April 03, 2020

Hiring A Wedding DJ During The Coronavirus Crisis

The Coronavirus crisis has affected all of us in one way or another. Some of us are fortunate enough
to be well, and at home, either working from home or at home enjoying time with our families.
Prayers for the people fighting this dreaded virus and the front line workers in the trenches. I salute you.

If you are engaged and in a position to do so, this is the perfect time to audition wedding vendors. No we can't gather and do tastings, visit venues or look at beautiful flowers in person but eventually this crisis will be over and there will be a rush on all of those things. Now is the time to get in touch with your favorite vendors, or to find out which vendors are the right ones for you, especially DJs.

Right now a lot of DJs are doing live shows on social media, specifically Instagram, and Facebook. My husband is the owner and lead DJ of 360 Elite Entertainment. He's going live on Facebook every Saturday for as long as he can, from 1pm to 5pm. Check him out and see if his style is compatible with yours. He's playing a variety of music. The first time he went live a few weeks ago, he did it with the idea of what Saturday afternoons were like when he was growing up. That was when his family cleaned the house, worked in the yard and socialized with neighbors. He wanted to play music that reminded him of that time. In addition, he's branching off and playing many styles, a lot of which is dictated by the requests coming through the comments.

Wedding vendors are active right now and they want to hear from you. Many of them are posting their best work on their websites and social media to make sure they can capture your attention and get the communication going.
Randal "DJ 360" Calloway

If you are interested in hearing DJ 360 or any DJ, go to social media and check them out while they're mixing online. Keep in mind, their social media mixes won't necessarily reflect exactly what they'd play at your wedding but you'll get an idea of their style and approach. So often you don't have a chance to see and hear them at private events, but now you can check them out as they are showing their stuff in these virtual parties on social media platforms. Right now you can hear DJ 360 on Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm on Facebook Live.

Happy planning!

July 18, 2018

Natural Hair Wedding Day Styles For Summer Brides

Right now we're in the heat of summer and for natural hair brides, that can cause a lot of concern when it comes to their wedding day look.

I had not yet returned to natural when I got married 17 years ago but I was wearing my hair in its natural state for my 10th anniversary party. Here's my husband and me at the start of the party. My two-strand twist out was poppin'!


I party. I do not sit on the sidelines. After all the sweating, I was a hot mess! My hair looked like a big ole poof ball by the end of the night. I understand full well why many ladies go for wigs and sew-ins on their wedding day. They look great for a long period of time and you can't beat the ease of use. But for brides who want to wear their natural hair, you do have options.

I stopped by Locs, Naturals and More in Garner, NC to talk with stylist Racqueal Williams. She styled the hair of four models to show some versatile looks that brides can consider for their wedding day.

The first model is Chelsea. Racqueal stretched out her hair with a blow dryer, and used rollers and the two-strand twist method to achieve her look. Finally, she pinned Chelsea's hair. The shampoo, conditioning and styling took only one hour.

Crystal has a lot of versatility with her natural hair style. Racqueal gave her intricate detail with small cornrows in the back and a two-strand twist style in the front. Crystal could untwist portions of her hair as the wedding day goes on and have beautiful curls. This style will last through the honeymoon, even in the water.

Imani has locks that Racqueal styled in a lobster tail in the back. She pinned the hair on each side. The style only took 15 minutes.

Racqueal achieved Ashley's beautiful style by setting her hair with pipe cleaners. She has beautiful bouncy curls that will last for quite a while.

Racqueal and the rest of the team at Locs, Naturals and More are available to style wedding day hair on-site or at the salon. Contact them at their website or call 919-326-4161.

How will you wear your natural hair on your wedding day?


April 04, 2018

Five Things A Wedding Cinematographer (Videographer) Wish You Knew

You've probably heard over and over again that your wedding day will fly by. You'll be so caught up in everything that comes with a ceremony and reception that it will be over before you know it. It's true. You'll be full of emotions, and you'll have family and friends who all want a special moment with you. That's why choosing a great cinematographer (videographer) is so important. He or she will be able to capture moments that you didn't see or moments that you forget about in the hustle and bustle of your wedding day.

I interviewed Ken Branson of MasterM.I.N.D Productions based in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina to find out the five things he wish you knew about wedding cinematography.



According to Ken, when you choose from a reliable network of wedding pros you get a group of people who already know each other, and they know how the group will gel and work together. Ken also says this kind of group will step in and help each other when help is needed. Southern Noir Weddings is a great example of this.


