We’ve all been to a wedding with this exact scenario: The sweet couple prepared their own vows, they start to read them, and everyone in the back has to guess what they said based on the reactions of the front few rows. It may seem like such a simple thing to worry about, but if you want all of your guests to be engaged during your wedding ceremony, they have to be able to hear you! No matter where you host your wedding—the beach, a traditional church setting, or under a big white tent in the middle of the woods—here’s how to make sure your guests can you all throughout the ceremony.
Make Note of any Distractions at the Venue
Every wedding venue has its quirks, and one of yours might be that the acoustics aren’t the most conducive for your guests to hear the ceremony. As you’re touring the venue or going over checklists with your venue coordinator, make note of any distractions that you can spot while you’re visiting. For example, does a train go by right near the venue? You might want to figure out exactly what the train schedule is so you can avoid hearing the whistle blowing during the middle of your vows. Is there a high school football stadium across the street from the venue? You may want to avoid scheduling your wedding during the middle of the playoffs.
Some distractions are not simply avoided by scheduling your wedding at strategic times—such as the loud roar of the ocean breeze or the inevitable traffic in a busy intersection—but the best way to prevent them from drowning out your ceremony is to pick the quietest time you can. If you need help determining that sweet spot, ask your wedding venue coordinator to assist you.
Test the Sound System During the Rehearsal
If you have access to the venue during the wedding rehearsal, this is your chance to test the sound system and ensure that everyone on the guest list can hear you no matter where they’re sitting. If you can’t get access to the venue during the rehearsal, ask your wedding coordinator to do a test run with you on a weekday so that you’re comfortable with the microphones and that the speakers are in their proper place.
When the wedding venue doesn’t have a house speaker system, you’ll need to get all of this done through the service of a DJ who can get you set up with microphones for the ceremony. Talk to your DJ about what makes you feel the most comfortable in the ceremony—whether that’s a microphone you hold or having a microphone on a stand. They will also need to ensure that your officiant has access to a lapel mic so that everyone can hear them loud and clear as well.
Have a Backup Plan
Like everything else in your wedding planning, it never hurts to have a Plan B. If your DJ shows up late, your venue’s speaker is on the fritz, or the microphones suddenly go missing, have a plan for when things go awry so you can guarantee that everyone will be able to hear your beautiful vows—and every last sniffle that you have when your future spouse is saying theirs.
Enunciate and Project
Maybe you weren’t in high school theater—but you can still practice your theater voice for your ceremony. The name of the game is to enunciate everything clearly and project when necessary (especially if you’re not going to have access to a microphone). Practice on this during the rehearsal and have family members test out different seats in the aisles to see if they can hear you. Although it might be nerve-wracking to speak up during the ceremony—especially if you’re fighting your way through tears—the end result will be completely worth it.
Work with a Professional Speech Coach
If you’re planning on having a specialized ceremony with personalized vows (i.e., different than the “to have and to hold” that we’ve all heard hundreds of times before), then you may want to consider working with a professional speech coach who can give you pointers on delivery and how to speak loudly without feeling like you’re yelling.
Mumbling your way through the vows that you worked so hard to carefully craft will do them a disservice, and working with a pro can really help bring out the best in your speech-giving abilities. This is especially helpful for those of us who tend to mumble, speak softly, or rush through speeches when we get nervous.