Brides get swept away at Belle Grove Plantation!

Jul. 27th 2013

We would like to congratulate Brittney and Eric!

We wish you all the joy in the world in your new lives together!

Thank you for making us a part of your special time together!

DSC_0058 small

Brides really do get swept away at our Southern Plantation!

See what we are up to at Belle Grove Plantation!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 10 Comments »

Another First

Jul. 23rd 2013


On Saturday, Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast saw another first!

Our First Wedding!

We would like to introduce


Mr. and Mrs. Travis Cousins!

Surrounded by a handful of family and friends


Travis and Stephanie

exchanged their vows on our balcony overlooking the river 

on Saturday, July 20, 2013

We would like to wish them a wonderful new life together! 

Thank you for coming to Belle Grove Plantation and allowing us to share your special day!



















Officiant was Tamara Riley of

No Ordinary Ordained

No Ordinary Ordained

Photography was by

Mary Chamberlin of


Chamberlin Photography

To see more “first”

Visit our Facebook Fan Page

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Thank you!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 22 Comments »

See Belle Grove Plantation in the New Issue of Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia!

Jul. 6th 2013

B&W July 2013

We are so excited to announce that

Belle Grove Plantation

has a wonderful piece in the new issue of

Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia Magazine!

This magazine is the ultimate guide for Wedding Planning for the Northern Virginia Bride!

This publication is designed to give brides helpful planning tools and up to date information on the Northern Virginia Wedding scene. The Publisher and Editor, Cindie Reinhold found her inspiration after seeing a need in the marketplace for a quality-oriented planning guide to help bride locate wedding resources. Using the knowledge and expertise of countless industry professional, Brides and Weddings offer editorial content that help brides create their dream weddings while saving time, stress and money.

You can view a digital copy of this new issue by going to:

Find Belle Grove Plantation’s article and let us know what you think!


Keep up with that is going on at Belle Grove Plantation

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 14 Comments »

Bridal Show

Jun. 2nd 2013

Today was our first adventure into Bridal Shows!

Our first Bridal Show Vendor Booth

Our first Bridal Show Vendor Booth




We attended the Virginia Wedding Network Bridal Show in Fredericksburg. It was so much fun and we had a chance to meet allot of brides and vendors! Here are some great pictures from the show!

Thank you to Didi Russell, her team and Virginia Wedding Network for providing a great show today!


We want to thank my sister, Shay for helping us with items for the table.

It wouldn’t have looked as good as it did without your items!

And we want to thank Brigitte with Chikpea Florist for allowing us to use two of her bridal bouquets for the table! 


One of the first vendors we met was NannyTainment. Here’s a thought. How many times have you gone to a family wedding and had children running ever where? This is a great service. They come to your event and watc h the children so you can enjoy the event!



This is Lillie with Wild Lillie Events. She was our neighbor at the show. What an awesome person and great event planner!

We were excited to see Cindie Reinhold, editor and publisher of Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia.




I had to watch Brett at this show! This is Casnio2U. They provide Casino games for wedding receptions and other events. Brett and I are talking about having a Casino Night at Belle Grove! Anyone interested in having some fun?


Brett got a lesson on how to play Black Jack





He didn’t win at Black Jack but did pretty good at the Roulette Table. The neat thing about this service is you don’t play with your own money. When you come in, they provide you with 50 thousand in chips to play with!


This is La Mollioa Catering. They were also our neighbors. It was so hard not to go over and eat through the whole show!

It smelled and looked so good!



This is Teresa with Couture Jewelry.

She has some of the most wonderful pieces! Once we get our online store open, you must go and check her pieces out!



This is Michelle with Occasions by M&K .

She is THE Wedding Planner! You can’t go wrong with her planning your wedding!



I just met these fine ladies. We are hoping to see them at the plantation for our Vendor Fair.


This is Lou with Lou’s Blue Martini. He and I share a common background. We both served in the Marine Corps. He is going to work on a new martini just for Belle Grove based on our story about Carolinus Turner and the mint juleps at 5pm. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!


This is Simply Modern Bridal.

They have some amazing dresses!





This is catering company that will be coming to our Vendor Fair on June 30th. We had a chance to try some of their food and I have to say it was awesome! We had a tartlet filled with roasted red pepper and feta cheese that was just heavenly!



Balloonapalooza and The Popcorn Bag

Delicious Gourmet Popcorn and Balloons for all occasions!



Who needs flowers at a wedding? Why not have an Edible Candy Arrangement!

Do you know that allot of weddings are starting to put up “Candy Bars”? You place our jars of different candies and provide a bag for your guest to take some home. What a great idea for party favors!



