Making Marry

by Southern Coastal Weddings


Braveheart meets Shakespeare in Love at a creative celebration that’s steeped in Old World elegance.

By Andrea Goto  |  Photography by Maison Everett

On an August afternoon in 2011, Savannah College of Art and Design professor R. Campbell made two spectacular catches at a Sand Gnats game in Grayson Stadium. The first was a foul ball; the second was the love of this life, Jeanne Svendson.

Exactly two years later, R. proposed. He and Jeanne, the owner of the chic Galerie 124, began to imagine a wedding that would enchant their families, traveling from Oklahoma and Louisiana, respectively.

“Not a hydrangea in site,” laughs local wedding designer and coordinator Audrey King of French Knot Studios, who assisted with the event. “Typical brides with weddings of this caliber want it all draped in white fabric and white flowers, and you can’t tell those weddings from any other high-end wedding. But with this wedding, everything was truly special and truly them. You couldn’t walk into the space and think you were at anyone else’s event.”

Our Way to Fall

R. and Jeanne’s vision began with their shared love of autumn, which inspired a palette of muted earth tones reminiscent of vintage ribbons. But they also wanted a richly romantic affair, drawing inspiration from Elizabethan-era accents and paying tribute to the groom’s Scottish heritage.


The couple sought the creative guidance of lead event planner and designer Joel Kirby of Curly Willow Studios in Greenville, SC. Jeanne had met Kirby a few years prior while he was setting up for a wedding in Palmetto Bluff. Taken by his skillful designs, she asked for his card, predicting she’d “need this one day.”

Together, they settled on a concept inspired by a Scottish hunt club—with a little bit of Renaissance flair. The bold Campbell tartan, fabulous faux furs and overflowing feast tables provided a rustic flavor to both the rehearsal dinner at the historic Old Fort Jackson and the reception at the Ships of the Sea Maritime museum. These masculine accents, along with antlers, pheasant pelts and deer mounts, were juxtaposed with gilded candelabras and richly hued florals.


King fashioned delicate Elizabethan ruffs from silk ribbon for the bridesmaids’ wrists and placed 100 larger versions behind the reception’s main bar to create an ethereal installation. Jeanne’s “something old” was a collar made from the mantilla her grandmother and mother both wore on their wedding days.


Garden of Earthly Delights

To accommodate the ample guest list, Kirby and King opted to divide the sizeable outdoor reception site into three spaces: a cocktail area, a buffet, and action stations serving such delicacies as lump crab cakes and chipotle-spiced fried green tomatoes. Guests sipped Moscow mules from copper mugs, mingled among high-top cocktail tables, and lingered in cozy loveseats that nestled up to fire-pit tables.

To create ambiance and intimacy the designers had set several banquet tables on diagonal angles, hung rich fabric draping, and backlit semi-translucent panels of art.


The effect was a carefully curated event that defied the “matchy-match” motif of some modern weddings.

“The collected feel makes for a more interesting experience for your guests,” King explains. “They’re constantly looking around and seeing something new. There’s always a little surprise.”

The welcoming weekend aimed to bring guests into the fold—roasting marshmallows, sharing stories around the fire, and cozying up under fur throws—rather than placing them passively in the wings. Kirby and King assembled a team of 16 to stage the intricate event, which included the rehearsal dinner for all 350 guests, the wedding, a bridal luncheon and a brunch, and yet the performance seemed to unfold organically. “It was a finely tuned machine,” King muses.

Not long after R. made that fateful foul catch, he inscribed a quote from Picasso on the ball that reads, “Everything you can imagine is real,” and gave it to Jeanne. Their wedding offers proof that the artist was right. The bride and groom imagined an intricate event that would delight their guests, honor their past, and celebrate their collective future. And now for the happily ever after.


Behind the Veil

The big day: Saturday, November 15, 2014

Palette: Inspired by vintage velvet ribbons

Planning time: 12 months

Guests: 350

Lead event design and planning: Joel Kirby, Curly Willow Designs

Event coordinator and assistant designer: Audrey Wagner King, French Knot Studios

Rehearsal dinner site: Old Fort Jackson

Ceremony: St. John the Baptist Cathedral

Ceremony music: Christopher Kohut and Anne Durant, organist Mac Fogle and cantor Kerry Aver

Gown: Monique Lhuillier

Accessories: Ruffs by French Knot Studios

Hair: Ethan’s of London South Salon

Makeup: Jessica Duthu

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amasale

Groom/groomsmen’s attire: Jos A. Bank suits; Brackish bowties

Reception: Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum

Rehearsal dinner catering: Leoci’s Trattoria

Reception catering: Susan Mason Catering

Reception music: Velvet Caravan

Florist: Curly Willow Designs

Cake: A Squad Bakeshop

Rentals: Beachview Event Rentals and Design; Professional Party Rentals

Transportation: Old Savannah Tours