Thursday, November 24, 2011

11.23.2011 Auction Winners

A BIG thank you to the ladies who purchased items on our very first auction!  Invoices have been sent, and items will ship immediately upon payment!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stefanie Henderson-Wreath Dress-2T
Kelly Wilkins-Wreath Dress-2T
Jennifer Lewis-Wreath Dress-18m

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Calligraphy...and open doors!

Almost a year later, my sorority sister Kate called me out of the blue and said she had a co-worker who was getting married and was looking for someone to provide calligraphy for her invitations. I had taken a course or two in college in typography and was thrilled at the idea that someone would actually pay me!

I gladly accepted and met with the bride, Leslie, at a nearby Starbucks. I had just finished making some program fans for one of my sister Amy's friends (can't find pictures for those anywhere...sorry, Katie! Send them to me and I'll post them here...your wedding was beautiful!) and I brought it along with the other programs I had done to show the bride as well. I was so glad I did, because it opened some crazy-awesome doors that would eventually launch La Belle Fete officially!

Leslie ended up having me do the calligraphy not only for her invitations, but also for Asian-style paper-fan favors, and my favorite project: place card favor boxes of handmade chocolate pralines with calligraphed name tags!

Leslie's wedding was held at the Hazlehurst House in McDonough, Georgia, where I had just been a bridesmaid in my dear friend Nicole's wedding the previous March. When I delivered the completed chocolates and paper fans on my way to a family vacation in Hilton Head, the coordinator recognized me and commented on the calligraphy...and asked about my rates! She had a working relationship with a calligrapher already, but they were always busy and she happened to have a stack of invitations that needed addressing ASAP and wondered if I would be interested in doing them for her.

I left with boxes full of gorgeous kraft-paper invitations waiting to be addressed and the wheels started turning...what if I could really do this? Make this more than just a hobby...I had also just lined up another calligraphy job with one of Leslie's co-workers Janna (which also turned into a monogram, programs, a reception decorating job and the launch of my first rental items catalog as well) was all happening so fast! James and I talked and I dreamed the entire drive to Hilton Head. Why not give it a try? I came back from the beach refreshed and full of plans...I later confided in a co-worker, Thomas, who encouraged me to "pull the trigger" on creating a website (I'll never forget those words). Now I needed a name!

I have always been somewhat of a Francophile, and I loved my friend Catherine's wedding favors of little etched "Bonne Fete" I wrote my high school French teacher to see if "La Jolie Fete" made sense (translation: The Pretty Party).
Madame Carlson suggested that the French might be more likely to say "La Belle Fete" ...and Voila! It was born! I bought up the domain name (again proof that I was doing the right thing...looking back now I can't believe it was available so easily) and built my first website.

When it came time for Leslie's friend Janna to pay for her calligraphy and she wrote the check out to "La Belle Fete", I was too embarrassed to ask her to re-write it out to me it was off to the county Licensing and Revenue Office for a small business license, then to the bank to open a business account. No turning back now!

Before I knew it, brides were posting positive comments on online wedding message boards like The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings. I still remember just about falling out of my chair when I got a call at work on my cell phone from a bride in Chicago who wanted me to design a monogram for her. Reeling, I tried as casually as I could to ask her how she had heard of me, and she replied, "the Martha Stewart website". WHAT?!? I quickly figured out she meant the message board, but it still made my heart race...this was getting out of control!

Soon calls were coming in all the way from New York and California wanting to rent my chair covers, the Hazlehurst House was constantly sending boxes full of invitations to be addressed, and I had also started coordinating wedding ceremonies on weekends...I barely slept! My full time design position was grueling with a huge curriculum program development to promote healthy eating in schools, and the senior designer had just left to start his own business with some's just crazy to look back and see the path that God had created for me. Some days I stumbled into work on just one or two hours of sleep, with a smile on my face, an ever-expanding client list, and hopes that someday I could also leave to take La Belle Fete full time.

But there were still a few more years before that would happen, and a lot more to learn along the way! I am so glad I stayed as long as I did at my full time position, because it ended up providing leadership positions, much-needed professional experience and the opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from some truly amazing people!

So I'll continue to post projects and pictures in chronological order as best I can...and I thank God above and each and every one of my clients from the bottom of my heart for making this possible!

Another monogram...

In 2004, a sister of one of Catherine's bridesmaids was planning her wedding and asked me to do a monogram for her program as well. I was still not thinking long-term in the wedding design arena (I had just taken a position as a graphic designer for the company I would later leave after my son was born almost 5 years later), and I don't even have the design files for this monogram anymore! But it was another step in the right direction towards laying the foundation of La Belle Fete:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Katie's wedding

Shortly after Catherine's wedding, a former employer asked me to design a monogram and create programs for her daughter's Christmas-season wedding in 2003 (Completely un-related in any way to Catherine's programs). I think God was trying to get my attention and show me what He had planned for me! It just took me a few years to catch on! :)

Catherine's wedding

After my wedding in August, my dear best friend from high school, Catherine, got married in November with a gorgeous ceremony and equally awesome reception in Macon, Georgia. We were each the maid of honor in each others' weddings, and I couldn't imagine it any other way! Catherine is just one of those people that no matter how long or how far we go between seeing each other, we can always pick back up where we left off. Her mom, dad and brother Will are like family to me and I had so much fun helping Catherine and her mom with miscellaneous projects for the wedding! (Oh, yeah, and I think Brooke is pretty cool, too!)

Catherine's mom Mary Catherine (or Mrs. O, or MC) asked me to design a monogram using Catherine and Brooke's last initials (O'Kelley and Fore) to use on the programs:

Catherine was such a beautiful bride and I was honored to design her monogram as a small token of a thanks for a treasured friendship!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Website Overhaul Complete!

Well, it was a long time in coming, but La Belle Fete 2.0 is finally up and running! We're also now on Facebook, so be sure to become a fan and spread the love!
Thanks to all the well-wishers and supporters of LBF as we continue to grow. Nothing worth having is gained without hard work, and I truly appreciate friends, family and awesome clients who have helped make this possible!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How it all got started...

Before there was La Belle Fete, there was a do-it-yourself bride with a degree in graphic design and a vision for a beautiful wedding. A two-year engagement period afforded me many months of scouring all the wedding magazines I could get my hands on. I still have my crammed-full scrapbook full of ideas, which has now grown to two full-sized bulletin boards in my office! And those wedding magazines? I still have subscriptions for my favorites, which I lovingly archive and pull out from time to time for inspiration.

Obsessed? To some, perhaps...but I prefer to think of it as a healthy outlet for creative ideas - helping those who seek my services in an area I'm particularly passionate about. How much luckier can a girl get?

One of my favorite parts of designing our wedding was the discovery of this beautiful ornamented capital "A" in one of my dad's old Speedball lettering books from college...perfect to use as a logo for our event.

I scanned it, re-drew it and used it wherever I could. I stamped it in gold on white paper luminaries for our getaway path, used it to make thank-you notes, and probably my favorite piece, on our ceremony program fans.

August was HOT and the fans were a great way to help guests stay cool. I designed them to match our wedding invitations (which, admittedly, were pretty plain), but I think the effect was nice and simple and clean:

So there you have it...a small peek into this bride's first attempts at wedding design! I plan to use this blog to post some of my favorite projects over the years, working forward from our 2003 wedding to the present.
Check back soon - maybe you'll see yourself or some of your projects I may have had the pleasure of working on! Cheers!