I meet upwards of a hundred couples every year. When they come to me to book entertainment for their wedding reception I often find that they are ill-prepared in planning for their wedding ceremony sound.
I tell all my prospective clients that the biggest and most often heard complaint from your guests (family & friends) is they were unable to hear or understand the ceremony proceedings and most importantly…the vows. In a time where personalized wedding vows have become fairly common it is interesting to me that many couples choose to neglect the importance of good high quality sound during their ceremony especially when their ceremony is outdoors.
Based on the area of the wedding ceremony site, surrounding noise, and guest count I often recommend the use of two ‘lapel’ microphones (pictured) fitted to the officiant & groom (the brides vows are also ‘picked up’ due to the proximity & range of the two mics). Next I suggest using two-four high quality speakers (such as JBL or Mackie) again depending on the factors above. Complete this optimal setup with a DJ/engineer using a mixer (to control microphone volume and perhaps music as well).
Furthermore, be cautious when a venue offers their own equipment as often times their quality is lacking and the staff may be in-experienced at engineering high quality sound. Always check in with your DJ for a second opinion.