Belles Blog

Kristen + Ben

A crisp fall September day, with not a cloud in the sky + one of our favorite couples made for an absolutely beautiful Southern styled wedding to kick off our 2017 fall season!!

Kristen, a Richmond native, and Ben from Pennsylvania- decided they needed just a little help with wedding planning from afar, (and while apart from one another) while working hard as surgical residents in Maryland and Michigan.  We were lucky to have connected with them, and had a blast working closely behind the scenes to plan their big day. 

St. Mark's Episcopal Church in the fan hosted the couples' ceremony.  Just a couple blocks away, the dreamy castle-like Branch Museum of Architecture and Design provided a perfect space for the newlyweds, family, and friends to enjoy cocktails, dinner, and lots of dancing! A timeless all-white palette with hints of green and gold highlighted the historical venue. A stunning 65 foot magnolia garland centerpiece complete with white roses and floating candles made for a warm, romantic dinner table in the Long Gallery. The bar was complete with "his" + "hers" cocktails - A Mezcal Mule and Old Fashioned, along with everyone's southern fav- a Mint Julep. The white and magnolia decor (the bride's favorite) continued into the Great Hall and cascaded off of the sweetheart table, and a giant sugar magnolia adorned their wedding cake.  Floating candles warmed the fireplace and created the perfect setting for toasts, dancing and merry making.   This was one for the books!! We wish you many years of love and happiness Kristen + Ben!


The Belles


"In the Heights" with Rep 35

Every summer, we have the pleasure of helping put together Virginia Repertory Theatre's young professionals event for "Rep 35."  By connecting young professionals in the community, the group aims to cultivate and engage members in theatre and performing arts in Richmond.  This years theme highlighted their season finale, the vibrant award winning musical, In the Heights, written by Lin Manuel-Miranda, and it definitely did not disappoint! 

Colorful graffiti and Latin American inspired decor brought the venue to life. Local artist, Alexander Wu Wei created a custom graffiti installation.  Using branded "Rep35" bandanas, he incorporated a design of a sunset in Washington Heights, where the show takes place.  At the end of the event, each guest got to choose a bandana, or "slice of the sunset," to take home as a souvenir. Each discounted YP ticket included drink specials, Boka Takos, King of Pops (..YUM!) and a show ticket.  With over 100 guests in attendance, the Rep 35 team had their greatest turn out yet, gathering professionals, theatre lovers, and everyone in between for a fun night out. 

Thanks, Virginia Rep for allowing us to be a part of it!

"Low Country Luxury" Inspiration, Among Virginia Vines

We've been bursting at the seams with excitement to share with you all a recap of this shoot featured in Virginia Bride Magazine!  We were inspired by Upper Shirley Vineyard the moment we laid eyes on it.  The venue's aura and design are captivating. Big open porches nestled alongside the riverfront, wine tasting, and exceptional southern cuisine matched with the character of a good ole' Southern Plantation (neighbor to Shirley Plantation, America's oldest working farm) reminded us of the ambiance of a place like Charleston.  

After sipping wine with owners Tayloe Dameron and Executive Chef, Carlisle Bannister and chatting about their vision for the new place,  we decided to capture this ambiance by producing a "Low Country Luxury" styled shoot that exuded southern charm.

Using this inspiration and a romantic color palette, our team of talented friends and creatives made it happen (credits below)!  The Vineyards’ landscape accompanied with lush, but attainable floral highlights of Pampas grass and Spanish moss in a dramatic arch provided the perfect backdrop for a sunset ceremony.  Navy velvet, satin blush, stripes, and gold accents highlighted the staged reception, while perfect lounges on the veranda porch brought the vision of Southern hospitality to life. Our shoot encompasses a fresh take on a Southern vineyard wedding– complete with pimento, bourbon, bacon and bowties in Charles City, Virginia!

A HUGE thanks to all involved in the shoot, and to Virginia Bride magazine - we had a blast!  Be sure to pick up your copy today online or in stores soon for more wedding inspiration. 

