Advice & Planning

Everything Before “I Do” Part 7: Wedding Planner and Groom Julian Leaver Talks Decor and Design

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. 

People might assume that as a wedding planner with more than 16 years of experience, this whole process would be easier. And to tell you the truth, even I thought making decisions would be at least a smidge simpler. But being a wedding planner hasn’t given me any superpowers. In fact, Francisco and I are navigating the process exactly like the couples I work with do.

Every step is essential, and everyone needs to go through each phase—even planners! Because this journey is a personal one. And the same steps we advise our clients on, we follow.

When it comes to design and decor, couples go through two main phases: the Ideation Phase and the Transition Phase.

The Ideation Phase is all about the ideas, brainstorming, and thinking about how your wedding might look. And the Transition Phase is where you put your ideas on paper. How do things look together? This is where solid plans form.

During that first phase, Francisco and I went through several iterations of our wedding design—the first being a little too safe and not an authentic reflection of who we are. It felt more like, “This checks the box,” and we moved on.

But as with everything involved with wedding planning, design and decor should be personal. So we unchecked the box and spent more time figuring out what we really wanted and what would represent us best.

Something that helped us, and could help you too, is understanding how each of you reacts to a design idea or decor item. For example, one of you might look at something and immediately be able to say, “I like this” or “I don’t like this” (Responder).

But your fiancé may look at the same thing and not be able to articulate their thoughts right away (Learner). They might need more time to process their feelings before making a decision.

There is neither a right nor a wrong way—only different ways of making decisions. And you might not know whether you’re a Responder or Learner until you’re engaged in the process. But once you do know, you can use that knowledge going forward.

Another thing you may learn about yourselves is how you prioritize design. One of you might be all about the details, like the paper and the place settings. And the other may be more about the big picture and overall feeling.

Again, neither way is the right way. Instead, it’s all about working together and incorporating the two sides because each is equally important.

Francisco and I came together in the second phase. We officially decided to book Gro Floral and Event Design, Posh Couture, Top Tier, Perch Décor, Center Stage Floors, Bella Acento, and Party!

Yes, being a wedding planner, I’m familiar with these design and decor companies, and there is certainly an advantage to that. And sure, I have a leg up on the logistical aspects. Still, when my fiancé and I are choosing design themes and decorative elements, we’re making some emotional decisions, and that’s not so straightforward. It’s not just about picking something pretty. It’s also about choosing the one right thing for our day.

Believe me when I say I’ve felt the pressure of being a planner planning our wedding, but I’ve done my best to set it aside and make it about the two of us. And every couple should do the same. Your family and friends will have expectations, and it’s hard not to listen to those voices at times. If you need to, go to a third party who’s not invested for support. I know I have!

I may be an experienced wedding planner, but being on the other side is blessing me with even more patience and empathy for my couples. And that’s definitely a superpower worth cultivating.

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