Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Q & A: Review of Portable PA System

Reader Question: Where did you purchase your wireless PA system, and did it work? Are you glad you had it?

[Editor's Note: Your questions inspired me to talk about lots of stuff! Bear with me...I promise your answer is buried in this post.]

In my humble opinion, the wedding ceremony is simultaneously one of the most important and the least-focused on aspects of a wedding. And I'm just as guilty as the next bride. I found myself dwelling on the location, the dress, the wedding party, the food, the rings, etc., before I thought a lot about the ceremony.

It's partly because things like the location are timely and need to be prioritized. We planned our wedding in seven months, and we had to secure a location right away. It's also because the ceremony is important and it's hard to figure out.

Then again, it's also because we tend to lose sight of the real purpose of weddings and, instead, get consumed with details.

Have you ever been to a wedding where you couldn't actually hear what the bride and groom are saying to each other? Sometimes they are just parroting back what the officiant said, and you can usually hear the officiant. But other times they are saying something unique and interesting to each other and you can't hear what they are saying.

I once went to a big, fancy wedding. It was definitely a 5-digit wedding. Probably $30,000 or $40,000. I had to take a seat about three-fourths of the way back because I arrived just on time.

Honestly, there were so many people invited to the wedding (most of whom were sitting in front of me), that I couldn't really see the ceremony. I tried my best to sit on my feet to give me a little lift, but I wasn't that successful. The worst part was that I couldn't hear the ceremony either.

When it was over, I thought, "Hm...I wonder what that was about? I guess I'll go eat some appetizers."

For our wedding, I wanted the ceremony to be an integral part of the whole experience. I wanted people to understand why we were marrying each other and I wanted them to witness our proclamations and commitments. I also wanted them to clearly hear what five of our dearest friends and family had to say about our love. I wanted them to see our symbolic tree-planting and quilt-wrapping.

We put a lot of thought into a ceremony location that would both represent us and fit within our budget. We settled on a rustic B&B that was going to house all the guests who wouldn't fit at the B&B we were using for the reception. The innkeeper agreed to let us have the wedding on her property, and she didn't charge us a thing! She said we could find a spot anywhere, and we could even use the folding chairs from the reception hall if we wanted to. The only stipulation was that the ceremony had to end by 4:30pm because that's when the horses were let out to roam freely around the property.

We ended up finding a small lake with several long picnic tables along its shore. It was exactly the kind of intimate, beautiful, relaxed, low-maintenance place we were looking for. We definitely had to make some compromises. Ideally, the guests would have faced the lake and all of our ceremony pictures would have had the idyllic background. This option would have also been ideal because the picnic tables were on a slope toward the lake, which created a nice amphitheater feel.

However, there wasn't enough room for us to get married down at the bottom. Instead, we had to get married at the top, which meant our guests had to sit a little lower than the people at the tables in front of them. It also meant that although Matt and I got to face the lake during the ceremony, our guests had to face our impromptu parking lot, and many of our photos have cars in the background.

Oh well. That's exactly kind of thing I didn't worry about. I figured our guests would be more focused on us than the cars in the background, the actual wedding is more important than the photographs of it, and our wedding was casual enough that the people at the very back and bottom of the slope could sit on top of the tables and see perfectly well.

I was intent on making sure our 80 guests could hear everything, so I searched and searched for some sort of amplification system. I wanted it to run on batteries (since we were basically in the woods) and come with a wireless microphone.

I found my answer (through Google, of course). My partner-to-be and my best friend made fun of me, since the product seemed too good to be true. It was only six pounds, extremely portable, iPod friendly, and it ran on batteries and came with a free wireless microphone. It was very "As Seen on TV."

I dwelled in possibility, however, and ordered it right away. I figured there would be enough time to return it and find something else if we needed to.

The product turned out to be wonderful. It projected nicely in our intimate setting (80 people sitting pretty close to us), and it lived up to its portability promise. The only difficulty I had with it was putting in the batteries and taking them out. It was just a very tight fit, but once they were in, it worked perfectly.

Before I started this post, I called two guests to get their take on how well it worked (since I wasn't actually on the receiving end). One was my mom, and I feared she would be slightly biased, so I called my straightforward, ex-boyfriend of four years (yes, he was invited to the wedding) and asked him his candid opinion. He said it worked perfectly well. He said there was none of the screeching that usually accompanies such contraptions. He did say he thought it worked particularly well because our group was relatively small. He wasn't sure how much farther away the guests could get.

BONUS: It can also be used as a karaoke machine during the reception or for post-wedding dinner parties!

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js said...

Thank you! You have inspired me to take a little more time on planning our ceremony, and to reconsider amplifying our voices during. Also, since our previous p.a. arrangement has fallen through I am looking for a sound system.... did you also use this for music during the reception?

By the way: Awesome! [in general]

Caroline said...

Ooh, you may have just solved a very vexing ceremony and reception issue I was having... So do you just plug the iPod in there using the same kind of auxillary cable you would if you were plugging the iPod into your home stereo?

Kara said...

Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful.

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