Michael Monday’s

Last injury….
In August I was zooming to jump into our open shower and didn’t see a puddle of water on the black and white marble floor. Down! Hard! Fractured my pelvis. Ouch for a long time!
MJN's bathroom interior with marble floor
Last recurring dream…

I run until I’m completely out of gas each night and when I hit the pillow, I’m out. No dreams. At 6:30 a.m. I’m instantly wide awake. Never an alarm.

Last indulgence…

After jumping into the pool wearing a custom suit, it truly did shrink (plus 9 lbs of gut). When my pants nearly popped as I was ushering at Mass, I did a U-turn in the church parking lot and went directly to Suit Supply. I splurged on a linen/cotton/wool bright blue suit that I just love…and it’s not tight!

MJN in Linen Suit Supply Suit

Last time I sang out loud…

Alan Jackson has a version of “How Great thou Art” that is in my range and touches my soul. When in a happy mood, I flip on Sonos in the house and Alan and I try to best each other!

Alan Jackson

MJN

Michael Monday’s

My designs are inspired by….

I believe a bride should never regret her gown or her children be embarrassed for her. (Hello, Kim Kardashian’s fashion choices.) When I dress a bride, I want her to be “beyond reproach,” i.e. not trying too hard, not shocking the guests, not trying to out-do a cousin/friend but rather just be the most gorgeous version of herself. I think most of my designs reflect that aesthetic.

Kim Kardashian and Kayne West.png

Kim Kardashian.png

 

The percentage of gowns leaving Nolte’s Bridal are your designs…

Years ago I heard a bride whisper to her mother as she was standing in a sample gown, “We have to say something nice. Mr. Nolte’s label is in this dress.” I nearly cringed. I immediately ordered my labels removed from all our stock gowns. I want the client to always feel comfortable in saying, “I think you have an ugly baby.”But to directly answer the question: 82% are either my custom designs or customized by me. “Perfect” is seldom available on the first option.

MJN fluffing train of bride

 The song I can’t get out of my head…

A: Without a doubt, Elvis’s “I can’t help falling in love with you.” It applies to my wife, my daughters, my Granddaughter, and many of my brides. It’s an emotion I often feel at the conclusion of a speaking engagement. It’s a song I hum when I “collect the clutter” after we have hosted an especially nice dinner party. I’m generally always, always grateful for the life I’ve been given.

Elvis Cake Cutting.jpg

 If I could invite anyone to dinner it would be….

A: As cliche as it may sound, “Oprah.” Why? Because she strikes me as one of the most authentic and genuine people on the planet with an international platform that motivates people to “listen.” When I heard her tell me, “Embrace your present reality,” I suddenly stopped trying to “act like it didn’t happen.” If my relationships with my buddies aren’t mutual and as couples our friendships are not a win/win…I allow myself now to stop wishing it were different and move on.

Oprah

 To get out of bad mood, I….

Perform a gesture of kindness for someone else. I may not “want” to, but I force myself to do it anyway. The end result is always a stress buster and a mental distraction. I recall a week when the wrath of many seemed to descend upon the store (right after “Bridezilla’s came out BTW). I took a walk to my neighbor House Beautiful and bought Easter Bunnies for all of my staff. They loved it and it totally did a 180 to the bad mood.

My biggest pet peeve….

SO easy! It’s when people canNOT put down their devices when supposedly we are having a authentically meaningful conversation. Each time they answer a text, I want take a hammer to their phone and tape their fingers together. So rude!

Michael Monday’s!

Welcome to the first installment of: Michael Monday’s!

 Last dish I cooked….

And you have to start with something so hard?! Yikes! I can’t cook, thus I’m out to eat 3-4 nights a week! My daughters are convinced I’m dining away their inheritance.

 Last wardrobe malfunction….

I’m very careful about being presentable when I leave the house, but I’m never satisfied when I see myself on television. My shirt is either crumpled, my jacket hunched on my shoulders, my cuffs uneven, my shoes looking for polish….something.

Better Kansas City

Last date night….

I love Friday nights with my best friend…who is coincidentally my wife. Even if it’s post wedding rehearsal, I zoom home pick her up and out we go. It’s a time to re-connect after a hectic week and a calm down for me if I’m directing a fabulous wedding the next day. Seldom is a movie a part of Date Night as that to me is just “sitting next to each other.” At dinner, we never sit side by side. I’m flattered that she still says, “I want to look at you.”

GN_38E

 

 Last time I was starstruck….

I have been in the presence of many famous people..so this is a hard one. I think perhaps it might have been when I was a key note speaker in Cancun to all the top wedding planners in Mexico. My co-presenter was Colin Cowie. I have always admired his work and was humbled that it was the “two of us” on stage fielding questions from the audience. I bumped into him three weeks later at the Premiere Naeem Khan bridal gown debut party in New York…and HE remembered MY name!

