11 tips for anyone who is about to MC a wedding

One of the jobs that is regularly packaged with my role as an acoustic wedding singer & DJ is being the Master of Ceremonies aka the MC. Many times, newlyweds planning a wedding invite a family member or friend to fill the role of the MC - I've seen it work amazingly! Then sometimes, not so well.

I've developed this list of pointers for any budding MC that is looking for some tips on how to do a solid job of the task they've been given.

Here are 11 tips for anyone who is about to MC a wedding.

The MC on the mic - photo by Shayne Mostyn Photography

The MC on the mic - photo by Shayne Mostyn Photography

This list should help you deliver a smooth event that hits all the key points and adds to an amazing wedding day for the newlyweds. Doing just that will have everyone singing your praises far beyond the event - and you can feel satisfied you did a great job and contributed greatly to an awesome night for the married couple.

 

So, here is a preview of the list:

 

1. Have a plan and know the plan - don't surprise the bride and groom or make it up as you go

2. You must be flexible and adaptable and be two steps in front of everyone else.

3. Go easy on the drinks, but hit and maintain your peak performance

4. Meet and know the vendors and staff then bring them together

5. Test the mic, practise using it and practise pronunciation

6. Open strongly but don't steal the show - it’s not about you!

7. Approach humour with caution - let sincerity trump humour and know your audience

8. Encourage and congratulate, always be the cheerleader

9. Get the guests into the entertainment

10. You must be a great communicator - you are the essential link

11. Get there early, help, and stay late.

 

 

Let’s get into the nitty gritty and elaborate on each point.

 

1. Have a plan and know the plan - don't surprise the bride and groom or make it up as you go

The biggest and most important thing in my humble opinion.

Every wedding needs an order of events or a run sheet. A disorganised wedding simply is disjointed and does not run smoothly - normally with everyone looking at each other for direction. Making it up as you go is NOT advised. Things can get missed, get awkward or run off-track very easily otherwise.

Also, surprising the bride and groom can go sideways very easily - it's risky, and do you really want to roll the dice on the night?

Usually the bride and groom (especially the bride) are aware of this and will supply you with a run sheet. In case you aren't supplied with an order of events or run sheet, here are some things to consider as MC which also can serve as a run sheet template;

 

- Intro - introduce yourself as MC to the guests

- Set the mood – create good feels for the night ahead

- Housekeeping – give advice on toilet location, signing book, bar, wishing well, smoking location etc.

- Inform – advise guests about schedules on the night like bar closing, night concluding, and special announcements.

- Entrance of the wedding party - do speak to the wedding party before introducing. Usual order is: flower girls & pageboys, brides maids partnered with groomsman, Maid or Matron of Honour & Best Man, Bride & Groom *** Ensure you know how to introduce the newlyweds. Are they Mrs and Mrs xxx or are they to be introduced another way?

- Wedding Toasts and Speeches - Know the order of speakers, know names and where the speakers should be standing. Also, help speakers by letting them know how to use the mic.

- Cutting of the cake - announce and ensure the photographer gets a clear shot, also that the DJ or entertainment is ready with the right music.

- Bridal Waltz – just like when the cutting of the cake happens, find out and advise whether people should sit or surround the outside of the dance floor. Find out also whether the bridal party or others to join midway through the song. Encourage cheering and applause.

- Activities - point out any neglected activities in the night, photo booth, signing book etc. Encourage people to visit these at appropriate times

- Bouquet Toss & Garter Toss - organise the bride or groom and guests to participate, also ensure the entertainment has some choice songs for the toss! Encourage others to clap and cheer

- Departure - Organise in conjunction with the bride and groom. Is there a farewell circle? Sparkler send off? Is the entertainment ready with songs to be played for the departure?

Other things to consider are; when is last drinks / bar closure? Are there any other games such as the shoe game to be played? Will there be any other family dances? When are meals are to be served? Is there anything else the newlyweds would like announced?

Are your newly weds to be know as Mr & Mrs - or something else? Photo by Sophia Doellstedt

Are your newly weds to be know as Mr & Mrs - or something else? Photo by Sophia Doellstedt

2. You must be flexible and adaptable and be two steps in front of everyone else.

Being 2 steps ahead of everyone else just means checking with the key people that things are good to roll with a certain part of the night ahead of time. If not, adjust and be flexible whilst giving yourself plenty of room to move. Keeping a vigilant eye on the run sheet and preparing everyone for things in good time will certainly help with a smoothly run wedding. Even set a couple of reminders for yourself ahead of time to check in with people before certain formalities kick off.

