Eli Lunzer plans events on a grand scale for various clients who are professional athletes, recording artists, Fortune 500 corporations and national non-profits. When it was time to propose to his long-time girlfriend, he wanted an experience worthy of the occasion. “I wanted to make a splash both personally and professionally, since that’s what I do,” he said. “Everyone kept asking when it was coming. I wanted the world to know.”
Lunzer asked his contact at Madison Square Garden if he could propose on the court at a Knicks game, but he was told he could only do it via the electronic scoreboard. When he explained all the relationships he had in the sports and marketing worlds, they came back with a plan: He and Yosefa would be called onto the court during a time out, allegedly for a staring contest. “That’s when I would pull out the ring,” he said. He proposed to a very surprised Yosefa Heber at Madison Square Garden, in front of 25,000 people watching a Knicks game on January 18, live and on social media.
Lunzer is an Upper East Sider who grew up in Englewood, where his parents Robert and Pam still live. Eli Lunzer Productions has three divisions: event planning and production, brand marketing and product placement and talent management—all with heavy concentration on the celebrity influence areas. He represents professional athletes and entertainers whom he books for appearances at parties, including bar and bat mitzvahs, and Jewish schools and camps. Now he’s also his own client—he’s in the throes of planning a wedding—and he’s finding out what his experience planning other people’s events can teach him about his own. “The emotions are a little different when you are doing it for yourself,” he said.
From this vantage point, he shared tips for anyone planning a wedding. First, start with a budget, keeping in mind the overall design, decor, theme and feel you want for your wedding. You have to have a starting point although you can adjust as the process moves ahead. Prioritize by making lists of what you absolutely need, what might be extra and what would be bonus.
Be open minded when choosing the location and venue, he recommends, and to different options in all aspects of the planning including decor and overall feel of the venue. Be creative and see what you can work with. And know what comes with the venue and what doesn’t. You also have to understand that a wedding isn’t just about two people, but two families, and there can be many opinions in the mix. “Go with what you feel best about,” he said.
When you know what you want, lock in your choices as soon as possible. “There are only so many dates out there,” Lunzer cautions. “When your event is in high season, if you don’t pull the trigger quickly you could lose the singer, florist, caterer or hall that you want.” Experience has taught him that you have to be prepared for something to go wrong—it always does—and to think quickly on your feet, so guests never know there is a problem.
Lunzer is seeing some new trends in weddings. More weddings are having open seating, which takes the stress off planners and hosts to seat individuals. Buffets are becoming a more popular alternative to plated meals. And entertainment options are expanding. This season you might see magicians or fireworks at a wedding. With more cross-cultural weddings, as guest or host, you may be exposed to new foods and customs. Lunzer planned a wedding for a combination Jewish Indian and traditional American couple and learned new traditions and customs in arranging food, entertainment and decor.
It’s still early in the planning stage for Lunzer’s wedding. What is his biggest priority? “That everyone has a great time,” he said. And what’s in store? “There will be a lot of surprises.”
By Bracha Schwartz