A Wedding Planner's Evening Celebration Under the Stars at Hall of Lights in Carrollton, Texas
When an interior designer and an event designer get hitched, the decor has to be, well, nothing short of perfection. Add the fact that both experienced the pomp and circumstance of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018, and your own big day is a tall order. Thankfully, Francisco Diaz (36, an interior designer) and Julian Leaver (42, a wedding designer and former royal correspondent) were up to the task.
The epic event started with a proposal for the books. Picture this: It’s sunset and you’re sailing around St. Barts on a catamaran, sipping champagne and eating canapés. But there’s no way a proposal would happen because there’s no photographer to capture it. Well, that’s what Francisco was thinking. As it turns out, the boat hand serving drinks was actually a professional photographer, there to capture the very moment when Julian asked Francisco to marry him. Cue the tears.
And then came the fun part: planning a wedding as an event professional. Choosing the venue, a monumental task for most couples, was simple for the Dallas-based Julian and Francisco. Julian previously consulted on the construction of Hall of Lights, an events space in Carrollton, Texas. Little did he know that he was laying the groundwork for his own wedding day.
In a creative twist, the couple chose to hold their November ceremony at night, so they could exchange vows under the stars. They leaned into a dark and moody aesthetic to make their wedding “as sexy of an evening as possible.” When it came to bringing that vision to life, Julian shares that “the theme here was trust your vendors.” (We love to hear that!) The couple simply provided their floral designers with a color palette and let them run with it. Similarly, Julian trusted Sarah Kane, the lead project manager of Julian Leaver Events, to handle many of the design and logistics decisions. “Our planning experience was quite unique,” he notes. Julian met with his team regularly, as they would with any client, to make decisions together. “We brought together de- sign inspiration from each of our cultures and personalities and ultimately left it in Sarah’s very capable hands. She guided us the entire way and it truly wouldn’t have happened without her. Sarah had a real vision for the way that all of our wild and crazy ideas were going to come together, and we trusted her to help make that happen.” But design wasn’t the only way the couple’s day authentically represented who they are and their story. They got ready and drove to the venue together for some meaningful alone time on their wedding day. They also had a bilingual ceremony, conducted in Spanish and English.
Julian looks back especially fondly on the ceremony, because “the love in the room was incredibly electric. Like you could cut it with a knife. Every single person in that room had fought for us to be there, to make it and to be loving each other in this way. It was an unreal feeling.”
During the ceremony, Julian shared, “I love that you bring spontaneity to my sometimes too-planned-out life. I love your dancing, your funny faces and your ability to go from zero to 100 in seconds. I love your kind heart, emotional soul and soft spot for your grandparents and literally every small dog you see. And most of all I love you, all of you, the very most.”
As for Francisco’s vows, he shared, “Julian, I love you because you make me proud. I promise to love you for who you are, and for who you have yet to become. I promise to share my whole heart with you and to remember to show you how deeply I care for you, no matter the challenges that may come our way. I promise to hire a professional, even if I really want to try to do it (and probably make it worse) myself.”
It was important to the duo that their reception honor Francisco’s Latin heritage. “The most important thing for us was that the event spoke to the Latin side of the family. We had the team spice everything up across the board,” explains the couple. The wedding menu included salad with jicama and roasted elotes (corn) topped with a charred chile and tequila vinaigrette. For the main course and dessert, there were plenty of options. Guests enjoyed two different entrees before diving into one of three cake flavors: champagne-berry, strawberry–cream cheese and chocolate-mocha. Given the over-the-top dessert selection, Julian and Francisco knew that no ordinary cake stand would suffice. “We couldn’t find one we loved, so we ended up purchasing a marble charcuterie tray and a marble wine cooler. We glued them together to make our amazing base,” the couple admits. “We will use it at home to chill champagne and hold glasses.”
Keeping with the more-is-better mentality, the couple had three musical acts perform during the reception. A mariachi band regaled the room during dinner, and a live band and a DJ entertained guests on the dance floor. Looking back, Francisco recalls how special it was to “dance the night away with all of our loved ones and the incredible party unfolding exactly as we had planned it.”
“Our wedding felt like each detail was perfectly curated to represent our story and the way we live,” recalls Julian.