What is the Role of the Wedding MC?
Have you been asked to be the Wedding MC at a friend or family members Wedding and you would like a quick start guide? Or perhaps you would like to start acting as MC at other peoples Weddings and get paid for it!
This Quick Start – Wedding Guide should point you in the right direction with some hints, tips and extra resources to get you on track. The last thing you want is to mess up someone’s special day!
Because yours is a very Special Role and it’s not an easy job, especially if you have never done it before or in fact never been to a Wedding before or even seen a Wedding MC in action.
In this overview we will give you a number of Wedding MC Guidelines that should be followed plus we will breakdown the Wedding MC Role into its component parts.
I must also point out at this moment, I prefer the term – Wedding Master of Ceremony. I think the full title adds a certain air of formality to the Ceremony and while its certainly fine to add moments of fun, it is a formal moment.
So, can we sum up the Role of the Wedding MC in one statement?
That would be difficult! Here are some words that spring to mind – Host, Communicator, Central Point & Essential Link, Ring Master, Advisor!
Let’s have a look at them in more detail. Here are some of the “Big Picture” points that you must be aware of and master in your Wedding MC Role.
The Role of the Wedding MC
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #1 – It’s not about you!
At all times before, during and after the reception, the bridal couple are the focus of the event. If you are tempted to sing an extra song or tell another hilarious story, ask yourself … is this adding to the event and furthering the purpose of the reception?
If you have to drop a speech that you have sweated over for days because the bride wants someone else to make a speech and you don’t have time now to use it, then that’s how it has to be.
If you prefer to run the event in a certain way, but they are wanting something else, guess which way you should do it.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #2 You have to be flexible and adaptable.
Things happen, emotions run high. Thinking on your feet is a big part of the role of the Wedding MC.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #3 You have to be two steps in front of everyone else.
Now, I don’t mean that literally, though at times that will help. What I mean here is that you have to always be aware of what’s happening NEXT and what’s happening after THAT. You need to be checking your run sheet and prompting people to be ready for their part. Anticipating the flow and the possible things that could interrupt it.
A few examples –
Are all the people who are making a speech around?
Is the cake ready? The Knife?
Is the photographer ready for his specific moments?
Is the DJ/Band aware of when they will be required.
Has anything changed and should anyone else be informed about that.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #4 No two Weddings are the same!
Different Cultures, different Religions and different Demographics mean that every Wedding will be different. And importantly, every Bride & Groom wants a slightly different event as well. It’s your job to be on top of exactly how they want it to run and help them make that happen.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #5 You have to be a great Communicator
Another tricky aspect of the Wedding MC’s Role is that of communicating / connecting with people of different ages and backgrounds. A typical Wedding, if there is such a thing, is going to have a big range of ages and personalities present. From aged relations, close family, work colleagues, young teens, children and babes in arms.
Then you may have different cultures, religions, socio-economic groups all thrown together as well.
You have to be able to connect with them all.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #6 You are the Essential Link
There is so much going on at a Wedding Reception your Role is sometimes that of a central link point. The other Service Providers like – Photographer, DJ, Entertainers, Caterer, Function Staff etc need one contact point. YOU. Likewise, members of the Bridal Party, the Best Man, Parents etc need that one stable reassuring point.
You also act as a Buffer. After the months of preparation the Bridal Couple have put into the planning, they don’t want or really need to be pestered every 15 minutes or so, to answer questions or to say, “yes, lets do that now.” That’s your Role.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #7 Pronunciations – Work towards being a Master of Pronunciation
This is such an important thing for an MC to skilled at. We have actually written a full article on getting names right, that you can find here.
It’s just as important at a Wedding as it is at a Corporate Event.
You also need to find out exactly how each person likes to hear their name. Just because the Groom might be signing the Register as James Smith and that’s what it says on the Wedding Invitation, he might always be known as Jim and if you start referring to him as James, it will be seen as a sign that you really didn’t do your homework.
The formality level of the event also needs to be assessed in terms of how you introduce or mention people. Should Auntie Ethel be referred to as Auntie Ethel because that is what everyone calls her or should you use Mrs Harrison.