 Last moment of bliss…..

Undeniably: I’m an ambiance guy. I notice EVERY detail i.e. sound, lighting, color, proportion, scent, temperature (people think that’s why I’m good at my job). Last Thanksgiving, the Inter-Continental hosted my family for the Plaza Lighting Ceremony in their gorgeous Rooftop Lounge i.e. fireworks exploding right in front of us! I finally had a great exterior holiday lighting guy who managed to get our new tricked out landscape and residence lighting sparkling lights installed and illuminated BEFORE we drove home. When we turned the corner to our street and my family saw our home glittering….they just loved it! Inside I had pre-laid the fireplace, Christmas Carols (thank you Sonos) cued to start when we walked in and of course (the Nolte family favorite) Prosecco, waiting in Waterford crystal flutes…..well…..it was “a moment of bliss.”

Nolte House Front Door

 

MJN

 

“Nelly Don” and Nolte’s

I attended the premiere last night of “Nellie Don” the musical at Crown Center. It was fabulous!

Nelly Don Program

Program at Production

Why might one ask would I be interested in such a live performance on a cold (still cold!) March night?

 

Five reasons:

  1. As the father of three daughters, they were raised with “equality for women” way before #metoo. I love to see women not just succeed but “excel” (like my daughters all do!). Nell Donnelly was such woman.

She founded a multi-million-dollar dress design and manufacturing plant, right here in KC. Not NY. Not California, but here in KC. She employed hundreds of women. As a designer myself, I am wowed at how she combined all the steps and didn’t outsource it to “China!”

 

  1. I love biographies. Leave Sci-Fi on the shelf. If it didn’t really happen, I’m not interested. THIS however really happened. Because of her wealth, she was kidnapped by the mob and because of her adulterous relationship with a Senator, released unharmed. Beyond that..she lived to be 102 and just died in 1991.
  2. When her fabulous home (South of UMKC campus) was chosen as the Symphony League Designer Show house (an event we have attended for at least 25 years), Mrs. Nolte and I were invited to serve as Honorary Chairman for the VIP Preview Party.

 

By Invitation Magazine Cover

Cover of “by Invitation” social magazine (Mrs. Nolte wearing custom Stephen Yearick cocktail dress and jewelry by Tivol)

Nelly Don House

Stately Nelly Don house

That was such a fun night and lots of Nolte’s customers/friends came because we were there (which was the League’s hope). My own designer gowns were feathered through the rooms and I think Nell might have been proud.

  1. We attended the movie, “A Stitch in Time” a few years ago and are familiar with the story.
  2. The producer, Terrance O’Malley, a local attorney and great-great-nephew of Nell Donnelly Reed, is multi-faceted talented and I wanted to support him.

MJN and Producer at Opening Night

It’s only a two-week run. The tickets are only $35 and the music and choreography are wonderful. The exhibits of Nelly Don dresses were not just on mannequins, but also on women attending who bought them on-line to be “in the zone.” Champagne afterwards and lots of unexpected intersections with friends who also attended…surely made for a fun evening.

 

Kudos Terrance. You certainly made Kansas City proud. I can’t wait to see it go on national tour and know I was there for your Opening Night! MJN

 

What are you doing up there?

One of my total joys is the challenge of making something happen in an arena where it never has been done before.

Such was the case for the wedding featured in March issue of “435 Magazine” that I created for Alex and Loren.

Staged in central Missouri on their two families’ farms…weather was always a worry but the show went on and the novelty of having a private open sky ceremony on Loren’s farm and then an enormous tented reception on Alex’s made the contrast even more exciting.

Finck Recessional

Loren and Alex in front of Tent and Barn

I don’t typically get into the mechanics of the magic….I just design it and hire the smartest people. But this one was special as there was no template and I wanted to be sure n.o.t.h.i.n.g. went wrong.

I was on site for two days prior directing the tent guys, the flooring guys, the carpet installers, the lighting guys, the draping guys, the floral crew, the caterer, the furniture movers, the housekeepers, the transportation guys and of course the regulars of musicians, photographer and oh yeah…the bridal party. (Almost forgot!)

MN standing in center of Finck Tent pre-wedding

I helped the bride select her Maria Farbinni gown from Nolte’s as well as the MOG’s Frascara sapphire blue gown. We did all the stationary and the invitations were off the chart high quality and stunning. (Lordy but people notice when the paper is heavy, letterpress and have the finishing touches of linings, backings and professional calligraphy.)

