Ann Marie Popko, a.k.a. superduper and cocktailparty, lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans and has been designing accessories for almost 20 years. Her professional creative life includes hair accessories and hats, Mardi Gras costumes, nature photography, pecan cookery and newsletter writing. In this installment of Handmade Weddings, Ann Marie and her family share their story of putting their creative brains together for their sister’s big day.
There are five sisters in my family. Growing up, our parents always encouraged creativity, and as adults living in the age of Etsy, the Popko family operates seven Etsy shops! When our little sister Crystal announced that she was going to get married, we all pulled out our specialties (and learned a few new ones) to grant her wishes in style.
Crystal’s creative mastermind jumped into gear as soon as her boyfriend John proposed. She is incredibly talented; she studied sculpture at her university and has a thriving Etsy shop, popko, where she sells her butterfly wing and fused glass jewelry. It was no surprise that she would design her own wedding, or that she would enlist her uniquely creative family to carry out her vision.
The bride-to-be chose a delicious pink and orange color scheme, so our crafty Mom, a.k.a. sewsoft, whipped up 40 cheerful cotton napkins and cooked all of the food for the shower. I made my Love at First Bite sweet and spicy pecans, put them in white organza bags for all of our guests, and designed custom photo hang tags to make them extra special.
The August wedding was held in an historic 1820’s building on top of a mountain in western Massachusetts. The stunning panoramic view of the Connecticut River Valley was glazed with sun and sparkled all around with bright blue skies. John painted plenty of signs to make sure all of the guests found their way up and down the winding mountain trail.
The ring bearer was our year-old nephew Julian, and his job was to carry token rings up the aisle in a nest created by our sister, April (his mommy and Crystal’s maid-of-honor). She decorated a straw nest with marabou feathers, ivy, birds and miniature eggs.
April also used leather, buttons and embroidered ribbon to create tiny lederhosen suspenders for Julian to wear — a nod to our eastern European heritage.
I designed the bride’s hair accessory, the “Velvet Kiss,” made with peach velvet millinery leaves, antique silver sequins and a tiny spray of ostrich feathers. It was made to highlight the peach details in her sandy-metallic wedding dress. The groom and his groomsmen wore boutonnieres I made to coordinate with Crystal’s hair accessory. The great part about all of these accessories is that they are everlasting mementos of a special day, unlike fresh flowers which usually don’t make it past the conga line!
The wedding bands were designed and created by our sister Monique, a.k.a. gurlygirl, using the lost wax method. She hand-carved the rings out of wax, cast them in white gold and set the stones. (In a nutshell…she’s a professional metalsmith and it’s not as easy as it looks!) Since John spends lots of time around trees as a leader of adventure and sports trips, Monique carved a leaf texture into his ring. Crystal was inspired by a 50-cent thrift shop ring and asked Monique to recreate it as a continuous golden circle of hearts and diamonds.
As guests walked into the reception (a rustic red barn a few miles down from the mountain ceremony), they knew right away that this was a handmade wedding. It was my job to grow flower boxes full of wheat grass to use as bases for the seating designations. I had never grown wheat grass before, but when the bride asks, one must deliver! Big sis Monique hand-wrote each guest’s name on a card and attached them to twigs we had gathered from the yard, and then we stuck the twigs in the grass. It was a fresh and lovely welcome to the festivities and it wasn’t very expensive to create.
Guests were asked to write well-wishes and advice for the newlyweds on one of 100 yellow cardstock birds (lovingly hand cut by our mom and sister April), and hang them on a tabletop wish Ttee. Also at the entrance was a wonderful clothesline display of images featuring Crystal and John throughout their six years together leading up to their wedding.
The maid-of-honor designed the cake toppers. She gave Crystal’s lovebird a veil (I guess because the bride didn’t wear one herself!) and she gave John’s a flotation vest and a paddle (he’s an avid kayaker). The dinner tables were decorated in the pink and orange color scheme, and we created everything on the tables: hand-etched glass vases with rocks picked from our beach in Cape Cod, leaf-shaped table numbers, menu cards, flower arrangements, centerpiece plates. We were a hardworking and faithful crew!
Crystal and John gave their 100 wedding guests favors from the heart. They made fresh strawberry jam and mango-ginger waffle syrup. (Can you believe that even the fruit colors are on theme?) Middle sister Noel hosted a wrapping party at her house, where we poured some wine and went to town with cellophane, ribbon and hang tags designed by Crystal. (Note the rounded corners on each tag, done by us with a special craft punch.) Making all of these things for our sister’s wedding day was an extra special honor. If we could do it all over again, I think we would…there are still two more single sisters in the family!
(Above Photo: Alan Arsenault)