What is the role of a Master of Ceremonies at a wedding?
Many couples that I speak with are just looking for a DJ for their wedding reception in the evening and very often, especially with email enquiries, the only question is “How much do you charge?”, one, because most people have never planned a wedding before, and so don’t know what questions to ask, and two, presumably they’ll then compare the quote alongside that of another few DJs they get quotes from.
Just give me a price!
I have to admit to you, that I am very reluctant to just throw a price out, at that stage because it does neither party any good! Because for one, it assumes that DJs are a commodity and that the only difference between the different DJs viewed is the price. Second, it doesn’t take into account the different service levels offered, experience, music knowledge, music collection, satisfaction levels from previous clients, whether there is a personality match etc. So, because my prices are higher than many DJs, and so if someone is just comparing me on price to another DJ, and if price is the most important factor, then I’m unlikely to be chosen.
However, when couples take the time to meet me over a coffee for a no obligation chat, for an hour, and they then find out the additional services I offer, and the little touches that I bring to the wedding that make it quite different from the norm that is offered by most DJs, the majority book my services. If those same couples had simply compared my prices to the other DJs they were looking at though, they may well not have booked me, possibly meaning that their wedding wouldn’t have been as much fun or as memorable?
I don’t need a Master of Ceremonies for my wedding!
The phrase “Master of Ceremonies” seems to frighten some couples off, and many have no idea what is the role of a Master of Ceremonies at a wedding, and I get the impression that some just see it as yet another expense to a budget that’s already bursting at the seams! It’s often only when either a couple has seen first-hand at another wedding, just how the Master of Ceremonies makes the day flow smoothly, or after a chat where I’m able to describe the difference it can make, that many couples realise that it makes sense to have somebody filling this role for their day.
The general perception seems to be that he just makes a few announcements such as welcoming the bride and groom into the room for the start of the wedding breakfast, introduces the speeches, and announces the cutting of the cake. Thus it’s no wonder that most people don’t see the need to have an MC. There are though many other tasks that the MC will carry out, many behind the scenes, and not seen by most of the guests. However, there is no clearly defined role, and the amount of work that the MC does can vary hugely. Additionally, many people see the role the same as that of a Toastmaster. and the comment that I’ve heard many couples make is that they don’t want their wedding to be so formal, and want it more relaxed and more fun!
What does an MC do, anyway?
How I carry out the role differs greatly from the way a toastmaster would do it, and I’d never claim to be offering the same service. It’s far less formal, nowhere near as stuffy (although to be fair it’s incorrect to believe that ALL Toastmasters are as stuffy as the stereotype), and it often involves the power of music. A more appropriate name for the role I carry out is a “Party Host”. It involves some tasks typically carried out by a Toastmaster, and some tasks typically carried out by a DJ. Plus some tasks that neither would usually do.
The difference it can make to the Wedding Ceremony
For example: At the actual Wedding Ceremony. I usually take care of the music for the Procession, the Signing of the Register, and for the Recession. I will carefully work out with the bride how long it will take to reach the registrar during the procession, from when she has entered the room, and if for example she would like a special part of her requested piece of music to be playing at that point she reaches the registrar, I will have worked that out, to ensure that happens. Invariably this will mean not playing the music from the very beginning, which is what the venue would do, and you would find very few venues that would offer such a service. Plus, I would ensure the music would be very slowly faded out at the desired point, rather than just hitting the stop button, which isn’t uncommon at some venues!
The Drinks Reception
As well as playing some appropriate background music at just the right volume, i.e. enough to add to the atmosphere, but not loud enough to disturb conversation, I also chat with some guests, get to know them, and help where required, such as directing them to restrooms, helping with places to leave bags, camera cases, charging phones with dead batteries, etc. It is also at this point that I would make the first announcements which would include informing people exactly when the wedding breakfast will start and giving them sufficient warning, so they have enough time to pop to the loo, go outside for a cigarette break and so on. If the bride and groom have planned a Receiving Line, this is another area I can assist with, if required.
The Wedding Breakfast
The “norm” at most venues is that either the duty manager or the Toastmaster stands by the door and announces “Ladies & Gents please be upstanding for your bride and groom”! and they make this same announcement every week, with no attempt to personalise it, use any emotion, or even use the bride and grooms names! It CAN be done very differently, and also can be one of the fun parts of the day, such as in this video or this video, from recent weddings I performed at. Some couples prefer this much shorter, some longer, and depends on what content they want included in this introduction. There’ll be many guests who don’t know the full story behind the love story of the bride and groom, and therefore this story enables all the guests to know more about the story behind why they’re at the wedding!
Additionally, many of the guests may not know the best man, ushers, bridesmaids etc. and in addition to the Grand Entrance in the videos above, quick 10 second introductions can be done for each of those important people, so that everyone in the room knows their names, and possibly one other fun fact about them, such as “This is Brian, also known as Butch, the best man, and he’s been best friends with the groom, John, since they were 4 years old.” or “Meet Carol, the maid of honour. She’s known the bride since they were at school together, where she was voted most likely to marry a millionaire!” The intro’s are quick and fun, they help with the ice breaking and let everyone in the room know why these people are special to the bride and groom. Often they’re done with music too, so they walk into the room with a favourite/appropriate/funny piece of music playing.
During the rest of the wedding breakfast, the background music is once again played at just the right volume, that adds to the atmosphere, but doesn’t force people to raise their voices to converse with each other!
For a typical British wedding, the tradition is for 3 speeches. Given first by the father of the bride, followed by the groom and then the best man, often at the end of the wedding breakfast. It’s not unusual for one of them to be a little nervous about this proposition. Before the wedding I’ll have sent some tips (and a video) on what to include, plus things to avoid, and the mistakes that many people make when giving a wedding speech. I’ll also give them some brief tips just before the speeches start and some guidance on how to use the microphone most effectively. They have a choice of a regular hand-held microphone, a lapel mic, or a headset mic if they want to be trendy! I’ll then warmly introduce each speaker and encourage a hearty round of applause.
Additionally, I’ll coordinate with the other suppliers and duty manager, ensuring that everyone is working to the same timings/schedule. That the champagne is ready for the toasts. That the knife is ready for the cake cutting (you’d be surprised how often it’s forgotten!). Organising games where required such as the Mr & Mrs game also known as the Shoe game. Helping to inject some other fun elements throughout the day such as Pearls of Wisdom cards, Bouquet toss, Garter toss, assist photographers/videographers for group shots, circulate the guest book, and draw attention to it, and presiding over the cake ceremony in a manner befitting of an item that has often cost a lot of money but is so often given scant attention.
All of this is carried out in a fun and friendly manner, and with humour where appropriate, yet also efficiently and in an organised manner, and ensures that all the guests know what is happening throughout the day, and so aren’t out having a cigarette during the first dance, or popping off to the toilet just before the speeches start.
One last thing. It is absolutely vital that the Master of Ceremonies doesn’t over-use the microphone, because if he talks too much and too frequently, the guests will often just end up ignoring him!
So now you know more about what is the role of a Master of Ceremonies at a wedding. Please get in touch to arrange a meeting to discuss your wedding.
PS… you can find my prices here!