Sound levels for weddings

Our thanks to Susan Heaton-Wright of Viva Live Music  for this useful and interesting post…

Weddings are wonderful occasions where people of all different ages celebrate the marriage of two people. It is also an opportunity for guests (particularly family members who haven’t seen each other for a while) to talk and catch up with news. For others, it is a chance to have a good party; dance and have great fun. 

The challenge for anyone organising a wedding is to ensure the event is enjoyable to everyone. Many guests would feel they weren’t being looked after, if there was ‘nothing to do’ except watch the bride and groom being photographed – although for others, it would be a chance to catch up with lost relatives. For other guests, the thought of the only evening entertainment being a darkened room, with flashing lights and very loud music a very unattractive proposition. So compromise in the planning is required.

One of the subjects regularly mentioned within planning, is noise levels. When we set up Viva Live Music we conducted a survey of 300 people of all ages. 97% said the one thing they disliked about music was that it was too loud; a figure that is one to take note of when organising weddings! 

Of course the musical style the bridal couple wants is going to be varied and some styles might not be ‘loud’ but others might be. So here are some top tips to make the most of music, without it being too loud!

  • Check with the venue as to whether they have volume limits. A number of venues can not play any music above a certain decibel level. If they do, the power cuts out! Make sure your musicians or DJ know this.
  • Designate someone (a guest) to be responsible for monitoring sound levels. He or she could liaise with the DJ or musicians, if it gets too loud.
  • Make sure the DJ or musicians have a clause in their contract saying that requests for the volume to be reduced, should be acted upon.
  • Use a good quality supplier, who knows how to amplify music so that guests can hear it without it being too loud.
  • Discuss with the DJ or musicians how they will amplify the music. It is often better to place a number of small speakers around the room(s), rather than having 2 large ones at the front, where there are often guests sitting.
  • Consider having tables in the room where guests can still watch the dancing, but the sound levels are lower so those guests can still talk. Alternatively have a ‘quiet room’ as well as the dance room for guests to chill out.
  • As part of their service, the DJ or musicians should sound check before the event starts. Make sure you know when the venue will be available for them to set up and also a time that they MUST have finished this. This will enable them to plan their set up and sound check timings.
  • It is useful for musicians and DJs to know the age groups of guests; if the guest list is mainly older, they will need to keep volumes lower; if it is younger – they won’t mind as much!
  • Liaise with the musicians/DJ before you do your table plan; we have had Singing Waiter acts, where we have had to set up sound systems prior to the wedding, but there is no room for the equipment. Despite a venue visit prior to the wedding, extra tables were put in on the day, making a really tight squeeze for the sound engineer and performers. 

If you have any queries, or would like any individual tips about noise levels, please do not hesitate to contact me, Susan Heaton Wright at Viva Live Music or call 0844 576 3015.

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