Thinking of upcoming subjects for our Dream Job series, we knew this was one job that would resonate with almost all of our readers. Who hasn’t cruised pinterest and thought wouldn’t it be fun to dream up amazing parties for a living? Chances are, you’ve already seen images of Lisa’s work — her beautifully detailed events have been published everywhere from Martha Stewart Weddings to Town&Country. Over the past ten years, Lisa Vorce has taken her business from a single birthday party to a full service event planning studio specializing in travel-based occasions. She and her talented team of creatives have earned a reputation for doing destinations better than anyone else in the biz, and together they’ve planned unbelievable weddings in places like Bali, Vietnam, and Mallorca. The hallmark of Lisa’s work is an incredible attention to detail, and her hard work is reflected in an increasingly impressive client list. She’s planned weddings for celebrities like Ashley Tisdale, Curtis Stone and Lindsay Price, and most recently, the Lake Como nuptials of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. (That said, in our world, Lisa Vorce is pretty much a celebrity herself!) We caught up with Lisa in between flights to talk about how she got her start, the hardest part of attending your own events, and what it’s really like to work this total dream job.

featured image by aaron delesie


Okay, so you seriously have one of our all-time favorite dream jobs — creating incredible events that have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Town & Country, and InStyle Magazine. We have so much to ask you. But first off: how long have you been working in events and how did you get your start?

I have been working in events for more than a decade now. I got my start by designing an intimate birthday party for George Clooney’s mother Nina as a favor to my uncle who is a dear friend of hers.

event in mallorca, spain designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by elizabeth messina


Did you study communications or event management in school? Do you have any formal training that gave you an edge in your field?

I studied Rhetoric at UC Berkeley — which basically means I can argue well. Ironically, I hate conflict! Post college, I worked for Intel and then IBM as an IT Consultant and Programmer. Both were great opportunities, but not the best fit for my soul. I dove into the event industry with zero training or experience. My education within the field has all been self- taught.

photo by caroline tran


What do you love about what you do?

I love making people happy. Especially when dealing with weddings, it’s quite an honor to be the one selected to manage such an incredibly important day. To make that day one of the best days in someone’s life is pretty gratifying.

Who are these two little buddies? They’re adorable!

Aren’t they? These are my children, Lola and Odie. Rescue dogs are my love!

photo by caroline tran


You’ve become known for really specializing in destination events. Tell us a little about your approach to creating amazing travel experiences for your clients and their guests.

I do love to travel to the remote corners of the earth! The more challenging… the better! We are big hand holders for both our clients and all of their guests and that’s really the secret to our approach! It’s all about attention to detail and taking care of people.

ceremony in vietnam designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by aaron delesie


We’re big fans of the incredible attention to detail you put into designing an event. When you’re approaching something like a “welcome box” for traveling guests, what do you think about?

This “attention to detail” has happily become our calling card. An exquisitely wrapped package that welcomes our clients’ guests sets the tone for the entire event. Quality, not quantity is the key here – and designing something that will port well from my hands to the guests’ hotel rooms is critical. I’m very particular about how our gifts are handled and ultimately presented, so I always design something that is fairly foolproof. I love to select authentic treasures and treats that have meaning or purpose to the location and client. So for example, the welcome gift may include a signature cocktail made by the local mixologist in a glass vessel from a local artisan. I love welcome gifts that have soul and a bit of a story to go with it.

gift box for puerto vallarta wedding designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by aaron delesie


Tell us a bit about your creative process: When you first meet with a client to start planning an event, what are your first steps?

It’s critical for me to understand my clients at their core so I can design accordingly for them. I also feel strongly about maintaining authenticity in whatever location we’re in. From there – the design direction is clear. I’m designing for a specific space using my clients’ personalities as the driving force. When the event or wedding day comes to fruition, my clients literally resonate in the space, as it is a tangible extension of who they are on the inside. It’s a great feeling to have guests walk into our events and say “Oh.. this is SO them!”. In my book – It’s one of the loveliest compliments I receive.

clients curtis stone and lindsay price
photo by elizabeth messina


When it comes to choosing the perfect location for a destination wedding, what advice do you give brides?

It’s a bit of a puzzle and the stars need to align properly. There is a giant matrix that we use when vetting venues for my clients. Distance, ease of travel, curfew, weather back-ups, venue capacities, accommodation capacities, food / beverage costs, etc. Sourcing the perfect venue is a little bit like purchasing a home. It takes a lot of effort and time! Advice wise – brides need to make sure they are taking into account all of the above and not just the aesthetics. Aesthetics are incredibly important – but all the pieces of the puzzle need to be in the right place.

client chrissy teigen before her lake como ceremony
photo by aaron delesie


How many people are on your studio team? Was building out a team a crucial part of your success? What do you look for in an employee?

We have a small core team at the studio, and then we have a larger team of people we pull from across the country and internationally for our events. And the short answer is YES, my team is a crucial part of my success! I have a business manager now who does all of the hiring — she has very specific questions and scenarios she poses to potential talent. First and foremost we look for candidates who can demonstrate that they are hard working and that they bring some game (e.g. illustration by hand, evidence of a beautiful design aesthetic, etc.) Second we require honesty, loyalty and confidentiality. Last but not least, we look for people who have the social graces to work with our client base.

client ashley tisdale’s wedding reception
photo courtesy of @corbingurkin via instagram


You seem to have long-standing relationships with certain florists and photographers. Are those mutually beneficial relationship a key element to your success?

I gravitate towards vendors who are both talented and kind. I think we tend to stick together. I’m always open to working with new vendors but I need to know they share my same philosophies and will take care of my client and the event at the same level that I do.

event designed in mexico for jose villa’s 2014 workshop
photo by jose villa


Do you ever get to attend the events you plan? If so, are you able to kick back and enjoy them as a guest or are you more working behind-the-scenes?

