Audio Visual Concerns for your Wedding Ceremony and Reception

There are many Audio Visual (aka: A/V, AudioVisual, AV) considerations that you should be aware of. The first that comes to my mind is that ceremonies that take place on the beach, are often seen and not heard. Why? Because it’s rather LOUD on the beach. No, not loud when your walking on the beach taking it its majesty and beauty, but LOUD when your exchanging vows at a talking volume level. Now imagine rows of chairs and people sitting in the sand, with the wind blowing, attempting to share that moment by hearing what is said.

Even if you go out to the beach right at this moment to test this theory and decide “hey, it’s really quiet out here, I think we can run without any additional sound reinforcement”, the day of your wedding could be completely different.

You will need at the minimum a clip-on Lavalier (Lav) microphone for the Pastor. Preferably, you will want to place one on the Groom as well. The Bride will be heard by the Grooms Lav so there is no need to place one on her. Also, you will need two powered speakers for <100 people and two additional powered speakers for more then 100 people. Four (4) powered speakers should cover any beach ceremony. This system will require a "mixer" and an A/V table which can be set up to the side of the cermony and to the back so it will not detract from the visual of the event. The A/V table should be draped and all wiring can be easily buried in the sand with excess cable placed under the table. When professionally set up, these speakers can actually add to the visual of the event. The importance of their functionality, however, cannot be overemphasized. Further, if you have music for the ceremony (harpist, violinist, guitarist or singer) you can now place a microphone on them and everyone can enjoy the music! Another strategy is to use a CD player to play some soft background music before anything takes place while people are milling around and before taking their seats. Then you would go to the instrumentalists for the ceremonial music performance and then the vows. All covered through the same PA system. Someone needs to drive this system and preferably that will be a professional AV type person (DJ's and musicians count for this job). Soft music after the event also really adds a touch of class to the event as people will be there at the location for 20-30 minutes just hanging around. The most cost effective way to accomplish this overall mission is to plan for this, then negotiate it with the band, DJ or musician that will be performing for the ceremony or reception. IF you can negotiate this as a "package" with the rest of the entertainment, you stand to save some costs. When I am hired to do a wedding reception, I always bring these issues to the forefront before pricing my services because 1.) I know what needs to be done, 2.) I am already going to be on the job and 3.) I have the equipment to do what is required, correctly. I am then able to price this part the AudioVisual equipment along with my services which saves the bride and groom a lot of money. To give you an idea of costs here, a wireless microphone to rent would be somewhere in the $125.00 range, then your PA system would be another $300'ish. There are PA systems that run on DC power (batteries) or sometimes a couple hundred feet of heavy gauge drop cord is required. If I PERFORM for a ceremony, I BRING all of this PA gear with me for my performance, then just "give" the pre recorded music as an incentive for using my services. Then I would rent the Lav's two for the price of one so I am earning an additional $300-$400 but providing a value in the $750-$1000 range. Another consideration is at the reception location. A really cool thing to do is prepare a video presentation of the bride and groom as kids, a montage' of their courtship and lives. Then project this in a loop format on an 8' screen somewhere off to the side where family can enjoy this. Believe me, this will be a big hit feature and where ever you place this screen, people are going to gather. MAKE SURE you don't create a bottleneck with your screen placement. Don't put it in front of the bar or food. Find a nice corner where there are not bathroom doors or entrances. These videos can be with or without sound but you have to plan in advance for which it will be. I have a recording studio so I have built a lot of these over the years. I always put music to them. These become heirlooms so even if they are played at the event with no sound, the sound becomes important when played at home. Grandma will want a copy of this too so you'll need several copies. From an A/V perspective, you'll need the screen (usually a 6' or 8' screen), a projector and I recommend planning for audio which would require a powered speaker. The screen should be placed in a corner, draped, then the speaker sits behind the screen, hidden to the audience. This should look good. If this is indoors, a couple pieces of Pipe and Drape can make this really "POP". I've done this with 12 foot screens too so it depends on the venue. Typically, your musicians are not going to have this type of gear available but you can easily rent this from an A/V company ( I recommend Five-Star Audio Visual which you can find at www.FiveStarAV.com). Another feature often overlooked is a dance floor. Dance floors make a huge difference and they can be set up outside as well as inside. Uplighting, rope lighting and ambience lighting can do for your event what a candle can do to your dining experience. It's just a touch of class that can make the event unbelievable. As you can probably tell, there's a LOT to be considered. This can get to be a strategic mess if not thought through in advance and planned for correctly. I am always available for any input or service that I can provide at www.JesseDeese.com

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