Real Wedding – Anastasia Aponovich and Chris Pickford

Anastasia Aponovich grew up in a family of artists and is now an artist herself. So it’s no surprise that color and creativity played a big part in her June wedding to Chris Pickford.Ever since she was a little girl, Anastasia had her whole wedding planned out in her head. “I wanted it to be simple, elegant and traditional,” she says.As she got older, she knew she also wanted to incorporate elements of the artistic environment she had grown up in — her dad, James Aponovich, is an internationally recognized still life painter; her mom, Elizabeth Johansson, an accomplished artist as well. And Anastasia herself is emerging as a talented watercolorist.“I think growing up in a family of artists and being an artist myself gave me limitless freedom when planning my wedding. Color is an element I am very comfortable with and I was not afraid to use an abundant amount in the planning process.”Anastasia’s dreams of a fairytale wedding were realized on June 21, 2008. She married Chris Pickford in a ceremony at the historic South Church in Portsmouth, with a reception in the grand ballroom at Wentworth by the Sea, which overlooks the ocean she learned to love on the beaches of Maine.“I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day,” she says.Anastasia met Chris, a commercial diver, through friends after she graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in New London six years ago. She was living in Portsmouth and “hanging out” with a circle of friends that included Chris: “We were friends before we started dating.”When he proposed two years later, Chris took a novel approach. On Valentine’s Day night, with the two heading to a movie, Chris waited outside for Anastasia. “When I came down the steps I saw this person standing in the pitch dark around the corner,” she says. “It startled me and I screamed bloody murder. Then I saw it was Chris on his knee, holding something, asking me to marry him. You wouldn’t know it if you met him, but he’s a silly, goofy guy, never very serious. That’s his true self.”They set the date for the following June and went to work on the planning. Unlike many brides (“I see brides with binders and folders, freaking out”), Anastasia was relaxed, at least until the very end. She chalks that up in part to the fact that she, a graphic artist and watercolorist, was comfortable with choosing colors. And she got lots of help from her artistic parents as well. “I felt like I could design everything for my wedding,” she says. “I can do this stuff.”The only misstep was in choosing her dress. Anastasia, her mom and her bridesmaids all went to Madeleine’s Daughter in Portsmouth to look at dresses. She found one and ordered it, but soon began to have second thoughts.Her mom encouraged her make sure the dress was right, saying it was a one-time thing and she wanted it to be special. Anastasia went back to Madeleine’s and tried on a strapless taffeta dress with sweetheart lines, an A-frame skirt with pin tucks and a three-foot train, and a waist detailed with lace. “Everyone says once you have the right dress on, you know it. I said, ‘this is it.’”A fingertip veil with white silk trim would finish the look. “I wore my hair down for the wedding,” Anastasia says, “but had it swept up with flowers for the reception. I like the different looks.”Her bridesmaids wore champagne brown taffeta dresses with black sashes; the maid of honor wore flowers in her hair. The junior bridesmaid, Olivia Holmes, wore a custom-made dress to match the bridesmaids’, with straps added. Chris wore a solid black tux with an ivory vest and bow tie (“a very classic look”); his groomsmen wore pinstriped tuxes. The ring bearer, 3-year-old Ethan Holmes, wore a tiny tux that matched Chris’.Anastasia’s wedding day dawned warm and sunny. At South Church she walked down the aisle with her dad to “The Prince of Denmark’s March,” played by trumpeter Joshua Cohen. “We got chills,” she says. “The acoustics in the old church were amazing.”Two violinists, Jessica Helie and Bozena O’Brien, also provided music.Bob Larsen — justice of the peace, lawyer, artist and friend of the family — conducted the service, which reflected the creativity of those in attendance. Chris’ mom, Liz Pickford, read a poem she wrote for the couple. Author Howard Mansfield read a poem he wrote (see excerpt).By the time television raconteur Fritz Wetherbee took his turn at the lectern he was tearing up, feeling the emotion of the ceremony. Fritz had been invited to read an excerpt from a story he had written about Charles Drake, Chris’ uncle. He was the state legislator who introduced the bill to name the purple lilac as the state flower.“It was all a surprise to Chris and me,” says Anastasia. “It was short, but sweet. It meant something to everyone.”The tower bells of the church tolled when Anastasia and Chris were pronouncedhusband and wife.At the Wentworth by the Sea reception that followed, the grand ballroom’s tables had the same pink peonies that Anastasia and her bridesmaids had in their bouquets. Peonies are special in the Aponovich family — they’re grown in the family’s Italianate garden in Hancock, and James often uses them in his paintings. So does Anastasia.“The colors were perfect,” she says. Her bouquet was comprised of peonies and cymbidium orchids, all in different shades of pink. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were dark pink peonies, dark pink roses and greens; the junior bridesmaid’s was all roses.Anastasia’s mom Elizabeth had worked with the florist, Kathie Colella from Jardiniere, to create the bouquets.Gold cloth-covered tables for the 100 guests were designated by a small watercolor of a flower and number painted by Anastasia. “I wanted to do something creative to personalize the table. I enjoyed doing it,” she says. Her dad added his personal touch by painting a still life of nasturtiums in a vase with strawberries, Anastasia’s favorite fruit, on the table beside it. Giclée copies were made for guests to take home. “It’s not your typical gift, but we’re an artist family.”Anastasia’s gifts to her bridesmaids were a clutch Anastasia designed at Anna Street in Portsmouth; each bag was specially designed for each girl. And waiting at the table where the bridemaids sat was a square glass votive candle with the monogram of each bridesmaid on it and tied with a ribbon. The monograms were designed and made by Anastasia, as were the ceremony programs and reception menus.People feasted on surf and turf, danced to the Mark Herbert Band and then the cake — light green with a confection bow by Jacques Pastries — was cut. “Each of the four tiers had a different flavor and a different filling. We kept the top tier as a remembrance.”And then Anastasia and Chris’ special day came to an end. Both say they are thankful to their parents for making their wedding day such a wonderful and unforgettable experience.They would soon leave for a honeymoon in Mexico and begin their new life together, happily ever after. As Liz Pickford, Chris’ mom, said during the wedding ceremony, “It’s amazing how a thing as simple as a ring can produce such a wonderful change.”VendorsCeremony: South Church, Portsmouth
Reception: Wentworth by the Sea, New Castle,
Photographer: Tammy Byron, Portsmouth,
Florist: Jardiniere Florist,
Ceremony Wedding Coordinator: The Wedding Belle, Nottingham,
Wedding Dress: Madeleine’s Daughter Portsmouth,
Ceremony Music: Trumpet, Joshua Cohen; violinists, Jessica Helie and Bozena O’Brien — all from Concord Community Music School,
Band: The Mark Herbert Band, Manchester,
Bride’s Hair and Makeup:Maid of Honor Kylie Sylvain, hair stylist for Kintempo Hair Salon, Exeter
Bridal Party: Portsmouth Spa, Portsmouth,