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Melbourne Celebrant Mel Calia from ‘Melebrate Good Times’ has written this blog for other celebrants to better optimise your PA and Sound Systems. By day Mel is a Director of Music at a school in Melbourne. She’s previously had a stint or two as a ‘rockstar’ in a punk band and has even had some success as a solo singer songwriter. She’s taught Cert III in Music Industry in Sound Production, so if a bunch of teenagers can grasp her tips and tricks, then YOU’VE GOT THIS. Think of this as a fools guide on how to set up your PA system at a wedding. Ever wondered where to position your PA? Where to stand when using a microphone? Then read on


I always, always, always, test my gear. EVERYTIME.

  1. Set it up in the  living room, make sure everything is charged and turning on
  2. Make sure Bluetooth is connecting 
  3. Make sure, you have spare batteries and any leads /adapters to connect iPad /phone etc to.
  4. I usually give it a little charge too (but refer to your specific manual on the best thing for your speaker). 

‘I always, always, always, test my gear. EVERYTIME.’ Photo of Zee Scott getting her test on by Daze Photography.


Ensure you:

  1. Pack your IEC cord (or kettle cord) if the option to plug in at a venue is there, use it.
  2. Pack a spare Microphone and mic lead (in case your wireless option poops its pants)
  3. Pack cables and adapters to connect sound source (phone, ipad)
  4. Download any music to work ‘offline’ 
  5. Pack spare batteries for your mic
  6. Pack an extension lead and power board
  7. Pack gaffer tape
  8. Pack a bag / case / trolley etc. to lug it all around (some great ideas in the TCS FB page!)
  9. Pack weather protection to cover your speaker (garbage bags are a good option!)
  10. Write yourself a ‘step-by-step’ instruction list on how to boot up, connect everything and get your sound happening, and leave it in your speaker bag / case or stick it to the back/ side of the speaker. That way when you are dealing with the everything else upon arriving you have a little bit of calm to help you!
  11. Don’t forget about packing your speaker stand as this little friend is crucial to your safety and best sound. Make sure it is in good working order and you know the safest way to set it up etc!
  12. Practice putting everything away neatly as this will minimise any damage to your equipment (especially leads!). Have a system that works for you!


  1. Check out your space! If outside, clear anything that is going to make it unsafe / unbalanced, don’t forget to look up!
  2. Set your stand up in between the first row of congregation and where you plan to stand.
    Ideally your body should be behind the speaker line. This will minimise any feedback.
  3. Position your speaker(s) so that as much sound as possible is focused on middle of the room / space, and steered away from reflective surfaces.
    – I set up my speaker stand so the speaker is above head height and above the crowd. This assists with minimising feedback (the screechy squealy noises) or interference from bodies.
    – A personal preference is to set my speaker up on the opposite side that I am standing so it doesn’t feel like it is in my way, and I can hear myself a little without causing any feedback.
  4. If the ceremony is outside I take into account any wind to decide which side I stand on and which side my speaker is. Work with the direction of the wind to ‘blow’ your sound to your crowd.

5. Make sure run any leads or cables neatly to the ground.
– If  using wired mics I loosely wrap the lead around the speaker stand pole to the ground so then it is not flapping about and at risk of being pulled at a kite-string angle and taking the how speaker and stand down.


Your speaker will have a few ‘inputs’ or ‘channels’ where you plug your stuff into, there might also be other knobs such as ‘Bass, Mids, Treble (or something similar)
This basically divides your sound into ‘layers’ of high, middle and low sounds, so depending on your space you can adjust these:

  • Too much bass = muffled and woofy / woolly
  • Too much mid = ‘tinny’ moving towards too much highs
  • Too much highs = ‘nasal’ ‘piercing’ ‘shrill’

I always have everything turned to 0 when I power up my PA.

This means there won’t be any unwanted pops or bursts of sound because you have accidentally left everything up or it’s been bumped around when you have taken it in and out of its case.

  • Never set the PA speaker to full volume- it will distort the sound and you have absolutely nowhere to go if you need more volume. 
  • Aim between 4-6 o’clock on your master to start then you have plenty of room to move from there.

