3 Reasons Why Most Venues Have Brides Sign a Noise Compliance Agreement as Part of Their Contract

This is a modified transcript from a speech given by 14 time award winning Colorado wedding DJ, Matt Martindale in fall 2016. It’s very relevant to today’s brides as more and more municipalities are enforcing strict “noise ordinances” against venues, levying fines, or simply shutting down wedding receptions due to so many un-professional DJs. Every bride needs to understand the 3 reasons why most venues have brides sign a noise compliance agreement as part of their contract.

“As the most respected wedding DJ in Estes Park, and very active as a professional MC in Fort Collins and all of Northern Colorado frequently performing at prestigious venues for weddings at Taharaa Mountain Lodge, the Fort Collins’ Country Club, Brookside Gardens and Block One, it’s important that you understand the 3 factors that go into common venue sound compliance agreements. The word “noise” is really subjective with the three ingredients that distinguish between sound and noise. A qualified, competent wedding DJ will know the difference; repeatedly walk the room to monitor the sound; know how to read the crowd and able to keep guests involved and engaged. They’ll know how to set a standard, and measure it, then work with the venue to know what to do about it…now here’s part 2.

Neighbors near by have a right not to be disturbed. A noise ordinance protects their rights as citizens. Venues have a legal responsibility to comply with local noise ordinances, and OSHA standards.

Venues also have a responsibility to make sure that bands and DJs can perform their duty at reasonable levels as well. They have to be within the law because, in the end, it’s the venue’s name on the line.

The performer, whether a band or DJ, ALSO has the obligation to know what responsible levels are; to understand how sound is propagated; and to measure their sound and play it at responsible levels so their business activities are within the law. That is just smart business for the venue, and for the performer…

Helping brides understand why venues have to abide by local noise ordinances

The first reason in understanding what sound is versus noise. 

A sound to one person, can also be a “noise” to another person. Noise is just an unpleasant, or unwanted sound in a circumstance, that causes a disturbance.

So, it can vary.

Rock music can be enjoyable to one person, and annoying to another person. It’s subject to the listener. Some people like rock music, or rap or jazz, others don’t.

Even if you love rock music, the same rock music heard from your neighbor’s yard for a BBQ at 1pm can be very different than at 1am. It’s the same song, same sound system, same house, same distance, same volume, but different circumstance, right?

What’s the difference between sound and noise? Simple.

It’s the listener. Yes, it’s completely subjective. It’s their interpretation and the circumstances in which it’s heard.

That then brings us to the second reason, an understanding what a noise ordinance is, and how it’s measured.  

A noise ordinance is nothing more than a law which limits the allowable noise in different zones at various times during a day with a measurable standard.

Sound is measured mathematically with a bunch of formulas to give us an easy to read number. Now, assuming the performer is responsible in managing their volume to a “reasonable” level as defined by the law outside, this can be easily done by managing their volume inside. According to OSHA, for 4 hours of continuous exposure is 88 decibels.

Wait, what? What do you mean?

Ok, let’s put that in perspective:

  • A normal conversation at 3’ is 55 dB
  • A barking dog, TV or alarm clock is around 75 dB
  • A lawn mower is 85 dB
  • Riding a motorcycle is 100 dB
  • A normal rock concert is 110 dB

The louder the noise, the faster hearing damage occurs over time.

So, what is considered “safe?”

Well, OSHA says 88dB for up to 4 hours; and 85dB for up to 8 hours. Write that down. If you plan on an event  longer than 4 hours, then chances are, the venue will require an OSHA standard compliance to keep it below 85decibels.

So, how do know your number?

They make a device called a decibel meter. Most venues are now getting them to help ward off noise complaints form neighbors by managing the sound level inside. It measures sounds instantly and assigns a number as a measurable standard. Most venues now will be taking a measurement every 20 to 30 minutes.

Lastly, the third reason is to have an understanding of what to do about it.  

Noise ordinances aren’t about you, the venue or party. It’s about everything that makes noise…a loud Harley Davidson motorcycle, a band practicing at home, etc. It’s about everything!

It’s really a law about responsibility.

Responsibility on both the part of the venue to adequately insulate their venue and look for noise abatement options, as well as the performer’s responsibility to educate themselves on the law in the areas they play; to train their ear and monitor their own sound and remain willing to comply to the law and adhere to OSHA indoor standards.

*Remember, 88db for up to 4 hour events; 85db for up to 8 hour events. It’s not a spike of one song because it was produced a louder.

Many Fort Collins, Loveland and Estes Park wedding venues now require the bride, and band or DJ to sign a sound compliance agreement at least 30 days in advance outlining their standards, and agreeing that all parties will adhere to OSHA guidelines and the local law. This way, all parties acknowledge these written standards stating they are legally responsible to comply. Should they choose no to, refuse or delay in doing so, the music will end and they shall forfeit the opportunity for retention of future events. It also outlines who is responsible for up to a $1,000 fine by law enforcement. Yeah, there really are $1,000 fines! Lastly, it protects their legal rights for both the venue and performer to remain in business long term and not just the focus of one loud event that could put them out of business.

Here’s the BIG WHY!

A trend beginning to sweep the country is concerning. Many noise ordinances are shifting AWAY from a decibel standard, or that easy to read number that can be measured, to a “plainly audible” standard because municipalities are tired of being in the middle of arguments. This means if any sound is heard outside the property line, it’s against the law. That also means guilty until proven innocent with zero tolerance, and zero grace. Do you want to pay the fine (or lose your deposit) by hiring an irresponsible band or DJ?

How do I know if my DJ or band will comply? What steps can I take? Simple. Don’t hire an amateur for your wedding. This is often a friend, or family member or the part timer “playing” DJ for the night; or worse yet, a group of buddies in a band having a loud jam session.

Second question I get, how do I know? Easy. If they don’t have liability insurance and proper licenses, then they aren’t professional. Take venue referrals seriously. They know who respects their rules, and follows the law so they both remain in business.

You now have groups like Noise Free America. A non-profit organization with chapters in 27 States who proactively work to reduce “noise pollution” in local communities, and push legislation at the local, State and Federal level.

Now you know the 3 reasons why most venues have brides sign a noise compliance agreement as part of their contract to abide by local noise ordinances with:

1) An understanding of what noise is

2) An understanding what a noise ordinance is, and how it’s measured.

3) An understanding of what to do about it.

*Remember, 88db for up to 4 hour events; 85db for up to 8 hour events. It’s not a spike of one song because it was produced a louder.

So, let’s…

Make a statement or tell your story.
Showcase your own style.
Brand your wedding.

CREATE memories together!