I know it’s cliche, and I say it every year before the season starts, but truly, I cannot wait for the weddings to begin and see it all come to life.
Josef Rogers

Joe Rogers

Owner + Creative Director

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Contagious Events is all about making wedding planning is as individual as you are. Rule number one – Throw out the ‘shoulds’. All of them.

We don’t use templates for anything. Not budgets, not timelines, not ceremony scripts. Nothing. Nada. Everything is custom made, from scratch, for each couple.

Even down to our checklists – custom-built based on your wants and needs.

We want you to enjoy the whole process, from throwing around wild ideas to the last champagne at your reception. Well, we want you to enjoy the rest of the night as well, but you’re on your own for that one!

We want each one of your guests to be able to enjoy every second of the day. We’re there if anything goes sideways on you. That means no last-minute to-do list for mom!

To keep it simple, we charge a flat fee pricing. No percentages, no commissions. No hourly rates or overtime. No surprises.

We’re also all about paying it forward. We grab any flowers still hanging around after your guests have long gone, give them a little refresh, and hand-deliver them to a local hospice to bring a smile to their residents.

Hi, I’m Joe.

I was five when I sat my godmother down and demanded she help me throw a dinner party for my family. From the place cards to the menu, my parents’ smiles gave me a taste for fabulous events.

I was still that guy throughout high school. I kept planning events from pep rallies to a leadership council for 200 students from neighboring towns. That one was really fun.

I stepped it up another notch in college. Concerts, comedy shows, and a Guinness World Record attempt for the most people inside a Mini Cooper (Side note – we did, and it’s a great story. Ask me about it!).

After graduation, I started working as a meeting planner. 180 events a year. Super professional, but also super cookie-cutter. Paid the bills and all, but I really missed the creativity involved in super personalized events.

The only logical choice was to go rogue, so in 2008, I started Contagious Events.

I love planning weddings. Tradition is all well and good, but I can’t stand watching people get trapped in a web of obligations wondering where all the fun went.

I plan weddings that your guests will still be raving about on your 10th wedding anniversary, and I’d love to plan yours. Check out our consultation packages. Let’s see if we can still have them talking on your 20th.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?

I once had a rental company cancel an entire order 24 hours prior to a wedding that was being held in a relatively remote part of Cape Cod. They canceled through a text message as I was loading our van and didn’t answer when I called for an explanation.

Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to resolve the issue with them since they weren’t communicating, I reached out to a few of my vendor contacts.  Unfortunately, they were not in a position to help, but through our combined networks, we were able to piece the entire order together. By the time I told my couple what had happened, we already had a plan in place and a solution to present.

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

I think I’m most excited that couples are starting to really be comfortable with the idea that weddings are a celebration of who they are, and that means they do not have to follow some of the age-old wedding traditions. We started to see a gradual shift – it started with bridesmaids not matching exactly, then we saw dessert other than cake being served.

Now we’re really seeing the day be customized – from flipped timelines where cocktail hour happens BEFORE the ceremony to mixed-gender wedding parties on both sides. Truly, there are no rules when it comes to wedding design and I’m really excited that couples are starting to embrace it.

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

For any couple with a tight budget, I think it’s really important to get your priorities outlined from the very beginning. Just because you have a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on things that matter, it just means you have to be mindful of where the budget is being spent. Small details can make a big impact, it doesn’t have to be an over the top statement piece.

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

I’ve always wanted to produce a city-wide, public event that brings people together to celebrate and caters to all different styles and tastes.

One idea I’ve had since my early days as an event planner is to create an all-night dance party. In Boston, our public transportation system is called “the T” – I think my dream event would involve transforming various train stations into different themed parties, and shuttle guests between each station so they could take in the different designs, music genres, foods, and experiences. I jokingly refer to it as the “new Boston T party”.

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

I would actually say relationships with vendors are equally as important as my relationships with my clients. We’re all a team, and we have to accomplish a common goal: to create an amazing experience for our clients and their guests.

If I have a great relationship with our vendor team, not only am I going to be well-rested on event day because I was able to sleep well (and without worry), but I’m also going to be able to let them do their job without feeling micromanaged and as though someone is watching over them. I’ve been told by vendors multiple times that I’m one of the “most easy-going wedding planners” they’ve worked with, and I take pride in that. I think it’s so important to introduce my clients to event pros who are going to be genuinely excited about the project and are capable of executing it in a professional manner.

Like all relationships, vendor relationships take time and communication. I make an effort to network with and communicate with vendors on a weekly basis in a non-professional setting. It may be grabbing lunch or coffee, or just a quick email to say hello. What I’ve found works well is when you’re able to engage in conversations that are not project-specific so you can get a better feel for who they are as a person and what types of clients they like to work with. I want to know what types of projects they’ll be excited about and have on their bucket list, just like I would want them to reach out to me if they ever had a client that was planning an event in a subway station!

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

A few years back, we worked with a nonprofit client to create an entirely new fundraiser that they now host annually. We started the conversation by identifying their target audience. Not all fundraisers should be high-ticket events attended by well-paid professionals. For this organization, they had a huge opportunity with a younger, professional crowd, so we designed an event around that demographic.

We then identified their goal revenue and worked backward to calculate how we could get to that number: from ticket sales, sponsorships, and other revenue streams at the event itself. The event was so successful that it’s now an annual event, and is one of their most popular!

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

We’re in the height of our planning season, so what’s really exciting right now is looking at all of our design plans for our 2020 couples and starting to pull all the pieces together. I’m really excited about how unique each wedding is, and how amazing they’re all going to look – I know it’s cliche, and I say it every year before the season starts, but truly, I cannot wait for the weddings to begin and see it all come to life.

What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?

My first professional job out of college was with a nonprofit as a meeting planner. It was a great way for me to learn the basics of events hosted at hotels, but it didn’t offer a lot of creativity, so I started Contagious Events as a weekend passion project; a way for me to flex some creative muscle.

I mostly started by doing events for friends, then it was friends of friends, and eventually, I started getting inquiries from people I didn’t really know and couldn’t determine the degrees of separation. I brought on additional planners to help with the execution piece and after about eight years, I went full time with it. I love every day and I’m so happy I took the leap of faith.

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

I wish I knew how much of a commitment running a business is. When I was in the growth stage, I spent a lot of time on my business and found myself yearning to find that work-life balance so many of us struggle with. Even when I was able to bring in reinforcements to help with the business, running a business is a lot of work by itself, never mind the “fun stuff” like designing, talking to clients, and executing on the day of.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

We once had a couple who requested a famous drag queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race to do a surprise performance for them and their guests. Although they knew the performer was coming, they did not know the song selections and trusted us to make sure it was fitting for the evening. We were able to negotiate an agreement and fly Latrice Royale from Florida to upstate New Hampshire and keep her away from guests’ view before her big premiere. It was amazing to see the guests’ shocked faces and laughter as Latrice performed.

Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?

I just really love my job, and I think that’s true for most of us in the events industry. Wedding planner is often listed as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs, and while I don’t disagree with that, I think the reason we all keep our jobs is because of how much heart and passion we have for what we do.

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