DJ or Live Band for Your Wedding? Here are some helpful tips to help you decide (and avoid having a “blah” reception/party).

randy atown

The ceremony was beautiful, but now, it’s on… Time to party!!!

This is the moment that everyone looks forward to – the wedding reception! It’s your big party; time to cut loose and let the inhibitions fly. Of course, you want your special event to be the one that you and your guests will never forget, right? Aside from food, drink, and decor, what’s left? Music of course! You want the music to keep everyone on the floor and you also need an emcee that will keep the rhythm and cadence flowing smoothly. Now… you’ve got a decision to make; do you go with a DJ or a live band? I mean, you could bring your own music via your mp3 player but do you want to add yet another daunting task to the million other things you already have to deal with? Not only that but unless you have a sound system that can do the job right (along with other key elements), your reception is going to end up very lame (#weaksauce) and I know you don’t want that.

Tough choice, huh? Not really. There are some factors to consider, but these tips should help you to weigh your options.

Live Band

Live bands are really not hard to find, of course. There are lots and lots of talent out there – it basically comes down to three things: Style, reputation, and cost. Of course, you really don’t have time to actually audition a band, but fortunately, you can just Google “wedding bands in or near (your location) and you will more than likely have page after page of results staring back at you. And if these bands are branding themselves online properly, they’ll have links not only to their website but sites like, where you can check them out.You will also see what anyone else who has hired them before has to say about them in the reviews section.

How much does a live band charge (cost and benefits)?

Great question. The cost of hiring a wedding or party band will vary based on things like how many band members, do they have their own lighting, how long they play, and so forth. Usually, they’ll have a set minimum number of hours (be sure to ask about that) and they’ll also inform you of how many breaks thy normally take throughout the evening. Which brings us to this all-too-important question: What goes on during the breaks? Nothing destroys the mood and momentum of an awesome reception than the music coming to an abrupt halt because “the band is on a break”. So one of the things you must ask before booking a band is – do they supply “filler” music (ex: an mp3 player over the P.A. system ) or will that fall on you? Very important detail to iron out. The caliber of band you go after is really up to you. I’ve seen some bands that charge about $1,500.00 all the way up to around $10,000, depending on what they bring to the table as far as the entertainment goes. Needless to say, the old adage “You get what you pay for”  certainly applies here so make sure you iron out all details and have a clear understanding of everything before signing them on. The cool thing about live bands is that you can find one that specializes in a particular genre or even era (1940’s swing, anyone?) for that epic feel and vibe.

Deciding on how “Pro” you want to go

A well-known party band such as “The Splitz Band” (based in Georgia and is flippin’ FUN as all GET OUT) brings a higher level of professionalism. Bands like this do a phenomenal job in performing all the popular songs, past and present, and they certainly know how to work the crowd and keep them engaged for the duration of the reception/party. At the end of the day, when deciding on which live band you want to have perform at your wedding, you certainly want a band that keeps things flowing. One thing to ask when looking for a band is if they will have someone who acts as an “emcee” for announcements and such. Otherwise, you’ll need to have someone in place for announcements and managing the “flow” of the evening.


To DJ or not to DJ?

For a more affordable alternative to music and entertainment at your event is, of course, the DJ. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands available in your area if you Google it. As with a live band, you want a DJ who’s going to crank out the tunes to keep everyone on the dance floor; he/she definitely needs to be an entertainer and emcee who is organized and who works well with the wedding coordinator to ensure a smooth flow throughout the evening. Some of the DJs I’ve worked with, such as Randy Burton of Dynamite Entertainment (who is also a licensed pyro-technician, by the way) is a real pro when it comes to DJ’ing at weddings. He has an awesome personality, loves to have fun, and easily conveys his passion and energy from the start of the wedding reception until the lights come back on at the end. A good DJ (like Randy) has a music library for every taste and knows the importance of “the flow”, timing, etc to make sure that the event is flawless. DJ’s also need to be great emcees, who control the flow of the party and ensure that a good time is had by all.

Cost and benefits

Professional DJs charge anywhere starting around $500.00 on up – you just have to interview them to make sure that they’re going to be equipped and prepared to handle the evening’s entertainment according to your wishes. My advice; you definitely want a DJ who has experience with weddings so there will be less likelihood of any hiccups or awkward, lengthy pauses throughout the evening. When interviewing DJ’s, you want to see them ask you questions about what you want and offer suggestions instead of just sitting there and just “yes-ing” you to death just to earn your business.