It is a fine balancing act and every PA will be different and every venue will be different. So practice is key.

Once I have set up and I am happy there is sound coming out and a volume that is not too loud, I will ‘walk the mic’ around the space (but not directly In front of the speaker to avoid feedback) and speak into it to hear myself at difference ‘audience points’ this will give me a good idea of how I am sounding and if any adjustments in volume or tone (high, mids, lows) need to be made.

  • If there are live muso’s or the videographer / photographer ask them if they can hear you clearly and if it sounds ok. 
  • You can ask anyone, but trust your ears!

I also plug in some music and play a track that I know well to fine tune my sound and adjust the volume to match the microphone, so if I am controlling the music as well it is nice and balanced with the volume of my voice.

Once I have set up and I am happy there is sound coming out and a volume that is not too loud, I will ‘walk the mic’ around the space.’ Photo of Elisha Buffone by Katie Jane Photography


I make a point to try and give some basic mic tips to anyone that may be using one at a ceremony. Here’s some you can try.

  1. When holding a wired or wireless mic good technique is to hold it 5-10cm from your mouth (and just below so you don’t get any weird breathing noises- creepy!)
  2. Try not to move it out of the path of the mouth, and remember to keep it away from the speaker!
  3. Lapel microphones are a little harder to position – make sure you allow plenty of time to position these correctly and secure you transmitter pack to where you can easily adjust it if needed.
  4. Lapels work at best about 10cm from the face- further away and you have to crank them up which can cause feedback because it starts picking up other sounds from around you.
  5. The headset or the ‘Madonna Mic’ similar to the lapel, make sure you have allowed plenty of time to position this correctly and set your sound. This works best at a downward diagonal to your jaw about 5cms from the mouth and slightly away from the skin so it doesn’t interfere with the sound.
  6. With these to handsfree options you need to be really mindful of how you move especially in regard to feedback.
  7. Windsocks are a great investment if you do a lot of outdoor weddings. They also help with plosives- so the popping sounds.

Cute photo of Ange B Ceremonies testing her PA and sound.


  1. Swear! Hah just kidding, but if it helps by all means let it out
  2. Stay calm, you are probably half way to sweaty, the ceremony is about to start and there is nothing coming out of anything.
  3. Be methodical, don’t start unplugging everything and switching knobs and trying 6 things at once. 
  4. It is about working along the signal path and working on process of elimination.
  5. Start with the mains- did you turn it on? If I had a dollar for every time this was the issues I wouldn’t be on my own island!
  6. Check the volume next- that is also on my list of dumb things I forget to do when I am flustered
  7. If you think it is the mic (and you are using wireless unplug it and plug in the wired to check.)
  8. If it is the wireless you might need to re-tune your frequency or
  9. Replace the battery, (Check with your PA brand how often this needs to be done, often once a year.)
  10. If you have done this and it is still not working I try unplugging and re-plugging it in because as they say in IT ‘did you turn it off and on again?’

Read the trouble shooting in your instructions- preparation is key when knowing how your equipment works, practice with it so you get comfortable and get to the venue early to allow yourself plenty of time to set up and get your sound right.

If there is anything else I can help with don’t be afraid to get in contact via the TCS Facebook group!

Oh and remember TCS Members get access to amazing discounts on BOSE S1 Pros, Sennheiser Hands Free Microphones and other amazing Sound equipment email us for more information.

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Author Bio

Melissa Calia

Mel from ‘Melebrate Good Times’ has been a music teacher for the last 21 years working primarily as an instrumental music teacher while studying music and living the ‘Rockstar’ dream – playing in a punk band! When that got all Fleetwood Mac she went solo for a while!
Slowly, Mel got drawn into the classroom and found herself teaching a VET Certificate III in Music Industries Sound Production, along with general and instrumental music to a bunch of teenagers!
Currently she’s the Director of Music at Parade College in Melbourne and starting out in her celebrant career. In her spare time she loves seeing live music, having a good boogie, coffee and ‘Melebrating’ the good times!