The Founders

Find out more about the people behind our Insitute.


Marissa Mortimer, CEP


Marissa Mortimer, one of the most sought after planners in the New York metro area, has a career in Special Events dated from 1998.  She sang professionally for wedding ceremonies, playing a small role in a couple’s special day, as she watched the procession, blessing of the rings, and the like, becoming inspired to see herself in the wedding industry four years later.  At 20 years old, Marissa began with planning fundraisers, New Year’s Eve galas and social events. Over the next few years, she was commissioned by financial advisers to plan their seminars. Mastering the corporate spectrum, she started to gather the knowledge of producing an event from start to finish. After building a strong foundation in the field of special events, Marissa incorporated Lavish Occasions, LLC, in March of 2005.
As of 2017, and with over 350 events with 100% satisfaction under her belt, Marissa has become a Special Events expert. In 2006, she was named one of the ‘Top Ten Entrepreneurs under 35’ in the New York metropolitan area by Industry magazine.  Another achievement was being selected to teach her craft at Wagner College to hopeful Wedding Planners. Since 2007, Marissa has trained hundreds of planners, designers and coordinators. Among her taught classes are the Certified Wedding and Event Planning, Professional Events Coordination and Preston Bailey’s Signature Wedding and Event Design courses. Marissa credits her own Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Sociology for her calming demeanor, intuition, smarts and good judge of character. Marissa has been a keynote speaker at several event conferences and began her own line of educational seminars and events in the Spring of 2016.
Marissa is a talented writer and among her works are articles such as “10 Great Places for your Lavish Occasion” boasting some of the best facilities in the NY/NJ Metro. She has been featured on NJ12, NY1 and is often quoted in the Staten Island Advance for expertise in planning, design and etiquette. She was involved in the planning of Preston Bailey’s Wedding as well as Dina Manzo’s (Real Housewives of New Jersey) launch of her new course “It’s my party and I’ll plan if I want to”. She also planned the weddings of local celebrities ‘Impractical Joker’ Joe and Action 6 anchor Alicia Vitarelli.
Co-launching The Event Professionals Institute (EPI) has been a goal and mission in her 20 year career. Her dedication to empowering and educating future planners is unparalleled. With decades of experience and her career as an educator in Special Events, her courses will be a solid path to success for hardworking future planners.

When I was young my grandfather told me that no matter what, you should ‘aim high’ in all that you do, and you would always be successful. Also when deciding what to do with your life, to ask yourself two questions: ‘what do you truly love to do and what would you do for free’?  When you have the answer to both questions, you will know that you have made the right choice.  That was the best advice I ever received and from the best person I ever knew… and it has brought me great happiness and much success”.

Marissa Mortimer

Donna Anello, CSEP


With more than a decade of experience in our constantly changing industry, Donna Anello, CSEP, owner of Donna Anello Signature Events, has grown her brand beyond even her own hopes and expectations.

Donna entered the world of event planning with an extensive background in education having earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, respectively. Furthermore, she is extremely passionate about educating the team around her. Donna is an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickenson University in Madison, New Jersey. Her experience in the classroom has proven to be the core of her business and has proven priceless regarding her growing brand.

Founded in 2012, Donna Anello Signature Events has locations in New York City and New Jersey, with Donna personally overseeing every detail, allowing client relations to have a personal approach which is undoubtedly why Donna Anello Signature Events continues to be at the top of its game.

Donna and her team have been widely recognized for their work, with various publications and awards. Her impressive achievements separate Donna from the rest as they represent her unwavering passion for learning and her ambition to keep her brand as one of the most sought out companies in the New York Metropolitan Area.

Donna is also the Co-Founder of the Event Professionals Institute. This Institute was created with the goal to offer education to both novice and seasoned professionals. Besides her role as a Lead Planner and Educator, Donna is also a Speaker at local events for The International Live Events Association (ILEA), The Special Event Show (TSE), Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), and Wedding MBA. Donna is an active member of ILEA, currently on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Chapter, and is also the Past Regional Vice President for the Northeast Region.

Donna and her team at Majestic Moments have been widely recognized for their work, with various publications and awards, which include but are not limited to popular industry giants- The Knot and Wedding Wire.  Her impressive achievements separate Donna from the rest as they represent her unwavering passion for learning and her ambition to keep her brand as one of the most sought out companies in the metropolitan area.  Donna was the recipient of the 2017 Best Planner of a Social Event at the Garden State Gala Awards, the 2015 recipient of the President’s Award for the International Live Events Association’s NJ North Chapter, she won the 2014 Best Planner of a Social Event at the Garden State Gala and Awards, and 2014 Best Table Design at the Say Yes to the Best Expo.

Donna has the distinguished honor of earning the title of CSEP, Certified Special Event Professional, which she shares with only 5% of the top industry professionals in the world.

The classroom was where Donna began her career over 20 years ago and it is where she has returned. Educating planners from all over the country, she proudly shares her wealth of industry knowledge and continues to inspire her students to reach new levels of standards in the field.

One event at a time.

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