At last year’s post-festival debriefing, Laura Napky and Grant Osborne, two volunteers for the Richmond Folk Festival, announced that they had just gotten engaged.
People jokingly asked if they planned to have the wedding at the festival, “And we asked, ‘Can we?’” said Laura.
Now the tent for the Virginia Folklife Area is dedicated to their wedding on the festival’s opening night, Friday, October 7.
The "Bucket Babe"
Laura has been a volunteer for the Folk Festival for the last nine years. She was part of the Bucket Brigade in her first year. She felt a connection with the “global experience” of the festival. Laura was born in Honduras and grew up in Florida, moving to the Richmond area in high school. Coming from an eclectic background, she appreciated the diversity of the Folk Festival. “It allowed me to explore the world without leaving Richmond,” Laura said.
During her first year, Laura hula-hooped with her orange bucket and an LED hoop. Her enthusiasm caught the attention of organizers, and she was quickly promoted within the Bucket Brigade. While Laura answers to a playful nickname “Bucket Babe” given to her by fellow volunteers, organizers tell us her contribution is significant.
“Laura is responsible for managing hundreds of volunteers and has led the effort to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years,” Folk Festival director Lisa Sims said. "We are extremely grateful for her service and are thrilled to celebrate her special day next week right here at the festival."
Laura invited Grant to volunteer at the festival about six years ago. “I fell in love with the Folk Festival and volunteering,” Grant said, and he also enjoyed seeing the festival as Laura saw it. Last year, after watching Laura working and dealing with other people, Grant knew that he wanted to propose to her, which he did that November on her birthday.
Bagpipes and Bridges
“After we got engaged he asked ‘what if we did it at the Folk Festival?’” Laura said.
They weren’t the first couple to inquire about getting married at the festival, but will be the first couple to actually have their wedding there. Grant has a Scottish background, which has inspired the wedding’s Celtic theme. After a short ceremony at the Folklife tent, the wedding party and guests will parade from the tent, reminiscent of the folk tradition of a having the entire village celebrate along with the just-married couple. The parade will be accompanied by Tim MacLeod on bagpipes, along with fellow members of St. Andrew’s Legion Pipes and Drums.
In Scottish tradition, it’s considered good luck to cross a moving body of water twice, which can conveniently be done via the bridges on 5th and 7th streets to and from Brown’s Island. Laura and Grant are hoping that early festival goers will join the parade and come back to their tent for a quick reception. To anyone familiar with previous years at the festival, a wedding parade led by pipes and drums seems an appropriate way to get an early jump on the weekend.
A Three-Day Reception
Their short reception will then be followed by a three-day reception, Grant said, as they plan to go straight from their tent to the Dance Pavilion.
Since a lot of their guests are coming from out of town, Laura said they’ll use the Folk Festival to engage people who’ve never been to Richmond. They want to provide a suggested itinerary for the weekend (including which tents the guests would most likely find the bride and groom) and highlight other points of interest in the area for their visitors. It’s also been important for them to use as many local vendors as they can, including cupcakes and a personal wedding cake from Ukrop’s (they’re getting extra cupcakes, in case any parade-joiners want one, too).
While planning an event within an event presents its own challenges (transportation and deliveries will be tricky, and the bagpipes have to be piped down before the festival kicks off at 6 p.m.), having the venue and the festival’s equipment available for their use – as well as vendors across the festival to provide guests with additional food and drink – has been less for the couple to worry about as they approach their big day.
Laura and Grant are eager to spend their weekend celebrating their wedding with thousands of others. Laura, whose tenth year as a volunteer would have been this year, is used to spending up to 40 hours during the Folk Festival working and maybe watching a few minutes of an act.
“I’m looking forward to catching new things I don’t always get to see because I’m working,” she said. They plan to resume their volunteer work next year, and they’ll always have plans for their anniversary.