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Why We Love Bryan Rafanelli

He's planned such high-profile political events as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration parties, but it was Chelsea Clinton's 2010 wedding that launched Bryan into the media spotlight. The new industry darling lets us in on his insider tips.

Photo: Genevieve De Manio Photography and Elvin Photography

Watch our exclusive video interview with Bryan! >

First Things First: Get Organized

"I'm a planner, so maybe it's easy for me to say," Bryan advises, "but I think every bride should immediately come up with a plan. Sit down and think, ‘What do I really want? How does this fit into my life?'" He suggests making a timeline, a calendar, a budget, and even an idea of your personal style. After that, the rest will fall into place beautifully. "If you take care of it early on, then you can actually forget about it later," Bryan adds.

Make Stationery the Star

Of all the elements of your wedding, the most memorable is often the paper. "One of my favorite parts of every wedding I plan is certainly the stationery suite," Bryan says. "I love it because it's so tactile. Your guests touch it. They pick up the escort card when they arrive, and it immediately sets a tone. Then they sit down, and there is this beautifully designed piece of paper taking them into dinner." Along with choosing a heavy card stock, add textured details like ribbon, die-cuts, and letterpress where you can for a truly luxe package.

Include Your Guests in the Traditions

No stranger to a broad range of cultures and interfaith marriages (such as Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky), Bryan encourages communicating your wedding rituals to your guests. He says, "Describe in a toast what the traditions and details mean to you personally. You can't expect everyone to know what a huppah is, for instance." The more involved you make your guests, the more special it is for everyone.

Trust That Everything Will Turn Out Fine

No matter the mishap, Bryan says it all turns out for the best. "Once I got a call at 5 a.m. that the weather had shifted and a hurricane was headed right smack in the middle of the wedding we were planning that day," he says. "The mother of the bride asked me if I had ever dry-vacuumed a lawn before. I said, ‘Well no, but there's a first time for everything.'" Bryan says he and his crew resurfaced the tent with a full second layer, spiked down the tent poles every 20 minutes, and dry-vacuumed the lawn twice. "It was one of the most exciting weddings we have ever produced," he says. "The energy at the party was incredible."

Enjoy the Experience!

One of Bryan's best pieces of advice is to truly engage yourself in the process of planning your wedding. "Take the time to try things out," he says. "Look at all the choices and see what really speaks to you." If something doesn't feel right, he says, even if you imagined it that way all your life, choose something else. By weighing all the options and expanding your scope, you'll end up having far more fun along the way. "From the moment you get engaged to the day you come home from your honeymoon," he says, "focus on all the things you get to do and the people you meet along the way. Embrace the entire experience."

-- Susan Waits