Here are some Pros and Cons when considering hiring a band vs a DJ:

  1. Space – A band obviously would require more space for equipment, etc.
  2. A live band has a knack to energize the evening. Even guests who don’t like to dance will get to enjoy a “live concert”.
  3. There are virtually n0 limitations to the type or genre of music a DJ will have access to. Even though the band is great, they won’t know every song. If there is a special, (and maybe) rare number you want to be played at a wedding, it would be easier for a DJ to get a copy of that song, if they don’t have it already.
  4. A live band will surely provide you with a one-of-a-kind wedding reception.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Either way you go, the main goal here is that you want a fun, energetic, and exciting evening for everyone to enjoy – it’s all about making great memories! I’d love to hear from any of you who hired DJ’s and live bands for your weddings and share some of your experiences with me in the reply/comment box below. I’ll post them in a follow-up blog – it’d be interesting to see the feedback!

Until next time, be blessed!



3 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Wedding Venue Open House Event.


‘Tis the season! No….it’s not Christmas, but Spring is in the air and that means it’s Wedding Season! Now is the time when wedding venues begin to host Open House Events and it’s one of my favorite times of the year (next to Christmas). Here’s why:

It’s not plain ol’ window shopping

Attending a wedding venue open house event is by far the best way to get an exclusive sneak peek and a good idea of what your wedding will look like.

  • You get to tour the facility, view the property, check out the scenery, and get general feel of it in order to see if it fits the style of wedding you’re dreaming of.
  • You also get the benefit of a one-stop shopping experience for your wedding plans because you get to meet all of the venue’s preferred vendors in attendance; floral designers, coordinators, caterers, photographers, DJs, etc. It’s basically a meet and greet session, but vendors are there to provide you with information and answer any questions you may have.
  • But the best part of an Open House Event (in my humble opinion) is that there’s usually food and drink tasting as well as giveaways. It’s really lots of fun if you’ve never attended one.


(Vendors setting up for the Open House Event  @ Walnut Hill Farms in Jefferson, Ga)

As a floral designer and wedding coordinator in Athens, GA, I always enjoy attending open house events as it allows me the opportunity to meet the brides-to-be and their loved ones. The most recent one I attended was at the Walnut Hill Farms in Jefferson, GA. Many brides and their moms spend substantial amounts of time doing research whether online, thumbing through magazines, and registering on sites such as The Knot, and Borrowed & Blue looking for ideas and checking out the latest trends. This is why vendors (myself included) need to stay on top of current trends, no matter how many years of experience we have in our relative businesses. During the open house events, most questions I get right off the bat (aside from availability) are related to style because obviously, brides are wanting to be sure that I can create the look they want in flower designs.


Just as important, preferred vendors have a good relationship with the venue’s owner(s), and are usually very familiar with the layout of the place –  which  will make your special day seamless and stress free, and that’s what we all want.

In summary, it’s a great idea to look up different wedding venues in your area to see who is holding an open house event – make it a point to attend so you can see firsthand what’s being offered and gather all of the detailed information you need. It will ultimately give you a good idea on how to plan for your dream wedding to make it a day you and everyone in attendance will never forget.


If you have any questions regarding venues, flowers, coordinating, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be more than happy to assist you.





Things To Look For (and avoid) When Searching For A Wedding Photographer


All of the brides that I’ve worked with agree; selecting a wedding photographer ranks up there as one of the most important things you have to consider when planning for your special day. As if you already didn’t have enough on your plate with all of the prep work involved, there is the daunting task of selecting the right wedding photographer who will be able to capture those precious moments that will last a lifetime. Although I’m no photographer, I can offer some hints & tips from a floral designer and wedding coordinator’s perspective.

With the market being saturated with so much talent, finding the right photographer isn’t easy, especially when considering things such as budget, style, and reputation, etc. If  you Google “wedding photographers” in your area, you can only imagine how many different results pop up. So how do you decide which photographer is the right one? Obviously you want a talented professional; one with a keen eye to be able to capture the essence of the wedding from the bride and groom, to the wedding parties and guests, table settings, decorations and the floral designs. After deciding on some potential candidates, your final decision should really come down to whom you feel you can trust to meet and/or exceed your expectations once you’ve met with them.


