Special Reports

Chrissy Popadics works out final details of wedding to BSU football star Ian Johnson

With help from longtime friend Rachel Cook, left, bride-to-be Chrissy Popadics tries on more dresses.
With help from longtime friend Rachel Cook, left, bride-to-be Chrissy Popadics tries on more dresses. Katherine Jones/Idaho Statesman

Chrissy Popadics emerges from the dressing room in a body-hugging swath of white and sequins.

"I think Ian would love this one," says Rachel Cook.

Rachel is Chrissy's childhood friend and she's on hand to help the former Boise State cheerleader and fiancee of BSU's star running back Ian Johnson choose a dress for her reception.

"It's flattering right here," Chrissy says, gesturing to the middle area. "I like that it doesn't have straps."

"You'll look beautiful in whatever you wear," answers Rachel.

It's a discussion not uncommon in the cramped, Tulle-filled dressing room at Margene's Bridal, where brides-to-be search for what is arguably the centerpiece of the wedding.

But Chrissy's wedding will be anything but common.

After all, it follows a meeting in paradise and a Cinderella proposal.

Chrissy, the captain of BSU's cheerleading squad, started dating Ian, a Heisman Trophy candidate, in Hawaii, and then the whole country watched as the high-profile football player asked Chrissy to marry him minutes after scoring the winning points at the Fiesta Bowl.

We gave you a glimpse of Chrissy's hectic post-proposal life in March as she worked on her marketing degree, served up barbecue at the Texas Roadhouse, coached Borah High School cheerleaders and began plans for her late-summer wedding.

Since that wedding is nearly here, we decided to catch up with her again, this time in the dressing room at Margene's.

A little help from friends

In the midst of ruffles and veils, Chrissy lists off the help she's getting from friends and family in the preparation and planning.

Her parents gave her a $10,000 budget, but that's already been gobbled up. Chrissy has dipped into her own money. None of that includes the dress she'd like to buy for the reception to make dancing a little easier.

NCAA rules prevent the couple from accepting anything for free or at adiscount. Only those with a relationship to the pair before their celebrity are allowed to give them gifts.

That means when Jessica McClintock calls and offers to custom-design her dress, Chrissy can only accept if she pays full price.

With up to 700 people invited to the ceremony and about 150 invited to a reception that includes both a band and a DJ — dancing is a big deal to Chrissy — a pricey designer dress might not be in the cards.

Plus, Chrissy had to factor in the extra expense of a dress for this month's ESPN ESPY awards, which she attended with Ian.

"The planning has been getting to me," Chrissy said. "I feel so tired. It's stressful."

So when a friend's mom offers to design the centerpieces — wheatgrass with pops of orange, hot pink and white flowers — or when another relative offers to make the clay sculpture to top the cake, or when Rachel, the friend helping her try on dresses, offers to do her hair on the big day, Chrissy breathes a sigh of relief.

"You see who your real friends and family are," she says.

The lighter side

Chrissy's life hasn't been all work since she completed finals at BSU in May.

She and Ian took a trip to California, where Ian's friends and family threw a pre-wedding reception for the couple in May.

In June, Rachel and other friends threw Chrissy a bridal shower, complete with silly games and meaningful gifts.

"One of my friends made a collage of when Ian proposed from newspaper clippings," Chrissy said. "That was so nice."

And, of course, she's enjoyed spending time with Ian when she can.

Now, as she tries on dresses, she tells us that Ian is picky and wants a say in the reception dress. But she's a traditionalist, and Ian gets no clues about what Chrissy will be wearing for the ceremony.

The most she'll let us say about the ceremony dress is that it's poufy and princessy and not really suitable for dancing.

"My dress for the ceremony is very elegant," she says. "For the reception, I wanted something I could dance in and not worry about stepping on."

The second dress she tries on at Margene's isn't it.

"This one reminds me of — what's that movie with Jennifer Lopez? ‘Monster-in-Law'?" she says from behind the door.

Chrissy wants Ian to like both dresses. Even more, she wants to make him happy.

She's planning on cutting back on her school schedule in the fall so she can work full time at a local property management agency so Ian will have fewer worries.

She wants to allow him to focus on football.

"I want to make his life as easy as possible," she says. "He's such a generous person."

Emily Simnitt: 377-6429

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