Long before he was a party planner with a client list straight out of the society pages, Julian Leaver was a student at the University of Oklahoma, planning sorority parties to put himself through school.
He discovered he had a knack for putting together memorable soirées, and before long, those same sorority sisters were coming back as brides-to-be in search of help planning the big day. It was a “natural progression,” and before he knew it, Leaver was a full-fledged event planner.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in international studies, Leaver moved to Dallas and began his career in earnest — first in corporate events, and then for Hotel Crescent Court and Bella Flora of Dallas. Three years ago, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts recruited him back as director of catering sales and events for Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and the Crescent.
It was a job he loved, but when Rosewood sold the Crescent earlier this year, Leaver’s position was eliminated — and his ah-ha moment hit. He'd long dreamed of launching his own firm, and the time was finally right. Thus, the Dapper Diplomat was born.
“It’s proven to be really successful,” Leaver says. "Everyone has been so kind. I don’t think I could have scripted it better myself.”
Leveraging the connections he’s made throughout his years as an event planner and the “360 view” he’s developed by working in nearly ever facet of the industry, Leaver throws extravagant special events: weddings, birthday parties, galas, et al. He’s particularly fond of destination weddings — especially when they're in Italy — but he loves all events for the fly-on-the-wall view of clients’ happiness they provide.
“I love that I get to see people in their most joyful moments,” he says. “Whether it’s a birthday party or we’re raising money for charity or it’s a wedding ... it makes for an experience unlike any other. That’s what keeps me going.”
To ensure every client receives his undivided attention, Leaver limits himself to one project per month. The goal is to provide a truly customized experience, unlike the “wedding factory” experience provided by many.
Leaver works closely clients to “gauge their style and gain a good understanding of who they are.” Though he certainly has his own aesthetic — “classic, but not too traditional; modern, but not too blingy” — he shines in his unique ability to intuit his clients’ style, and then infuse it into an event.
He’s also unique in his ability to act as an advisor on all things etiquette. Not sure how to word an invitation or navigate a sticky situation with in-laws? Leaver’s your man. As a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, he’s certified to teach protocol and etiquette. For his clients, the service comes free.
All of this and Leaver still found time to launch his most recent project: bespoke bow ties. A self-proclaimed “bow-tie enthusiast,” Leaver, a finalist in the 2015 CultureMap Stylemaker Awards, believes more men should “rock a bow tie.”
Oh, and invest in a tuxedo. A bit of free advice from the party-planner extraordinaire: “Your girl is spending $10,000 on a dress. You need to man up and make sure the tux looks good too. Every man should have a tuxedo. I firmly believe that.”