Ballroom Dancing anyone?

We are talking with Strictly Ballroom Dance Studio about providing some classes at Belle Grove Plantation!


We loved this!

Mike with Applied Science Fitness Studio brought his motorcycle with a great message!


Calling all Chocolate Lovers!

This is the BEST Chocolate you have ever tasted!

Chocolates filled with liquors! They are out of this world! We can’t wait to get them to the plantation!



We were also treated to one of the most beautiful bridal fashion show!


If you are s bride or know of a bride to be check out this brand new web search engine for wedding vendors!


(and its not missing the “m” at the end)

The show was provided by Ava Laurenne Bride.

We met with them and are hoping that we can get them to our first Bridal Show at Belle Grove!





To see more picture of the Bridal Show

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 17 Comments »

Vendor Fair at Belle Grove Plantation

May. 25th 2013

We would like to announce that we will be conducting our first

Wedding Vendor Fair at Belle Grove Plantation!

Vendor Fair June 2013

This fair is for all Wedding Professionals that would like to work with Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast on future Social and Corporate Events at Belle Grove Plantation.

We would like to invite you to come if you are a


Wedding Planner /Coordinator



Photographer / Videographer

Entertainers / Musician / Singer

Limousine Service

Bridal Wear / Formal Wear

Rental Service

Make-Up Artist / Hairdresser

Jennifer Lay Bowden 09-12 8

 The fair will be Sunday, June 30, 2013 from noon to 4pm at

Belle Grove Plantation

For more information or to register, please email us at

Space will be limited so please register early.

We look forward to seeing you at the plantation!

Jennifer Lay Bowden 09-12 12

To see more about Belle Grove Plantation

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 9 Comments »

You Be the Judge

Jan. 23rd 2013

They are giving away the Key to the Courthouse!

No, it’s not a building or even a new job…

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

It’s a Bridal Expo!

What better way for a future bride and her family to spend a cold Sunday afternoon than to come to the Old Manassas Courthouse in Manassas, Virginia and enjoy the warmth of hospitality this event has to offer!

While Belle Grove Plantation won’t be there to exhibit this time

we will be there to enjoy meeting new vendors!

In fact one of our own selected vendors will be there!

Chikpea Graphics and Weddings


You may remember Chikpea with its team of Raygan and Brigitte! As the graphic design side of Chikpea, Raygan will be showing off her newest designs in invitation and stationary needs. Florist, Brigitte will be there to show off her artist designs in bouquets and flowers for every occasion!

Raygan Ketterer

Raygan Ketterer

Brigitte Morrow

Brigitte Morrow

This event is called

Key to the Courthouse Local Wedding Showcase

It is being hosted by Davis and Talley Events and Designs and the Prince William County Division of Historic Preservation.

Wedding Event Host

You will have an opportunity to chat with knowledgeable exhibitors while sipping on a mimosa and getting ideas for your special day.

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

There will be local vendors, consultations, entertainment, tasting tables and more!

Admission is Free!

They will also be giving away prizes every hour.

Door Prizes include

Date Night Giveaway, Girls-Night-In Basket, Pretty Paper Kits,

In-Shape Inspiration and Wedding Mini-Library!

Old Manassas Court House

Old Manassas Court House

This event will be held in

the Historic Old Manassas Courthouse

located at 9246 Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia.

The event is from 1pm to 5pm.

For more information, check out their website at:

Come out and join us!

We would love to meet you in person!

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

We hope to see you there!

Follow Us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 20 Comments »

Field of Dreams

Jan. 13th 2013
Hurley on the way to the Plantation

Hurley on the way to the Plantation

Saturday was just amazing! I know you must have heard this phrase”

“If you build it, they will come”

Field of Dreams

Well, we found out how true that phrase really is this weekend!

When we drove to the plantation on Saturday, we were amazed by the amount of fog we encountered. It just seems to go on and on forever. Just as we got to the plantation, we were still amazed the fog wasn’t lifting. This made me sad because that meant we wouldn’t get to see the eagles. Brett did catch sight of two later in the afternoon, flying just above the river, but it was just too hard to see them.

View from the Riverside Portico. You can't even see the river!

View from the Riverside Portico.
You can’t even see the river!

We had three appointments for Saturday. Our first was with our favorite archaeologists from Ferry Farm. It was their first time at the plantation and we couldn’t wait to show them around. The two archaeologists, Mara and Jason have been helping us date our artifacts for the last year. They brought along a group with them that wanted to see it as well.