Vendors: Design and Coordination: Belles & Whistles; Venue & Catering: Upper Shirley Vineyard; Photography: Wendell Powell Photography; Florals: Wiley's Florist; Hair: Rachel Shrader at Elle Style Studio; Makeup: Lacretia Baskfield at Elle Style Studio; Rentals: Paisley & Jade and Classic Party Rentals; Lighting: Leap AV; Bourbon Bar: Bourbon Scout; Wedding Dress: Annalise Bridal; Jewelry: Schwarzschild Jewelry; Bowties: Peter Blair Accessories; Cake: Candy Valley Cake Company; Invitations & Stationery: Sue Corral Ink; Bridesmaids Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids; Models: Bride: Desirae Marie, Groom: Ben Holmes, Maid of Honor/Best Man: Olivia & Daniel Croxton, Bridesmaid: Kate Belleman

Natalie + David

We might be biased, but Virginia is one of the best places for weddings because of the vast variety of venues that supply a unique canvas to each event.  Natalie and David's wedding highlighted one of our favorites!  Both the ceremony and reception were held at the Hofheimer Building.  This 14,400 square foot historic property that originated as the Herold R. Hofheimer Fine Rug Company provides a rare example of “Exotic-Revival style” architecture in the Richmond area.  The building offers rooftop views of the Scott's Addition neighborhood, high ceilings, hardwood floors, rustic exposed brick walls and features an iconic Mediterranean-style dome with mosaic tile. Ooo! 

 A sunset ceremony and cocktail hour kicked off their celebration before proceeding to the Loft for the reception. The decor that transformed this space created the perfect ambiance showing off Natalie and David's creative, spunky personalities.  Colorful floral centerpieces and eccentric gold and silver candles lined the farm tables for dinner, a custom hot neon "newlywoods" sign lit up the room, and a 4-tier donut tower from Sugar Shack added something sweet!

The evening concluded with fireworks on the rooftop and a huge dance party with DJ Rudy Lopez keeping everyone rocking! It was a pleasure to work with these two and we wish them the best. Congrats to the "Newlywoods!"  

Vendors: Event Coordinator: Belles & Whistles Event Planning; Ceremony & Reception: The Hofheimer Building; Music: DJ Rudy Lopez; Florist: Nicola Flora; Caterer: Mean Bird; Photography: Rachel Gierlach, BadA$$ Photobooth; Hair/Makeup: Elle Style Studio; Rentals: Classic Party Rentals 

Martha + Charles

Martha and Charles had a gorgeous ceremony at First Presbyterian Church, followed by a very Richmond reception at the Commonwealth Club.  Charles- Atlanta, GA native, and Richmond-er Martha, live together in New York City.  Trying to plan from out of state with busy jobs in the city was tough, so we gladly jumped aboard when they reached out for our help firming up plans for their big day.  We loved this color palette, and event highlights include beautifully designed stationery by Ella Letterpress, lighting design by the Pros, and the band Attraction kept the energy pumping in the room all night!  We loved being able to help them celebrate with friends and family from afar. 

Best wishes to Martha and Charles!

Event Coordinator: Belles & Whistles, Venues: First Presbyterian Church & Commonwealth Club, Flowers: Whitehouse Flowers, Music: Sam Hill Entertainment, Cake: Pearls, Photography: Meghan McSweeney, Transportation: James River Transportation,   First Class Limousine, Hair & Makeup: Avenue 42, Lighting: Lighting Professors, Accommodations: Jefferson HotelOmni Hotel

Rachel + Skyler

On a bright, chilly day in May, Rachel and Skyler said "I do." Friends and family traveled outside the city of Richmond to the Vintager Inn--a beautiful barn space in New Kent that painted the perfect setting for their rustic wedding. Although days of rainy, soggy weather moved the planned outdoor ceremony inside the barn, the love from family and friends that surrounded them and a hint of sunshine set the perfect scene for the couple.

Skyler and Rachel, who met in acting class at Longwood College, chose to write their own personal vows.  The two's love--and humor--made for a sentimental ceremony. Some of our favorite details included the DIY "cootie catcher" style programs, a "ring warming," a handmade theater escort card display, s'mores kits and a donut dessert display!  Rachel's gorgeous BLDN gown was also one of my favorite's! 

It was so special to see these two friends tie the knot.  Thank you for allowing us to take part. Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Broughman! 

Vendors: Wedding Coordinator: Belles & Whistles Event Planning; Venue: The Vintager Inn; Florist: Mallory Cave; Cake: Shindigz, Sugar Shack Donuts; Photography: Emily Patton Photography; DJ: Bow Tied Weddings; Transportation: James River Transportation, Black Car Richmond; Hair/Makeup: Blackbird; Accomodations: Hilton Garden Inn

4 Tips to Make Your 4th of July Party Sparkle

What's more fun than being part of planning a good old fashioned themed party?! 4th of July makes party planning a piece of cake--the date, color scheme, and festive fireworks are already included! If you're looking to take your 4th of July party to the next level, here are a few tips to make it sparkle. 

