Good officiants spend a lot of time crafting the perfect ceremony script, and couples often ruminate on their vows for weeks, weaving together joyful memories and hopes for the future. Add in a few spontaneous speeches, endearing jokes, and bass-heavy dance jams, and you have an event that nobody in their right mind would want to miss.
And with more ceremonies than ever moving outside and online this year, it’s not just the folks in the back (or your hard-of-hearing relatives) you need to consider... Friends and families are joining in from all over the country over Zoom and Skype, hanging on every word.
Amplification needs may not be new, but they’re becoming more frequent and pressing, leaving many officiants and couples looking for the right microphone for their day.
To eliminate the guesswork, American Marriage Ministries chatted with a few audio professionals to get the scoop on the basics of amplifying your ceremony. Here’s what we heard...
Tried and true—the safest bet is to hire a professional. Professional wedding DJs and videographers understand the need for quality equipment and will often bring their own gear. And because of the price tag on cameras, mics, speakers, and mixers… chances are good that their tools will be better than anything you grab for the occasion. Wedding DJs can set up sound equipment for ceremonies or receptions, or both. If you’re not sure about a professional’s experience working with a setting like yours, just ask!
Wedding DJs are also skilled at working together with officiants to make sure the ceremony goes as planned. Officiants can offer DJs useful information for cueing up songs, like who will arrive last in a processional before they start speaking, and the final words they’ll say before the recessional song begins. DJs can also perform valuable sound checks with officiants ahead of the event to avoid mishaps.
If you decide to handle things yourself, you’ll want to invest in a mic or two (or rent). There are three popular varieties to consider: wired mics, handheld mics, and lapel (or lavalier) mics. Lapel mics are often a preferred choice for officiants, but they may not work best for everyone. Let’s compare:
For a low-risk experience, you may choose to go with a wired microphone. Because these mics offer a direct connection to your sound equipment, plugging directly into a speaker, they help avoid any interference, dropped sound, or missed moments. They are also the most visible, however, and will limit how much you can walk around. That said, you’ll be able to do some killer mic stand tricks and cord flips like the rockstar-in-love that you are.
These mics are wireless so you’re free to roam around, and they can be passed from person to person, allowing guests to speak up and share in the love. But they also have to be, well, held... This means that photos of your ceremony will include a mic in someone’s hand—something not all photographers (or couples) will enjoy.
Lapel or Lavalier microphones
For a hands-free option, you may choose a lapel or lavalier mic. This is the most common choice for officiants, and can often be the only mic needed at a small gathering (although we recommend you come prepared with two, just in case). To make a lapel mic your go-to equipment, you’ll want to choose an omnidirectional lavalier mic.
Omnidirectional mics are a great choice for officiating ceremonies because they’ll pick up audio from the officiant and the couple when everyone is within a set distance of one another.
For your lapel mic to work its best, secure it somewhere it won’t rub against fabric (like clipped to your officiant’s folio!) and keep it turned away from the wind while outdoors. As a pro-tip, you’ll need to plan on hiding the transmitter, too, which will be trickier with form-fitting clothing.
After all the energy and effort that goes into your ceremony, having a recording that captures the intimacy and exuberance of the day is important. As we mentioned above, hiring a professional videographer can be the safest choice for capturing crisp deliveries and heartwarming ambiance.
If a friend or family member of the couple will be recording the event, consider purchasing an on-camera mic. This attaches to your camera to capture a richer level of sound, and will help to reduce syncing issues between audio and visual (especially in a breezy outdoor setting) when editing the video.
The final advice from our pros was simple: you get what you pay for, and test your equipment in advance.
These are just a few basics to get you started. As you might already know, the world of event audio can be a deep and winding labyrinth at first, fraught with frustrating trial and error. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others with more experience.
And - don’t forget to sound check!