Ferry Farm Group(l to r) Mara, Joe, Lu, Kyle, Jason and Nona

Ferry Farm Group
(l to r) Mara, Joe, Lu, Kyle, Jason and Nona

We first toured the Mansion. As we were almost finished, I looked up to see a truck coming up the drive. I knew we had another appointment, so I thought they are just a little early. So I had Brett take over with our friends from Ferry Farms and I stepped out on the front portico. The truck had stopped at the front gate, so I waved them in. When they pulled in, I realized that they were not our appointment. They were a couple from Gloucester, Virginia that had happened up on the plantation. They had come back to get a better look at the house. So I offered a tour of the Mansion while they were there.

As Brett finished up on the Mansion with the Ferry Farm group, I had just finished up with the couple on the first floor of the Mansion. So we changed groups and I headed out to the outbuildings with the Ferry Farm group and Brett finished showing the house to the couple from Gloucester.

I was so excited to have the archaeologist look at the outbuildings. I have only had them reviewed by photographs, so no one had really looked at them to give us an idea of their true age. Joe, Mara’s fiancé knows a lot about historic architecture, so I was hoping he could give us a better idea of the dates.

Inside the Summer Kitchen

Inside the Summer Kitchen

Inside the Summer Kitchen

Inside the Summer Kitchen

In the Slave Quarter side of the Summer Kitchen

In the Slave Quarter side of the Summer Kitchen

At the Smokehouse

At the Smokehouse

While looking at them, we did find two small artifacts. One bottle neck, that was dated sometime in the 20th century and a small shard that could have been a cup or saucer bottom. There wasn’t much to the shard so it was hard to give a true date to it.

An artifact is found!

An artifact is found!

As I was showing them the outbuildings, our second appointment arrived. This person is with a chapter of the Colonial Dames of America. She is looking to set up a meeting and luncheon for her group in 2014. They came over and joined the group from Ferry Farms as we finished up with the outbuildings.

The rough estimate we got on the outbuildings is as follows:

Summer Kitchen

Summer Kitchen

The Summer Kitchen / Slave Quarter are really just that. We had a rough date from photographs as it being sometime around 1790. Joe feels that it could be mid to late 1800s. He noted that it is unusual for there to be a wood structure that has been bricked in. So we may have had a brick structure that they covered later with wood. We need to have someone look closer into that.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse is not 1790s as we thought. It was build last and could date around the mid to late 1800s. We do know that the roof has been replaced since its last use because there is no smoke stains on the ceiling, just the walls and roof framing.

Ice House

Ice House

The Icehouse may be 1790s or even earlier. Joe feels that it was not like the others in construction and could date earlier than the other two. Of course we don’t have the ice pit open. It was filled in long ago. Once we get a chance, we will see about digging out the pit and see what we can find.

After we finished up with the outbuildings, we said our good-byes to our Ferry Farm friends. I then took our appointment into the house for a tour. As we got half way done with our tour, the first couple from Gloucester finished and left. I finished showing the Mansion to our appointment and discussing our ideas for their meeting and luncheon.

As I finished with their appointment, I saw another car pull in. Again I thought it was our third appointment and that they were just a little early. As I walked our second appointment to the front door, Brett came in with an young couple. He informed me that they weren’t our third appointment. They were a couple from the area that had taken a chance to stop by and see if we were going to do weddings at Belle Grove! So we invited them to come in as our second appointment left.

Before we got started with their tour, our third appointment arrived. Brett greeted them and brought them in. We gave a tour to the final group and talked about our vision for the Mansion and plantation. As we finished up, the unexpected couple gave us their information and thanked us for the tour. We were able to sit down with our last appointment and answer some of their questions about a Bridal shoot at the plantation.


Yes, if you build it, they will come. Whew…

The whole time we were giving the tours and talking with the groups, Hurley made himself at home. He was ready to greet the Ferry Farm group at the door with they first arrived. And he followed everyone through the house, making sure that everyone felt loved and welcomed. As our last appointment got ready to leave, Hurley had to be the last one to say good-bye. As they walked to their car, he quickly ran over to say good-bye again.

Of course, we didn’t get to one brick pulled on Saturday. No sun and the air were really cool. The fog never lifted and we even drove home in fog at 5pm. But it didn’t stop us from have a wonderful time with our guest, expected and unexpected. Brett and I also showed that as a team we could really work well together! I don’t know what I would have done without him!

