If you are wondering whether or not you need an MC, you probably do. The role of the MC is such an important one but is usually the last one to be assigned. If you are having a small casual wedding then the MC's role is relatively straightforward, but if you have a larger wedding or one with many items on the order of events, the MC will need to be well briefed on what their role entails.
The first step is choosing your MC. There are professional MCs that you can hire to take your wedding to a whole new level, but if you don't have that in your budget (and let's face it most people won't), an outgoing friend will be more than adequate. You need to ask the person in plenty of time so that he/she has time to prepare. You should pick somebody responsible, who isn't in the bridal party or significantly involved in the wedding in another way, who is confident speaking in public. A sense of humour goes a long way but isn't necessary and can take away from the wedding if the jokes are on the inappropriate side!
When your MC has accepted the job, you can direct him/her to this blog! I'll outline everything they need to know, as well as the information you need to provide them with in order to make sure the day goes off without a hitch!
To the MC - Congratulations on being picked for this very important task. Most people don't have a clue what they are supposed to do the first time they are asked to be MC so I am going to walk you through the basics of your role.
1. Get in touch with the wedding planner/coordinator
The absolute easiest way to get yourself organised for the big day is to ask the couple for
their wedding planner's contact details. The chances are the planner will be in touch with you anyway, and instead of reinventing the wheel you might as well use their event running sheet as a guide for how the day will flow.
2. Introduce yourself to the wedding celebrant
If possible it is helpful for you to attend the wedding rehearsal, but if this isn't practical then just get to the wedding early and meet the celebrant. The wedding celebrant will probably mention as part of their introduction that you are the MC so that the guests know who will be addressing them after the ceremony is over.
3. Assist the wedding coordinator with photos
If you are a close friend of the couple and know many of the guests, it can be helpful to give the wedding coordinator a hand to assemble certain groups for photos. As much as the wedding planner will have tried to meet everybody on arrival, it is always handy to have somebody they know personally to help usher.
4. Help get guests seated for dinner.
The wedding coordinator will let you know when the bride and groom have returned from getting their photos taken, and the presence of the wedding photographer is a telltale sign of this. You can then get all of the guests seated while the wedding coordinator makes sure the bride is refreshed and that her hair is not wind-blown.
Once guests are seated you can do a short housekeeping notice. Ask the contact at the wedding venue where the toilets are and what to do in the event of an emergency. It is also helpful to explain to the guests how the meal service will work in terms of whether orders are taken, alternate drop, buffet, platters etc. If there is a limit on the bar tab sometimes it is worth mentioning that drinks will have to be paid for at some point. If the couple have a guest book, photo booth, or are having an "aftermatch" the next day, be sure to mention these things so that everyone knows what is going on. This can all be done while the bridal party are getting freshened up.
5. Introduce the Bridal Party
When you are given the nod by the wedding coordinator you can introduce the bridal party. Find out from the couple ahead of time how they would like to be introduced. It is common for the bridal party to be introduced first, followed by the bride and groom. Some couples like their bridesmaids and groomsmen to be introduced individually by name, sometimes with a short mention of the relationship to the couple. Other times it is simply "please be upstanding for the bridal party".
Find out the exact wording for how the couple want to be introduced. It is not uncommon for the bride to keep her surname these days so definitely check before you announce them as "Mr and Mrs ....". They may prefer to be called by their first names, or as "bride and groom", and this is equally as important for same-sex weddings.
When introducing the bridal party, you want applause and celebration. The wedding coordinator or DJ will probably play a song for the entrance so you want the guests to be clapping and cheering. The best way to achieve this is to tell the guests "please put your hands together for...", people need to be guided clearly. One mistake I see MCs making time and time again is telling the guests to raise their glasses. It's impossible to clap with a glass in your hand! Save the glasses for the toasts later in the evening, now is the time for noise.
If you are making a speech, make sure it is short. Introduce yourself and how you know the couple, and feel free to share an anecdote - but don't make it all about you. Your role is to introduce the guests who wish to make a speech, and to make sure everything follows the timeframe agreed with the wedding planner and subsequently the caterers. If you are using a microphone, make sure you test the microphone ahead of time. You need to make sure the top of the microphone is pointing towards your mouth, most microphones are directional and won't work very well if they are at 90' to your mouth and you will also probably need to hold it quite close. If you really want to get ahead of your game, show those who are doing speeches how to use the mic earlier in the day! If there is a videographer, they may need to
wire you up with an additional microphone to pick up the audio for the wedding film.
You need to get a list from the wedding planner or the couple ahead of time so that you know the names of the people speaking. Be sure to know how many people are speaking between courses and when the meals are being served. It's really important that the meals are not served too far past the time agreed with the caterers as the food can spoil. If speeches are taking too long, consider saving one or two for after dinner is finished. If you can, avoid doing speeches while plates are being cleared as it can be distracting. The wedding coordinator will work closely with you to ensure everything runs to schedule. The wedding planner will likely advise the couple against "opening the floor" for a free-for-all of impromptu speeches, but if the couple insist then make sure there is a strict time limit imposed! Also, try to keep the mic away from intoxicated guests and those who might embarrass the couple!
7. Other Announcements
Aside from the speeches, the bride and groom may want you to announce the cake cutting, the bouquet toss and the first dance. If they are having games you might help facilitate that, and if they are having a sparkler send-off at the end of the night you might need to announce that. Most of the time your job is about done after the first dance though, so you can relax and enjoy the festivities!
If you have never been an MC before it can be daunting. Feel free to lean heavily on the wedding planner as he/she has run many weddings and knows what the MC should do inside and out. Communication is key so work closely with the coordinator and you'll be sure to see the wedding go off without a hitch!