Ken says it's very upsetting to him to watch a bride look at her video or photos and express disappointment with her makeup. It's one thing to do your own makeup or have a friend do it for a special night out, but it's a whole other situation on your wedding day. Not everyone is equipped to handle wedding day makeup. Ken says there's a lot to consider. "You have to look good in photos, you have to look good in videos and you have to look good in person."

The third thing Ken wish you knew is YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

"Make the necessary investment to capture a timeless memory that can be told for generations to come," says Ken. Think about your timeline for the day and make sure your cinematographer will be there for the things that are important to you. Ken provides this example; "If you have a sparkler exit, put enough time in after the reception to include the sparkler exit." Ken says if you don't allow enough time and you have to bring your guests outside for a mock sparkler exit, a lot of them will leave and not enjoy the rest of your reception. 


"It's important to understand how they work, their style, what they do naturally because if it doesn't fit within your vision, you may not want to go with them," says Ken. The cinematographer says he likes to ask brides and grooms what they want to see when they press play. He says that gets them verbalizing their dreams and helps him understand what is important to the couple.

The final thing Ken Branson wish you knew is TRUST THE PROCESS.

Ken stresses that the post production process is lengthy and takes a lot of creativity. "It's more than just stitching times together. It's more than taking when you were getting ready and putting it beside the ceremony and the ceremony beside the reception and say there you go ma'am, sir, there's your day, because that's not visually interesting." Ken says he likes to take the time to put all the pieces together so you'll want to watch the video over and over again. Ken also says he likes to get intimate with the track he chooses for the video. He may listen to it in his home, and in his car before making a decision.

The bottom line for Ken is to see his clients have fun on their wedding day knowing that their day will be captured in a manner that exceeds their expectations. 

Have questions for Ken? Leave them in the comment section below.

February 05, 2018

Five Things Wedding Planners Wish You Knew & The Southern Noir Wedding Show

Planning a wedding is exciting! There's no denying that. Hiring a wedding planner is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It's not practical for everyone, but for those who can, do it! When you get a good one, you'll be less stressed if not stress free on your wedding day, he or she can help you make the best choices for your budget and the planner will make sure the wedding day flows as it should.

Sometimes the best intentioned brides and grooms make the planner's job difficult. I interviewed Wedding Planner Elana Walker about five things she wants engaged couples to know.

Press Play
Number 1, Trust Who You Hire. "If you hire a professional, lean on that professional and their guidance and advice, and they will lead you to the promise land," says Walker. 

Number 2, Your Budget And Your Guest List Go Hand In Hand. Elana says, "when you cut your guest list you're eliminating so many different elements, like the number of people you need to feed, the number of tables you need, the amount of cake you need." 

Number 3, Your Wedding Planner Is A Human. "We have families, we get tired, we get happy, we get sad and we want to be there for you as much as possible also but please understand we are humans as well." 
Number 4, The Most Important Thing On Your Wedding Day Is Getting Married. "Sometimes people put a little too much pressure on everything going perfect but if you hire the perfect wedding planner, you'll never know when anything has gone to the left."
Number 5, Don't Listen To Everyone's Opinion. "This day is about you and your fiance', and everyone will have a ton of opinions." Elana goes on to say, "these are your memories until you don't remember anything anymore as opposed to your guests who will leave saying oh my God that was amazing but then they'll go on to the next wedding and the next wedding and won't remember the little details. Do it for you, not for them."
Elana is the woman behind the Southern Noir Bridal Experience happening February 18th at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in Raleigh, NC. It's a wedding show curated for the southern bride of color. This show is designed to be an impactful experience to help brides and grooms plan the weddings of their dreams by introducing them to the top notch vendors in the area, educating them on the different aspects of wedding planning and providing a series of inspirations for their big day.

I'll be there along with my husband Randal "DJ 360" Calloway of 360 Elite Entertainment

Randal will provide the sound for the show and I will emcee. We'll also have a booth so that we can meet engaged couples. 

VIP Bridal Shower Brunch from 11am - 1pm
Groom's Lounge
The Area's Top Vendors
Vendor Panel
Give Aways 
Swag Bags
Hor D'Oeuvres and Beverages
And More
Get your tickets here. 

Are you engaged and going through the process of planning your wedding? I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. Leave your comments and questions below for Elana and me.  

Happy Planning!

