Of course I want the guests / event attendees to think ‘what a great toastmaster / MC’ – that’s only natural. Every one of us in the ‘event’ business has an ego; we want our clients to like us and to like what we do. We want them to recommend us to others. That’s true whether we are toastmaster, MC, wedding celebrant, magician or some other supplier / contributor.
But the day isn’t about us; we are not the main focus. We shouldn’t think of the event being our ‘party’, neither should we regard ourselves as ‘guests’ or ‘participants’.
The main outcome (in my opinion) should be that attendees leave with the thought ‘that was a terrific day’ in their heads. It’s also good if they think ‘the MC did a very good job’ (in fact it’s essential) but it is secondary to the main purpose. Focusing on getting the client and guests to have an exceptionally good day will mean that I have to perform my duties exceptionally well. Deep down, there’s a party animal lurking within me but when I’m performing my job at your event this animal is kept under firm control. I will be personable, amusing, professional and sober but I will let you and your guests get on with your conversations and only intervene where and when it is part of my role to do so.
One characteristic of exceptional event contributors is that they know exactly what the client expects and can show their value in making those things happen.
Weddings are damned expensive things and here are some of the main comments I hear about cutting costs.
- “Everybody takes photos these days; digital cameras lurk in mobile phones, tablets and wristwatches. If I make everyone a photographer, I’ll get all the pictures I need”.
- “We’ve all got cars, for goodness sake. Just clean them up and we don’t need a posh chauffeur-driven limo”
- “Besides, Uncle Jack can wear a cap and be your chauffeur”
- “We do our hair and make-up every day so we can cope today just like every other day”
- “The hotel manager can do the announcements for us, so we needn’t spend money on a toastmaster”
- “Cash bar from the start, that’ll save a bob or two”
- “Nobody wants a formal sit-down meal, do they?”
- “Aunty Mabel will make the cake”
- “Nobody notices the seat covers for goodness sake!”
- “Cousin Tom can do a few magic tricks. He’s not brilliant, but he’s keen to learn and this’ll be a good experience for him.
You want your wedding day to be the dream day you hope for and you want to be able to remember it with joy and happiness.
Of course you want to control costs but I can respond to every one of these ten comments. Anybody want to ‘argue’?
Having performed over two hundred weddings, a few things strike me as good factors for success. Here are my top ten tips. Please comment and add your ideas.
- Get the ‘choreography’ right. By that I mean the flow of your event. Things should happen in a logical sequence so that you, and your guests, always know what is going on.
- Consider the momentum and energy of your reception. Don’t let any one thing drag on too long; you don’t want your guests to get bored, tired, impatient or drunk!
- The unspoken ‘rule’ of photographs. In my experience (of over 100 weddings), formal photos take longer than you planned for. Work out what formal pics you really want and give your photographer a list. Give a copy to me (if I’m your toastmaster) and give a copy to someone who knows your guests. I can shout for Aunt Mabel but it helps if someone knows what she looks like. You’ll need a process to collect people as and when they are needed.
- The Receiving Line dilemma. Receiving lines started in the days when the bridal party didn’t mix with the guests before the wedding breakfast as much as they do today. They take time, so think carefully if you want people waiting in line. If each couple / family group takes a minute to pass through and chat to the bridal party – well, you do the maths. If you have one, get a good person (your toastmaster) to manage it and to keep people moving.
- Have food before speeches. That’s my advice. You can have your wedding speeches whenever you like, of course, but folks will be hungry, so I recommend you at least let them have the first course; your guests will enjoy the speeches better if they’ve had something to eat beforehand. The obvious place to have speeches is after the main course has been cleared away.
- ‘The speeches will be brief’. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that I’d be a rich man. Speeches are always longer than you planned them to be – at least in my experience. Keep them succinct. There’s nothing wrong with lengthy speeches as long as they are appropriate.
- Think ‘toasts’ and not ‘speeches’. Every speech has a purpose. Replace the word ‘speech’ in your mind with the word ‘toast’. You are not making a speech in the conventional sense, you are proposing a toast – and saying a few relevant words beforehand. Here’s a link that’ll give you some detailed advice: http://tinyurl.com/px2ozlz
- Think of cake cutting as a ceremony. I recommend you have your cake cutting ceremony as part of your wedding breakfast – possibly at the end of it. Cutting a cake isn’t just to get food; it’s a memorable event (at least the way I do it). Your guests will want to see it so have it as part of your meal. Once people have dispersed, it can take time to reassemble them – and you won’t get them all.
- Some guests will leave at the end of your wedding breakfast. They might have a long journey, they could be tired or they could be a bit older than you! Not everyone will stay for your evening revels. Plan your wedding breakfast to include everything you want them to see (choreography and momentum again!)
- The First Dance. This usually signifies the start of your party and is the sign that everyone can now start dancing. Some couples have a second dance with Mums and Dads.
If you want some practical help with wedding planning or speech writing, please visit www.weddingplanhelp.co.uk
Please share your ideas and get in touch if you have any question.