Oh goodness. I attend all the events I plan. I’m there from sun up to sun down. Correction… sun up to sun up! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m hauling furniture with the rest of my team and I’m there to manage every single detail. It’s not in my blood to point fingers and have someone else do the work for me. I have the most incredible team – but they all know I’m far too controlling (in the most loving, positive way!) to not oversee every minute. During the event, I have way too much on my mind to kick back. I relax closer to 2:00 am when it’s clear that the event has been a raging success. At that time, I’ll sit down for a few minutes, to enjoy a job well done, and sip some well-deserved champagne.

fireworks at reception in bali designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by aaron delesie


What’s the hardest part of your job that no one sees from the outside?

I could write a thesis on this! So many things behind the scenes. People sometimes forget that I’m responsible for the safety and happiness of anywhere from 50 – 300 people. If I need to make a weather call due to the safety / integrity of the event, that’s a very difficult conversation to have. Clients have to trust me. They have to trust that I’m on their side and I’m going to do what’s best for them and their guests. For the most part – I get to be the hero, but I also have to be the “reality checker”.

tent for outdoor ceremony in los olivos designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by aaron delesie


You’re doing work for increasingly high profile clients — what was it like to work with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen? Are there unique challenges to planning celebrity events in terms of security or privacy?

I really try to keep every single detail about our clients as private as possible – so won’t go in to detail here – but I can tell you that I adore John and Chrissy. They are very much in love and one of the most generous and kind couples I know. Security and privacy are always crazy issues for celeb weddings. Not my favorite part of the job – but it is what it is and you know what you’re getting in to. Adds an incredible amount of stress and certainly brings its own set of challenges. However, we work with a very tight inner circle of staff and vendors, which helps mitigate the stress and eliminates exposure.

clients chrissy teigen and john legend in lake como
photo by aaron delesie


What types of projects excite you the most?

Something new! I’m dying to do an event in Puglia, Italy. There are some locations in Guatemala I’d like to try, and there is a wedding chapel in Japan that looks like ribbon winding upward to the sky where I’d like to hold an event. Turkey, Iceland, you name it. I’m in. Smaller destination weddings (the more remote, the better) are my favorite.

clients at reception in india designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by dane sanders

 


Do you have an all-time favorite past project?

It’s like choosing a favorite child. I can’t do it. They are all unique and special in their own way. I am deeply connected to each one of our events and put the same amount of love and passion into each one.

dancers at a wedding in zacatecas designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by aaron delesie


Do you have a physical office where you meet with clients? How do you use your office space?

I live in a three-story loft and my design studio is on the first floor. I love my studio and would be happy to meet clients there – but most of my clients are either out of state or out of the country – so it’s rare that we ever have the need to meet in my studio. More likely – I’m meeting them on the road. Pretty amazing to have my mobile offices in places like Lake Como, NY, Vietnam, etc. I certainly have no complaints there!

wedding program from lake como ceremony
photo by aaron delesie


Walk us through your typical day: Are you often traveling for work? Meeting with clients? Checking out venues in person or shopping for decor pieces?

I’m rarely home and I rarely have a typical day. I love that about my job. Who knows what the day will bring? While on the road, most of my time is spent meeting artisans, exploring spaces, and sampling the local food specialties & libations. In the office, it’s all emails and conference calls (while at my desk treadmill of course!)

bride at san ysidro ranch
photo by jose villa


Are there any new trends or ideas happening in the wedding planning industry that you’re loving right now?

I prefer not to follow trends. The best design is a reflection of who the couple is on the inside. That shouldn’t be dictated by trends.

clients at their wedding in france
photo by elizabeth messina


Any advice for a young woman looking to get started in event planning?

Work “in the trenches” at an event. It’s critical to get hands-on experience so you can see if this industry is a good fit for you. The ones of us that are in it have a sick and twisted passion for it!

custom americana invitation suite created by lisa vorce co.
photo by jose villa


Over all your years of experience, what have you come to identify as the key ingredients for a great party?

Joy — via great friends, music, fine wine, savory foods, and a beautifully designed space.

Thank you, Lisa, for giving us a peek behind the scenes of your total dream job!

follow Lisa on istagram: @lisavorce

clients at reception in india designed by lisa vorce co.
photo by dane sanders

8 comments
  1. 1
    karin | September 16, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Wow…what an accomplished lady with experience of dreams galore…creative to a point which leaves me speechless, but admiring her and her world. Bravo for the excellent interview to have a glimpse of such proportions.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Gina | September 16, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Lisa’s work is amazing!

    Reply
  3. 3
    Charlotte | September 16, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Lisa seems to possess the perfect mix of traits for her incredible job. I really enjoyed reading about her!

    Reply
  4. 4
    Morgan Modica | September 16, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    WOW – So beautiful! Definitely wish I could be a fly on the wall during one of these magical celebrations!
    Also… Jose Villa may be my favorite wedding photographer. Ever. & I absolutely told him so when I met him because I have no chill.

    Reply
  5. 5
    Chanel Dror | September 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Gorgeous feature. I thought event planning wasn’t for me, but Lisa has me rethinking that!

    Reply
  6. 6
    Hydee Mulichak | September 16, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Lisa has such incredible creativity and talent!

    Reply
  7. 7
    Dorothée | December 8, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Lisa has been our inspiration from day one..we adore her and her team and the amazing events they put together..Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  8. 8
    Renee | February 13, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Wow! Lisa has such talent!
    My friend’s mum orgainses music tours for celebrities. Right now she’s working on Justin Beiber.

    Reply
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