TIPS FOR PERFECT WEDDING SOUND 

With a wedding so much time, effort & money goes into making it a special day.  Following are some tips to help make the sound for your wedding a positive experience for everyone involved, even those running the PA System.

There are a few principles that are good to keep in mind:

  1. -Keep it simple.
  2. -Finalise the plan then stick to it.
  3. -If things do go wrong, have a “Plan B” ready.

Feedback Control

One of the biggest PA system issues is going to be feedback control.  Feedback is the high pitched squeeling sound you can get from microphones operating at high volume.  It can be sudden, ear-piercing & very disturbing to guests.    It’s likely you’ll have people speaking that are not used to using microphones or speaking in public therefore requiring considerable microphone gain to be heard.  This greatly increases the risk of feedback.  There is however a number of things you can do to reduce the risk.   This includes:

-Using a dedicated feedback eliminator device.
                • -Well before the ceremony, turn up the microphone channels and mark where feedback starts to occur so you’ll know your limits during the ceremony
  • -Consider placing a microphone unobtrusively between where the bride & groom will stand so you can pick up their wedding vows.
  • -Ensure microphones are pointed away from the main PA speakers.
  • -EQ for high clarity of speech rather than volume.
  • -Employ good microphone technique (see next point)

Microphone Technique

With all the pressures of public speaking weddings people often forget the importance of correct microphone technique.  It’s a bit crude but the best advice is to pretend it’s an ice cream!   You wouldn’t hold an ice cream down around waist level – same with a microphone.   There is is an excellent video here on microphone technique:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tVaRXqDe7U

Recording Sound to Video

Often a lot of money is spent recording the wedding to video only to find that the sound quality on the video is a bit disappointing.   This is because at distance the camera’s microphone is unable to accurately capture the same sound that humans hear.   With digital recording it’s possible to later “sync” together separately recorded video & audio during the editing process.   This means that if the ceremony is recorded to digital audio directly from the PA system mixer, it can later be mixed with the camera’s microphone sound.  This can be captured by an iPod, PC or direct on to CD

The Processional

You will probably want to have background music playing right up until the processional.  It’s therefore important to have fast access to the processional music without leaving a long silent pause.   It’s also important to organize in advance the cue for when to start the music. 

The Recessional

It’s important to time any recessional music appropriately.  The departure of husband & wife down the “isle” can happen very quickly so everything needs to be cued correctly.   Remember that many songs can take a good 10 seconds to move through the into the body of the song in which case the newly weds may be half-way down the isle.       If you want a gentle, graceful feel then this may not be a problem but if you want the recessional to be very “celebratory” then you’ll probably want to cue your song to come in just before the first vocals or even the first chorus.   It may be worth editing the song on your computer to fade in at just the right time so that all the sound person has to do is press play without worrying about fading in with the mixer.

Multimedia

More & more people are incorporating multi-media into events.  Over the years the quality of video projectors has improved tremendously however sometimes the sound quality through the PA system can be quite ordinary.   There are two main reasons for this.  Firstly the cables & connectors that come with multimedia devices can be limited in quality & durability.  Secondly, devices like computers can introduce interference from cooling fans, power supplies & processors.  Better grade sound cards in computers can help.   Also good are the external USB audio interfaces.   An example is the Behringer UCA202

Stick to the Plan

In my experience, whether it be a wedding or other event, last minute changes are a recipe for disaster.  Rarely do all the changes get effectively communicated & re-learned.  It’s best to have a final rehearsal during the week before & stick to it.   It may be worth putting a discreet date stamp at the bottom of any printed run sheet to ensure that nobody gets out-dated instructions.

Keeping it Simple

Ensure that there is a run sheet or order of service for all involved in the ceremony with their parts clearly marked.   For any CD’s that are to be played make sure they are numbered & clearly marked.  When playing from an iPod ensure all music is also clearly labeled  & ordered.

Always Have a Backup

Think in advance “what could possibly go wrong?” then plan accordingly. One of the first things to do is have a backup of all music to be played.   If you are playing from an iPod then burn & test some CD’s of the same music in advance.  Always have spare batteries for iPods & radio microphones.  One of the most likely failure points of a PA system are the cables & connectors.  Always keep a spares handy.

Following the above should greatly reduce the risk of problems & ensure that everyone has a stress-free wedding day.

The No Hassles Wedding Sound Checklist

Fresh batteries for any devices like iPods or radio mics
Backup CD’s or iPod storage of all music
Spare audio leads
Cues are organized for each part of the ceremony
Public speakers understand good microphone technique
CD’s or other media labeled & ordered
Everyone has a current version of the run sheet or order of service
Record audio from mixer for later use with any video
Check sound quality of any multi-media presentation
Evaluate & minimize feedback risk
Check timing of ceremony music & edit if necessary