story of the bride and groom and really touch the hearts of their guests.” He recalls one wedding in which the event team developed a special moment from a perfect analogy thought up by the bride-to-be. “She said, ‘When we met, time stopped.’ That led us to an idea—a canopy of confetti over the spot where they made their vows, literally ‘stopping’
the confetti in the way we constructed it. It was a simple idea made unforgettable.” Think of the various points where you can “say” something with the decorative details. For example, use some creative arrangement of flowers, lights, ribbons, fabric or something else to mark the path to the reception tent or hall. Rafanelli is well known for the creativity of his placecard constructions. For a family’s vineyard location, place cards were mounted on sticks and displayed in a huge beautiful bowl of grapes at the party entrance. “It can be as simple as a collection of family photos framed and displayed on shelves behind the bar,” he says. “But these touch points tell the story of your lives.”
Plan for three to five unexpected moments: things that you and your guests will remember and identify with your wedding.
TELL YOUR STORY
COME EXPERIENCE THE EXTRAORDINARY!
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Perfect Fit “ 20
our location doesn’t have to interfere with what you want to wear,” says Rafanelli. “If you see yourself as a fairy princess, then be one!” He adds that like a designer who can make a tent at
the beach look like the ballroom of the most luxurious hotel, a bride can explore any look she’s been dreaming of. He encourages his brides, “Do get caught up in your fantasy, and try it.”
LEFT: ©MICHAEL SVOBODA
FEEL FREE TO EXPRESS YOURSELF
If you see yourself as a fairy princess, then be one!
TELL YOUR STORY
RIGHT: © ALENAZAMOTAEVA/ADOBE STOCK
We’re living in 2018. Why not do what you feel today? The potential is there to create whatever look you choose.
For bridesmaids, he acknowledges that bridal parties now dress more adventurously. “For their bridesmaids, brides are taking a cue from designers who create multiple silhouettes, all available in the chosen color.” Rafanelli also notes that a think-outside-the-box approach to dressing attendants might expand the palette a bit, using three different degrees of a color for the dresses so that each woman feels some individuality in the larger group. Rafanelli also reminds his brides to
not forget the groom and groomsmen. Beautiful tuxedos, white dinner jackets, or even colors that enable the men to create their own style can be among the possibilities. “The men deserve to feel great, too.” In preparing for your big day, test out the looks with trusted beauty professionals. “You want your hair and makeup to fit with your look,” says Rafanelli. “It is worth it to test things out—even several times until you feel it’s right.” 21
et it hine
ADD SPARKLE TO YOUR SPECIAL DAY
the tradition of exchanging gifts—often jewelry—on their wedding day. “It’s just a beautiful gesture,” notes Rafanelli. Often the pieces have sentimental value: a fine watch that has been passed from one generation to the next, for example. “Whatever the gift,” he adds, “it’s important to mark the moment in time. A watch, locket, bracelet or charm should be engraved and personalized forever. I do get sentimental about this, because these gifts can live on for the next generation, and the one after that.” For bridal party gifts, Rafanelli suggests going practical, or consulting your jeweler for something appropriately
TELL YOUR STORY After you tell your favorite jeweler about your gifting plans, ask them to show you three to five items from which to choose.
commemorative of the occasion. Bridesmaids might enjoy a lovely shawl in one of the wedding colors, perhaps discreetly monogrammed with the date and couple’s initials. For the groomsmen, socks, beautiful ties or shirts (if they are wearing dark suits) are all useful and practical. Gift certificates for spa treatments or other experiences will also be appreciated. If there is a motif that you are using for the wedding—shells for a beach event, greenery for a rustic location— you can hunt for an appropriate piece of jewelry or other gift that reflects the occasion. Give yourself enough time for personalizing or monogramming your choices.