Fink Ceremony Invitation Up Close

Gold Foil Pinnapple motif up close on invitation

Back of Invitation and envelope liner

One of the concepts I “cooked up” for this farm to table, organic, very dressy country ambiance was to create chandeliers on site that didn’t look like chandeliers. So here you see me on scaffolding adding garlands of English ivy to the cattle fencing panels each serving as the grid for the Edison lights. Likewise, we bought a zillion bolts of khaki broadcloth to break up the 200 feet of white ceiling and scalloped it “just so.”

MN creating chandeliers at Finck Wedding
The maids dresses were non-memorable, thus we opted to jazz them up with VERY memorable necklaces that I found at a hole in the wall in So-Ho (NYC.)

Finck Bridesmaids Necklaces
For the four forever long length Tuscan banquet tables…we draped them in expensive Wedgewood blue brocade and then “farmed them up” with wooden planter boxes that were pre-planted weeks earlier with Spring bulb plants.

Fink reception tent interior
I hired the best musicians of KC and dragged them (again to central Missouri): Atlantic Express and Entertainment to Go. The high gloss varnish plywood dance floor was packed all night long as a result!

This was one of those that I just simply didn’t want to leave! The 25 minutes of fireworks brought people outside the tent only long enough to re-stage the interior and bring out yet MORE late night snacks!

Finck Fireworks display

I’ll be sharing this story during my monthly appearance on BetterKC (Channel 5) at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 20.

Wedding Contributors 

Band-Atlantic Express

Catering-Bleu Events

DJ-Entertainment to Go

Fireworks- Berry Good Fireworks

Florist- My Secret Garden

Mother of the Groom Gown-Nolte’s Bridal

Photography- Silverbox Photography

Tent-Above and Beyond Tents

Wedding Gown-Nolte’s Bridal

 

 

A brilliant torch is out…..

The last of the true greats, after 36 years of controlling the infamous House of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, 85, has passed away.

Karl Lagerfield walking runway

Not only was his line the most admired in every genre: sportswear to evening gowns, but he also created a handful of over the top bridal gowns. (Actually, he concluded every runway show with a bridal gown as well.)

Karl Lagerfield with Multiple Brides

Karl Lagerfield with Lily Rose Depp

One of my favorites is the one he did for Caroline Sieber seven years ago. The train was magnificent and of course she never removed her veil. My favorite picture is that of “the arrival” and this one is breathtaking.

Caroline Sieber Arrival

 

Caroline Sieber With Train and Veil

Now the Emperor of Fashion is gone we will remember his larger than life persona with white pony tail, ever present sunglasses and black leather gloves. Of course he had quotes that continue to crack me up i.e. “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you go buy some sweatpants.”

 

Karl Lagerfeld solo

Look for many Chanels on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday. He was a true trend maker and inspiration to we aspiring designers. MJN

A Kind and Gentle Day

As an event planner…the toolbox is much the same for wedding and funeral coordination. As many people know, I coordinated all the details of Kate Spade’s funeral in June and yesterday I worked from home to allow me to watch the pageantry of President Bush’s funeral. The absolute perfect execution and juggling of a zillion moving parts…just knocks me over.

President H.W. Bush Casket at the Capitol

Both weddings and funerals are what I reference as “Life Chapter Moments,” i.e. “life” will be different from this day forward. A new chapter is about to be written.

State Funerals are the ultimate of our nation’s “respect” and Lord knows we could use a double dose of that in our relationships with other people. Yesterday,  brought that virtue onto a world watching stage.

President Bush Funeral at National Cathedral

My “Bush Brush” was limited to a luncheon to which Mrs. Laura Bush invited Kansas authors, as her platform was all about literacy for our children. We spoke very briefly and I handed her a signed copy of one of my books. She acted like it was a National Treasure. Who knows if she read it on the way home? But so very, very gracious.

I extol my daughters all the time, “Please don’t be of that growing group that is quick to ask; and slow to thank.” Reverse the flow.

Thank you to the Bush family for presenting our nation in it’s best possible light today. Actually today, I think we have indeed the thousand points of light. MJN

Emeralds and Jacquard (Does it get any better for Autumn?)

Princess Eugenie got me out of bed to watch the full coverage of the royal wedding and I certainly was glad I did.

Church Decor.jpg

Much of the pre-wedding chatter talked of her patronage of teenage girls with scoliosis and the corrective surgery she had at age 12. (First I had heard of it.) It’s a cause dear to my heart as well, since one of my daughters has had that surgery twice.

Perhaps the showcasing of the spinal scar was a little more graphic than my preference and you, my long-time followers know of the advocation that both Vera Wang and I have for veils on brides. Soooo I “missed” that fluffy traditional component, but certainly did not “miss” her message.

The tiara once belonging to her Great-Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), was one I’ve never seen….and stunning! The center emerald was 96.7 carats! OMGosh!

