Two years ago, would-be model Julie Anne Friedman, a Des Moines department store heiress living in Los Angeles, informed her parents that she would be going on the road with Duran Duran’s pouty keyboardist, Nick Rhodes, whom she had met at a party two weeks earlier. Her parents, Bill and Jo Ann (“Johnnie”), pillars of Des Moines business and civic life, were none too pleased. Says Bill, 50, president of Younkers, a chain of 29 Midwest department stores, “There was a normal parental reaction of concern. We didn’t think it was a wholesome situation.”
Well, it became a lot more wholesome on Aug. 18 as a teary-eyed Julie, 25, and Rhodes, 22, were married at a London registrar’s office. He was the third member of the supergroup to wed. True, the groom wore almost as much makeup as the bride, and true, his best man was a woman (singer Elayne Griffiths, his “best friend outside the band”). Julie’s parents were still delighted to see their elder daughter finally married. Observed Johnnie, 50, “It seemed the right step.”
On the morning of the wedding, Johnnie and her younger daughter, Patti, 20 (maid of honor), and best man/woman Griffiths had their hair done by L.A. stylist Angelo Di Biase, who was flown in for the occasion. Only immediate family members Were invited to the civil ceremony. No problem: royal photographer Norman Parkinson was there to shoot the double-ring wedding—presumably not for MTV.
The 10:30 a.m. ceremony was followed that night by a wedding bash at the Savoy hotel, with a guest list that included the entire band, Dallas’ Linda Gray, actor Michael Brandon and Paul and Linda McCartney’s daughter, Heather, 21.
Julie’s parents began warming to Rhodes when they flew to New York to meet him a year and a half ago. “We found him to be hardworking, goal directed and talented,” says Bill. “He is extremely nice to our daughter.” It didn’t hurt that Rhodes is a light drinker, adds Dad, and to his knowledge, not involved with drugs. Besides, the couple share interests in art deco, fine wines, wildlife and games like Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble.
The groom’s parents, however, had reservations about the pairing. It’s not that Roger and Sylvia Bates (Rhodes is their son’s stage name) db not like Julie; they think Nick is just too young. When asked on the wedding day if he believed his son was ready for marriage, Roger, a Birmingham contractor, replied, “I’d rather not answer.”
No matter. It was the Friedmans’ show. The bride’s family celebrated with 75 guests from the U.S., and then retired to a $435-a-night suite at the Savoy from which they organized a stream of parties, a theater outing and a cruise down the Thames.
Some 400 Duran Duran devotees waited outside the hotel as the 219 guests arrived for the lavish sit-down dinner of salmon and stuffed lamb. (Duran’s Simon Le Bon, with girlfriend Clare Stansfield, a 19-year-old model, hinted he might be next to tie the knot, reportedly announcing, “I’m deeply in love with Clare. She’s the one for me.”) The decorations included six live pink flamingos, in keeping with the couple’s penchant for art deco. The bride, in a pink-and-white skintight gown, and the groom, in pale blue shirt and a mauve cutaway with tails, cut the three-tiered cake from Harrod’s and danced until 1 a.m. before joining their parents to open presents. (The Friedmans gave them a sterling service for 12.) The next day the pair left for a three-week cruise aboard a private yacht to the Greek islands.
The Friedmans won’t say how much the whole shebang cost, although Johnnie allowed (in a gross understatement) “a lot.” But that’s okay: They haven’t lost a daughter, they’ve gained a million dollar entertainment conglomerate for a son. So far, it’s a dazzling mix of love and money.