Photography by Chia and Hon Chong and Katie Joyner
Despite the many challenges of getting married on a big holiday—higher costs, already-booked venues, traveling guests—Cecilia Russo had her sights set on a New Year’s Eve ceremony and reception. “That was the day my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and we hadn’t had a happy new year since,” says Cecilia. “I thought this would be the time to turn it around and make all of the New Year’s Eves to come happy and joyous.”
Joyous it was, from the first glimpse of the bride in her oyster-tinted gown, to her serenading her new husband, Bob Turner, with a karaoke rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee” before they were sent off in a shower of sparklers. But, then again, this couple knows how to turn a moment into an event. Cecilia is the head of an eponymous marketing and fundraising firm, while Bob is the CEO of Turner Food and Spirits and American Park Services.
Uniting their two worlds meant accommodating more than 800 extended family and friends, while also keeping the festivities meaningful and personal. During the ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Cecilia invited mother figures, including aunts and her mother’s best friends, to join her in offering flowers to the Blessed Mother. They held the reception on the grounds of Benedictine Military School, where Cecilia’s grandfather, father, brother and nephews all attended.
Festooned in white drapes and gleaming chandeliers, the 20,000-square-foot tent, custom-made by Eventhaus, offered intimate lounges for conversation. Guests were treated to a luxurious champagne pyramid and food stations helmed by past and present chefs of Bob’s restaurants as well as a seafood bar with stone crab claws—a nod to Cecilia’s family’s business, Russo’s Seafood.
While Cecilia says the band “had the party hopping well past midnight,” everyone paused to mark the auspicious moment with a countdown and an explosion of gold confetti—one more magical moment in an evening filled with sweet memories.
Cecilia Russo + Bob Turner
Planning time: eight months
Videographer: Tim Williams, Cathedral Productions
Officiant: The Rev. Thomas Peyton
Cake: Minette Rushing
Catering: Turner Food and Spirits chefs; seafood, Russo’s Seafood
Ceremony music: Kristin King, harpist, New Arts Ensembles; Kim Polote, soloist
Reception music: Atlanta Rhythm and Groove
Bridal gown: Custom designed by Callie Tein, Modern Trousseau
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Bella Bridesmaids in Charleston, South Carolina
Groom and groomsmen attire: J. Parker Ltd.
Stationery: Low Country Paper Co.
Transportation: Old Savannah Tours
Rehearsal dinner site: Savannah Yacht Club