The Role of the Wedding MC – Guideline #8 Coach
In many ways the Role of the Wedding MC is also that of a Coach.
In the planning and preparation your advice is important and it will be listened to. You might find yourself helping the Best Man or Father of the Bride write his speech.
On the day you will need to calm the nerves of the couple and often rev up the guests. You may need to coax some people to the microphone and others away from it!
The Wedding Reception Road Map
Now we have covered the important Considerations in taking on the Role of a Wedding MC, lets map out exactly what the important Moments are at the event.
Obviously, most Weddings are going to have variations to this Road Map, but it does give you a good place to start especialy if you are new to the role. Likewise it gives you a guide to the questions you need to ask at the briefing session.
Your Introduction as Wedding Master of Ceremony to the Group
This is a vital moment at the start of the event. You need to – introduce yourself, establish control, set the mood, explain any “housekeeping” and prepare the guests for the arrival of the Bridal Party.
Your Introduction. I suggest that you try to meet as many people as you can before you stride onstage. Be around and be visible. This way when you stride out onto the dance floor or stage you already have a proportion of the crowd who know you already.
Establish Control. There are various little tricks and techniques to get a talkative audience to be quiet and pay attention that we have written about extensively on this site. The most important of these is to be confident, to know the equipment is working and to know what you are going to say!
Set the Mood. Taking into consideration what you have discussed with the couple before the event, this is a moment to “frame” the event and either settle them down or more likely build up some excitement and buzz for the arrival of the Bridal Party.
Housekeeping. It’s also the moment to get any Housekeeping out of the way. By this we mean – Location of Toilets, Smoking Zones, where the Bar is, Parking etc. You can also let them know that if they have any questions to come to you.
Inform. A key factor is to also let the guests know what is happening next. (This applies right through the event.) What usually happens next is the entrance of the Bridal Party. Prepare the audience for this, build some excitement and also check the logistics. If you are in a smaller or crowded space people may need move their seats, clearing a path. It’s good to mention this first rather than when the group enters the room. (Remember the key concept – anticipate the sticking points and do something about them early.) This is also helpful information for the guests who want to get in a good position to take photos of this key moment.
Entrance of Bridal Party
This parts a bit like herding cats, but its important to get the Bridal Party into order before they come into the room. If there is the space, line them up in the order you will introduce them. Then, double check by reading out the list order out loud, which is a nice check that you have the pronunciations correct.
The common Order for the Entrance of Bridal Party is
Flowergirls & Pageboys,
Bridesmaids & Groomsmen,
Best Man & Maid of Honour,
Bride & Groom.
However … quite often Parents of the Bride & Groom are included, usually as the first to come in.
Also, remember every one wants their Reception to be different, so it’s quite common that this moment is one where the couple want to insert their creativity. Mixing the order up, dance sequences, special music etc. A quick Google search will make you aware of the types of things that can happen at this point.
Establish attention again and Introduce the party.
After the formal entrance, the meal is usually served.
Wedding Toasts and Wedding Speeches …
Once again this can be open to variations. Some casual events will keep this aspect short and tight while others will want a lengthy more formal approach.
The key here is that it is a chance to acknowledge the many people who have contributed to the event or who have made a big effort to attend, to wish the couple well and to enliven the celebration.
The quick version is –
Father of the Bride (toasts the couple)
Groom (responds on behalf of couple)
Best Man (Speech , reads messages)
A more formal approach with more details …
Master of Ceremony gets attention.
Toast to the Bride & Groom (Father of the Bride?)
Response from Groom and a toast to the Bridesmaids.
Best Man Speech
Toast to Parents of Bride
Response by Father of the Bride
Toast to Parents of the Groom
Response by Father of the Groom
Reading of messages ( MC or Best Man)
MC close up, thanks to other suppliers, what’s happening next
Of course there are infinite variations. The Bridal Couple will have a good idea of how they want this segment to run, your role as the Wedding MC is to make it run smoothly.
