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CPCE Spotlight: Marci Guttenberg, CPCE, CWP

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Marci Guttenberg, CPCE, CWP, Owner/President, An Affair To Remember By Marci, LLC.

If you are interested in being featured, please contact cpce@nace.net.


Q. Please provide some background on your current position and organization, as well as your path to getting there.

A. I am the owner/president of An Affair To Remember By Marci LLC, which is a retail supplier of invitations and accouterments for social and corporate events. I offer clients my professional skills based on my dedication to the event planning professional industry and more than 30 years of experience.

I earned an Associates of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies, studied Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, and completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Behavior from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

I started working in the hotel industry in the late 1980s and settled on an almost 10-year stint with one of the most iconic hotels at that time in the Central Florida area, The Peabody Orlando. I quickly worked my way up from reservations to group reservations, then asked to join the Catering and Convention Services team as an assistant based on my work ethic. My last role with The Peabody was Function Book Coordinator, which allowed me to work as a trusted business advisor collaboratively with the Sales, Catering and Convention Services Management Team and Peabody leaders to maximize, assign, and optimize the use of all meeting and function space to ensure operational efficiency and client satisfaction and thus increase revenue optimization.

I was courted by the original founder/owner/president of the legendary Park Plaza Gardens Restaurant on Park Avenue, Winter Park, Florida, to join them in the role of Director of Sales and Catering.

After a couple of years, I moved to South Florida and held various catering management roles at Ibis Golf & Country Club, Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa, and a Starwood-owned property d/b/a Hilton Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton.

In 2005 I left the hotel scene and set out to start my invitation business. After completing extensive research to curate my offerings and establish my business in 2007, I now look forward to celebrating 14 years in business.

Q. How has CPCE certification helped your career to date?

A. I earned my CPCE in July 2020. I have noticed a huge uptick in my social media online presence coupled with my podcast panel role on Behind The Veil.

Q: What are your professional goals for the next 5, 10, 20+ years?

A. In the coming years, my goals would be to inspire others to apply for CPCE certification, so that all professionals in the industry are providing our due diligence of quality service to clients. This goal is coupled with mentorship and speaking opportunities. Whether it is on podcasts or in-person, there are many facets to the event industry upon which I could speak.

Another long-term goal of mine is to develop some healthy options for cooking and baking that would be developed into a cookbook. I love to bake, though my aspirations are to get healthy first and figure out some unique, interesting, and great-tasting food for others. I was fortunate enough to inquire about my idea of writing a cookbook with Giada de Laurentiis at a book signing before the COVID pandemic. She gave me some great advice on making things authentic and your own. So, I do look forward to experimenting with ideas and creating some fabulous dishes.

Q. Did you have a mentor or a group of colleagues who encouraged you to pursue CPCE? How did their encouragement help you through the process?

A. During my time with NACE South Florida, I remember Bonnie Fimiano, CPCE, was a driving force to our chapter members to earn their CPCE. Joe Mahoney, CPCE, was also an immensely helpful mentor to me as I was going through the process by helping me to find some additional resources for learning opportunities.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. Study all materials you can get your hands on. Immerse yourself in the process and particularly on the accounting portion. Continuing education post-certification will enhance your ability to thrive in the industry.

Q. When someone asks about the CPCE letters behind your name, how do you explain? Do you have a CPCE “elevator pitch?”

A. It is a nationally recognized designation program marking a commitment to education in the catering and event industry for professionals. Coupled with experience and education, it is achieved through CPCE coursework and an exam process.

Q. Do you have a favorite CPCE memory?

A. I have two CPCE memories. Firstly, I was awarded a scholarship that allowed me to sit for the exam, by only having to pick up the charges for the study materials. Timothy S Y Lam Foundation paid for my exam fees. The second is that earning my CPCE was extremely rewarding. After countless hours of studying, watching webinars, and YouTube classes, I remember sitting for my exam and having Crystal as my virtual proctor. It was during the COVID pandemic that I decided to get serious and make good use of my time during the downtime of our industry.

Q. Would you be willing to share with us a funny or surprising story about CPCE or working in the catering and events industry?

A. Over the years, I have encountered many surprising, dangerous, and even funny stories that I can recollect from my experience. I will share a funny one with you today. So, I was doing a wedding at the hotel I worked for, and during the dinner, I made a quick escape to run over to the hotel lobby bar to pick up the champagne for the bride & groom’s suite. While in the bar, there were three gentlemen bellied up to the bar having drinks and dinner. We were conversant for a few minutes and I parted with some kind words. I took the champagne up the suite and decorated the couple’s room and went back downstairs. At that point, my radio went off to inform me the wedding had some party crashers. The family asked them to leave. It turned out to be the three men I had been talking with in the bar! I explained to the client these were men from the band called the Village People. All they wanted were drinks and to party with the group, though I had the lovely deed of escorting the uninvited guests out of the ballroom. About half an hour later I got a second call, the men were back. Again, I escorted them out. So, I guess the funniest part is I can honestly say I had to throw the Village People out of a wedding twice. It is too bad they did not have all the members of the group present at that moment. Maybe I could have persuaded them to perform. With only 3 members, they might have been only able to give us a YMC.