November 13, 2017

What To Wear To A Wedding From The Tracee Ellis Ross for JCP Collection

The Tracee Ellis Ross for JCP Collection was just released yesterday. Whooo hoooo! I'm a big fan of Tracee's and I got excited when I saw the ads for her collection. I was even more excited when I heard about the By Kikisoul Pop N Shop Meetup at the JC Penney at The Streets At Southpoint in Durham, NC. Thank you Kiki and Tierany for a great event. I went along with my sister and niece and we were thrilled at what we saw. Based on the lines at the registers, other ladies were also impressed.

Since I write about all things weddings, my approach is showing you options from the collection you could wear to a wedding as a guest, specifically a winter wedding.   

 My sister Michelle is wearing the Glorious Elbow Sleeve Fit And Flare Dress. This is my favorite dress in the entire collection. It's so lady like! The color palette is beautiful, and the hemline is the perfect length to be able to sit for dinner without any problems and then comfortably dance the night away. You won't believe the price! It's $34.30 when you use code 6SHOPJCP at checkout. 

My niece Jacinta is wearing the Kindness Long Sleeve Mock Neck Bodycon Dress. She totally rocks this dress which hugs in all the right places without looking like she's trying too hard. The print is interesting and fun and it's youthful. Perfect for a young woman like her. It goes for $34.
 This model got big applause when she came out of the dressing room wearing the Miracle Long Sleeve Kimono Jacket over the Joy Of Life Strapless Jumpsuit. This is a really comfortable look for a winter wedding. It gives you a pretty pop of color for the ceremony and dinner and you'll still look hot once you turn up on the dance floor and take off the jacket. The jumpsuit is $59 and the jacket is $59. 
I came home from the event with the Illuminated Long Sleeve Velvet Bodycon Dress. I don't plan to wear it to any weddings I'll MC this winter. I think this will be just right for New Year's Eve. I'll pair this dress with some sparkly jewelry. I love the texture of the fabric and this dress felt so good to wear. It hits about mid-calf which was perfect. I may have the sleeves altered just a bit because, as you can see in this photo, they're just a hair too long.   
This collection truly has something for everyone. The sizes go from small to 3X. I think the way the pieces are named is pretty cool too. They have names like glow, kindness, glorious and illuminated. How could you not feel glorious wearing a piece named glorious? If you see a look you like, I suggest you order right away or get to a JC Penney store quickly. As of this writing, many of the selections are out of stock online or the sizes are limited. What a great launch! Way to go Tracee and JC Penney.

October 17, 2017

Vegan Wedding At River Landing In Wallace, NC

Jordan and Charlene Deva were married in May at River Landing in Wallace, NC. I got to know them over several months because I choreographed their first dance and had many dance lessons with them.
I was also their emcee and my husband Randal was their DJ. I learned pretty quickly that these two know who they are and they know what they want. I really admire those qualities. They are vegan. Charlene has been vegan for 15 years. Jordan has been vegan about three years. He made the change while dating Charlene and coming to the realization that they'd probably spend the rest of their lives together.

When Charlene and Jordan started planning the wedding, they made food a priority. "Creating a vegan wedding was at the top of the list of things important to us. We're foodies anyway so we wanted to make sure the food would be amazing because it was a great opportunity to showcase how great vegan food can be for our family and friends," said Charlene. The couple says the chef and staff at River Landing had experience with vegan food but had not done a completely vegan wedding. Jordan says they had to make their wishes crystal clear with their venue coordinator. "It took a couple of conversations before she got that we were having a completely vegan wedding. She'd say, you could have other things for people who don't want vegan food. We were like, no, we don't want to do that. Paying to have an animal killed is an ethical qualm for us."     

The couple talked with their chef, Chef Ben, a lot! They insisted on tasting as much of the food as possible. "Because we cook so much, we knew recipes that would work so we came to him with a lot more ideas and recommendations up front and even loaned him our cook books because we knew exactly what we wanted." The menu included vegetable curry, vegan enchiladas with mole' sauce, vegan sushi, pizza, black bean cakes, and sweet and sour vegan meatballs. "We gave the chef a recipe from a book for pizza and some of the appetizers. Yeah, it was good. He made some tweaks. They really worked with us. Our experience at River Landing was pretty great," said Jordan. 

Charlene's favorite dish from the wedding was the vegetable curry. She really likes spicy food. She says her only disappointment was the sushi. "Something about the rice was mushy. That surprised us because we thought that would be one of the easiest things to do. Instead of fish, just use vegetables." Jordan added, "I think maybe they didn't use sushi rice and prepared it too far in advance." 