For instance, the Mothers can be invited to speak, the Bride now often speaks just after the Groom or together with the Groom and even other family friends can be included in the list.
Depending on the event, the catering and the entertainment, the Speeches may also be broken up into segments. Some before the main course and some after.
Some important advice for first time MC’s here, do not just open it up for anyone to come up and “say a few words!” Firstly, it would never be “just a few words” and secondly by now the guests have had a few drinks and what may seem funny to them is probably not going to be appropriate in the situation.
The last thing the MC does in this segment is to once again inform the Guests what is coming up next, which is usually the Cutting of the Cake.
(This Linking and Informing is a vital part of the Role of the Wedding MC.)
Cutting of the Wedding Cake
You’ll need to be aware of how both the Bridal Couple and the Photographer want to run this segment. A good Photographer will have worked out his perfect shot, so have a chat to them about positioning. Likewise the venue staff, to see where the Wedding Cake is to be positioned if it is moved into a prominent place. Be there to help the photograper position the couple exactly for this memorable moment. Some photographers like no one else around flashing with their cameras as they get the master shots, so be ready to help there too.
In a formal agenda you would now invite the married couple to take the floor for their first dance together. In your briefing session you would have discussed this moment with the couple and know how they are going to handle it. Also their choice of music. If you don’t know the piece check with the DJ. This is important, because it enables you to transition into the dancing smoothly. Once again your role is Linking.
A nice touch once the Couple are dancing, is to invite the Parents of the Bride and Groom to join in after about a minute. And then after another minute the rest of the Bridal Party. That’s why it’s good to hear or know the song beforehand. This doesn’t need to happen over the microphone.
A good DJ will have the perfect Second Song lined up ready to go. As the first one finishes prompt a round of applause, invite the rest of the crowd to the dance floor and hand over to the DJ.
Wedding Reception Activities
For some Wedding MC’s this is the end of their required duties, but most Wedding MC’s will stay at the event until the Bride & Groom leave.
There are a few things that may be required of you before your night is through.
Entertainment, Bouquet Toss, Garter Toss & Departure
Some Weddings will have a Floor Show scheduled at some time, perhaps between two sets of dancing or sometimes earlier in the night. This could be a comedian, a magician, singer or other act. You’ll need to know their requirements and how they would like to be introduced. Tip – Always find out how they finish so you can quickly come in with a Thank You & Applause at the end.
The Bouquet Toss & Garter Toss
Two traditional activities at Wedding Receptions are the Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss. They come in and out of favour but you should be ready to drive the activity along if required. Sometimes the DJ will take on this role.
In the Bouquet Toss the single ladies are invited to the dance floor and the Bride tosses her Bouquet into the group. Tradition decrees that the person who catches it will be the next to get married.
In the Garter Toss it’s time for the single men. The Bride sits on a chair while the groom removes her Garter and then flings that into the crowd. Organise a chair for the Bride to sit on and angle it so the crowd doesn’t get to see parts of the Bride they shouldn’t.
In both cases it can take some time to get the required group up onto the dance floor. Sometimes it’s easier to ask the audience to point to or nominate the people who should be up with the group. Make sure you have checked the photographer is ready for this sequence of events.
Departure of Bridal Couple
There are many variants of how this can go, depending on the couples vision for the event.
In small affairs it might just be a casual moment with no announcements required.
A traditional way is to form a Farewell Circle around the dance floor. The bride and groom travel around the circle, either together or separately and then depart. (This can take quite some time so for larger groups it can get unwieldy.
Quicker concepts are the Guard of Honour or Farewell Tunnel. The guests hold hands or form an arch and the couple depart through the group.
As with the Bridal Party Entrance, most couples will have a strong idea how they want this closing of the night to run. Once again, your Role is to understand what they want and to make sure it happens!
So there we are, a Road Map through the Important Events at a Wedding Reception PLUS some important reminders of the aspects you must focus on to do your job well!
Watch out for a follow up article coming soon with more Insider Hints and Tips.
If you want specific next reading steps click here – Wedding MC Resources