At the conclusion of every rehearsal, wedding planner Michael J. Nolte uses the same words.
“Team, for the next 24 hours we are going to redefine the word ‘crisis.’ A ‘crisis’ is only when someone is in danger of losing their life. If something goes differently than planned, it is simply a challenge, a frustration, a disappointment. If two people end up being married by the end of the day, we’ve hit the ball out of the park.”
Nolte has coordinated 1,073 weddings during the last four decades. Couples have told him his quote regarding “crisis” has been repeated many times in their marriage and they pass it along frequently to newly engaged couples.
After building a solid reputation in the wedding industry of attire, floral, photography, designing, protocol and coordinating with his Columbia based businesses, Nolte became the nation’s first certified male wedding planner. He is now vice-president of the National Bridal Service. His bridal salon is ranked No. 1 in Kansas City, and The Michael Nolte Collection of gowns has been in stocked in 40 stores in the United States.
He has seen every delight (and dysfunction) in the wedding process, but he enjoys helping to create one of the most important, joy-filled occasions in a couple’s life. This summer, a launch party was held at Hallbrook Country Club in Leawood, Kansas, for his latest book, “Wonder-Filled Weddings,” which captures his own journey in the wedding industry, multiple tips for everyone involved in the big day and photographic memories from some of his most beautiful weddings in recent years.
Nolte’s book has received rave national reviews, and the Chamois native will return for book signings from 4-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20 at McAdams Jewelry and Antiques in Columbia and from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Downtown Book and Toy.
“The time had come for me to pass on the education and encouragement for someone who wants to follow in my career path“, Nolte said, noting, more importantly, the book is inspiring to engaged couples and their parents.
Living two blocks from Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Chamois, a young Nolte was often called upon by Fr. A.J. Grellner to help decorate the church and organize the altar boys.
At Christmas the church was banked with cedar trees around the manger and wreathes on “every place there was a hook,” Nolte stated in his book. At Easter, banks of lilies and hydrangeas filled the high altar and the regular altar linens were replaced with gold charmeuse and Battenberg lace. The Ladies Sodality performed a deep cleaning that left the waxed tile floor gleaming like a mirror.
“In those years as an altar boy, I was impacted by the pageantry of ceremony and the importance of the details for special events i.e. the luxury of fresh flowers, the cleanliness of the venue, the new candles … just like a wedding,” he said in his book.
As a 1973 Chamois High School graduate, he credits teachers Brooksie Klick Struemph and Mary Lee Franken Cox to hone his writing skills. He earned communication and photojournalism degrees at then Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. At Boonville High School he was hired to teach journalism, speech and drama. During his four years there, he met his wife, Barbie, who was a student at University of Missouri School of Nursing. With her job security as a registered nurse, Barbie encouraged Nolte to follow his professional passion.
In 1980, he opened a photography and floral business in the corner of Suzanne’s, one of Columbia’s most popular bridal salons. Two years later he bought Suzanne’s, remodeled and rebranded the company. For 15 years two businesses, Nolte’s Flowers and Nolte’s Bridal, ran side by side.
“Coordinating weddings” came by default as he started referring vendors to clients from the Rolodex he was building. Soon clients paid him to direct the processional and then even more to stay and do the same for the reception.
“I was a ‘Fraank’, before that job even had a title! The movie ‘Father of the Bride’ made it very easy to explain there after,” he laughed.
After earning membership into National Bridal Service, (top 200 bridal stores in America) one of his weddings became the first Midwest wedding ever featured in a national magazine. In 1991, the combination of ceremony at Churchill Memorial and reception in a cow pasture in Mexico, Missouri, was featured in 1991. That family remains Nolte’s friends to this day.
In 1992, he expanded into Kansas City where he diversified into debutant and evening gowns. Two back-to-back Miss America’s were crowned in gowns he designed.
After running two stores 130 miles apart, the Nolte family relocated to Leawood. Again he expanded and opened yet another store in North Kansas City in the new Briarcliff Village center. Presently, he has expanded the Overland Park store and is planning to remodel it in January. All three of his daughters have worked at some point in the family business. His oldest daughter, Emma-Lea, is now the vice president of operations.
Nolte has two previously published books, an autobiography “Burned but Not Broken” (also available at the book signings) and “Stylish Weddings,” which he co-authored with the owner of Nell Hills, Mary Carol Garrity.
His latest success is divided in three sections. The first one is his professional biography which answers. The middle section is “the nuts and bolts of wedding planning.” It contains direction and advice for every person involved in the wedding.
“It’s not watered down or politically correct. It is frank and specific and typically not found in another book or in a Google search,” he said.
Nolte said the third section is “the beautiful stuff,” featuring 13 fabulous weddings that “give great tell all, that people find fascinating.”
Feedback for Nolte’s book has been “mind boggling” as sales in retail stores and Amazon continue to grow.
“It is hard for me to wrap my head around it. I’ve worked on this book for two years and now readers are really embracing it … as gifts for engagements, showers or just a good read for themselves,” he said.
Even though he tours internationally for both professional speaking engagements and now book signings, he proudly introduces himself as “a boy from Chamois.”
“I hope the people who remembered me from my mid-Missouri years would find me to be the same guy off stage. I’ve worked with a laser focus to get good in a very niche career and it’s paid off,” he said. “This book is sort of a memoir of a life I’ve loved and I look forward to coming to Columbia and Jefferson City to meet up with old friends and new acquaintances.”
For more information, visit noltebridal.com.