Do you need a mic at your ceremony?

Today we have a guest post from Cindy, who is going to talk about sound issues and tell us once and for all if anyone will be able to hear us if we get married on a beach. This is her bio:

Cindy Savage is a theatrical stage manager turned wedding planner/coordinator, who is also a full-time nanny. She and her wife, Julia,  own and operate Crafty Broads, a custom clothing, wedding planning, and professional organizing business in Chicago. In her free time, she is a food and wine snob who loves to cook and bake, an avid reader, a music lover, a wannabe blogger , and a really big nerd at heart.

So to re-cap, the ways in which I dig Cindy include, but are not limited to: she’s a really big nerd, an avid reader, she knows theatre stuff, she made her own wedding cake, she’s a nanny, and she references a spot of cognitive science below. What’s not to love?

To mic? Or not to mic? That is the question.

At least it’s the one Lindsay has asked me to address in this post. As a stage manager turned wedding coordinator, the issue of amplifying voices is one that comes my way often. In large theatres, it’s a given, but in smaller venues (which make up the majority of theatres in Chicago), it always seems to be up for debate. When it comes to your wedding, many people will tell you the answer is always yes; but do you really need microphones? Well, in weddings as in theatre, there are three big factors that will affect your decision.

First – Projection. You need to honestly assess the public speaking skills of your fiance, officiant, readers, and of course yourself. If you are confident that  everyone will be loud enough to be heard by guests at the back , then you might not need a microphone. To test this, go to your venue and have someone stand as far back as people will be… and then take 10 steps farther back. Now,  make up a sentence that you’re listening partner is unlikely to expect from you and say it in a loud, but not shouting, voice. (Our brains are programmed to help fill in the blanks when we can’t hear [Yay cognitive science!! – Ed], so it’s important that your partner really be hearing you for the first time in order to assess the sound quality. No famous movie lines! Make up a nonsense sentence and ask them to repeat it back to you.) If they heard you just fine, you are good to go.

Second – Space. Big spaces (church with a high ceiling; the beach) eat up sound and will make it hard for your guests to hear. Small spaces (private party room; your parents’ living room) will bounce the sound quickly back into everyone’s ears.

Third, and perhaps most importantly – People. Here’s something you might not know: people absorb sound. In theatre, we have to adjust volume levels after the first audience because what seems loud in an empty room can be difficult to hear when the seats are filled. So the number of guests is an important consideration. There’s no hard and fast rule here, because projection and space affect it too, but if you have more than 60 guests, you should get a mic. Also, beware that it’s much easier to hear someone who’s facing you! 

Based on the factors above, you should know whether or not you really need microphones. But you still need to think about logistical and financial concerns before you make a decision.

Location. If you’re outdoors, you may not have access to electricity – so you’ll need a system powered by a generator. Indoors, you’ll need an electrical outlet and maybe an extension cord and/or surge protector.

Equipment. What kind of equipment do you need? I could go into detail, but whoever you get the equipment from will be able to explain it to you. So, how do you find that person? Start with your venue – If you’re getting married in a church or a place that holds events regularly, there’s a good chance they already have a sound system as well as a someone who knows how to use it, and it may even be included in your space rental fee, so don’t forget to ask! Many event rental companies have PA systems available.

Money. Before you decide to yell your entire ceremony because rental is too expensive, ask around. You may already know someone who’d be happy to lend you what you need. If you have a friend in a band, ask their advice. College or community theatres may be willing to loan their equipment. A guitar or music store might have an inexpensive option that you could sell after the wedding. Bottom line: you may need to ask around a bit to find an affordable option.

Logistics. Don’t forget that someone will have to setup, test, and take down the equipment, so be sure to include that in your wedding day schedule.

I think that about wraps it up – I hope this info is helpful to you as you plan your wedding!


One response to “Do you need a mic at your ceremony?

  1. Pingback: » Another Guest Post Blog :: Crafty Broads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s