After we got home Hurley passed out

After we got home Hurley passed out

After we arrived home, it didn’t take Hurley long to pass out. I think he really got a workout at the plantation. Running all over the grounds, walking up and down stairs and making sure everyone was okay. Of course we did have a few times that he acted kind of “funny”. While Brett was showing the two Junior Suites, he heard Hurley whimper. Brett stepped out of the doorway of one of the Junior Suites to see Hurley standing at the threshold between the Parlor and Library. You have to go through the Parlor and Library to get to the Junior Suites. Brett called for Hurley to come to him, but Hurly just stood there and wouldn’t come into the library. Hurley also had an issue in the Madison Room. He wouldn’t go into the bathroom from the bedroom and just stood at the doorway. Funny thing is that later he walked right in to both rooms when we returned with other groups. Humm…

Hurley, the door greeter

Hurley, the door greeter

Hurley running the plantation

Hurley running the plantation

Hurley checking on the fog before we left to go home

Hurley checking on the fog before we left to go home

Hurley getting the last "good-bye" with our final appointment

Hurley getting the last “good-bye” with our final appointment

It was a great day at the Plantation!Brett and Hurley

It was a great day at the Plantation!
Brett and Hurley

Now we are preparing for the coming week. I get to travel Monday to Wednesday night for my current job. The best part is that I am going to Washington DC / Maryland. I will “have” to travel up past the plantation and back by it as I come home. It’s going to be hard to see it yet again this week. Sigh…

To see more photos of Belle Grove

Please visit our Facebook Page!

Facebook Link

Don’t forget to enter our 

“Official Cookie Contest!

Deadline is January 31st!

Cookie Contest 2013

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Hurley | 35 Comments »

Heading Back

Jan. 11th 2013


It’s the weekend and we are so excited!

The term “TGIF” has a whole new meaning to us these days.

View of Belle Grove from the opposite bank in Port Royal

View of Belle Grove from the opposite bank in Port Royal

Yes, tomorrow we are heading back to the plantation for a full day of fun.

But we won’t be taking this trip alone!

We will be taking our favorite staff member…



We have two or three meeting set up for tomorrow.

Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm

Our first is with our favorite archaeologists from Ferry Farm. They are coming to see the plantation for the first time! We are so excited to have them there! Who knows what we are going to find out with expert eyes viewing the plantation for the first time!

First Bridal Shoot at Belle Grove Plantation

First Bridal Shoot at Belle Grove Plantation

Afterwards we are meeting with a bride-to-be to discuss having her photo shoot at the plantation. We expect to have many photo shoots and weddings in our future! We can’t wait!

We may also have a group of ladies stopping by to see the plantation and to discuss a future meeting and luncheon with Belle Grove Plantation. I am so excited to have this group come to see us. We are much honored to have them. I will reveal the name once I talk with them to make sure it’s okay to let you know too.

Sidewalk on the Carriage side

Sidewalk on the Carriage side

All while this is going on we are going to start pulling up the bricks that are laid out as the sidewalks on the Carriage side and pathways on the Riverside. There are tons of them! But we have to get them up before they can do the grading on the grounds. We are going to “repurpose” them as part of the new sidewalks and arrival area on the Carriage side.

Front Gate Entry

Front Gate Entry

If we have any left, we are going use them to upgrade the front entry gate. They are about four feet tall and have been painted white. They use to have a topper that would have been most likely a ball and the wrought iron gate has been removed. The wrought iron more than likely went during the Civil War.

Idea for the new Front Gate Entry

Idea for the new Front Gate Entry

But I have an idea of what I would like it to look like now. I want to replace the ball toppers with a finial topper like the one in the picture. It matches the ones I have used in my design for the road sign at the entry.

Best of all I have my father’s really nice camera to take tomorrow. Maybe we can finally get a good shot of the eagles that are flying over all the time. I think I could sit all day and watch them!

Follow us on Twitter tomorrow!



I will be sending our “Sneak Peak” Pictures and Updates!

Don’t forget to send your Cookie Recipes in soon!

Cookie Contest 2013

The Deadline will be here before you know it!

Facebook Link

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Hurley | 37 Comments »

In Search of….

Dec. 15th 2012
The "Evening Show" on the Riverside Balcony at Belle Grove Plantation

The “Evening Show” on the Riverside Balcony at Belle Grove Plantation

As we start working towards our opening date with zoning, we also have to start thinking about who we will be using for different products and services we might need at the plantation. Yes, it’s time to start looking into vendors.

Besides the bed and breakfast side of the business, we are looking at doing events at the plantation too. The events will start out small at first to give us time to get on our feet and see what works and what doesn’t. But it is our hope to increase the size and scope of the events as we progress through. One of the biggest events we will be doing at the plantation will be weddings.