Things don't always go to plan - and some things are outside of your control. Sometimes it's the newlyweds making changes themselves, so keeping them appeased and having the night rolling on nicely and seamlessly can be a tricky task. However, the show must go on! Do be flexible and adaptable when you must, a nice stress-free wedding is good to aim for. The nice thing is that this ties into the first point - the plan!

 

3. Go easy on the drinks, but hit and maintain your peak performance

 Ok - not everyone is a natural charismatic entertainer when the attention is focused on them and they are armed with only a microphone. I understand that the social lubricant of alcohol can certainly help ease nerves - but try not to get completely sloshed. A little bit too much Dutch courage can lead to some inappropriate and awkward moments. MC's that are guests are certainly there to have a good time and enjoy the night themselves, but the job is an important one - so hit and maintain your peak performance for the night. You certainly want to be remembered as doing a great job as the MC for the newlyweds, rather than everyone noticing you are slurring your words or a bit 'happy' with the mic.

 

4. Meet and know the vendors and staff, then bring them together

Knowing the vendors and being able to identify them will certainly help when organising and dealing with certain parts of the night. You want to meet with the functions or event manager / wedding planner, the photographer / videographer, caterers, entertainment and anybody else hired for the evening. Know on your run sheet who is involved at what points, and then speak to them ahead of time to make sure things are ready to go.

Sometimes the photographer will have special requirements for lighting that will clash with the entertainment and guests. Maybe there is a licencing requirement for everyone to be off the premises at a certain time. Does the photo booth leave at a certain time, so people need to make use of this earlier on? These are just a few things that may need to be announced to the guests by yourself - so knowing the vendors and what they may need to happen is certainly helpful. Most of the time these professionals will notify you themselves if they need the guests to be told something. However, don't assume. Take charge.

 

5. Test the mic, practise using it and practise pronunciation

Personally, something I see often is that many people do not know how to use a microphone. There are many different types of microphones, and a bit of practise helps. Where can you find the mic when you need it? How close do you need to hold it when speaking? Where can you stand when using it so to avoid feedback? How do you switch it on and off? How much range does it have? Is it wired or wireless? Does it have fresh batteries? Is it even working? It's not rocket science - go and check it out and use your ears when testing. Listen to see if you can hear yourself all over the room. When the room is full, things will change a bit, so make sure the sound is full and clear - but not too loud.

Also, helping other guests to use the mic is important when you are handing the mic over for speeches. Let them know to hold it close, how to switch it on, where to stand. If, while speaking the sound wavers, try and help correct that. Many times, the mic will wander down towards the Speaker’s belly and they don't realise nobody can hear them - so just help them out a bit.

Pronunciation of names is especially important. You most likely know how to pronounce the newlywed’s names - but how about everyone in the bridal party? Or the parents of the bride and groom? Are you clear on how the newlyweds are to be addressed? Mr and Mrs XXX? Or will it be something else. This is especially important to know, because if it isn't Mr & Mrs - it can be very awkward should you say that over the mic.

Be the person connecting people - and go easy on the drinks! photo by The Art of Zowie Photography

Be the person connecting people - and go easy on the drinks! photo by The Art of Zowie Photography

 

6. Open strongly, but don't steal the show - it’s not about you!

Elaborating on this point - the MC's time to shine is especially at the beginning of the evening. It really is a chance for you to set the mood for the night. Build some rapport with the guests and have fun. Then build things up for a huge rousing reception for the wedding party and newlyweds - then get out of the way and let the night unfold with you running the show behind the scenes. You will be on the mic again at key times. However, you don't want to be on the mic and drawing attention to yourself too much throughout the night. Jump on the mic only when it’s really required. All other times, leave it alone.

There are many techniques to make an impact with an opening speech - I'd suggest looking at some of those techniques and use them in a clever way. Your aim is to get everyone’s attention, help set the mood for the night, give them the information they need in a simple and easy to digest way, then excite them and put the attention back on the newlyweds. It's not a shock and awe moment, but a nice string opener certainly does build a great foundation for the night to launch from.

 

7. Approach humour with caution - let sincerity trump humour and know your audience

Humour can be a tricky road to go down. Appropriately inappropriate is walking the line - and walking the line at a wedding is dangerous. The key here is really to know your audience. Then you know what you can get away with, and once you know that, keep a good distance from the line. It's so much better to use overly censored material than anything that may be slightly vulgar or offensive. People will know what you’re talking about, and the lengths you go to walk around certain subjects can be even funnier themselves. Light hearted humour is a good measure - getting people smiling and receptive is a good aim.