TOP: ©SHUMOVDENIS/ADOBE STOCK BOTTOM: SHUMOVDENIS/ADOBE STOCK
addition to exchanging rings, I nmany brides and grooms carry on
veryone has different parts of the wedding festivities that they hold dear. For some, it’s music. With the Internet and the recommendations of friends and family, it’s easier than ever to find professionals who can put together the musical themes of your wedding. If you want live music and you’re starting from scratch, most performers have recordings that you can access; if they’re local, many play at area clubs and other venues where you can hear them live—an opportunity to enjoy the research! Some music, such as the prelude as guests arrive, the processional of your wedding party, the bride’s processional and the recessional—your first song after taking
CHOOSE THE SOUNDS OF AN ENCHANTED EVENING
your vows—will be highly personal and often emotional choices. For the dance portion of your reception, you can feel free to invite suggestions from family members and guests. Rafanelli advises: “Start by talking to your musicians—they are the experts and can help start the discussion. You’ll likely end up in a different direction, but their ideas can spark your own. You can make older songs modern, or arrange contemporary songs with strings. Just make sure your pace lines up with the beat so you aren’t running down the aisle for your processional. Talk to your mom or dad about their thoughts about the first dance song—they’ve likely been thinking about this for as long as you have.”
If using a DJ or creating your own playlist, you can find many different versions of your favorite song. Pick the one that suits the overall feel of your wedding.
©TOP: PAOLESE/ADOBE STOCK BOTTOM: RAFANELLI EVENTS
TELL YOUR STORY
Your Af ter Party PICK THE FIRST STOP ON A WONDERFUL JOURNEY
TELL YOUR STORY
Have your photographer arrange to send photos from your wedding when you arrive at your hotel—a way to bring a bit of the magic you made along with you.
© SIMOBALLERO/ADOBE STOCK BOTTOM: GOLUBOVY/ADOBE STOCK
he honeymoon is the icing on the cake for your festivities. After all the time and effort you have devoted to the wedding celebration, some unstressed private time makes sense. “Avoid the amazing race,” suggests Rafanelli. “You don’t need to rush to the plane immediately after the reception. Be thoughtful about your own need for recovery time. Planning this first major event in your life is mentally and physically draining, so you should try to plan a little down time before your flight to your getaway.” It’s also important to plan this first
trip as marrieds with consideration for each other’s styles. “This is an early opportunity to balance your vision and negotiate a destination you can both enjoy. Is this an adventure, or a vacation? Perhaps you can make it a little of both.” Long haul trips—to the South Seas, New Zealand, Patagonia—are becoming more popular and an indication of a more adventurous spirit on the part of newly-marrieds. “It’s a time in your life when, if you can take the time, then do it.” Rafanelli advises his wedding couples to think about romantic touches that you’ll want at your destination, and make those arrangements ahead of time. And don’t forget the obvious: up-to-date passports, necessary vaccinations and other mundane details.
Resource Guide THE ULTIMATE TOOL FOR PLANNING YOUR WEDDING
Orgánachs Farm to Skin 203.221.0435 Westport organachsfarmtoskin.com
BRIDAL/FASHION A Little Something White 203.309.5110 Darien alittlesomethingwhite.com BridalCare by Fabricare 203.229.0001 Fairfield County bridalcarebyfabricare.net Helen Ainson 203.655.9841 Darien helenainson.com Bella Bridesmaids 203.227.5762 Westport bellabridesmaids.com Mary Jane Denzer at The Ritz Carlton 914.328.0330 White Plains, NY mjdenzer.com Mitchells | Richards For more information and locations visit, mitchellstores.com The Plumed Serpent Bridal 203.226.9868 Westport plumedserpentbridal.com Roundabout For more information and locations visit, roundaboutcouture.com
Saks Fifth Avenue 203.862.5300 Greenwich saksfifthavenue.com/greenwich
CAKES & CATERERS Aux Délices For more information and locations, visit auxdelicesfoods.com DiMare Pastry Shop 203.967.2253 Stamford dimarepastry.com Famous Greek Kitchen 203.531.6887 Greenwich famousgreekkitchen.com Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning 203.353.8000 Stamford marciaselden.com Palmer’s Darien 203.655.2077 Darien palmersdarien.com Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes 203.869.9545 Cos Cob sweetlisas.com Watson’s Catering & Events 203.532.0132 Greenwich, CT watsonscatering.com
