You’re the funny, loud, guy or gal that the bride and groom asked to MC their wedding reception? I was that guy a long time ago and now I’m that guy professionally. So hopefully I can offer some helpful tips!
Don’t stress about it too much, it’s just a really awesome party. But you do have a responsibility: you’re steering this party boat down the river and back to the wharf. You are the master of ceremonies cheerleader captain!
1. Know the plan
There might be speeches, cake cutting, and other traditional things that are important to the couple, so ask, write them down, make a plan. Plan out, when, where, how, everything will happen of course in communication with the couple. Have a quick chat to the wedding planner or coordinator and make sure you’ve got their priorities as well. There will be important announcements about smoking, social media, and possibly other things so know what they are. Know about a first dance and all of those traditional wedding reception elements that the bride and groom value.
A little bit of research on who’s attending and who’s important is good to have so you look like you know your stuff. A well planned and researched MC is a professional and enjoyable MC.
2. Set the mood
Chat to the DJ or the band and make sure you guys can work in well together. You don’t want any dead air (silence). They could even be preparing a microphone for you, or you might need to organise a portable PA system. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about lifting or dropping the mood, it’s their job, and a professional DJ or MC
Another big thing with the mood is humour. So many MCs feel the need to be funny all night. If you’re not a stand-up comedian, don’t try. Instead, let your sincerity trump your humour and just take everyone through a fun night. a few puns and quips will suffice.
3. Encourage and congratulate
The purpose of the reception is to encourage and congratulate the couple on making an awesome commitment today. So in your own way, congratulate and encourage them. That’s why we make a big deal about introducing them, rile the crowd up and get the applauding.
4. Get the guests into the entertainment
If there’s a band, encourage the guests to dance. If there’s a photobooth, encourage them to get in front of it. If there’s a guestbook, lolly bar, games area, whatever it is, it’s your job to remind and encourage everyone to get into it.
5. Steer the ship, make announcements
Let everyone know what’s coming up soon, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. The best tip I was ever given when I started radio is the same tip I think of in wedding receptions: assume everyone there is the stupidest person on the planet, but treat them with the utmost respect.
Let them know when meals are happening and how they can get food. Make sure the bar tab is communicated, and where the toilets are.
Always be chatting to the venue staff, making sure you’re in sync with them and not throwing them under the bus in regard to meal times etc.
6. Have some fun!
Did somebody say dance-off? If not, dance-off. Seriously though, look for ways to get everyone having fun, including grandma through to the kids. Maybe there’s some reception games you can play or jokes you can tell. Google will deliver!
7. Get off the microphone
As much as you’ve got lots to do all night, make sure you put the mic down as much as possible. They’re not there to listen to you speak, so say what needs to be said and throw back to the music.
Speeches have a really awesome purpose in a wedding reception. It’s real chat for a moment about how awesome the couple are. So encourage family members to honour and love on the couple. Sometimes family members don’t want to, so don’t force them, but don’t make them regret not encouraging the couple on that night. It’s a sensitive area so approach it early with people and make sure the couple are happy with it as well. Don’t be afraid to have your own say as well. Just keep the whole thing encouraging and feel-good.
Introduce everyone clearly and concisely so there’s no confusion about who is who and doing what. It’s nice to listen through the speech as well and get one take away line that you can comment on afterward.
Some people like to make sure speeches are short. I prefer to not be a douchebag about it and just encourage everyone to make their speeches punchy and meaningful.
Also, we don’t need to thank EVERY ONE. The problem with running down a thank you list is 1) no-one cares, 2) people get missed and offended, 3) do it in a more personal and meaningful way than rambling through a list.
9. Ending the party
Have a plan to bring the event to a close. Your options include: ushering the couple off early and making a group goodbye possible, this is crazily quicker than every other option. You can let the couple stay til the end and say goodbye to everyone individually. Or the party might not be ending and everyone can move on to another venue. Just know what’s happening so you can steer that ship.
10. Always be the cheerleader
If the wedding was a football match, you’re the cheerleader, so keep the cheer high all night.
The feature image for this blog post is by Just For Love Photography.