Your wedding is getting closer. Maybe you have booked your DJ entertainment, maybe you are still looking at options for this. It can be good to know what kind of equipment your Wedding DJ will be using and what the setup may involve. This will ease your mind to know that you can have a flawless wedding day when it comes to your DJ entertainment.
Here at EPIC Charleston, we like to share all of this information with you so that you know exactly what you are getting and what everything will look like to have a successful ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner time and dance party at your wedding.
We’ll start by taking you through the Ceremony setup.
Wedding Ceremony Setup
Our typical setup for the ceremony involves putting a mic on the officiant using a Lapel Microphone. We use the Sennheiser AVX System, which is completely wireless. It is intended for videographers and people who are filming or reporting. With the wireless speaker, this allows us to go anywhere. This is important because there are a lot of plantation weddings in Charleston and venues that don’t have the best power, if any, when you are setting up for a wedding ceremony. Especially if you are out by the water or on the beach. You want the best view, so you leave the rest up to the experts and that is where we come in.
The mic we use on the officiant sounds excellent. It is very self contained. It does have enough detail to pick up your wedding vows. Obviously if it is very windy on a beach or in any condition, we do the best to mitigate that, but overall it sounds amazing. This system is enough for up to 250 people in attendance to hear. Many wedding ceremonies do not get that big, but we have done a wedding that large before, and everyone could hear everything and was very happy.
The second piece of equipment that we use is a Roland battery powered wireless speaker. This has a small mixing board on the back, which is something that mixes different audio sources into one signal that comes out of the speaker. So in a wedding ceremony, we are taking the audio from the wedding officiant and his microphone, taking the audio from the music that is being played (processional and recessional music), and then we may have a third and fourth channel that is used if someone is doing a reading or if someone wants to sing or play guitar. All of those signals go through the mixer and they come out as one sound through the speaker.
Things are always changing. The officiant might be louder in the beginning, depending on their experience, some may speak quieter. The DJ needs to be on top of the volume knob, so you don’t have anything that distracts anyone from the moment happening. You may also have a plane flying over, you may need to fade the officiant’s volume down because the vocalist is about to sing or someone is about to do a reading. The DJ needs to man that mixer so that everything sounds professional as it comes out of the speaker.
Now we’ll transition into the Cocktail Hour.
Cocktail Hour Setup
You need that mixer, because the music will fade in, for the bride and groom to walk away from the ceremony. The officiant will almost always announce to the guests what is going to happen next, like announcing the cocktail hour.
So it is important for the DJ to have control of the mixer to fade out the music, let the officiant speak, and then fade the music back in so it will all sound very professional. As the music is faded back in and the recessional song is playing, the DJ will also set up the cocktail hour music as guests are walking over to the area where the cocktail hour will be. So the music can still be playing at the ceremony site as guests are leaving and then you can seamlessly make that transition when you move into cocktail hour.
With the cocktail hour, the setup may vary depending on the location. For example, the Island House, out on James Island, almost always has the ceremony and reception on the back side of the house and the cocktail hour out on the front side of the house. We take care of everything for the ceremony, and then we have a wireless remote speaker also in the front of the house. As the guests arrive, the music will already be playing for cocktail hour. Same setup, but a different remote location, which is why it is really nice to have a wireless speaker. You can pick it up, move with the guests, and be playing it within a matter of seconds.
A lot of couples wonder what is different price wise with packages between the ceremony and packages between the cocktail hour. There is a little bit more involved technically with the wedding ceremony. Putting a mic on the officiant, keeping that balanced, bringing in the music, and cueing the music. The equipment is a little bit more involved, especially the wireless Lapel microphone that is connected to the wireless speaker. That is why that package is a little bit different than the cocktail hour. Essentially the cocktail hour is already a setup list. Anytime we prepare and plan for your wedding, we are curating that cocktail hour list, depending on where your friends and family are from and based off our consultation over the phone. So that is mostly a standalone service.
The ceremony usually lasts about 30 minutes but we want to make sure we are playing music for that full hour. If your ceremony starts at 5:00, your parents and grandparents are arriving around 4:00 or 4:30. It is always nice to have music playing prior to the start of the ceremony, or the start that you are planning on guests arriving. We put that into the package. When you see the package, it is one hour, that is to take care of the time that friends and family are coming in and the time before the ceremony starts. Cocktail hour is that following hour, sometimes a little bit longer.
Then we move on to the dinner and dancing DJ setup.
Wedding Reception Setup
The most important thing we want to have here is adequate power. Another requirement for this setup is an 8 foot table with a matching linen. What we will bring in is our turntables, or DJ Mixer. We use the Pioneer DDJ-SZ controller, that’s a 4-channel controller. It is the best! We have been using this for years and it is very reliable. We can mix two channels, mixing one song with another. For another channel we’ll use for dinner music and for the fourth channel we can always use for any music brought in.
When the turntables are set up, we’ll move on to our two speakers, called 12-inch tops, on speaker stands to the left and right of the DJ booth. We also have the laptop on the right hand side.
Your DJ will speak into a microphone, we currently use the Shure Super 55, a beautiful Elvis style microphone. This is also often used for people making toasts. With this microphone, you can hold a piece of paper while making a speech, nothing to be nervous about. The style of this vintage microphone looks great in pictures, is easy to use because it does not need to be held, and does not create microphone feedback.
Let’s talk about microphone feedback. This happens when the microphone moves away from someone’s mouth and no one wants to experience this when giving a speech. If you watch professional speakers, they’ll always rest the microphone at the bottom of their chin. They do this because it doesn’t change the level input where the turntables are, it keeps it consistent. When someone holds a handheld microphone, it can drift away and the DJ will need to adjust the volume. With the microphone on a stand, it is going to be stationary so that the person stays in front of the microphone and the level sounds great.
One last thing that is super important is to have a subwoofer. We like to have a full bass sound but not something that is over the top. We used to use a Dual 18” Subwoofer setup under a table, but over time we have switched to a 12” Sub, which sounds small but the quality sounds great. They are small enough to be discreet but they deliver enough bass. You’ll have guests eating dinner, meeting for the first time and conversing, older guests won’t want to have that rumble that’s happening with a massive system. When it comes to dancing, you can crank everything up. The sub that we have is a 1500 watt sub and it sounds perfect.
So that is pretty much the DJ setup. Now you know exactly what you’ll need to look for to have a successful wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.