1. Pre-make a cocktail

Any party celebrating America needs a good cocktail! To save your own time, energy, and money, pre-make a cocktail in bulk like a red, white, and blue sangria.

Ingredients: sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple (or apples) cut into stars, 2 bottles white wine, 1 cup triple sec, 1/2 cup berry-flavored vodka, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup simple syrup, ice

Combine ingredients, chill, and serve! 

2. Patriotic Party Activities

Once the cocktails are flowing, keep the party going with some festive activities before the fireworks.  Depending on the crowd, there are several games that will keep people entertained and having a great time.  Have a corn hole tournament with a bracket and prizes! For younger kids do some easy face-painting, set up a crafting table, lead a water balloon toss, or 3 legged races in the backyard. Create a backdrop and tie in red, white and blue props to serve as a DIY photo booth - fun for all ages. Once it gets dark  a fire pit and "make your own" s'mores bar would be a sweet finish!

3.  All out decor

From the minute your guests enter, you want them to feel like celebrating.  Tie in some element of decor with star spangled, red, white and blue details from food, to place settings, escort cards, favors, music and entertainment to set the tone of one great patriotic party!

4.  Create a party favor

Wow your guests with individual gift bags or goodies upon their arrival or as they leave the party.  Fill bags or jars with your favorite patriotic things: sparklers, cracker jacks, a nip for those over 21, red, white, and blue m&m's, the possibilities are truly endless. It's all about the personal touches!

We hope these tips were helpful and you all have a safe and happy 4th, friends!


Friday Feature: Choosing Your Stationery with Riot + Revel


“Riot + Revel will bring your event and story to life to create a uniquely branded experience that will wow your guests.” -Heather Ormond

Whether you are planning your graduation, bachelorette party, or wedding, stationery is the perfect way to take your event to the next level. A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to sit down with Heather Ormond, talented owner of Riot + Revel. Heather provides custom stationery for any type of event, as well as custom business cards, announcements, menus, cocktail napkins, day of wedding papers and beyond.  We did a little Q & A, and have some great insight below to share with you.

Q: Describe your ideal client for Riot + Revel.

With custom stationery there are no templates or designs to choose from--rather each individual piece is custom designed and created based on the client’s needs, budget, story and vision. For Heather, the ideal client embraces that custom experience and is excited to create completely unique and individual stationery for their event. For weddings, she prefers to be involved in designing each piece of stationery--from save-the-date to thank you cards--so that a theme or personal story is entwined throughout.

Q: How do you help clients through the customization process?

Heather’s design process always begins with a face-to-face consultation with the client(s) to gain an understanding of their personalities, style and event vision. After getting to know the clients at an initial consultation, Heather can offer guidance and direction in coming up with corresponding stationery tying in the finest of details. From the physical feel of the paper, textures, thoughtful designs, font styles, printing methods and wording of the text, no detail is overlooked.   Heather will work with the client on a draft and tweak until it is perfect.  

Q: Why should a client choose to work with a custom stationer vs. an online source?

There are several benefits to working with a custom stationer like Heather.  Not only are we huge fans of supporting small, local businesses, but the plus of a local designer is the close attention you will receive in comparison to an online “chat” portal or robot on the phone.  Heather establishes a relationship with the client so they feel confident they can reach her for a phone call, etiquette advice, last minute hiccup, added escort card, etc. Through online vendors, you don’t always receive that attention. Additionally, with Heather, all of her creations are 100% unique and original--you will never see anyone else with your stationery!

Q: Is custom stationery affordable?

Many seek out online stationery services because they believe it is cost effective, when in fact, it is most often not. The time, energy, and money that is required to build your own stationery online can be overwhelming and fall short of your expectations; Heather eliminates much of that stress by becoming a trusted vendor, and taking care of the complete design, order and printing process. For an average bride, invitations cost $4-$6, however, there is no set price; all components of stationery such as style of paper, ink, envelopes, and added details can vary.  This gives Riot + Revel the opportunity to work closely with the client to adjust components as needed to stay within any budget a client may have.

Q: How long does custom stationery take to create?

