The Full Monte
Twelve Things You Never Knew About Monte Durham
Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography by Catherine May Taylor
Since the 2010 premier of TLC’s hit television series Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, the country has been falling in love with Monte Durham, watching as he guides expectant brides to finding their perfect dress and serves them a dose of his signature wisdom and charm…not to mention his wit. Stylish to a fault, he understands the importance of feeling beautiful—especially on your wedding day. His ability to create the perfect look and “jack it up,” combined with his fantastic personality have helped him to win the hearts of viewers everywhere. And though you may feel like you’ve learned everything there is to know about Monte Durham over the past decade, there’s so much more to this man than meets the eye.
No. 1: Monte is an avid collector of brooches…
“I guess you could say that I became fascinated with brooches when I stared noticing them on my grandmother and my own mother and saw how they wore them—sometimes on the left or right shoulder or close to their necks, pinned onto a strand of pearls or even on their coats for an added bit of flair,” says Monte.
Naturally, his collection includes brooches that he has inherited from his mother and grandmother, and he loves to wear them in honor of the two women who made such an impact in his life. He also collects cameos because of his fascination with the fact that they’re made of carved conch shells.
No. 2: He adores Jackie O…
“My appreciation for Jackie came as I got older and truly came to an understanding of what she did—not only for the White House, but for the county, as well,” Monte explains. “To this very day, I am still in awe of her, and I’m still learning and discovering more fun, interesting, and surprising facts about her.”
No. 3: He wore something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue…
While Monte’s own wedding to his partner was a small, intimate affair, there was no shortage of style, and Monte definitely brought it—not only to the civil ceremony at the D.C. courthouse, but also to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Old Town Alexandria, where the couple had their marriage blessed. “I’m always saying it was very continental,” Monte laughs. In true Monte Durham fashion, he wore a tan tailored suit for the civil ceremony and a custom-made Prada suit with matching shirt, tie, and shoes to the church blessing in Italy. For both occasions, he had some special accessories:
• His something old: his grandmother’s family Bible
• His something new: the Prada ensemble
• His something borrowed: his mother’s handkerchief
• His something blue: a blue topaz ring
No. 4: He had a very special relationship with his mother…
“My relationship with my mother can be summed up in a few words: we were ‘cut from the same cloth,’ as her mother (my grandmother) would always say. We looked a lot alike and had the same sense of style, duty, and love of people and all things of beauty. We also shared a love of reading, family, adventure, and laughter,” he says.
No. 5: He was a starry-eyed little boy…
“Oddly enough, I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little,” Monte recalls. “I was mesmerized by the stars and the heavens; and, to this day, I’m always looking up.”
No. 6: He collects wedding gowns…
Initially begun nearly two decades ago, his collection once included 27 dresses, though he recently donated gowns to the design and merchandise department at Marymount University for their students to study. “Wedding gowns are such a moment in time, and it fascinates me to think of the choices and options a bride has today, unlike brides in the early 1900’s,” he says. And while he no longer actively collects gowns, fans of the show sometimes send him their grandmothers’ gowns along with the story of the day it was worn.
Be sure to take a peek at Monte’s vintage 1920s wedding gown, featured on our cover and on page 44.
No. 7: He has some unexpected hobbies…
Among Monte’s favorite ways to spend his time when he has a free minute are going antiquing, biking, running, reading, and volunteering.
No. 8: His dream dinner party would be very cultured…
“I would invite Jacqueline Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau, Ann Lowe (see fun fact below), and Claude Monet,” he says.
Ann Cole Lowe (December 14, 1898 — February 25, 1981) was the first African American to become a noted fashion designer. Lowe's one-of-a-kind designs were a favorite among high society matrons from the 1920s to the 1960s.
In 1953, she was commissioned to create Jackie O's gown (for her wedding to John F. Kennedy) and the gowns of her bridesmaids. After disaster struck and a broken waterline destroyed Jackie's gown just ten days before the wedding, Ann and her assistants worked overtime to produce the famous portrait-neckline gown, with full bouffant skirt that is so well-known today.
No. 9: His favorite movies run the gamut…
Gone with the Wind, The Birdcage, and La Traviata.
No. 10: He’s got a quirk or two…
“I rearrange my hotel room furniture—don’t ask me why, but I do,” he says with a laugh. “I may even need to see two or three rooms sometimes before I make a choice, so I keep the room numbers that I like in my planner.”
No. 11: His favorite color matches his sunny disposition…
Showing his love for yellow, Monte features it as a prominent color on the walls of his home as well as in the rugs, furniture, and even most paintings.
No. 12: He loves to share bubbles
One of Monte’s favorite pastimes is sipping chilled Rosé champagne out of matching glasses with special friends.