Technology is GREAT! We have all been able to scale down the size of the electronic devices we use for just about everything, even listening to music. MP3 players are super tiny and have massive storage, and now, most folks (even if you DON’T have a smart phone!) can do away with portable MP3 players altogether by putting music on their phone!
In-sync with this digital evolution, and understandably because we’re all really just geeks who love our cool toys, DJs are notorious for going with a “smaller” or “less” is more type of philosophy when it comes to designing the systems they use to play back music at special events we are paid to perform.
Some have really taken this to heart when it comes to what they use for music and sound at your wedding ceremony itself. Some have gone so far as to scale down to using consumer-grade electronics – the same types of devices you have – tablets, portable music players, and even their phones to play back music for your ceremony! There are many reasons why these types of devices are not ideal for the job, but providers who use them obviously don’t consider these reasons, and this lack of consideration can be indicative of the level of priority or care they put into this part of your wedding.
Let’s look at what a wedding ceremony consists of for a DJ – and at first thought for most people in-general. It’s what… 20-30 minutes of background music, the DJ plays 2 or three songs while people walk down the isle, and then another song while they exit when it’s done. Oh yeah…. throw a microphone in there for the officiant of your ceremony.
So we have maybe 30-45 minutes worth of work, MAYBE 40 minutes of music tops. We don’t need much for that do we?
Well, let’s think about this for a minute. What other types of things can be a part of your wedding ceremony? What might be needed from your DJ to support these parts of your ceremony?
Let’s start with microphones.
Some DJ’s don’t include them at all unless you specifically ask or pay extra. I’d like to say most include them, but unfortunately, there are many who don’t.
Even if they do provide a mic, many will simply provide a handheld mic on a stand. This is not ideal for many reasons. First, let’s talk about sound. The “pick-up pattern” on a handheld microphone – in other words the area and distance it can pick up sound within – is almost never sufficient to properly amplify voices if you are not speaking directly into it, let alone three different voices that are some distance from it.
Then, we have the physical presence of the mic itself, on a stand, in front of your officiant, and maybe even right between you and your fiance. This stand and mic will be in your pictures, and will also be a very real physical obstacle during your ceremony. This can become especially awkward or obtrusive if you need to move around during your ceremony to do certain things like a sand ceremony, unity candle, etc.
How do we get around these issues? We use high-quality lavalier type microphones… the kind that you see (or rather DON’T see!) on newscasters, reality show participants, etc. These mics have a clip-on belt pack that is hidden within your clothing out of sight, and a very small microphone that clips on, usually somewhere around the tie or jacket lapel. So they are not in your way when you move, and they are very discrete, and hardly noticeable unless you are looking for them.
Best of all, they have omnidirectional pick-up patterns, which means they can pick up sound sources that are not directly in front of them. This allows a more natural sound in addition to allowing you more mobility while wearing them.
When Sounds To Go provides ceremony services, we always include TWO lapel microphones – one for your officiant, and one for the groom so we can pick up every spoken word. This is vital to the experience of your family and friends because they can all share in your special ceremony, and in your words and vows to each other. This is important to make your ceremony feel intimate and make your guests really feel present, and included, despite the size of your audience.
In addition to these lapel mics, we have additional handheld units available for anyone who might be doing special readings during your ceremony.
After microphones, we have to consider the sound options. Again, we might think that ceremonies require less than the main DJ system used for your reception because ceremonies are so short in length. The difference though is deceiving, and is really just a matter of scale in volume and physical size. The reception system of course is going to be many, many times larger (and LOUDER!) than the ceremony system for obvious reasons, but from a sound engineering standpoint, it is actually a lot LESS complicated.
A proper ceremony sound system, meaning one that is designed to handle the needs of any reasonably conceivable wedding ceremony, involves much more than it’s bass-thumping, reception-shaking counterpart.
While the sound system at the reception needs only inputs (for the most part) for music and a microphone, the sound system for ceremonies handles many more inputs, and even requires outputs as well. Additional inputs may be needed for additional speakers or readers, and other sound inputs may be required for live musicians, vocal performances, and more. In addition, outputs are needed to allow your videographer (for example) to get a sound feed right from the source for your finished video.
Integrating additional instruments and multiple microphones – often simultaneously – requires more of a live-sound type setup than a straight/regular DJ system because it requires more inputs and broader mixing capabilities. These scenarios also demand more expertise from the DJ because it requires them to be more knowledgeable with their equipment, and to have a better ear for mixing and blending different sources. It also requires them to be better at troubleshooting and problem-solving on-the-spot as well.
Our sound system is set up for all these scenarios, and can handle each one at a moment’s notice. Not only is this system ready to handle your ceremony with ease, but it is sophisticated enough to rock your party as a backup to our main system as well!
Bottom line: Make sure your DJ has adequate equipment to meet the needs of your event, and that they understand what it takes to include all of the elements you want to incorporate. Also, clearly communicate all of your needs to your DJ well before your wedding so they can be sure to plan accordingly and meet your needs.
In addition to music and microphones, we’ve integrated live sound from harps, guitars, keyboard, flutes, vocalists, and more.
Be sure to let us know what you’re thinking about for your ceremony, and we’ll show you how we can accommodate your needs!