One of the biggest misconceptions clients often make during their planning process is underestimating the time it takes for stationery to be created and delivered. For any event, Heather recommends reaching out to her for a consultation 10-12 weeks before needing the stationery in hand. Heather advises that a save-the-date card needs to be sent out no later than 5 months before the wedding date. For wedding invitations, they should be in the recipient's mailbox 8-10 weeks before the wedding. This allows ample time for guests to take any necessary action such as RSVPing, filling out a menu card, booking flights or accommodations, etc.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for anyone searching for stationery?

Heather explained- “When choosing stationery, think about each individual element of your day and really understand your intentions for this type of communication. What information do you need and want to convey to the guest receiving it?”  In addition, Heather encourages thinking about at least one personal element to add to the stationery to make it stand out. Designing stationery should be an exciting and creative process that sets the tone for your entire event so her final advice is, have fun with it!

Carly + Jamie

I am so excited to share this wedding with you all today!  

Carly and Jamie both grew up in Richmond, VA, but met in DC while both working up in Northern, VA.  Their wedding ceremony was held at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, where the couple attends and where Jamie popped the big question.  April 22 turned out to be a stormy afternoon, but the couple and their guests hardly noticed with the grand celebration at hand. 

Their cocktail reception took place at The Commonwealth Club downtown. Carly's vision was actually inspired by her love of ginger jars!  Pulling the royal blue from that inspiration, that hue was incorporated throughout the rest of the wedding design, with pops of pink to soften the look for their springtime affair. 

The vendor team transformed the gorgeous ballroom for over 300 guests like I'd never seen it before.  Pink uplighting surrounded the room with gold lanterns over the dance floor.  Show-stopping floral arrangements highlighted the entrance to the space with blooming branches, and a grand 5 tier cake was a true stand out accentuated by a cascade of florals from top to bottom!  

The couple tied in some fun details including "Transfusion" cocktails, a grooms cake--giving a nod to Jamie's favorite football teams (alma mater, JMU Bulldogs & the Dallas Cowboys)--and a custom drawing of the church by the ever so talented Ginny Rogan. The 12 piece Motown style band, Right On, lead a rocking party, complete with costume changes and conga lines!  

Carly recalled her favorite memories from the day: the first look, in which she was grateful the weather cooperated- until right after that moment when skies opened up and it poured!  She and Jamie also were glad to have a few moments together before their intro's to the reception.  "We stuffed our faces with some of the food from downstairs, had a drink and practiced our first dance! We were singing the lyrics to ourselves up in the room which we still laugh about today."  The most special part overall though she said, was having the people they love most all in one place. 

We are so grateful to have been a part of these beautiful memories.  Congratulations, Carly and Jamie!

Vendors: Coordinator: Belles & Whistles; Venue: St. Mary's Episcopal and Commonwealth Club; Music: Right on Band; Florist: White House Flowers; Cake: Sweet Fix; Photography: Stephanie Yonce; Lighting: Lighting Professors; Hair/Makeup: Avenue 42; Transportation: James Limousine and RVA Trolley

Julie + Justin

After months of preparation, Julie and Justin's big day finally arrived in May.  The couple chose Fairview Farm for the venue, where the rustic elegance speaks for itself.  Can we say stunning backdrops and countryside!  

The two met at VCU during an internship program.  Justin now works in law enforcement, and Julie with at-risk kids in Henrico County.   You can immediately see Julie and Justin's caring and calm personalities upon meeting them, and we were lucky to stumble upon them during the planning process!  

When a beautiful day quickly turned stormy, both were calm and kept focus on what the day is really about.  After 15 minutes of showers, thunder, and hail - yes, hail- the skies opened up and sunshine swept in just in time!  Friends and family witnessed Julie and Justin's vows outside the barn in front of a stunning, ombre pink floral curtain!

After the picturesque ceremony, guests sipped Bourbon Peach Tea under the pavilion, played corn hole, and admired the scenery. When Julie and Justin entered the barn for their first dance, their sheer joy, love, and happiness radiated throughout. This is what makes our job at Belles & Whistles worth it!  Cheers to many years ahead Julie + Justin.   We loved being a part of this very special day.


Vendors: Event Coordinator: Belles & Whistles; Venue: Fairview Farm Events; Florist: Carrington Florist; Cake: Pearl's Cupcakes; Caterer: Cater 2 Events; Photography: Mike Topham Photography; Videography: White Tree Productions; DJ: Black Tie Events; Hair/Makeup: Curl Up & Dye