Written by Hannah Saulters | Photographed by Joe Ellis
“One of the things I love about Southerners is that they care about design. They want things to be pretty. They want them to be proper,” says Erik Kegler, a Florida native and half of the couple responsible for Erik Kegler Interiors, EK Home, and Eventful, Fondren’s very own event rental and event design firm.
It’s a distinct aspect of life in Mississippi that his partner, Brennan Hovell appreciates as well. “We travel around the country and it seems like paper invitations and thank you notes are starting to die off. That’s a shame because those extra special touches make people feel important.”
Filling a niche in Jackson, Kegler started Eventful after being unable to find rental pieces he really liked using. And this aspect of his business world provides a useful counterpoint to the more stable interiors work. “The event business is very trend-driven. The thing Brennan and I love is that interior design is somewhat permanent. We do things that are going to last a long time and be durable. But the fun part about the events is that you get to do things that are a little more of-the-moment.”
In addition to their passion for their work, empathy for clients and their guests characterizes everything Hovell and Kegler do, whether it’s running a wedding in Paolo Alto, CA, or conducting the re-design of Bravo! just up the street. “One of our main business philosophies is that it’s not our living room that we’re decorating and it’s not our party that we’re throwing,” Hovell explains. It’s a responsibility both Kegler and Hovell take seriously, especially when it comes to weddings.
Because a wedding is a big undertaking for any couple as they negotiate a budget, manage future in-laws, and discuss their own priorities moving forward, “It’s such an honor to be part of that process, to see that joy and excitement,” says Hovell, “To look at them three and four years later and they’ve got a baby or a new house is really rewarding. We get to share that little part of helping them get their lives started.”
Although both Hovell and Kegler clearly love the design elements of planning a wedding, choosing everything from the announcements and invitations to linens and dishware, it’s the personal touches that set their approach apart. For Hovell, the best part is the rehearsal dinner because it is a quieter, more intimate experience where families and friends get to really interact with each other. Kegler emphasizes that the party doesn’t matter nearly as much as the people you have there. “For all of the design, the pomp, the circumstance, this is about you getting married. I don’t care if you’re throwing hot dogs on the grill, the most important part of this is that you understand that you’re starting a new life together and the people you invite are there to support and honor the fact that you’re getting married.”
It’s the approach the couple took when planning their own wedding five years ago. “We built our entire wedding experience around the idea that these are the people we knew and felt like would commit themselves to helping us build a stronger relationship.” Which isn’t to say they didn’t have fun. Kegler and Hovell celebrated their love for each other and their adopted home state in a four-day event highlighting the food and culture of the deep South featuring a night of BBQ from The Pig and Pint, a cotton and comfort food-themed rehearsal dinner, and collaborating with local clients and friends.
Self-described “Jackson people” Kegler and Hovell have made it a priority “to live where we work and work where we live.” This was even true of their own wedding,“We believe in what Jackson has to offer; Jackson and Fondren are growing and being part of that community is important to us.” But even more important than their Jackson community is their team (“the most amazing staff ever!” according to Kegler) and each other. “The truth is that we love what we do and working together is a large portion of our marriage,” reflects Kegler. Howell echoes this, saying “People always ask us ‘How in the world do you work together every day?’ and I have to tell them ‘I can’t imagine not.”