Inspired by the first story she heard of the original Thanksgiving, a crafty local event designer stages a colorful feast with the help of some very talented natives and pilgrims. » Photography by Izzy Hudgins
“I challenged myself to do a glitter-free party this time,” Audrey Wagner King laughs, causing a few gold glints to sparkle mysteriously on her face. “I’ve been using glitter so much it never really comes off.”
In lieu of the glitzier festivities, Audrey chose to host our Thanksgiving oyster roast, combining a celebrated coastal tradition with the “grade-school version” of America’s “pilgrims and natives” tale. She gathered her creative co-conspirators around a rustic farm table at the Georgia State Railroad Museum, and brought in feathers, leather, earthenware and tribal patterns, along with pumpkin-shaped persimmon branches and harvest-hued flowers. Her friends at FORM brought a seafood bounty complete with bacon-truffle oysters Rockefeller and Thai style shrimp salad on cucumber rounds.
“I thought Thanksgiving offered more of a blank slate than the other holidays,” observes the designer and founder of French Knot Studios. “It’s usually more about food and people than about the décor. I was excited to try things for the magazine that I might not get to do for a wedding client.”
With her background in theater and costume design, Audrey opened French Knot Studios to teach fellow “makers” advanced crafting techniques, but she soon found herself creating custom décor for events.
“Life is a performance,” she explains, “and every wedding or gathering has a story to tell. Both theater and event design require calm energy and a resourceful mind.”
What a card: To make her feather-shaped place cards, Audrey Googled “clip art,” printed her chosen silhouette on heavy stock, cut out each shape and wrote names in white gel pen.
Food for thought: Saffron-laced prawns, scored flounder, pecan encrusted pork stuffed with pears, vanilla carrots and orange halves stuffed with sweet potato soufflé are just a few of the innovations Brian Torres and the FORM team brought to the table.
Spice the space: “Nicole (Schwalge of Simply Savannah Events) loves creating backdrops to enhance event venues and create a unique atmosphere,” Audrey says. “I asked her to use her love of tribal designs and Southwestern colors.”
Beyond pumpkin pie: Natasha Gaskill of Lulu’s Chocolate Bar made a “naked” cake with apple layers and caramel-drizzled goat cheese frosting, and Brian added one of FORM’s signature pumpkin cheesecakes. As a conversation-starter and keepsake, Audrey coordinated pens and crafted paper for guests to list the things they’re thankful for.
Occasional Drink: To make the Whipped Cider Martini, combine 2 oz. apple cider, 2 oz. whipped cream vodka, 1 oz. brandy, 1 oz. butterscotch Liqueur, and a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg Shake with ice, pour and garnish with a “teeny” pumpkin or apple slice.
Brought to You By…
Stylist: Audrey Wagner King, French Knot Studios, with Izzy Hudgins Location/Venue: Georgia State Railroad Museum Catering: John Osborne, James Kleinschmidt, Brian Torres (with Brian’s daughter, Lucia), FORM Cake: Lulu’s Chocolate Bar Table accessories: World Market Flowers: Fiftyflowers.com Painted backdrop: Nicole Schwalge, Simply Savannah Events Hair and make-up: Emily Warren and Jessica Mock, Dollface by Jules Clothing: Custard Boutique Jewelry: ZIA Boutique Guests: Melody Munn and Sterling Horry