Matthew Coleman, a wedding photographer in the Athens, GA area (, says his approach when initially meeting the bride & groom, is to ensure them (above everything else), that it will be a worry-free experience. “I think that one of the most important things a bride can do is hire someone they trust. I let all of my clients know that they can enjoy themselves on their big day and not worry. We have years of experience, take extra precautions to make sure everything is double shot (2 photographers), backed up, and covered. We arrive early and leave late. So instead of having to worry, my clients can rest assured that I am doing more than they will ever know to make sure their photos are perfect.” I totally agree with Matthew; the clients’ wants, wishes, and needs are  top priority.

Many people will rely on “word of mouth” (one of the best forms of advertising) in selecting a wedding photographer. It is rather comforting, to be able to rely on the comments of people you know who have had a positive experience previously. And while that seems to be a fail-safe way to approach the selection process, I feel that you still owe it to yourself to at least go online and see what (and who) is out there.  A good idea would be to look into various  trusted online resources such as Virtually every online wedding-related website will provide you with ample information for your research. There are even free printed publications such as “The Classic Wedding Magazine” which you can check out as well. Click on the photo below to check out their website: (The floral design shown in the cover photo are mine and photo taken by Matthew Coleman).


In the end, you pretty much know what you would like to see when you look at your wedding photos. Although finding the wedding photographer requires work, the results are well worth the effort! Hope this helps – please feel free to email me @ with any questions and/or feedback.





*All floral arrangements in this post were done by Sheila Rivera. All photos were taken by Matthew Coleman Photography and used with his permission. Click on the photo above to see more of Matthew’s amazing work.

Top Questions My Brides To Be Ask About Setting Up Their Wedding


by Sheila Rivera

 Aaawww…….so you just got engaged and set a date; exciting times! After making the announcement to all of your family, friends, co-workers, etc., emotions are definitely on high. But then, before you know it, the questions and ultimately the worrying slowly set in. “Where do I begin?” “What do I do first?” 

As a wedding coordinator in Athens, Georgia, one of the very first things I always do whenever I am hired is be prepared to answer the barrage of questions that are usually asked during the initial wedding consultation. It’s expected because there is always one common denominator that I see whenever I coordinate weddings….. brides get nervous. Period. It is what it is. You can’t avoid it. And rightfully so, because there’s so much to worry about, so much planning, all of the details to consider – it can drive anyone bonkers! Overwhelming, to say the least…
So for the initial wedding consultation, my strategy is pretty straightforward; bring peace….calm…..tranquility…..some woo-saaaaahhh to the situation from the get-go.
I always assure my brides by letting them know, “It’s your  wedding. You need to think about what’s important to both of you”. Of course, one can never go wrong with a traditional wedding, but I always encourage my brides to go with what inspires them.- “be creative!” I always say. And most brides already have a good idea of what they would like their fantasy wedding to look like, so it’s my job (with my experience in wedding planning and floral designs) to discern what they tell me and make that fantasy become a reality.
I usually have an order of topics which need to be discussed in order to get things rolling. One of the very first things that I do is that I always direct my brides to The Knot wedding site. Another great wedding planner site is Borrowed and Blue. Both are awesome sites for brides-to-be as they provide tools such as calendars, loads of great wedding tips/ideas, tools for budgeting, a wedding registry, and even set up your own little personal wedding webpage. Very cool indeed.  Both are excellent sources to check out – highly recommended.
Some of the topics we go over (so I can best determine how to create your wedding) is pretty basic stuff. But you’ll be surprised at how many small details which may/may not be left out that make all the difference in the world. Some items that should be considered immediately are:
– Choosing a location (venue)
– Is it a family and kid friendly wedding or is it an adult only wedding?
– What is your style? Classic, shabby chic, rustic?
– When considering a venue, you also have to think… guest count…rain plan…what do they offer for the price?
Everything else that follows; bridal bouquets, flowers, boutonnieres, themes, decorations, music, caterers, the ceremony, the reception, etc need to be planned out as well (of course), but that’s another blog for another day. (Please stay tuned!) But as a newly-engaged bride-to be, I want you to realize that the main thing is….it’s your wedding, So relax. I got this…
Check out this video  produced by the  terrific folks @ Iris Films
( for a great example of a beautiful wedding (I had a blast working with this amazing couple, btw!).
email me: