Venue Tour | Under the Stars Farm | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Have you ever been somewhere that hasn’t been completely developed yet, but when the person describes their vision for the location, you can totally see it clearly? I had the honor of meeting C.J. McDonald, owner of Under the Stars Farm in Gloucester, Virginia, this week. To say that her vision for her wedding venue is “incredible” doesn’t seem enough. This place is going to be amazing, friends!

After meeting her at her farm house, built in the 1842, C.J. took me to the venue location on her property. Currently, they are in the process of clearing land so that they can begin executing their plan for the first phase of the project- a pavilion and gorgeous lavender fields. They are currently growing a test patch of lavender, which smells heavenly! If only you could smell the fragrant lavender through this blog post! The current field and the upcoming several additional acres of lavender that will be added will be a beautiful backdrop for weddings since it will be adjacent to the pavilion, which will also overlook a scenic pond. Eventually, they will also build an event barn. So if you are engaged and plan to get married in 2020 you will have to check out this new wedding venue. Not only will it be the picture perfect location to wed, there is so much heart behind all of it.

Location of Upcoming Lavender Fields

C.J. dreams of using her farm, which has animals too in addition to the lavender, to help others. She desires to help others create beautiful memories by providing a place where couples and their family and friends can have a wonderful experience. Her plans also include using the lavender to create soaps and lotions. You can find out more about when these products will be available here! You can also learn more about the farm, watch the progress and learn about the launch of some additive lavender products on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Christen Turney | Allocco Design | Vendor Spotlight

The handwritten letter.  I always dreamed of having beautiful handwriting when I started learning cursive in school.  I have fairly neat handwriting, but achieving a traditional calligraphy style of handwriting hasn’t happened for me yet. I have mastered D’Nealian print because of my primary teaching background, but it isn’t nearly as elegant as calligraphy.  There is just something special about an artfully handwritten note that sets it apart from text messages or emails.  It takes additional effort and time.  The thoughtful effort makes something handwritten unique and makes the recipient feel valued. 

Allow me to introduce to you Christen Turney of Allocco Design.  She is a very talented calligrapher based in Southeastern Virginia.  She uses a traditional style of calligraphy that is refined and absolutely gorgeous.    She got her start in calligraphy when she participated in Project 52, a project that led her to post some form of art weekly.  Eventually she focused her artistic interests more on calligraphy.  A book that her mom gifted her in addition to classes helped her to refine her calligraphy skills which are a wonderful fit with her background in graphic design.   

Christen provides a variety of calligraphy services ranging from weddings to commissions.  For weddings she does invitations but that is only one piece of the puzzle.  Not only can she design your wedding invitations, she also can address the envelopes, design elegant wedding signs (table numbers, seating chart signs, etc.) for the reception, vows and other signs for the ceremony, and more.  She also teaches calligraphy classes and has a podcast as well.

When I asked Christen what advice she has for prospective brides, she suggested planning ahead.  When working with couples for a wedding, she caters to each unique event.  Since calligraphy is an art form, it takes time to complete it just as it takes time for any other type of visual art.  For invitations, for example, she suggests allowing 3-4 months.   See below for a sample of her lovely work!

A Grandview Nature Preserve Engagement Session |Virginia Wedding Photographer

Jordan and Zack

Engagement and wedding season officially began for me in April and I’m so excited about the couples I have the honor to work with and serve in 2019!  And of course, I am still doing Anniversary Sessions for families and capturing high school and college Seniors as well.  

I recently had the opportunity to capture the sweetest and most easy going engaged couple along with their beautiful dog, Maple.  Jordan and Zack were my recent Engagement Session Giveaway winners.    It was so much fun getting to know them as we walked along the shore at Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton, Virginia on a warm, sunny Spring day. 

Jordan, a dental hygienist, and Zack, a professional fisherman and owner of Salt Treated Sport Fishing, met in high school.  These high school sweethearts have been together for 12 years and recently got engaged!  They will be tying the knot in September of 2020 and are very excited about their upcoming wedding in Powhatan, Virginia! 

 Jordan wore a lovely, flowing white and pastel striped cotton high-low dress and Zack’s denim and crisp white shirt complemented her very well.  They looked amazing!  I absolutely loved their casual beach vibe, complete with their sweet German Shorthaired Pointer that loves playing on the beach (and was very interested in the pelicans and seagulls flying just over the surf).

I was so thankful that the sun was shining and that it was in the 70’s especially after having to reschedule because of rainstorms.  We walked a distance down the beach and found a more secluded area with beach grass and driftwood.  I could tell right away how much they adore one another because of their close friendship.  It was truly a pleasure and honor to gift an engagement session to such a sweet couple. 

Meet Kari Scruggs | Two River Events | Vendor Spotlight

Meet Kari Scruggs of Two River Events, LLC. She is a wedding and event planner located in Southeastern Virginia who serves Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas. Kari established Two River Events in 2013 because of her own wedding.

She and her mother planned her wedding, which was perfect since her mother was a veteran wedding planner. While it was a successful and beautiful wedding, it was also pretty stressful. She recalls wishing that she would have had a coordinator on her wedding day as her phone was ringing nonstop while she was getting ready. Her mother ended up having her hair done twice because she was working so hard after the stylist did her hair the first time that she was literally sweating as she got all of the details set up. Ultimately, Kari missed out on time with her mom because of all of the work it took to make her wedding day a success. Because of this experience, Kari understands first hand the stress of a wedding and how it can impact a couple and their families without help. She is passionate about making sure her clients are so well taken care of that they can enjoy their wedding day free from stress. She truly desires for her couples to be free to enjoy time with family and friends, knowing that their wedding planner is handling all the details.

