No matter where the performance is taking place, it is ALWAYS a great idea to have amplification. Amplification ensures that the music will be heard, and perhaps even more importantly- if there is a speaking portion, you want to make sure your guests hear your message! It is always possible to run amplification at a minimal setting, with just enough volume to overcome the difficulties of the space (and nearly every space has a difficulty). The only spaces I’ve ever been in with phenomenal acoustics are a select few catholic churches. If there is no amplification, expect the musician(s) to struggle a bit more, play with greater intensity, and ultimately require more frequent breaks, especially vocalists. An adequate amplifier can go a long way in increasing the quality of the performance.
Microphones are always a great idea if you plan on needing to make an announcement, speech, toast, etc. I can provide a wireless handheld or a lapel mic. Photographers hate mics on stands, so for wedding ceremonies, a lapel mic is usually a better option. The optimal placement is to have one lapel mic clipped onto the top edge of the the JP’s reading material. It will pick up each person equally, and it is much easier to control wind noise, feedback, and volume level for one mic than balancing all of those factors between 2-3 mics. A separate mic is usually better for readings.
Bigger speakers are not always better. Sometimes it’s about appearance. Appropriate volume without blowing the speakers is the goal. With today’s technology, many musicians and DJs opt for a more manageable rig that can still provide great sound support. An appropriate volume for most events means the music is loud enough that everyone can hear it, but your guests are still able to carry on a conversation comfortably. Some indoor spaces can be tricky to find a balance in…the louder the music gets, the louder the conversations get…and the volume of one continually tops the other until the guests finally decide on “their” volume. If you hire a club DJ/band, be prepared to be blown out of the water right off the bat. They are used to being LOUD!
Mics and amps are great tools, and have a place in every setting, when used appropriately. You are always better off having more volume than you need at your disposal, than needing more volume and not having it!