By Kathy Feist
Michael J. Nolte has planned over 1,300 weddings, designed hundreds of wedding gowns, owned bridal stores and a florist shop, and renewed his wedding vows five times with his wife of 43 years. He’s learned so much about weddings that he could write a book….and he has. A couple of them.
His most recent book, Wonder-filled Weddings: My Life as a Planner, is a fascinating retelling of his career, his most inspired weddings and advice for members of the wedding party.
“It’s crack for brides,” says Nolte. His experience provides a great resource for parents as well. Navigating the ever-expanding wedding industry can be financially challenging, stressful and relationship changing. Nolte, who has an happy-go-lucky demeanor, is also quick on his toes when it comes to creative problem solving. It’s what got him where he is today.
Nolte grew up in Chamois, MO, where he was often enlisted to decorate the nearby church for holidays and special events. He enjoyed that kind of work and in college got a job with a florist in Jefferson City. Before long he was helping decorate the Governor’s Mansion for events.
Realizing he had a knack, Nolte opened his own florist business in Columbia soon after his marriage. That choice took him deeper into the world of weddings: opening bridal boutiques, offering wedding planning services, even taking photos. At one point, his crew was doing as many as 14 weddings a weekend. In 1992, he opened a satellite store at Hawthorne Plaza in Kansas City. He sold his Columbia businesses and focused on Kansas City, expanding his services to include designing wedding gowns under his own label and establishing his own wedding trade shows.
Last year he sold Nolte’s Bridal, but has continued to help plan weddings.
Nolte’s creativity, easy-going manner, and taste for the elegant has gained him big-name clients in the region.
For one family that owned a movie theater chain, he found it appropriate to have their wedding at a theater–Midland Theater. For a groom who didn’t like cake but preferred cobbler, glass “ornament” balls filled with cobbler hung from a Christmas tree. Included in his book is his own daughter’s wedding–he has three.
Tips for a wonder-filled wedding
One could say Nolte knows weddings. In his book, he shares a lot of wisdom. He shared a few with The Telegraph readers.
First and foremost: don’t try to change your spouse. “Going into the marriage, realize that’s as good as it’s going to get,” he advises.
Acceptance also extends to the family as well. “You didn’t just marry your spouse, you married into the family,” he says. “That family of origin can have a lot of influence, positively or negatively, into your marriage.”
Bridezilla advice – Don’t bash on each other. “It is just one day,” he says. “Sometimes brides get really ramped up on being Miss America for a day. But the day after, they are back down with the rest of us civilians.”
Post wedding blues – It’s not unusual for the bride and parents to experience a post wedding depression that lasts two to three weeks. “There has been so much build up,” he says. “Weddings and funerals are life chapter moments. They both impact your life from that point forward.” His advice is to plan something to look forward to after the wedding–“if you have any money left.”
Avoid the deadly gap – He prefers evening wedding ceremonies that are immediately followed by cocktails, dinner and a party. Having an afternoon wedding with a three- to four-hour gap before cocktails and dinner leaves guests with nothing to do.
Changing traditions – Despite Nolte being a proud grandfather, he says he sees no value in having children in the wedding party. Potential meltdowns take away from the bride and groom’s special moment. “The best number of kids in a bridal party is zero.”
Follow the tradition to seat the bride and groom’s immediate families on different sides of the aisle. After that, allow guests to sit anywhere.
- Don’t promise invitations to friends and acquaintances until after a budget has been set.
- Realize that small weddings are just as binding as large ones.
- Choose candles over flower displays if you have to save money. “The eye is attracted to light more than it is to color,” he says.
- Limit the guest list. You do not have to invite a “+1” for single guests.
- Don’t waste your time and money on wedding favors. “People just don’t take them home and you’ve gone through all that trouble.”
- Don’t get caught up in food. “People come for fellowship and not the food. They often don’t even remember the food.”
- Finally: “If you ain’t paying, you ain’t saying.” Don’t feel obligated to fulfill others’ suggestions.
Of course the best way to have a smooth wedding is to hire a coordinator, such as Nolte. For inquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 913-522-7610. His book is available at Nell Hills and on Amazon.