Kaiya Ramsey of Details Cake Design in Raleigh made the wedding cake. The design was stunningly beautiful. Jordan and Charlene knew the right questions to ask to make sure it also tasted good. "Vegan baked goods are easy but there aren't a lot of wedding cake bakers who specialize in it. At a wedding show, that was our question, vegan cakes. When we talked to Kaiya she said absolutely and she knew her stuff so we felt confident going with her because she had done it." said Charlene.

Jordan and Charlene did not indicate on their wedding invitations that the menu would be all vegan but they did ask wedding guests to let them know about any food allergies or sensitivities. "We've been to many weddings and we couldn't eat anything and not have the energy for dancing or enjoying the party. We eliminated allergens from the food choices to be considerate to people," said Charlene.  The couple said they did have conversations with family and friends to let them know what kind of food would be on the menu. They didn't hear any direct complaints about the food. "What we did hear was how much people loved our wedding. People said it was the best wedding they've ever been to and a lot of people commented on how good the food was," said Jordan.

The vegan lifestyle not only applies to their food, but what they wear as well. Jordan made sure to shop for clothing and accessories that did not come from an animal. That meant no wool, or leather. He wore a white linen suit and his shoes were faux leather. Charlene wore two gorgeous gowns. Neither contained silk or pearls. Jordan said, "when you're vegan for health reasons that's one thing but when you're vegan for ethical reasons, it's something different."

As a wedding vendor, I ate the same food as the wedding guests and didn't realize things were different until I looked at everything on my plate and said to myself, "there's no meat on this plate." It wasn't until after the wedding was over and I complemented the chef that I realized it wasn't vegetarian as I thought, but rather vegan. The food was absolutely delicious. I didn't miss the meat at all. It was a new experience for me and one I feel so privileged to have been a part of.

Do you have questions about this experience or are you planning your own vegan wedding? I'd love to know. Leave your comments in the comment section below.

All photos by Mike Bambuch of George Street Photo.

September 25, 2017

Multi-Cultural Wedding Music

Multicultural weddings can be so much fun! I'm a lifelong learner and I always considerate it a privilege to get a peek into a culture that is not my own. Randal and I get to do that through music. We've been very fortunate to DJ and MC lots of weddings for couples from all over the world.
Our Kenyan groom Greg and bride Barbara with his parents and sister

Yesterday we had a bride whose family is from Haiti, and a few weeks ago we had an Iranian bride marry an Indian groom. In May, we had a bride whose family is from Congo and in June, a bride from Brazil. Last year, we had a groom from Kenya, a groom from Ghana, a bride whose family is Italian and Iranian. Over the years we've DJed weddings for a Chinese couple, Haitian couples, a Russian bride and a couple from Israel. Whew!
Randal with Iranian bride Rozita and Indian groom Abiroop
All of these weddings required a lot of extra work. Much more work than preparing for a wedding for a couple that enjoys R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop or Country. I interviewed Randal via Facebook live and asked him how he prepares for multi-cultural weddings.

He said the first thing he does is have a conversation with the couple to make sure he understands their expectations. This is not a time to assume anything. He asks for favorite artist names and song titles.
Haitian flags waving at the Louis wedding. Photo by Lady Iman Photography

After he's talked with the couple, Randal does a lot of research. That means understanding customs and traditions, and knowing what certain music is for. For example, one of our Haitian couples wanted a carnival feel to their wedding and a lot of the music was super lit. Another Haitian wedding was totally different. The mother of the bride didn't want that same mood and made it very clear what she wanted played for certain portions of the wedding, for example, cocktail hour, dinner and party time.

For a lot of Americans, Bollywood is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Indian music. For our Indian groom, Randal learned that he and his family and friends did want to hear Bollywood style but that couldn't be the bulk of the music. They wanted to hear music in their language from the southern state of India they're from.

It's really no different that preparing for a hip-hop party at a club. I would go crazy if the DJ only played dirty-south all night and I'm from North Carolina . I love Petey Pablo, Outkast, and Lil' John (yeah, I'm old school) but I can't listen to that all night. I need A Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z, and E-40 too.

We are thankful for the multi-cultural clients who have hired us to DJ and MC their weddings. As Randal told me "when people go crazy (on the dance floor) in any language, it's fun."

What questions do you have about multi-cultural weddings? Post your questions in the comments below and DJ 360 will answer them. Did you have a multi-cultural wedding? Please share details about your big day in the comments below as well as any insights that may help brides and grooms.