We're so honored to be amongst PartySlate's top 50 event planners in the country! We're truly appreciative and humbled to be included among such incredibly hard working and talented planners.
Event planners go by many names: producer, event designer or consultant, creative director, and the list goes on. That’s because it’s difficult to capture all that goes into the work they do. These event professionals curate experiences. From concept to celebration to beautiful conclusion, they’re in touch with every detail and key player to ensure wonderfully memorable events.
Our PartySlate Select program honors outstanding event industry leaders and tastemakers; this month we are singling out the event planners who have inspired us with their stunning work. We had an opportunity to ask these busy professionals about their beginnings, their companies, events they’ve loved and even their hobbies and favorite travel spots — read on for the scoop on how they work and play.
MICHELLE DURPETTI EVENTS
How did you get started in the events space?
I began learning how to produce events with my very first internship out of college. I was interning at a public affairs firm here in Chicago that had an events production team that created and managed the events of their clients. It was a master’s degree level experience in everything from political campaign advance work to live television production and everything in between. A highlight was being a part of the 60-person team that produced the William J. Clinton presidential library opening in Little Rock, Arkansas to a live audience of thousands and was televised all over the country and throughout the world. I have had the good fortune to learn how to produce events as large as galas of 3,000 and as intimate as 50. From producing openings of restaurants to runway shows, my career has been full of variety which has been so fulfilling. I have worked with many nonprofits, helping each to create an event that is ultimately a structure through which they can market their message and mission, and those efforts contributed to a record year in 2014 where we helped to raise over $350,000 for our nonprofit clients.
At the age of 26, I chased a dream, and accepted various positions utilizing my fluency in Italian while working for the Italian Trade Commission, an Italian government office throughout the United States that cultivates trade between Italy and the U.S
During that time, I began freelancing as an events specialist and produced various private events including birthdays, weddings, the grand opening of the sales office at Lincoln Park 2520 and both the 60th and 65th anniversary celebrations of Chicago restaurant Gene & Georgetti. This was a very personal career highlight for me as Gene & Georgetti has been a family-owned-and-operated business for close to 70 years, and that family is mine – Founder Gene Michelotti is my grandfather.
Since the inception of Michelle Durpetti Events in 2008, I have planned and produced over 350 weddings and events including some of Chicago’s most notable like Chicago Gateway Green’s annual Green Tie Ball, the Fiera Italiana, in conjunction with the annual Columbus Day Parade, for the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, and the Chicago Hunter Derby where I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Marion Maybank Volunteer Award in 2014 in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Chicago Hunter Derby and the Chicago Equestrians for a Cause. Other clients include the Tennis Opportunity Program, Chicago Opera Theater, and The Tripp Healy Foundation.
Wish Upon a Wedding, a national non-profit and the world’s first wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances regardless of sexual orientation, was kind enough to give me the Shining Star Award. And now, at the ten year marker with MDE, I still work with couples creating their weddings and events because I genuinely love to do it. Now, I balance my time between MDE and being a managing partner in my family’s business, Turnkey Hospitality, which includes Gene & Georgetti Chicago and Rosemont, suburban wedding and event venue, The Estate, and “Bar Ida” opening in River North in the fall of 2018. Throughout all of that, I am also a competitive amateur equestrian and volunteer my time with various charitable organizations.
Tell us about one of your favorite events from the past year.
My favorite event from this past year was hands down my own wedding. I had the amazing good fortune of working with Marina Birch of Birch design studio to help me bring my wedding to life. I knew I wanted to work with a planner because I truly believe what I tell my clients, and that is that when you invest in a planner who is your knowledgeable guide, trusted go to, and endless resource it is the best investment you can make. Marina and her team were incredible in helping my husband and I bring our “wow” factor to life throughout our wedding weekend while keeping the weekend welcoming and intimate. It was a master class in professional inspiration to watch her creative process, and personally, it was the most motivating thing to watch this powerhouse woman balance all that she does with such an open heart, sense of humor, and with such integrity. I believe in community over competition, (I learned this phrase from another planner who is a friend, and inspiration, Beth Bernstein), and my wedding really was a symphony of that concept.
— Michelle Durpetti, Principal & Owner, at Michelle Durpetti Events