Hill City Bride | Virginia Wedding Blog » a wedding blog to inspire brides

Many thanks to my friend, Phil Tucker, DJ extraordinaire of Official Entertainment for today’s posting.  There are many questions that you may have for your potential DJ, and do not be afraid to ask them.

Chances are you have never hired a disc jockey service. Many people are tempted to ask about pricing as their first question when interviewing a prospective disc jockey service. This is not the best way to start your interview. Price is important, but it should not be “the” determining factor. You want to get all of the information and the most for your money. One potential DJ may charge less because the company is less experienced or is not as well equipped to handle your function. Some DJ services charge more because their service has a great reputation, stay busy and have an exceptional sound and light show, with many years of experience.

Phil at Tresca on 8th, photo by Crystal George Studios

Remember the law of supply and demand. You should, by all means, shop around and look for the best overall package that fits you. Just make sure you know what you are getting when you book. We have put together this list of questions to help you interview prospective DJ services. We hope you find the professional that is right for you!

Do you use professional pro audio gear? What are some of the brand names you use?
If the DJ tells you name brands that you can buy at the local electronic store (Best Buy, Circuit City … etc.) chances are they are not using pro audio gear. Home hi-fi gear is not made to hold up to the demands of repeat performances of professional use.

Do you provide back up gear in case of an emergency?
Chances are nothing will happen at your event, but if it does, is your DJ prepared to troubleshoot the problem? Do they have back-up equipment on location to get the party back on track? (They should have extra cables, fuses, basic tools, CD player, amplifier, mixer … etc.)

Is your DJ service is insured?
If the service is professional and reputable, they will be insured. Most DJ services will at least have liability insurance for $1,000,000. Some will also have their equipment insured.

Phil with Tresca on 8ths owner, Leecy Fink, photo by Jessica Boardman

Are we guaranteed the DJ of our choice the day of the event?
Some DJ companies have more than one DJ working for them. While the company may have been in business for years, your DJ may have been hired last week, so be sure who you are getting. Most companies have references on the specific DJ who will be assigned to your event.

How many years of experience do you have?
This is a commonly asked question. The question should be how many events have you performed at? A seasoned DJ will have performed at hundreds of events.

May we call three of your references?
A good DJ service keeps current references. The list that they provide for you should have at least ten or more names and not be more than six months old. This is a good indicator of the quality you can expect. If you are not comfortable with calling strangers, ask if they have any banquet halls, photographers or video services that recommend them. Most banquet halls, photographers and videographers work with a lot of different DJ services every weekend.

How will you be dressed?
Specify the type of apparel that your disc jockey is expected to wear for your occasion. Formal attire or coat & tie are the most popular forms of attire. If you are having a “themed” event, make sure your entertainer is informed.

How early will you be set up?
Most DJ services like to have the opportunity to do a sound and light check before any guests arrive. The last thing you want is a DJ hauling equipment through your receiving line and or guests.

Do you allow requests from us and/or our guests?
Consider the policy of requests. The best DJs will take requests form the audience and work them into their routine. But don’t expect the DJ to play every request. An excellent DJ blends requests with songs that will get your guests up and moving.

What type of music is available?
Remember it is not the number of CDs, Tapes or Albums they carry but the content of the media. Ask them how many hit songs they carry and what type of music they have. Ask them how do they stay current with the new hits. A good DJ service will carry a wide variety of music and will have as many as 2000 hits or more. There are professional DJ services like Promo Only and Hot Hits that are available to professional DJs. These services provide the latest hits played on the radio stations with new additions released monthly. Remember that during the dancing segment of your reception a DJ will average 15 songs per hour, so you should hear nothing but hits all night long. This will keep your dance floor full all night and everyone will have a great time.

Do you provide a written contract?
It is extremely important to have your booking confirmed in writing . Ask for a written agreement, especially if you are paying an initial retainer. The standard initial payment for entertainment services is 50%. If you are expecting a specific entertainer, make sure you get it in writing as well.

Thanks again, Phil for providing this… it is really informative. Can I add another question? Do you play Love Shack? Ha! Sorry, but every time I am there when Phil DJs I just have to request my favorite 80s song…

I have had the privilege of not only getting to know those in the wedding community here in Central Virginia, but through our local RMA and social media networking groups, I have had the fun of getting to know fellow business owners. Heather Bonawitz of Becoming Designs is such a sweetie, and she even staged one of my Hill City Bride booths last fall (click here to see the facebook album).