Princess Eugenie Up Close

Princess Eugenie

When asked the day prior, my prediction of her gown, my reply was, “brocade or jacquard fabric, wide skirt, attached train, long fitted sleeves. I think the train will be about 12 feet long.” Every one of those predications came true. I did however not expect the portrait collar, nor the deep V-back. Both of which were lovely.

Princess Eugenie going up Steps

Princess Eugenie

So many royal weddings have music I’ve never heard (and mostly don’t care to again), but when Andrea Bocelli ripped off both “Ave Maria” and “Panis Angelicus” I nearly teared up. (But why didn’t someone snug up his tie and button his jacket?) Sidebar tip to Grooms and Dads: Always button the top button on your jackets (but no others!) It takes off 3” in the waist and gives 2” in height. Who doesn’t want that?!

The autumnal décor of the exterior was magical. I loved the potted trees. Remember that her cousin, William, had them lining the aisle of Westminster Abbey for his wedding?

Princess Eugenie and Prince Andrew Going Up Steps

Princess Eugenie and Prince Andrew

Prince Willam's Wedding Inside Westminister

Inside the Wedding of Prince Willam and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey

The MOB, Sarah, wearing emerald was just perfect for her red hair and certainly “worked” with the tiara.  I’m always puzzled why Sarah frequently carries her gloves as opposed to wearing them, but I thought she looked spectacular. The “wings” on her hat off set her less than narrow hips. What MOB doesn’t think she has a tummy? And the wrap effect was a great softening element. Personally, I wish she would/could walk more “head up.” She did some stupid things. She has paid her dues. She is still the MOB and deserves that respect.

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York

Sara Ferguson and Princess Beatrice

Princess Beatrice with Sarah Duchess of York

Sarah Ferguson with MN in Kansas City

MN with Sarah Ferguson in Kansas City

Princess Eugenie in Carriage

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

On my Bucket List is to be on the streets of England for the next royal wedding, even if I’m in a sleeping bag the night prior! Come on Princess Beatrice…this American wedding planner is ready to jump across the pond! MJN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “Family Only” Wedding Is So Special

 

Barbara and Jenna Bush as Babies

Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush Cropped

The “Ying” to Jenna’s “Yang”, Barbara Bush, was married last weekend in the presence of only 20 family members. The ceremony took place at their ancestral home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Barbara’s custom Vera Wang featured a shoulder softening cape (love!).

Barbara Bush Inside Kennebunkport Home.jpg

She wore a blusher (love!), but with her hair down, the comb had no grip and slid so far down that it wasn’t a pretty bubble (non-love!)

Barbara Bush Processional with FOB George Bush

And then to make it worse, she removed the veil right after the ceremony. (Level 10 non-love!)

Barbara Bush with FOB George Bush without veil

Sidebar advice: If not an up-do or even half up/half down, a pony tail holder will gather enough hair to give the comb’s teeth some stability.

Barbara Bush with Groom
And of course, I’ve never understood why brides sometimes regard their veils as ceremony only “props.” It’s the only day in your life to be dressed fully like a bride…wear your veil as long as you want to feel like a bride. MJN

Beyond, beyond, beyond…..

In 38 years, Nolte’s is the only store I’ve ever known that didn’t miss gown delivery for a wedding. All the conferences I’ve attended or in conversation with owners while at market…everyone had their war stories. I never could offer anything to that near crisis management.

BUT we came close recently, as one of our favorite designers, Maria Farbinni, relocated her factory for Ukraine to Israel. In that gap time…production became impossible and some gowns were “running late.” The bride was totally chill about it arriving the week of the wedding and said to her friends, “If Mr. Nolte is not stressing, I’m not going to either. He’s never missed a wedding.”

Allegra

However, I was stunned to learn that the gown was coming within hours to Kansas City….on the lap of the designer! I really couldn’t believe it when I thought I was mis-reading the email about “booking a plane ticket to get the gown to you.”

Thanks to Brenda at KC Transportation for a quick limo pick up! I zipped by Fiddly Fig to pick up a welcome nosegay and made a reservation at Parker in the rooftop of the Hotel Fontaine. While the limo driver took the gown on south to the store where my seamstress of 23 years was waiting, This special guest and I enjoyed meeting for the first time. I gave her a 20-minute tour and she is totally knocked over by our beautiful city! (Who isn’t?)

Regina and MJN

Five hours after arrival, I had the limo return her to the airport to fly away and I went to join the bride for her fitting and was greeted with huge smiles. It was a near perfect fit! One of the reasons we have this impeccable track record is that I’m very specific about the designers I carry and that I know will always deliver…but I’ve never had one treat me like such a VIP! I will have this story in my arsenal of “Happy Days” forever! MJN

http://www.mariafarbinni.com/