Full Steam Ahead – Steampunk Birthday Party – Fredericksburg, VA

The past couple months I have had the absolute pleasure of planning one of my best friends birthday parties. I LOVE PARTY PLANNING. All caps, because that is important. Secretly, I want to plan all the weddings and parties for everyone, everywhere. I want to find out what puts glee inside of you and bring it to life with tiny details and baubles and extravagance. I want everything to be in it’s place and coordinated and most importantly I want to see the joy it brings. Then, I want to photograph it all for you to remember in a gorgeous album for decades to come. But, this blog is not about me… (but seriously, though, if you need someone to plan your party…)

My friend Kimberly is going to be the next mayor of Fredericksburg. I always joke about that when we meet new people on one of our totally-not-drinking-wine-tonight walks. She is tenacious. She is fearless. And she has one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever had the honour of having conversations with. She’s not really running for mayor (yet), but I have no doubt in my mind if she decided tomorrow she was running for the position she could secure it. She is a no B.S, tough-as-nails retired marine with the biggest heart for the underdogs. She is a creative genius and is at the helm of the Fredericksburg Theatre Ensemble and a member of the Arts Commision. So she definitely couldn’t choose any old boring theme for her birthday! We are both theatre people, and theatre people don’t do anything halfway. (Unless it’s stringing up your cyclorama to a beam with twine and broomsticks 5 minutes before a show opens *wink wink*) Kim chose a really adventurous theme for her birthday party – STEAMPUNK. For those of you unfamiliar, Urban Dictionary defines steampunk as ” a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.” So with that in mind I began to have some fun! I had such a great time planning little details, doing crafts and networking with our amazing vendors in the Fredericksburg area.

I need to start off by saying that the A.Smith Bowman Bourbon Distillery is AMAZING. You can walk in and do a tour topped off with a tasting of gin, bourbon, rum, vodka and a dessert liquor. The gift shop is where I’m going to purchase 80% of my Christmas gifts, so friends if you are reading this act really surprised when you get bourbon infused coffee! I love love love the look of the entire place – perfect for steampunk! Browns, woods, coppers, barrels and metal gave us an overall big industrial feel. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly from the time I booked to the time we teared everything down for the evening. You can tell they love and enjoy their job which in my mind is so important. They were all about giving the party a big tour with a tasting and were so very knowledgeable about the process and product. They put their heart into their company and business and the people they meet. I 100% recommend this place be rented out for any future weddings or events! (feel free to invite me!) (No seriously, I’ll totally come!) I loved the beautiful string lights that swooped from one side of the building to the next – it’s strangely romantic! They are extremely accommodating in regards to coming in and doing your own thing and helping anyway they can. They host a lot of public events which I didn’t know – so now I will have another place to check out for what’s happening around the ‘ Burg!

I was extremely excited to finally place a large order at Sweet Reasons Gourmet Cupcakes! I usually only pop in for a gluten free cupcake every once in a while, with a slight ping of jealousy at all the boxed up orders behind the counter. Sometimes a girl just wants boxes and boxes of cupcakes, okay?! They were able to accommodate a requested-by-the-birthday-girl-flavor which was … HUMMIGBIRD! Now, being a Northerner I had never heard of such madness. I guess if the birthday girl wants to be morbid and eat hummingbirds it’s her party. In reality it’s a mix of flavours including banana, pineapple, cinnamon and pecans! It’s a highly sought after flavor and Sweet Reasons made it their “flavor of the week”. From the sounds of it, it flew off the shelves! Sorry good people of Fredericksburg, we had lots left over… you should come party with me next time! We also had orders for salted caramel and a gluten free red velvet so us celiac could partake in the adventures of deliciousness! An all around hit – who doesn’t LOVE cupcakes?! I highly recommend Sweet Reasons for weddings/events/general omnomnomary. Sweet Reasons was extremely responsive and accommodating. I was out of town a whole month prior to this event and only landed back in Virginia with 2 days to spare. Everything was planned over email and was easy/peezy/lemonsqueezy. I can’t thank them enough for providing sweet smiles to all the guests!

We had some delicious catering from Darby O’Sullivans which our guests could partake in light fare throughout the evening and a custom made Hummingbird icecream from Wally’s Homemade Icecream Shoppe located in downtown Fredericksburg! Apparently they are magical and can turn any flavour you like into a custom icecream! Boy, do I have a few flavour combinations in mind that I’d love to try out… Maybe for my next party.

The wonderful and energetic Bill Carroll was our DJ and entertainment for the evening. He is a well known DJ in Virginia and he makes the party HAPPEN! He uses his many years experience in the business to read the room properly and brings the right energy to the crowd. With as many events and weddings as I photograph, I can say with certainty having the wrong DJ can really put a huge damper on the overall experience. With that in mind we knew we wanted someone kind, energetic and fun to keep the party on it’s feet. It doesn’t matter if you have a party of 10 or a party of 1000, trust Bill Carroll to do an outstanding job with a smile on! He’s an absolute pleasure to be around and took to the theme with open arms!

VENUE: A. Smith Bowman Distillery
CUPCAKES: Sweet Reasons
DJ: Bill Carroll Entertainment

I had a great time making the centerpieces and the runners, which included pieces of old novels on burlap because Kim is a writer. Purple was obviously my go to colour – it being the colour of Kims dress and hair for the evening! I ordered watch pieces to do the “cake” topper ‘K’ from All Geared Up on Etsy, as well as mixed some wooden laser cut and random metal embellishments into it. The cupcake liners and gear toppers were also ordered on Etsy through Paperfiction and Thick & Thin Designs. Because Kim loves original artwork and networking with other artists in Fredericksburg, I set up an Arts & Celebration Station. Guests could paint their very own 2×2 canvas square to be framed in a collage for a one of a kind keepsake. I also set up a typewriter which each guest could create an continue a dramatic tale by reading what the person before them wrote and typing a paragraph of their own to keep the story going. The party was a ton of fun and I am excited to share it with you!

Acrylic Gear Cupcake Toppers: Thick and Thin Designs
Laser Cut Gear Wraps: Paperfiction

Happy birthday, Kimberly! We hope this one will be remembered for decades to come!

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