Wedding Etiquette: Master of Ceremonies

Written by chris newton
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Wedding Etiquette: Master of Ceremonies
The wedding Master of Ceremonies is responsible for managing the reception. (wedding reception image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Wedding Masters of Ceremonies, or MCs, are responsible for managing the events that take place after a wedding ceremony. As the wedding MC, you really do not have much to do until after the ceremony takes place, unless the bride and groom request specific tasks from you during the rehearsal dinner or wedding ceremony. The wedding MC acts like a host at the wedding reception.

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Equipment Check

On the morning of the wedding, be sure to set aside time to visit the reception venue to make sure all equipment, such as a PA system, microphone, speakers and projectors, are working properly. Coordinate a time for this task with the wedding coordinator or caterers. Sometimes, the venue may not be available due to other weddings or events. In that case, the first thing you should do following the ceremony is head over the reception area and make sure all equipment is working properly. Test the microphone to make sure the levels are not too high or too low. It is helpful to bring someone else along to help you, especially if you have to set the equipment up yourself.

Announcements and Introductions

One of your first tasks that the public should see is announcing when the reception is about to begin. If the couple is hosting a cocktail hour before the reception, then you should clink your glass near the end and give people a 10 minute warning that the cocktail hour is about to end. Instruct them politely (and humorously if the mood is appropriate) to head into the reception area, and let them know where the name card table is if seats have been assigned.

Once everyone is in the reception (except for the bridal party), it is your job to introduce yourself as the MC so people expect you to run the show the rest of the night. Then, you will introduce the bridal party one by one. Be sure you have all name pronunciation worked out in advance; you do not want to mess someone's name up publicly. Once the bridal party is introduced, you will introduce the newlyweds.

If food is being served at the reception, you will also be in charge of telling people when it is being served, or if it is a buffet, you will instruct people to wait until their table is called. Usually, the caterers take care of releasing tables to the buffet, so do not worry about that unless you have been asked to do that particular task.

Finally, it is your job to introduce everyone who is giving a toast. Typically, the toasts take place at the end of the meal, before dessert is served. Introduce each speaker and their relationship to the couple, as well as wedding party title, like "Best Man."

Post-Dinner Activities

After dinner is served, you should announce the activities that typically take place, such as the cutting of the cake, the couple's first dance and the tossing of the bridal bouquet. At this point in the reception, it is OK to lighten up a little bit, especially if the first part of the reception was on the formal side of things. Also, be sure to announce when the dance floor is open for all guests to dance.

End of the Party

As the party is winding down, announce to the guests that the end of the night is near. If there is an after-party that all guests are invited to, you can give details for that event. Otherwise, thank people for coming, and give people a 10 or 15 minute warning that the couple is getting ready to leave. This gives everyone a chance to say goodbye and wish the couple a happy life together. If there is a set end time to the party, make this announcement 15 minutes before the end. If there is not a set end time, feel it out, and ask the couple about when they plan to leave so you can make the announcement accordingly.

Stick to the Script

A few weeks before the wedding (not a few days, as that time is stressful enough for the couple), sit down with the bride and groom to go over any details that are important to them. This is their wedding and party, and it is your job to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. If they have special requests, such as a dedication to family members that have passed on, or specific ways to announce the food being served, listen carefully and stick closely to the instructions they give you.

Tips

Have fun. The bride and groom picked you to be the MC likely because you have an outgoing personality and are good at speaking to people. Enjoy your role as the MC, but do not bask in the spotlight too much; you do not want to steal the attention from the bride and groom. Do not talk like you are giving a business presentation or military address. Keep your tone casual and humorous, and go with the flow of the reception. If someone made a joke at the beginning, you can reference the joke once or twice throughout the night to get a collective laugh.

Finally, it is OK to have a few drinks, but do not overdo it. You do not want to slur your words or come off as though you have had a few too many. It looks bad for you, the wedding couple, the parents and the wedding itself. Remember that you will likely be on video and watched by the couple for years to come; if you ruin the mood by getting drunk, your relationship with the couple may be damaged forever.

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