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Life of Bryan: Rafanelli Events’ Head Honcho Tells All

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bryan Rafanelli has been one of New York’s best event planners for over a decade. Through Rafanelli Events, Bryan oversees three of the City’s biggest spring events—the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s Pink Party, the Central Park Conservancy “Taste of Summer” party and the 92Y’s annual gala. Instead of imposing his view on the client, Bryan works with his clients to turn their visions into reality. “At the end of the day, we’re storytellers,” says Bryan. “But my story is your story.” AVENUE recently sat down with Rafanelli to talk about his job.


Tell me about how you started?

I started my company 20 years ago, and I came out of the non-profit space. I was a volunteer on the special events committee for a non-profit and really enjoyed it a lot. One day, the executive director of the organization turned around and told me they should pay me for what I was volunteering for, so I started a small company helping non-profits out. That grew it into doing events for corporations and private individuals, and I stepped into the New York market 12 years ago. I started my business in Boston, and then through connections made it here.

How does doing an event in New York compare to doing one in Boston?

Logistically, it’s a bit more complicated. What’s pretty extraordinary about New York is that there are so many choices and the venues are larger and bigger, which enables us to create more incredible things. On top of that, New York has so many beautiful venues, like Central Park or The Rainbow Room or any of the other incredible spaces, ranging from studios to museums to private homes. It is unlike anywhere I’ve done events in the world

What’s your favorite event space?

There are different categories of space, but I often say if I was going to throw a party for myself right now, I would throw it at The Rainbow Room. You’re sitting on top of the world, and the renovation they did a few years ago was spectacular. I just love it. Having said that, I love the New York Public Library, because I just think it’s divine. I feel like it fits into a Hollywood idea of a glamorous party, much in the same way that The Met does.

What’s your favorite event you’ve done?

For the last five years, we’ve had a relationship with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and have been involved with their hot pink party, which Evelyn Lauder originally created at the Waldorf. That was incredibly exciting, to take on the monster space, and transform it into something original. We just moved that event over to the Armory, which has been equally amazing.

What else can you tell us?

You have this real embarrassment of riches and amazing locations in New York, and there’s an opportunity to transform them every single time. That’s what we do at Rafanelli. That’s what I enjoy doing in this amazing city. There’s nothing like it in the world.


See you at the next party, Bryan!


R.I.P. Mario Buatta, 1935-2018

The Prince of Chintz has died after a life of loveliness and laughter.

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