She is what is called an “Interior Redesigner”, which is someone who can take what you already own and make your home look amazing. I love that … recycling in your own home! With many couples being getting married after they have already established many of their furnishings, Heather can help to blend your two styles into one, and here are a few of her tips on how to do this on your own.

Interior Re-design

Using what you already own to set up a new home!

The wedding planner has been paid, the presents have all been opened (a few of them returned), and the once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon is only a photographed memory. You have returned back to work, rested and relaxed after months of wedding planning, only to find that your now “home” does not feel like a refuge at all. In fact, there is nothing about it that reflects you or your beloved spouse.

The very fact is that it feels more like you are back in a college dorm trying to blend somebody else’s style and stuff into the space, yet it stands in vast contrast from your personal preference. You are the type of gal that likes silk drapes, dozens of floral chintz pillows, and beautiful antiques that can become family heirlooms. Contrast that with him. He has a La-Z-Boy recliner, a super modern sofa, and sports memorabilia to decorate for his soon-to-be prized “man cave”.

Does any of this sound familiar? Are you concentrating heavily on planning a wedding right now and yet somewhere in the back of your mind you are wondering how your two very different styles can or ever will mesh together to create a home that you both love and enjoy, yet one that reflects each of your personalities, tastes and interests?

Our homes incorporate many components that affect our mood, our lifestyle, and even the way that we interact with those around us. Interior Re-design is the artful arrangement of existing furniture, artwork, and accessories that results in a Fresh New Look using what you already have.

As newlyweds trying to establish your home, start by finding what elements that you both have in common. Perhaps you have a color that you are both drawn to. Consider using that as the basis to start from and paint that hue on your walls. Now what about furniture? Blending antiques with more contemporary elements is a very chic look in the design industry right now, so how about designing a room that is “transitional” in style, incorporating both traditional & modern elements?

How can you accessorize with contrasting interests? Well, perhaps you both have a favorite travel destination. Why not blend your interests by showcasing these passions into the artwork you display throughout your home? Just like in a marriage, there will be moments of compromise with our decorating selections, not every component will be a perfect fit, but the beauty of re-designing a space is that sometimes an eclectic array of things can all be used together with just a little creativity, proper space planning, and artful accessorizing.

Every home has a story to tell! A story is comprised not only by the people involved, but also by the surroundings those people find themselves in. The end result of a well-designed room should always reflect you, your family, and the interests and needs of each one living there. Use this suggestion of finding common elements rather than things that you differ on, as a guide to determine what you want to display as important in your lives together. In so doing, your home will become a beautiful blend of styles that showcase what is truly valued and honored in your lives as a couple!

Heather J. Bonawitz is an Interior Re-designer & Home Stager that takes what you already own & re-purposes it! She is the owner of Becoming Designs, an Interior Design consulting company in Lynchburg, Virginia specializing in Interior Re-design, Home Staging & Professional Organizing. For more inspiring design ideas, visit www.becomingdesigns.com, call 434-352-1334 or email: becomingdesigns@mail.com. Thank you again, Heather!!

  • Amy-Jo Tatum/Bride Chic - I’m all for this and totally love the concept. Any creativity you have pent up will no doubt come to the forefront with a project like this . . .

If you know anything about me personally, you know that I absolutely adore the HCB vendors … they are so fun and creative, and that has hands down been my favorite part of doing the blog. Truly! Brad and his wife Lyndsey are just super sweet (and make for some gorgeous photos!!), and I am so excited to feature their wedding trailer on the blog today. In case you missed the posting in January on their wedding photos, feel free to click here to see the captured moments from their day.

Brad himself is a cinematographer (and Lyndsey a nurse!), and his company, Shaking Hands Productions, produced his wedding trailer. I am so excited to have Brad and Lyndsey on the blog today, and I wish them the best in their future together!!

Our Trailer :: Brad + Lyndsey :: from Shaking Hands Productions on Vimeo.

Cinematography: Shaking Hands Productions

Flowers: Petal Flower Company

Photography: Adam Barnes Fine Art Photography

Venue: Riverview Manor

  • Crystal - luv these two. Adam did a great job with the pics too. :)

  • Brad - Crystal, we luv you guys too! Yes, he did=)…Thanks so much for posting this Jennifer!!…means a lot to us! We did end up editing/producing the trailer, but I’ve definitely got to give credit Dave Alegre at Visionary Productions for filming it!

  • Jennifer - They are a sweet couple, and it is SO fun to feature HCB family members … I <3 it! :)

For many of us, the mention of the word “centerpiece,” usually draws our mind to some sort of arrangement composed of – or centered on – flowers. And with the vast variety of shapes, colors, and sizes available to compliment any number of wedding themes or styles, it is no wonder flowers are often in the spotlight.

