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July 8, 2023 12:38 PM   Subscribe

A relative is getting married but doesn't want to have to use an amplifier at the ceremony b/c she thinks it'll be overpowering to the people in front and not sufficient for the people in the back.

Is there an app that the audience can log into that can get audio from the bride and groom's phone so that everyone can hear fine and control their own audio, or listen with earbuds or whatever? If so, what are the pros and cons of using it over a plain old amplifer/speaker?
posted by CollectiveMind to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Con: in photos lots of people will be wearing earbuds and headphones and fiddling with their phones
Con: the tech solution will inevitably not work for some people, or some people won't be able to figure it out, and someone is going to have to do tech support
Con: and if they have to download and log into an app? uh nope.
Con: it leaves the playing field wiiiiiide open for phone calls, alarms, and other noises to interrupt the ceremony
Con: it leads people to look at their devices instead of being solidly present for/with the couple

In my experience (50+ weddings), amps are placed at the back of the seating area, where the farthest guests are seated, and they project towards the couple. They're sound-checked so they don't overwhelm anyone. The couple is discreetly mic'd -- usually only one person, often the taller person, needs to be mic'd.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2023 [49 favorites]

Yup, what cocoagirl says.

Or put the speakers halfway down the seating area, one on each side on the outside.

And regardless of where you put them, if you can put them on tripod stands and get them up over people's heads, you'll get further coverage and people close to the speakers won't get blasted as much.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:16 PM on July 8, 2023 [7 favorites]

I would absolutely not install an app so I could hear a wedding ceremony. This strikes me as a profoundly silly idea. Who is just randomly carrying earbuds at a wedding? Who wants everyone futzing with phones during their ceremony?
posted by potrzebie at 1:16 PM on July 8, 2023 [25 favorites]

hire a pro audio guy. make sure everyone speaking gets a quick mic technique demo.

give the audio guy early access to the venue for setup and soundcheck. the shape and composition of the room area require some tuning and equalization.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:25 PM on July 8, 2023 [11 favorites]

Audio professionals understand all of this much better than your relative, and can set up a sound system in a way that shouldn't blast anyone. It's even possible that the venue already has such a system installed, depending on where the wedding will be.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:37 PM on July 8, 2023 [5 favorites]

On further reflection, I suspect the happy couple is (consciously or subconsciously) trying to save money by not renting audio equipment from the venue. They can justify it to themselves however they like but asking their guests to install an app and bring headphones if they want to be able to hear the wedding is truly not the right answer.
posted by potrzebie at 1:37 PM on July 8, 2023 [13 favorites]

Most people don't have voices that project well without amplification, and even if they do it's likely not their default volume anyway. Even people in the front row will likely have a hard time hearing things without it. Get the PA system, do a sound-check to make sure the levels are right (these things do have a volume knob and there's a great deal of leeway between audible and overpowering) and you'll be golden.

To answer the question: no, I'm not aware of any such app, though I guess you could use a large group calling/meeting app like Zoom or Teams or whatever to do something like this. Strongly recommend you don't for all the reasons cocoagirl gave above; it's invariably not going to work for everyone and will almost certainly piss people off. Hell, I'm technically inclined and it'd piss me off.
posted by Aleyn at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

Another Con: I don't think you can assume everyone in the audience will bring their phone or even have one (especially any kids who might attend). Some couples will just bother to bring one phone between the two of them (I know my 70-something parents are like this).

So yeah, +1 for hiring a sound professional to handle what is a very common task for them.
posted by coffeecat at 2:14 PM on July 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

A lot of wedding bands (and maybe even DJs) will offer to run a separate PA for the wedding ceremony if the ceremony is in the same venue as the receptio. My band often does exactly this, bringing one or two extra speakers and even lavalier mics (the kind with the wire that runs under your shirt and has a clip to attach to your collar.)

I'd definitely recommend talking to an audio pro about how to make the ceremony sound good.
posted by emelenjr at 2:25 PM on July 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

On the flip side, I've been to 6 weddings and only 1 time could I hear most of the ceremony. Doesn't really bother me as most the ceremonies are are under 30 minutes. It's like watching a tv on mute.
posted by MadMadam at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2023 [7 favorites]

You don't need an app, just do a conference call.
posted by grog at 2:42 PM on July 8, 2023

An app or conference call wouldn't work. Everyone listening would be hearing a delayed signal mixed in with the actual voices. What SoundGuy99 says is the way. Put the speaker(s) halfway back. Up in the air is even better.
posted by jonathanhughes at 3:12 PM on July 8, 2023 [7 favorites]

Add more speakers. It's called a PA SYSTEM for a reason. Not a loudhailer.
posted by kschang at 6:22 PM on July 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

I have crappy hearing, missing hearing aids and attended a funeral today. Heard a few words of the service, and it was lightly amplified. People would like to hear you. If you are outside, the acoustics will not be great. It's really nice to talk to an AV company, rent a system, and follow their recommendations. Or put all the readings and such in the program. I got married one time, service was short, minister had a good voice, my sister the drama queen has actress-level projection, so the readings were great.
posted by theora55 at 6:40 PM on July 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

Your relative is either trying to save a buck or has simply forgotten that speakers can be placed anywhere. You should probably remind them just in case.

[Oh, and nice title.]
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:09 PM on July 8, 2023

Just got married myself and was worried about this, as we were also outside and near the shore as well. A pair of speakers properly placed and a wireless mic and receiver will be perfectly audible, just test it well beforehand. Ours were less than $150 for a long weekend. They should second a capable friend or wedding party member to be on emergency volume or mic handling duty.

Nthing the feeling that the app is a bad idea~!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:59 PM on July 9, 2023

Nthing that this is profoundly silly, and echoing what was said above: "Audio professionals understand all of this much better than your relative, and can set up a sound system in a way that shouldn't blast anyone."

Another reason not to resort some phone app (OMG!) or even conference call is that those will have some inherent delay in the audio (and anything more than 40 milliseconds is noticeable). And inevitably someone will have their phone on speaker mode. And all that will make for a comically echo-y and unintelligible morass.

Audio reinforcement has been done for decades. Let an AV guy do his job :)
posted by intermod at 8:17 PM on July 9, 2023

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