CEREMONY MUSICIANS Chantal Musique 917 409 8822 New York, NY chantalmusique.com
Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom of Greenwich 203.769.1800 Greenwich arthurmurraygreenwich.com EVENT PLANNERS Bryan Rafanelli 888.593.1220 New York, NY rafanellievents.com Roe Chlala 203.847.7774 Norwalk festivitiesevents.com
FLOWERS Flowers & Flowers 203.662.9666 Darien flowersandflowers.net KD&J Botanica Floral & Event Design 203.226.0202 Westport kdjbotanica.com McArdle’s Florist and Garden Center 203.661.5600 Greenwich mcardles.com Palmer’s Darien 203.655.2077 Darien palmersdarien.com Winston Flowers For more information and locations visit, winstonflowers.com
JEWELERS Henry C. Reid & Son Jewelers 203.255.0447 Fairfield hcreidjewelers.com Lux Bond & Green 203.227.1300 Westport lbgreen.com
Manfredi Jewels For more information and locations visit, manfredijewels.com Steven Fox Jewelry 203.629.3303 Greenwich stevenfoxjewelry.com
PHOTOGRAPHERS Deborah K. O'Brien Photography 203-431-0906 Ridgefield, Greenwich, Westport,Fairfield & Westchester Counties deborahobrien.com Melani Lust Photography 203.454.5878 Westport, NYC & Destination melanilustphotography.com Randy Matusow Photography 914.588.3975 Westport, NYC & Destination photomatus.com
SALON & SPAS Andrew Stefanou Salon & Spa 203.656.5656 Darien spathea.com Celia B. Skin Care 203.861.6850 Greenwich celiabskincare.com Dream Spa & Salon For more information and locations visit, dreamdayspa.com Effi's Salon 203.226.9880 Westport effissalon.com H Salon 203.255.0798 Fairfield hsaloncolorcutdesign.com
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Le Boudoir 203.957.8600 (New Canaan) 203.569.5751 (Darien) 203.442.9016 (Westport) leboudoirbeauty.com Maison D'Alexandre 203.661.1111 Greenwich maisondalexandre.com Massage Envy Spa For more information and locations visit, massageenvy.com Noble Salon 203.322.8483 Stamford noblesalon.com Posh Spa & Nail For more information and locations visit, poshct.com Rick Garcia Salon 203.221.1061 Westport rickgarciasalon.com Whip Salon 203.433.7334 Westport whipsalon.com
TENTS Abbey Tent & Party Rentals 203.368.6111 Fairfield abbeytent.com Stamford Tent & Event Services Inc. 203.324.6222 Stamford stamfordtent.com The Greenwich Tent Company 203.930.4021 Greenwich greenwichtent.com
TRANSPORTATION Magellan Jets 877.550.5387 Quincy, MA magellanjets.com Rudy's Executive Transportation 203.609.8000 Stamford rudyslimo.com
VENUE The Capitol Theatre 914.934.9362 Port Chester, NY thecapitoltheatre.com Delamar Greenwich Harbor/ L'escale 203.661.9800 Delamar Southport/Artisan 203.259.2800 Delamar West Hartford/Artisan 860.937.2500 Homestead Inn – Thomas Henkelmann 203.869.7500 Greenwich homesteadinn.com Hyatt Regency Greenwich 203.637.1234 Old Greenwich greenwich.regency.hyatt.com The J House Greenwich 203.698.6980 Greenwich jhousegreenwich.com Le Chateau 914.763.1410 South Salem, NY lechateaubanquets.com The Loading Dock 203.357.7400 Stamford loadingdockevents.com The Maritime Aquarium 203.852.0700 x 2217 Norwalk maritimeaquariumevents.com
Ocean House 401.584.7000 Watch Hill, RI oceanhouseri.com Pearl Restaurant & Bar at The Inn at Longshore 203.557.6260 Westport pearlatlongshore.com Roger Sherman Inn 203.966.4541 New Canaan rogershermaninn.com Saltaire Oyster Bar & Fish House 914.939.2425 Port Chester, NY saltaireoysterbar.com Serafina at The IC 203.322.6941 Stamford, CT italiancenter.org The Waters Edge at Giovanni's 203.325.9979 Darien, CT watersedgeatgiovannis.com Whitby Castle at Rye Country Club – Lessing’s 914.777.2053 Rye, NY lessingsweddings.com
WEDDING PARTIES (Rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, engagement parties) Alba’s Ristorante 914.937.2236 Portchester, NY albasrestaurant.com Famous Greek Kitchen 203.531.6887 Greenwich, CT famousgreekkitchen.com Mora Mora 203.299.1677 Norwalk garelickandherbs.com/moramora
Jaafar Tazi 203.340.2525 Greenwich jaafartazi.com
Ocean House Triple Five-Star Service on the Atlantic Coast
Weekapaug Inn Natural Waterfront Elegance
Luxury Wedding Destinations
Blantyre The Iconic Gilded Age Mansion in the Berkshire Mountains Members of
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