MC (Master of Ceremonies) guide


The FREE guide on ‘How to be a great Master of Ceremonies (MC)’

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Qualified graduate of the Marbecca Method Master of Ceremonies (MC) Workshop, held in Las Vegas in Feb 2008.This guide has been published in ‘Engaged Magazine’, M2 Magazine and TV3’s website.

Back in 2000, Richard said;

“I was recently booked as the DJ for a lovely couple and at very short notice was handed the role of Master of Ceremonies as they were concerned that the Uncle that they were originally considering might not have everything sufficiently organised.

I welcomed guests to the venue and gave them the ‘housekeeping rules’ such as where to smoke, when to turn off cell phones, the emergency evacuation instructions and importantly, what time the bar closed.

The Wedding MC (Master of Ceremonies)I not only introduced the speakers, but coordinated and liaised with the videographer, caterer, waiting staff and serving staff. I introduced the person offering grace/blessing and then directed the guests to the buffet table by table. I made sure that the guests and other wedding professionals knew what was coming up next and helped everyone relax and enjoy the celebration.

The Bride came up to me later that night and commented that she had no idea how much she might have had to worry about and delegate on the night had I not known what to do and when to do it. She felt that she had been able to relax knowing that things were well under control.

This made me realise something I had taken for granted because I’ve attended so many wedding receptions: that your MC should know your timeline and what needs to be done when. I should point out that some of the things I’m about to mention may be taken care of by your venue, but if the venue is a dry-hire where you supply everything, consider the following items, which are a few examples of important things for your MC to do.”

Here’s the quick guide to being the Master of Ceremonies at a wedding:

There’s no need to panic over the MC role. My intention with this web page is to help you plan in advance to avoid any panic or issues on the day. The MC is the glue that holds the celebration together. It’s a pivotal role and one that carries responsibility, but with a little preparation, you’ll be able to shine and help the occasion (and the hosts of the celebration) look spectacular.

  • Prepare! Put together a detailed runsheet in advance. Make copies and get a copy to anyone who may have use of it, such as the caterer, the photographer, the videographer.
  • Put your notes and runsheet in bullet points and keep them brief. Put the runsheet in double line space format so you’ve got room to add things as the night alters and evolves.
  • Research and become familiar with wedding protocol and social etiquette. Some weddings will be very formal, some incredibly informal. Know in advance what style is suitable and aim slightly higher than the expected standard of professionalism and formality.
  • Do your best to memorise the names of the important people in advance, so you don’t have to read off your notes all night. Some of the best MCs make it look so easy and unrehearsed, but in reality they rehearsed every detail.
  • Try to avoid the ‘search engine standard speech’ trap. When using search engines to get ideas, try to avoid using the jokes, quotes and speeches that pop up most frequently. If you found them easily, so did hundreds of others, so keep your announcements fresh and original.
  • EXPECT that some things will change on the night. Be prepared for this.
  • Appear calm and unflustered, even if you’re having a mild panic! Butterflies in your tummy are fine- just get them flying in formation.
  • Introduce yourself, welcome them to the venue and thank the guests for their attention.
  • Announce and introduce the wedding party and newly-weds into the room with style, flair and enthusiasm, but in a manner suiting your personalities. This sets the tone for the reception to follow.
  • Acknowledge and introduce the members of the head table and identify where they fit into the Bride & Groom’s lives. Do the same with the parents.
  • Get the dinner plates cleared away well before the speeches start so the waiting staff and noise aren’t a distraction. Also ensure that they aren’t chatting or working during the speeches where they can be seen or heard.
  • Make sure the toast glasses are primed and ready before the speeches start also and that the entire Bridal Party is seated.
  • Before announcing speeches, ensure that all of the important people are in the room!
  • Remind people to turn their cellphones to silent or off. Guests with babysitters won’t want them off altogether probably.
  • Before making any announcements, get the crowd’s attention FIRST and also let the videographer know that you’re ready to start the next formality.
  • Smile. All night, not just when you’re speaking.
  • Know in advance who the speakers are, what they look like, what their relationship is to the couple and where they are sitting.
  • Mock the Groom (without causing embarrassment to his family or other VIPs) by all means, but the Bride is SACRED!
  • Never use humour that could offend your grandparents!
  • Don’t try and tell too many jokes. Sincerity is more important than humour for the MC.
  • Keep it brief- it’s not the MCs role to deliver a speech.
  • When speaking, ensure you can be easily seen by all guests, apologising in advance to any who are behind you or cannot easily see you. Then apologise profusely to those who CAN see you!
  • Give everyone involved a few minutes warning before announcing the next thing coming up. A quick visit to the restroom to powder one’s nose may be in order before embarking on speeches. Nothing worse than being uncomfortable when it can be avoided.
  • Brief each of the event professionals before making announcements to make sure they are prepared and ready for THEIR role in the next phase of the evening.
  • Announce any family gathering (like a barbecue at Mum & Dad’s) that may be on the next day. This is very often forgotten. Likewise the guest register, which you may even need to start making its way around the tables.
  • Be prepared to offer any thanks or make any toasts that you see have been missed, such as toasting the parents, or thanking (on behalf of the couple) for the wonderful gifts.
  • Be aware of the time-line and keep things moving along at a reasonable pace, but don’t make it too hurried. Part of your job is to make sure everything runs to time.
  • If your eyesight isn’t brilliant, ensure you have your reading glasses with you and pick a well-lit spot close to the head table so you’re at the focal point of the room AND you can see your notes clearly.
  • Do NOT drink alcohol before you’re finished with your duties. It won’t make you funnier, better looking, wittier or taller.

Master of Ceremonies directing the flow at a wedding.The MC (Master of Ceremonies) should be in control of the evening, but not obviously so. They are a facilitator, directing the flow, but not making the event about them. The stars of the night are the happy couple, their families and their wedding party.

Above all, your MC needs to be able to change and be flexible if things don’t go according to the script. Being a wedding Master of Ceremonies is a great honour and privilege and can be very rewarding.

Good luck and I hope this Master of Ceremonies guide helps. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

Testimonials from Bridal Fashion Show attendees:

  • “Wasn’t Richard an awesome MC? I thought he was really impressive”
  • “Richard did a lovely job at the Wellington bridal show”
  • “I saw him at one of the Auckland shows and I agree, he was great!”
  • “I also thought that the MC did an excellent job and we enjoyed the fashion show.”
  • “There was 1 thing I was pretty impressed with, I thought Richard Mills was a great MC for the fashion show!! Well done, the best I have seen in the number of bridal expos I’ve been to.”
  • “Richard you did a great job as MC.”
  • “Richard Mills – You did a very good job of the fashion show.”

Dozens more testimonials, commendations and comments from Richard’s previous clients are available HERE

Click here to view (and hear) Richard Mills at work as Master of Ceremonies at a recent Business Excellence Awards night.