Marisa Vrooman is the Owner and Lead Event Designer of Orpha Events, an award-winning, full-service luxury wedding design and planning firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her extensive career offers her a wide variety of experiences that she regularly draws on while planning weddings and events. While working in film and television production in New York, she honed her logistic expertise along with her creative skills. Her work includes working on big budget Hollywood films including: 27 Dresses, Across the Universe, Ghost Town, and When In Rome. She worked as a commercial production designer and set decorator further developing her creative sensibility and style. Orpha Events formed in 2010 as the perfect marriage of creative passion and organizational finesse. Orpha is the middle name and nickname of Marisa’s grandmother, who inspired her through her generosity of spirit and amazing ability to spread joy and love. Marisa approaches each client with an open ear, a fresh perspective, and a desire to create the most unique, memorable, and spectacular event.
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
My husband and I lived in New York City and worked in film and television there for five years. We decided to “take a three month break” from the city, and that was almost 12 years ago! I've always been both a creative person and also a very organized person, so I sort of “fell into” the wedding industry. It was the perfect setting for me to combine my logistic expertise, my drive to create beauty, and my social and leadership skills.
Why did you start Orpha Events?
Orpha Events is named after my maternal grandmother who was a joy and love magnet. She seamlessly took care of and loved everyone she knew. I've always felt that wedding celebrations are the one and only time in your life that you get to celebrate a joyous occasion with ALL the people that you know and love. I started Orpha Events because bringing that joy, beauty, and time with loved ones to my clients is a deep passion of mine. I want weddings to be about the people there and the joint memory you'll create together.
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
I wish I could change the amount of unnecessary pressure people feel to keep up with the latest fads. I want to help my clients focus on the things that really matter to them and fit into their world view. I'd also love to help the industry reduce waste and approach the work with more earth-friendly processes.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want to?
I've created a lot of custom functions in Aisle Planner that I know my clients heavily rely on. They love that they have access to all the information at all hours of the day. I even build a client facing checklist for them to make sure they're getting their tasks done. We also really appreciate that they can easily see their payment schedules and vendor contacts at any time they'd like.
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
We appreciate having the visual components of the Design Studio, which helps translate our vision to what the clients can expect. Also, the comments help to keep us all on the same page without things getting lost in email.
If you weren't the Owner + Lead Designer & Planner at Orpha Events, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
This is hard question! I’ve been leading this company for ten years so I can’t really imagine much else. But possibly I’d be working in some sort of visually creative field – maybe interior design. I love thinking about people’s experience both of a physcial space and in how they visually interact with the world. Or I’d go back to the art department in film or theater – creating alternate worlds where the characters can really come to life!
What are three things you never show up without on event day?
1. My team. I have the best crew. We’ve been together for years and they can read my mind at this point. I love to empower everyone to do their best work and my team excels and always amazes me with how great they are!
2. My tool box. It has everything in there! We can rig up just about anything on an event day because it’s a well-stocked carry all.
3. Our walkie talkies and headsets. How did we ever run an event without them? Talk about efficiency.
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
Wedding planners should always check their egos at the door. I believe that it's very important to always reflect our clients’ value systems and world view in their weddings. Our job is to educate and guide our clients to make the best decisions for their own priorities. We also need to be there for our creative partners and make sure that we enable them to shine.
What’s your trademark in the client or event experience?
Happy people make a happy wedding. Across the board!
Is there anything you're particularly excited about working on this year?
Helping my clients get through this COVID-19 crisis is our top priority. This pandemic has turned lives around the globe upside down, so if we can help soften some of those blows and comfort our clients through this crisis, we'll feel a little bit better about all of this.
Just for fun
Dogs or cats?
Both! I had the best two cats in the universe but when they passed away, I couldn’t think of “replacing” them, so we adopted a dog and now we're a dog-loving family for sure!
Non-work related hobbies?
Pottery! I love to throw pots on the wheel, but since the pandemic has closed our community studio, I’m giving hand building a whirl. So far, it’s not so bad!
If you catch me out and about I’m always wearing…
Comfortable shoes! Years of events and production have really made me appreciate the pure joy of comfortable shoes.
Want to see more from Marisa? Check out her website orphaevents.com!
Hero photo courtesy Sera Petras Photography