This issue of Eventline kicks off a new feature, showcasing the talented event professionals who share their skills with attendees at The Special Event. We're proud to start first things first with William P. Miller, the ever-stylish head of L.A.-based WP Miller Special Events. He is in charge of the Leadership Lunch, Jan. 12 at the Museum of Latin American Art:
Special Events: Please give us a notion of career. What did you study in school?
William P. Miller: I graduated from California State University Long Beach. I have a degree in Marketing and International business.
I sharpened most of my business skills during my 20-year career at United Airlines. I worked in various management positions at United, but the most rewarded was being a project manager in which I worked on the team to conceive, create and develop United’s self check-in kiosk.
SE: What did you want to be when you grew up?
WPM: I grew up in Chicago and always had an adventurous spirit. I would often ride the train downtown, where I would see Lake Michigan. I always knew something was on the other side and I wanted to see what it was. So I did not know what I wanted to be, exactly other than work for an airline so that I could see what was on the other side of the lake.
WPM event for the University of Southern California Presidential Scholarship Fundraiser at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey; photo by Jeff Lewis
SE: How did you get into special events?
WPM: As a kid, I always volunteered and performed in various community service activities, as well as organized events for my school and classmates. While working at United, I represented the company with planning and volunteering at several company-sponsored events, which lead to me becoming the go-to guy to plan company activities and co-workers celebrations such as weddings and showers.
While working on developing the self check-in, we were ahead of schedule and deployed on Sept. 1. Shortly after, 9/11 happened, with United having two planes involved. The company and industry was changed. I took an administrative leave, and while designing an invitation for a high school classmate, the light bulb went off of exploring the special events industry. Shortly I formed my company—W.P. Miller Special Events.
SE: Tell me more about WP Miller Special Events.
WPM: WP Miller Special Events is a one-stop shop, handling all aspects of event planning and production. Though based in Los Angeles, we have traveled the world producing events, from intimate receptions to spectacular galas and lavish weddings.
Our trend-setting event designs and spectacular events have appeared in such national publications as Brides Magazine, People, Life & Style, Ebony, Jet, In Style Magazine and many others. I’ve also appeared on many network television shows including OWN’s "Raising Whitley," "Entertainment Tonight," "Whose Wedding is it Anyway?", and "Married Away," as well as on the international television French network program "100% Mag."
Known as the "go-to guy" for event planning among the nation's elite, I’ve planned social events for such luminaries as First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senior Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett, in addition to Senators Kristen Gillibrand, Tim Kaine, Harry Reid, Cory Booker and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
In addition to event planning and production, we design custom invitations and cater intimate events.
WPM Wedding at Corodolet House; photo by Earl Gibson III
SE: What has changed—for good and bad—about special events since you got into the business?
WPM: I’ve seen the era of the DIY consumer, who believes they are able to handle their event, especially during the economic crisis. Today, consumers are willing to spend money for services that will free up their time so they can give attention to other items.
SE: What do you see as the hot trends affecting events right now? Does rustic still rule? Is gold flatware the new black? Is the DIY bride finally fading away? What are the new social events--baptisms?
WPM: The trend today is to be original and make your celebrations stand out. Consumers today are no longer pressured to maintain traditions, so I see more of the clientele’s personality incorporated to event themes.
SE: Tell me more about your TSE event, the TSE Leadership Lunch? What will make this event a can’t-miss for attendees? Any secrets you can reveal?
WPM: I’m so excited to be the chair of the upcoming TSE Leadership Luncheon, “Setting Your Table for Success! – Ignite, Image, Involve.” Working with the Ambassadors and Committee, the luncheon will be an afternoon of conversation and dialogue with leaders within and outside of the event industry. You will be inspired to achieve your dreams as well as foster positive changes towards accomplishing your goals.
To get in touch with William P. Miller, visit
Facebook: WP Miller Special Events