Q. What is your favorite or most memorable part of working in the catering and events industry?

A. In addition to gravitating toward education, inspiration, and friendships, I think my favorite part is watching the culmination of my role in someone’s special day. Whether a corporate or social client, I enjoy having the ability to bring out a smile that comes along with the role I play. With so much disaster filling in our crazy world, to be a part of happiness is everything.

Q. Do you have a favorite food or beverage recipe you would like to share with readers?

A. My favorite food is lobster. I am from New England, and particularly prefer a One-Pot Clambake of Maine lobster served with clams, corn on the cob, and potatoes. I also favor sushi and some other ethnic dishes. I tend to favor foods that more are nutritious and healthy. The recipe below is something I have created to appeal to my ethnic, nutritious, and healthy tendencies.

Q. Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share in the CPCE Spotlight?

A. Think outside of the box and your scope. Sometimes those extra little steps are what might just set you apart and above the rest.


Rockin’ Moroccan Chicken By Marci Guttenberg
Origin: Morocco (traditional)


4 lbs chicken pieces with their skin
1 tsp kosher/sea salt
Olive Oil
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
Fresh lemon wedges

Seasoning Mix (in a separate bowl)

*Ras el Hanout spice mixture
(Found in Northern Africa, Mediterranean, and Middle East specialty food markets. The recipe is below if you would like to make your own).

For traditional Northern India flair, substitute Ras el Hanout for Garam Masala (a mixture of Cardamom, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Coriander, Black Pepper, and Dried Rose Petals), add a little fresh ginger root and a little allspice.


Mix Seasoning Mix & apricot mix in separate bowls. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and spread seasoning mix all over the chicken. Place a single layer, skin side down in a glass baking dish. Spread apricots mixture (note: you can use the juice of the orange for moisture) on top. Drizzle olive oil on top. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn chicken and baste with the fruit mixture in the pan. Drizzle olive oil on top.
Increase temperature to 425°F and bake 15 minutes longer, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and juices run clear when pricked with a fork.
Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour the contents of the baking dish over the top and garnish with the slivered almonds & pistachios (can toast to bring out nut oils). Add Fresh Lemon Wedges to the edges of the serving dish.

Alternatives: For a sweeter, though slightly less authentic version substitute apricots with peaches or nectarines. Substitute chicken with either white meat chicken or lamb.

Serving Suggestion: Cauliflower rice or couscous, roasted carrots & green beans, and pita. Lots of lemon wedges.

Beverage Suggestion: Mint Tea, Zinfandel (Red – Young), or Pinot Noir

Bonus Recipe: *Ras el Hanout recipe (from scratch):

2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp sugar (or 1 Truvia/Stevia)
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves

Get to know Marci a bit more:

Marci Guttenberg, CPCE, CWP, founder/owner/president of An Affair To Remember By Marci, is a skilled and dedicated event planning professional offering more than 30 years of experience. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Behavior from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. In the past, she worked with such groups Nickelodeon & Universal Studios Grand Opening Gala, Give Kids the World Gala, Lockheed Martin, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Tupperware, The House of Seagram, Paychex, Park Avenue Restaurant 25th Anniversary Gala, Taste of the Nation Orlando, Taste of Winter Park, and Festival of Lights Orlando.

​Marci has received the designation as Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE), Certified Wedding Professional (CWP), and is an AllSeated Certified Professional. She has received a certificate of training from the Association of Bridal Consultants, Carlson Craft Social Training Program Certificate, Cornell University Certification in Effective Communication, and the American Hotel & Motel Association Certificate in Tourism & the Hospitality Industry and the American Hotel & Motel Association Certificate in Hospitality Law.

Marci sat on the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Tourism Board, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee, and Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Park Ave Merchants Association. She has held various roles with National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and currently serves as the Immediate Past President of the NACE Greater Broward and The Palm Beaches (formerly South Florida Chapter).

Marci enjoys traveling, event planning and trends, food & wine, health & nutrition, international culture, music and dance, and behavioral studies & research.


  • Couples Choice Awards®, Wedding Wire, 2020 and 2021
  • Best of the Best Awards, Rent My Wedding, 2019 and 2020
  • Best of Weston 2020, Weston Awards Program
  • National Nomination for “George Zell Spirit of NACE Award”, NACE 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020
  • National Nomination for “Member of the Year” NACE 2018
  • National President’s List Award – NACE, 2014 & 2016
  • Chapter Award recipient of “George Zell Spirit of NACE Award”, NACE South Florida Chapter, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020
  • Chapter Award recipient of “Member of the Year” NACE South Florida Chapter, 2018
  • President’s List Award – NACE, 2014 and 2016


  • Best of Best Award – 1st Place – 2020
  • In Weston Magazine, Premier Issue, feature story interview, “Join the Celebration”, 2013


  • Podcast panel co-host “Behind The Veil,” shown weekly on Facebook, You-Tube, FM Player, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, iHeart Radio, July 2019-Current
  • Speaker Panel, Tea at Trends, July 2019
  • Speaker, National Association for Wedding Professionals – Palm Beach Chapter, July 2019


  • The Bridal Society – Proud Member since 2020
  • Live Events Coalition – Proud Member since 2020
  • National Association for Catering & Events (NACE) – Proud Member since 1998


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Crystal Irwin


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