However, while fresh flowers most certainly are beautiful, they can also get expensive. For the bride (or hostess) on a tight budget – or simply one who wishes to expand her creativity beyond the norm – with a little inspiration, there is really no limit to what you can create.

Rather than seeing your centerpieces as another item to simply check-off on your “wedding-to-do-list,” use them to show off your individual personality and flair. Those tables are your artistic canvas in a sense, have fun with them.

Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Want to go natural? Fruit and vegetables can make a beautiful centerpiece. With their bright, natural colors, they can add zest and life to a table. Whether arranged in a vase or spread out in a long, rustic basket, their natural beauty will shine.

(photo: http://youaremyfave.com/gallery/backyard-harvest/)

Bring the outdoors in with the use of branches. For a more modern look, go with a sleek, naked branch, or follow the style of the recently-wed Duchess of Cambridge, and incorporate full, tree leaves to add rich depth and dimension to your tables.

(photo: http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/photogallery/non-floral-centerpieces#slide_7)

Set a romantic mood using all candles. Choose all one style (taper or pillar) for a sleek and elegant look, or mix and match styles and candleholders for a more eclectic, relaxed feel. This type of candlelit centerpiece is especially beautiful for a late afternoon or evening wedding.

(photo:http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/decorating/tips-techniques/magic-candlelight-00000000016059/page2.html by Annie Schlechter)

Another option for adding candlelight to your table is through the use of a beautiful array of lanterns. Again, mix and match for a more eclectic, rustic feel, or use similarly colored lanterns for a more upscale look. Enjoy reading? Incorporating your favorite books (choose volumes with antique or colorful covers) into the mix can add a distinguished, and vintage, feel to your tables.

(photo: http://iloveswmag.com/)

Want to incorporate fresh flowers into your centerpiece without having them as a dominant feature? Consider topping off a variety of vases with water, and either floating or sinking a single flower into the center for a simple, yet elegant, look.

Getting married at the beach? Nothing says summer loving like a little fun in the sand.

(photo: http://www.engagementweddingring.net/wedding-centerpieces/)

Depending upon your theme, potted plants  – like the uniquely-shaped cactus – are another great alternative to a floral centerpiece, while also being eco-friendly. Following your event, these plants can be sent home with family members and guests as special favors to enjoy long into the future.

Who says dessert has to come last? Add some whimsy to your table and surprise your guests with a colorful – and delicious – candy or dessert centerpiece. Choose goodies that coordinate with your color scheme, and then go to town!

(photo: http://budgetdreamweddings.com/2761/candy-buffet-centerpeices/ by Megan Robbins Photography)


Want a little chic without going over-the-top? An airy chandelier made from doilies can be a beautiful addition to both an afternoon and evening affair.

(photo: http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/photogallery/non-floral-centerpieces#slide_3)

These are just a small sampling of non-floral centerpieces that can be done. Whether or not you choose to incorporate floral elements, use your imagination and have fun with it. Remember to utilize your wedding planner! Using their vast experience, they can help you fine-tune your ideas to develop a design that will not only fit your budget, but that will be memorable and special to both yourself and your guests.



I enjoy perusing the web for fun ideas, and when I came across this one I was wowed by how unique, individualized and creative it was. It does not seem difficult, either, which is my kind of DIY project! Many thanks to Ann Martin of All Things Paper for letting HCB borrow her posting, and I hope that it inspires you to do something unique!

Noooo, relax… I’m not talking about the ‘ouch’ kind of paper cut. Instead, I’d like to show you a gift my son’s girlfriend surprised him with for Christmas. She created this pair of paper cuttings of their thumbprints!


Cooperation in obtaining a thumbprint was the first essential step. Such a trusting guy, haha…. Bill had no idea what she was going to do with it.

Jess was new to paper cutting, but had done stenciling and rubber stamp making before, which basically use the same skills – a steady hand and patience.  She found she really enjoyed it and plans to do more. I really like the way she positioned each print over a photograph, as the colors add such a nice amount of interest.

Jessica then placed the pair in matching frames from a thrift store that she had painted in stylish matte grey. See the how-to at her website.

I’m thinking a personalized paper cutting would make a really nice gift!

Many thanks go out to Ann for bringing this project to light! If you would like to see her original posting, just click here. Also be sure to check out her quilled marriage certificates … what a lasting memory! Also, be sure to enter our May giveaway by clicking here.

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