As we were chatting over lunch, I asked her this question: What is some advice that you would give to potential clients? Kari suggests that as you plan your wedding, make sure you have a good understanding of your wedding budget, knowing that your guest count will dictate everything. She also recommends being flexible. Sometimes unexpected things, such as weather, illness, missing wedding rings, and so on happen. Things will probably happen that are out of your control. Being flexible and having a plan B will save everyone a lot of stress.

Two River Events, LLC has several options to help you plan your wedding with the understanding that each couple and wedding is unique. Therefore, the experience will be customized to fit your needs.

  • Event Management: This option allows the bride and groom to design their own day. Kari will help with the timeline and the execution of the details of your day.
  • Partial Event Planning: This option incorporates some designing, conversations about the design, 1-2 vendor meetings with you, and the timeline and execution of the details of your ceremony rehearsal and your wedding day.
  • Full Event Planning: This option includes full design, all meetings with you and your vendors, and the timeline and execution of the details of your ceremony rehearsal and your wedding day.

Hair stylist: Lauren Barefoot

A James River Elopement | Belle Eve Photography | Virginia Wedding Photographer

A little less than a year ago two people took a trip to a beach along the James River, yet they did not know each other. Jacob was standing at the water’s edge, looking out toward the horizon and taking in the beautiful day. As Emily was walking by, Jacob turned around and literally ran into her. This moment was the start of a beautiful relationship. From then on, they knew they would be together. They began dating and their love flourished. Since Jacob’s orders from the Army were going to move him elsewhere, they decided to elope on the very spot where they met. On a chilly April morning, with only a minister, their parents, and several close friends they united their lives together in marriage in the most beautiful ceremony as the fog hovered over the James River.

The bride wore an ivory bohemian inspired dress adorned with lace on fluted sleeves along with her grandmother’s gold locket with pictures of her late grandparents. The groom wore navy trousers and a crisp white shirt along with a skinny floral tie. The ceremony was brief and included their vows, exchanging rings,and their first kiss as husband and wife as their loving families and friends stood on the sand nearby and supported this new union. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to capture this part of their journey. Congratulations, Emily and Jacob!

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An Historic Yorktown Teen Session | Beauty Revived Runner-up | Belle Eve Photography

It was a warm summer evening when I had the honor of meeting Lydia and her family in Historic Yorktown, Virginia to photograph her as the runner-up for the Beauty Revived “50 Beautiful Children” campaign. The Beauty Revived organization emphasizes and promotes the inner beauty of children, teens, and women.

Lydia is a beautiful, sweet gal who truly shines. It wasn’t her external beauty, however, that motivated Sharon, a family friend, to nominate her for the “50 Beautiful Children” campaign. When asked “What makes this child truly beautiful?”, Sharon wrote: “Lydia is truly beautiful in appearance, but her heart is what is most beautiful. She is a young teenager but she doesn’t seem to be swayed in the ways that most teen girls are. There is a purity about her. She loves God deeply and steps into moments that reflect His love and affirmation of her God given gifts and talents. She also has a strong confidence about her, willing to step into the hard things. She also loves people with depth, a beautiful thing for a young woman her age.”

The inner strength and faith of Lydia is inspiring. She has a heart for others that manifests in a maturity beyond her years. As an elementary school student she and her sister sold lemonade to raise money for poor children in Haiti. As a teen, she has become a Bible study leader for her peers- the youngest one last summer, in fact.

It isn’t always easy to be a leader. Leadership can often mean standing on your own two feet even when you are the only one standing. Sometimes it means walking alone because you took a stand for doing what is right. It takes courage, and Lydia most definitely has this beautiful quality.

Hello 2019! | Virginia Portrait and Wedding Photographer | Belle Eve Photography


View More: I sit in the living room on my favorite sea green vintage couch, I can’t help but feel so very grateful for 2018.  It was an incredible year of growth for Belle Eve Photography.  It was a year, in fact, that surpassed my expectations.  Each year I set personal and professional goals for myself.  A few of the goals I set for my photography business were:

1. Upgrade Website

The first goal I tackled in 2018 was to upgrade our website.  I like to reflect and reevaluate it so that my clients can get to know me and how I roll and become acquainted with my process and portfolio.  I desire for my website to have helpful content in addition to being a friendly storefront that clients can visit.  The upgrades also helped clients to find the “storefront” easier, which doubled the traffic and resulted in doubling the number of bookings from the previous year!

2. Serve Clients Well

Next, since serving clients well is really important to me, I created a bridal guide.  This has been a fantastic tool to share with my sweet brides, which tells a little more about me and explains the booking process.  Having this information available to share when I meet with brides has helped to both educate and put them at ease.  I truly love serving people and sharing about how I will preserve the legacy of those special moments in a memorable, professional way.

3. Get Published

My third goal was to get my work published at least once in 2018.  For photographers, getting published does several things.  It increases the SEO (search engine optimization) which directs more people to our website that we can potentially serve.  It also increases the chances for my work to be seen by prospective couples when they are researching ideas and vendors for their weddings.  I was published not once, but four times…five if you count the local television spot with one of my clients (she’s super cute, too!).  Check out our features here:

(Featured in print in “Beauty Revived- 50 Beautiful Children” magazine)

So here we are now in 2019.  I am so excited to see what this year will bring!  I have created new goals for 2019 using Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters.  It is my first year using Powersheets, and I cannot wait to have a purposeful year both personally and professionally!

Above all, thank you!!  Thank you, 2018 clients, for an amazing year.  It has truly been an honor to serve so many incredibly kind couples and families.   Take a look below for some of our favorite moments!







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