Everything to Know About Noise Ordinances for Your Wedding Celebration

Including how not to get your wedding party shut down.

Wedding reception with disco balls while guests dance.

Photo by Anna Hinojosa

While you’ll probably wish the good times will never end, every wedding eventually must come to a close. The exact time you’ll call it a night varies from venue to venue. It will be also determined by a variety of factors, and the primary among them is local noise ordinances.

What Is a Noise Ordinance?

A noise ordinance is a law or regulation—most often determined by a county or township but occasionally determined by an HOA or private organization—detailing the time(s) of day or night when the noise levels of a gathering must be below a certain decibel or otherwise adhere to guidelines that make it non-intrusive for nearby dwellings. 

“It’s all about respecting [nearby] residents and keeping things to a reasonable level of noise,” says event planner Sofia Crokos. Ahead, Crokos offers insight into how to determine what noise ordinances will impact your wedding day, as well as tips on how to minimize complaints that could see your event shut down early. 

Meet the Expert

Sofia Crokos is the founder of Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle, a luxury event planning and hospitality company based in New York. In her 25 years in the event industry, Crokos has produced events for notables including Sally Singer and Kate Hudson.

What Kinds of Venues are Impacted By Noise Ordinances? 

“Venues that don’t have private residences around them will be much more flexible,” says Crokos. Meaning, if you’re planning to marry at home in a residential neighborhood, or perhaps on a restaurant patio on a busy city block, your event will likely be impacted by noise ordinances. But if the spot is more remote, such as a private beach where you’ve bought out the resort, or is indoors in a sound-secure space (hello, ballrooms!), the party can usually last longer. “We can go until 1 to 2 a.m. at the Plaza because it’s a ballroom and hotel guests are not really affected,” Crokos offers as an example.

How Do I Comply With Noise Ordinances? 

The first step in complying with local noise ordinances is to figure out what the noise ordinances are. If you’re marrying at a venue that regularly hosts weddings, that won’t be an issue—your venue coordinator will have all the details on what time the loudest part of your night needs to be wrapped up. That’s most often 11 p.m. or midnight, but times do vary across the country, with some venues requesting quiet hours starting at 9 or 10 p.m. 

If you’re marrying at a private residence or unconventional venue, you’ll need to do a bit more research. Working with a local wedding planner? They should know the local bylaws. If you aren’t working with a planner, Crokos suggests asking your other vendors. In certain private communities and developments, you may also need to consult HOA guidelines, as the neighborhood may have additional or earlier restrictions than what is dictated by the county. The same goes for national parks and state parks.

Noise ordinances also impact when wedding fireworks can be set off, so don’t save your display for the very end of the night. 

While many weddings will see their last song of the night played just before noise restrictions set in, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. “This does not mean that your party is done and we have to turn on the lights and everyone needs to leave,” says Crokos. “The decibels just need to drop to a lower level.” It also doesn’t mean that your vendors need to be cleared out and packed up by the time the ordinance kicks in, so feel free to party right up until the last minute. 

Tips for Navigating Noise Ordinances 

Be Strategic With Dates 

Certain holiday weekends, especially around the end of the year, might see lots of families hunkering down at home and in want of a low-key time, while others might see certain areas become especially crowded, which means more neighbors around to potentially disturb. If you’re worried about violating noise ordinances, pick an off-season or non-holiday weekend for your wedding date.

Send Care Packages

Per Crokos, the best way to prevent noise complaints is to give neighbors advance notice of the event. Explain the situation: ”In case you do hear a bit of loud music, it’s my daughter’s wedding, and we hope you can be patient with us,” she offers as an example—and deliver the message with a few gifts to soften the blow. “We’ve done beautiful packages that consist of liquor, chocolates, and home goods,” Crokos adds.

Adjust Your Timeline 

“Start the ceremony an hour earlier so you can have a little cushion,” suggests Crokos. “That way you can go crazy at ten, and you have until 11 before the cops get called."

Include the Cut-Off in Vendor Schedules 

A line item in each vendor’s order of events letting them know when quiet(er) hours kick in will keep everyone cognizant of noise levels as the night draws to a close. This will be especially helpful with the band or DJ, so they know when to play that uptempo last dance song.

Bring in Professionals

“We try to have off-duty officers manning a post up front, so if a [police] car comes by with a complaint from down the road about the music, they can buffer it a bit,” says Crokos.

Transition to the After-Party 

The party can keep going if you change locations! When your noise ordinance kicks in, direct guests to a nearby bar or a specific after-party location. Numbers will dwindle, which will make it easier to move things inside.

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