Advice & Planning

Everything Before “I Do” Part 6: Wedding Planner and Groom Julian Leaver Dishes on Catering & Cake

Sixteen-year wedding-industry veteran Julian Leaver is the owner of Julian Leaver Events, a luxury wedding and events planning company based in Dallas. But for the first time in his career, he’s also a groom-to-be! Having now experienced the industry from both sides of the aisle, Julian will be walking D Weddings readers step by step through his wedding-planning process—from his delights, pain points, and decision-making factors as a client to his expertise and know-how as a seasoned professional. 

You have your venue, chosen a photographer, planned your entertainment, picked out your stationery suite, decided what you’ll wear, and registered for gifts. The next major decision you need to make answers the question, “What is everyone going to eat?”

But perhaps more important than just getting your guests fed is giving your guests a culinary experience. This doesn’t necessarily mean your rehearsal or wedding dinner has to be extravagant—only that it engages them in your love story and gives them a glimpse of who you are as a couple.

To give you an example of what this might look like, consider how Francisco and I are planning our rehearsal dinner. Our chosen venue allows for off-site catering, so we’re bringing in Proper Catering, whom we both love.

As with many couples’ rehearsal dinners, we want ours to be more casual than our wedding dinner, but we’re still planning on a seated affair. As a wedding planner, I’m all about making things personal and bringing in aspects of who you are as a couple. One of my favorite parts of any celebration is the toasting, so there will be plenty of that. But it’s also essential for us to incorporate Francisco’s heritage, so we’ll have a whole Mexico City vibe woven through our food and decor.

And you can do the same thing with your wedding dinner. Think about how your food and beverage can help tell your story, and explore the pieces of it that make the most sense to you. For example, Francisco and I are using shot glasses we bought in Mexico to keep with the theme and share that piece of us with our guests.

Our wedding venue, Hall of Lights, works with Blue Fire Catering, and we couldn’t be happier. But this is something couples need to keep in mind when booking venues. Some allow you to bring in your own catering while others prefer working with their own catering company. So you need to know the situation before making anything official.

Now let’s talk cake, friends. Fancy Cakes by Lauren is creating our fabulous confection. And let me tell you a fun little story about how this went down.

Before Francisco and I settled on anything, we poured over cake photos separately and picked out our favorites. When we came together, we realized we had selected cake designs by the same baker! Then, when we described our vision to Lauren, she turned her computer around and everything we were describing, she had already pulled up on her computer ready to present to us. Talk about great minds think alike!

The benefit of this activity is to give you an understanding of what each other really wants. Because it’s far too easy to sit down together, look through Pinterest, and just agree on everything (even if one of you secretly wants something else). Chances are, you probably do have a similar vision, but curating inspiration independently ensures that you both get to the heart of things.

Then, of course, you can get creative and come up with compromises if needed. Only want one cake but can’t decide on a single flavor? It’s entirely possible to have a multi-flavored cake! In fact, Francisco and I are serving one cake with different flavors baked in. We’re not sure what those flavors will be just yet, but our moms are accompanying us to the cake tasting to help us decide.

Inviting family or friends to your food and cake tastings isn’t such a bad idea. Especially if you can’t decide between all the options or you’re unsure how others will react to the flavors you have in mind. Plus, who doesn’t love a day spent nibbling on hors d’oeuvres and sampling buttercreams? Bon appetit!

Join me next month as I walk you through the design and decor process. And should you have any questions about wedding planning in the meantime, I would love to hear from you.



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