Sound: The most common complaint in wedding ceremonies.

The most common complaint about wedding ceremonies is that the audience “couldn’t hear a thing that was said!” The unfortunate result is that your guests can’t wait for it to be over instead of sharing with you your special moment. There are some very simple things that I do to ensure that the audience can hear and share in the ceremony.

Checking the venue for sound quality is most important. If the venue has low ceilings, chances are that voices will not carry, and I will insist on a microphone. When I conduct a wedding at the Museum of Nature, the cathedral ceiling has an extreme echo. I need to modulate not only my volume but speed of speech, because I can hear echoes of my voice. Open space outdoor weddings are a challenge because voices do not carry very far.

I prefer a wireless microphone. Most DJ’s have these, and I can borrow it from them at no extra cost to the couple. I stick it in the handkerchief pocket of my suit jacket and – voila – I have a hands free microphone. I can then easily remove it and hold it for any readers in the ceremony. Since most people don’t know how to use a microphone, it lets them concentrate on their reading while I gauge the sound quality. My rule of thumb is to consider using a microphone for a crowd of over 100 people.

Most couples when repeating their vows are nervous and don’t project their voices. So I project my voice when I say my part for them to repeat. That way, if the person in the back doesn’t hear anything after I have said it, then they assume the couple has repeated what I said. They at least know what was said. If I have a microphone, I will point it toward the couple so their voices and emotions can be heard and felt.

Finally, I remain aware of the environmental noise during the ceremony. If I have a fighter plane flying overhead, I will pause and wait until it has passed. This is so no one will miss any part of the ceremony. I have even paused to wave at a tour bus as it goes by, while the tour guide is pointing out the wedding in progress over the loudspeaker. Smile, be friendly and wave, everyone; they are taking pictures.

Taking care of these small details will ensure that everyone has heard what you have set out to say – that you love each other and wish to share a future of happiness together.