Daytime sporting shoots. Nighttime revelry. Great Southern food. Sounds about right for a weekend in Thomasville, Georgia. But add in a crowd of three hundred guests and a pair of “I dos,” and you’ve got the makings of a wedding that captures the South like no other.
Both actors who met in New York City, Megan Ferguson and Nico Evers-Swindell grew up on opposite ends of the globe—she in Florida and south Georgia, he in New Zealand-—and their wedding marked the first time all of their friends and most of their family would meet. Deciding on the location was the easy part—Boxhall, Megan’s parents’ plantation, would make an ideal backdrop for the ceremony and reception. The rest of it? That’s where things got interesting.
Megan’s first call was to Nan Myers, owner of the Thomasville design store Firefly, where Megan had worked as a teenager. Never mind that Myers had never planned a wedding. “I didn’t want a traditional wedding planner,” Megan says. “I wanted it to be personal. Having Nan was the perfect partnership.”
For ten months, the couple collaborated with Myers on every detail. To transform more than three hundred shotgun shells into place-card holders, for instance, Myers recruited her husband and a family friend and told them, “Just start shooting.” And instead of traditional parquet dance floors, she installed planks of painted and distressed plywood. “We were never limited by what a wedding should be,” Megan says. They enlisted Empire State South chefs Hugh Acheson and Ryan Smith to create the ultimate Southern menu—oysters on the half-shell, fried chicken, butterscotch pots de crème—and booked the Defibulators, a rocking country band in the vein of Holy Ghost Tent Revival, to play the reception.
But since so many guests had traveled so far, the real trick was making everyone feel at home. The couple arranged a series of pre-wedding gatherings—skeet shooting lessons at Myrtlewood Plantation, a rousing pig pickin’ at Haile’s Warehouse (an old Coca-Cola bottling facility), and cocktails under the stars at Millpond Plantation. From the moment guests arrived at the welcome dinner on Thursday until the last Bloody Mary was poured at Sunday’s farewell brunch, the party never stopped. The mood was so relaxed by Saturday afternoon, when guests gathered on the lawn at Boxhall, that hardly anyone noticed when the bridal party arrived late to the ceremony. In fact, Megan’s dress had ripped at the last minute. Former first daughter Barbara Bush, one of three maids of honor, came to the rescue, repairing the damage with a needle and dental floss. Forty-five minutes and a steadying glass of champagne later, the couple exchanged vows and joined their guests for one last night of revelry before retreating to their honeymoon cottage, a one-hundred-year-old cabin the Fergusons restored and relocated to the property as a wedding gift.
“Not many weddings go from the Haka, a traditional Maori greeting dance, straight into bluegrass,” says groomsman Harry Smail. “It was a true merging of two tribes.” And as it turned out, the tribes found they had a whole lot in common. “New Zealanders love to talk, and they found the perfect match in Southerners,” Megan says. “I don’t think there was a moment of silence all weekend.”