The much more stable and consistent road to walk is sincerity. A heartfelt message and tone are always in favour - because ultimately that’s why everyone is there! To celebrate the love. You have something in common with all the guests when you walk down that road. Again, know your audience and get the mixture right! You will have everyone in perfect spirits.

 

8. Encourage and congratulate, always be the cheerleader

Simply enough - when there is a moment to clap and cheer, lead the claps and cheers. Your aim is not to overpower everyone with an obnoxiously loud clap that never ends or whistle so people’s ears bleed, but if there is a moment where people are a bit slow or on the fence about clapping - be there to lead them into it. Especially when introducing the newlyweds to the reception - give everyone a nice rev up, and even encourage them to get a bit louder just to ignite the night a bit more. After speeches, encourage everyone to clap for the speaker and their efforts. It's a nice little touch that adds so much to the atmosphere of the night. Use it to really boost the parts that need it.

Get those guests up and into party mode - be sure to hit the dance floor! photo by Sophia Doellstedt

Get those guests up and into party mode - be sure to hit the dance floor! photo by Sophia Doellstedt

9. Get the guests into the entertainment

There can be multiple elements throughout the night planned to entertain guests. If there is a photo booth, keep mentioning that to people when you have your moments on the mic. If there are any lawn games or other pieces of entertainment, encourage their use. When it's time to dance, be that person who encourages people out of their seats. You may not be the greatest dancer but being on the dance floor and helping to keep it busy throughout the night is a wonderful gesture for the newlyweds and guests. encourage people up and around the dance floor for things like the first dance, bouquet toss or garter toss, group dances and send-offs or farewells.

 

The entertainment will of course do its job in this department, but any extra boosts you can help with are always very welcome. Knowing a few key socialites that are known party animals or extroverts can be a great ace to have up your sleeve here. Target these people and then deploy them at key times 😉.

 

10. You must be a great communicator - you are the essential link

Being that one point who connects everyone together requires great communication. Weddings can be a little cliquey at times. A group of work colleagues, small family groups, school friends etc will tend to gravitate towards each other and sometimes stay there. Being the person that can aid in breaking down the barriers and introducing people to each other is a shining achievement. This task really is above and beyond. Being the socialite who talks to everyone and then gets people cross connected seems like a lot of work, but simply talking to people and then mentioning someone else and introducing them can work wonders.

 

On top of this, really working and communicating with vendors, guests, the wedding party and newlyweds ties back into multiple points in this list. Often the newlyweds will be looking to have their moment with each guest at the wedding. Even facilitating that by tying up somebody who may be 'hogging' the newlyweds can be much appreciated. This isn't always an easy job - but even keeping this point in mind will have a surprising effect on the night.

Smiles all around, nice job - photo by Justin & Jim Photography

Smiles all around, nice job - photo by Justin & Jim Photography

 

11. Get there early, help, and stay late.

 

If it isn’t clear by now - being a great MC is not a small job. It does require some time and effort. And giving yourself time to work it all out and help with the little extra things will give you time to breathe. You don't have to be first on the scene, nor the last to leave but getting to the venue and doing the ground work ahead of time, then monitoring things through to the end of the evening is part of the job. Be the person who lends the extra hand needed to make things just that bit easier and smoother. That is really the key point there > make it as easy and smooth as possible.

 

If you plan on being fashionably late, stepping out at all or leaving early for whatever reason - have some contingency in place. Someone must be there to steer the ship - and you are the one tasked with that job. So, make sure there is at least someone else who can be the go to person should you not be able to be there for periods of the night.

 

WELL! That looks like quite a list doesn't it? If after reading all of that, you are shivering in your boots - then please don't. Most of it boils down to; being the leader for preparation, responsibility and trying to keep things as smooth, easy and enjoyable as possible. Keeping those key points in mind whilst doing the job and you may be surprised how many parts take care of themselves. You don't need to cover EVERYTHING on this list > trust me, even touching on a few points will put you in good stead to be a very solid MC for the night.

 

You may even be interested in prepping the guests ahead of time with - How to be an AWESOME wedding guest - do feel free to take a look.

 

Again, please do let me know what you think of this list and if   anything might have been missed?

What is your favourite key point?

Please comment below! :)