The Duties of a Wedding Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies
Q) What does a Toastmaster actually do at a wedding?
RB: Imagine the wedding day as a theatrical production in five-acts: ceremony, reception, banquet, speeches and Ball.
The Bride and Bridegroom play leading roles supported by well-known characters in a plot with which the audience is familiar. But on this day, with these people, it will unfold as a unique live event without the benefit of rehearsal.
To most families, it is a big budget show and therefore requires stage-management, direction and compering. The Toastmaster is the eyes, ears and voice of the Bride and Bridegroom, making sure that all their careful planning pays off and would have consulted with them long before the big day, agreeing a timetable whilst offering advice on protocol, etiquette and even speech-writing.
Toastmaster duties would include ensuring the venue is ready, greeting the bridal party and guests, arranging the receiving line, organising group photography, directing guests, announcing the wedding breakfast and introducing the speakers, orchestrating the set piece moments such as cake cutting, first dance and bouquet toss. The Toastmaster would ensure lighting and sound levels are appropriately set and liaise with banqueting staff and musicians on timing.
For the couple and their families, it will be a stress-free day of celebration, thanks to an experienced Toastmaster who will cost less than the cake!
Q) What one piece of advice would a Toastmaster give above all?
RB: To ensure that everyone engaged by the bride and groom are working to the same schedule having agreed all the timings in advance with each supplier. Often I arrive at the venue to discover the photographer hasn?t been allocated enough time, or that banqueting need longer to serve the meal than you think or the band hasn?t set up when they should have and so on.
Q) I'm having a wedding for 70 people and have heard toastmasters are best for larger parties, is this true?
RB: It is true that larger parties require more management but a smaller number suggests that the budget is tight or that only the closest family and friends will be invited. All the more reason therefore to give them a quality experience, only more intimate. The same principles apply: attention to detail, keeping guests informed, running the event smoothly and to time, co-ordinating with banqueting, introducing the speakers and so on.
Q) If we book a toastmaster, who decides what is said and when?
RB: Many weeks before the big day, we would sit down together and agree the sequence of events and speakers. I would advise the bride and groom of traditional conventions but it is their party and I undertake whatever duties and announcements they wish, never the other way round.
Q) My toastmaster wants to arrive over an hour before the wedding starts, is this necessary?
RB: Yes, most certainly it is. The Toastmaster needs to check the venue is ready for what is about to follow. Is the red carpet laid, cloakrooms manned, toilets clean, ramps in place for wheelchairs, table plan on display, champagne chilled, canap?s ready, banqueting staff agreed on timings, sound system, lights and aircon at the right levels, cake (and knife!) in place? If the ceremony is to take place at the venue, also checking the ceremony room laid out with enough chairs, and knowing where the registrar will interview both Bridegroom and Bride. Are the flower arrangements as planned, and on the tables, are there favours, cameras and place cards? High chairs in place for the youngest ones? Are the bouquets for the Mums and gifts for bridesmaids, ushers and best man ready to hand and hidden by the top table? All this takes time and you would not want it to be otherwise. While you are saying ?I do? you can relax knowing that the months spent? planning your special day are coming to fruition, perfectly executed by those you charged with the responsibility and monitored by your Toastmaster.
Q) My fianc? has said that his best man will make all the introductions so we don't need a toastmaster ? do you think this is a good idea, or is a professional necessary?
RB: The Best Man?s key duty is to take care of the Bridegroom and lead the Ushers, a job in its own right. He can of course take on additional responsibility but he cannot be in two places at once, for example at the venue inspection prior to the reception and at the church supporting the Bridegroom. You cannot assume he has all the experience and skill of a Toastmaster and neither would he be able to relax as a guest, nor for that matter would you. It is best to engage a professional and put yourself in their safe hands.