Jennifer Lay Bowden 09-12 1

For anyone that has ever planned or be involved in planning a wedding, you know it is no easy task. On top of that is finding the right business to handle each part that would need to be delegated out. That is where we hope to help the brides and their families. By working with a select group of key businesses, we want to be a “One Stop Shop Experience” for brides.

So now comes the fun part…

During the last year, Brett and I have been looking around and talking to different people to see who they would recommend. We have also met with some businesses to discuss the possibility in being a selected vendor with Belle Grove Plantation. Armed with the word of mouth we have received and doing some of our own research, we are already gearing up for the selection process.

What we are looking for…

In selecting a business to be one of our vendors at Belle Grove Plantation, we are looking for is a business that understands who we are and what our goals are for each event. The one thing we have said over and over in planning our bed and breakfast business is that we want each guest that visits the plantation to come away with a “Wow Virginia Experience”. That experience would start the moment you contact the plantation. From the experience of making reservations to pulling into the long driveway to leaving after a relaxing stay to following up after the visit; it’s all important to us. I guess the best way to say it is “Details Matter”. So when looking for someone to represent us, we want them to have that same philosophy.

We also want to use as much local, small businesses as we can. We believe that America was built by small businesses and we want to support them. We would prefer to use local, Virginia based businesses that will provide a product or service that we can showcase and include in our plantation. This is not to say that other small businesses that are outside of Virginia are off the plate. We know that we may have to go outside the area to find the best product or service. We want to make sure that the product or service and the business lives up to our standards. We want only the best for our guests.

Meeting with Businesses…

Just recently we had the opportunity to meet one with a local florist and graphic design business who is interested in being a part of Belle Grove’s “Wow Virginia Experience”. It happened just last Saturday. They came to us by word of mouth from another plantation in the area. They had contacted us through Facebook and requested a meeting with us. You have to love Social Networking!

The company is called “ChikPea”. This Graphic Design / Florist company is based out of Culpepper, Virginia. This mother and daughter team has been in business for six years now.

Raygan Ketterer

Raygan Ketterer

Raygan Ketterer, the daughter side of the business and the acting “El Presidente” graduated from Lynchburg College with a degree in Studio Art & Graphic Design. She has worked in the graphics industry since 2002. She has worked with offset printing, screenprinting and embroidery. Her longest run was with a high end sign shop for over six years. It was during those six years that Raygan developed a passion for creating and constructing every detail with her own hands and materials.

Brigitte Morrow

Brigitte Morrow

Brigitte Morrow, the mother side of the business and acting “Flower Guru” has been a florist for over 30 years. Through her wealth of experience, Brigitte is able to create beautiful masterpieces in mere minutes. She showed us her ability this past Saturday. Just before coming to see us at Belle Grove Plantation, Brigitte and Raygan stopped by a neighboring plantation they currently do work for. There Bridgette asked to make some cuttings from their greenery on their grounds. With this greenery, she created a very beautiful and very accurate Colonial wreath for us at Belle Grove!

Colonial Style Wreath made by Chikpea.Contains pine, spruce, mistletoe, and magnolia leaves

Colonial Style Wreath made by Chikpea.
Contains pine, spruce, mistletoe, and magnolia leaves

Needless to say, we were very impressed! They brought with them a very professional portfolio with some of the most wonderful flowers pieces they have done for weddings in and around Culpepper. Raygan also brought us samples of her graphic skills which were well presented and of the highest quality. Needless to say, we will be talking more with them about being one of our partner vendors!

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers and Graphics by Chikpea

Flowers and Graphics by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers  and Graphics by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

So What Now…

We start by making a list of products and services that we are going to need. Then we send out invitations to area businesses we want to talk to. Then we make appointments to view their products or services. After we have met with everyone, we narrow it down to those few that we found to be the best representation for Belle Grove Plantation. Sounds simple, right? Believe me; we are going to be looking very closely and hard at each of the businesses because we want to make sure when you come to see us at the plantation, you will only get the best!

If you are a business and are interested in working with us or if you know of a business, please feel free to contact us through our email at

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 48 Comments »

Back to Belle Grove

Nov. 24th 2012

Riverside Portico
Belle Grove Plantation

Today I returned to the plantation since all this started with my mother. It was so good to be back. It is such a peaceful place and really helped me clear my head and get more focus. And the reason I return was for such a wonder reason. I met with two brides-to-be in 2013. One is getting married in April and one in June. They were there to visit the plantation and to get an idea if they wanted to have some or all of their weddings and receptions with us in 2013. Both were wonderful couples. We would be so honored to help them start their new lives together at Belle Grove Plantation.

Could there be a wedding in our future at Belle Grove Plantation in 2013?

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 51 Comments »