Wediquette | Everything you need to know about being a kick-ass MC
Congratulations! The honorary role of MC has been given to you! It’s uber likely you’ve been picked for your combination of hilariousness, the gift of the gab, potential whim for getting away with coming across as being sarcastic but really you’re deadly serious and of course, your mega good looks if you don’t mind me saying!
Your role as MC is vital to the wedding day, and well, we’d best set you up for success, planner or not - Because without a planner or coordinator on the day, those tasks are most likely going to fall on your lap!
Let’s begin with the prep
Meeting with the couple is going to set up the foundations for a killer job as MC, and I suggest you do this about three months out from the day. This will give the couple enough time that most elements of the day are locked in and hopefully they’ll know exactly how they hope the day will shape up like.
It’s important to ask the couple what they’d like you to do for them, and gather as much information as possible about the couple, their friends and family. Where I’m about to go with this reminds me of the time that single Lucy was quite literally singled out as the single lady during a reception - Which is where it’s key to find out from the couple about any off-limits topics too! A good roast is always a hoot, but it pays to be within the guidelines so you avoid upsetting the bride!
If your couple doesn’t have a planner, you will end up picking up a few extra jobs - it’s just the nature of being such a superstar! The couple will explain what they envisage the tone of the day to feel like, and how they would like it to run.
I highly recommend that you attend the rehearsal as well. This will familiarise you with the venue, be a chance to meet the bridal party if you haven’t already, get a feel for the day to follow and ensure that between you and the celebrant, all bits and pieces are covered for the ceremony. I’d use this time too to do a quick run-through of the bridal party entrance if time allows.
What you’re going to need for the day
A microphone and speaker to do your job are absolutely key, so check with your couple that this is under control and will be in place for you. If you have a preference towards using a lectern or are more of a pacer either is ok - Just let the couple know!
A couple of weeks out from the day it’s important you gather and look over the following documents. I’ve added more in here than usual, so this will be dependent on whether the couple has a planner/coordinator.
Guest List, including dietaries
Seating Plan List
Venue plan, plus any health and safety briefings
Family photo list
On the day
Heck to the yes! The wedding day is here!
You’re going to want to turn up approx one hour before the ceremony, ideally at the same time as the celebrant to do a final check over things and also to welcome guests and direct them to the facilities if required. Use this time too to introduce yourself to the vendors onsite. Caterers, photographers and videographers especially are going to be people you need to know!
When the time comes to seat guests, give the celebrant a hand to do this as you’ll want it moving quite swiftly.
It is going to be either the celebrants or your role pre-ceremony once guests have been seated to point out any health & safety reminders, where the toilets and emergency exits are and any special requests from the couple - IE no phones out during the ceremony. Double-check who’s role this is at the ceremony and you’re sorted.
Once your couple has sealed the deal, it’s on to congratulations and family photos. If you don’t know all of the friends, family and bridal party I highly suggest you ask the couple pre-wedding for one person on each side of the family to help you with this as it’s a part of the day you want to move quickly so the newlyweds aren’t stuck standing still for too long. For this reason, I usually print out 4-5 copies of the photo list to give to these people as you can guarantee they won’t bring it on the day!
When it comes time to seat the guests, I like to ask the photographer or someone from the bridal party to call or send a text to let you know when they’re about 10 minutes from finishing so that you can seat the guests, do your reception welcome and kick into the bridal party entrance, but again, just check what the couple have planned in case it’s different! If there’s no coordinator present, ask the photographer to give you the nod when they are in a position to best capture the entrance and you’re ready to go!
The bridal party entrance is a biggie for me as a planner and it’s important you as the MC know the names of all of the bridal party members and what order they’re walking in if they’re doing a traditional entrance. If there is music to accompany this, it will either be handled by yourself or the band/DJ, so do check that and work with the right people to do that. If it falls on your lap, you might want to ask someone to give you a hand so you’re not juggling the mic and music. Be sure to check with your couple how hyped up they want this to be - Everyone is so different! Some couples will just want to slide in, others will want to make a dance party of it!
Liaising with the caterers is super duper important to ensure timely service throughout the day, so if things are running early or late you will need to let them know. I also just like to give them a heads up if things are running on time too as a courtesy. If your couple has a planner or coordinator, you will liaise with them instead for a job like this.
Photographers and Videographers may want to steal the couple away at some point during the reception, so again, if there is no planner or coordinator they will most likely give you the heads up around when they would like to do this. For this reason, it’s important to be quite flexible with your script and timings.
Introducing speeches and reading any telegrams are all general parts of your role as MC. Depending on how many speeches you are, I would suggest splitting them into two groupings with a half time toilet and top-up break in between. Again, this will depend on the reception style and how everyone is eating, but it’s a good base to work with before tweaking to suit!
Be flexible with the speech portion of the evening, and check with the couple if they would like the mic opened to the floor - If so, allow another 10 minutes or so in your timings. You never know if Grandad might want to say a few words off the cuff!
Cutting the cake? Introducing the first dance? You’ll want to weave those into the mix too. These would generally be after speeches, but the couple could do these at the beginning of the reception too if they want to get them out the way. I remember on my wedding day I got so nervous about the dance I barely drank a thing until it was over!
The DJ/band should be able to announce last drinks and closing time, but if you have a playlist then it might be a task you need to factor into the day. If the bride wants to do a bouquet toss, they will usually let whoever is playing the beats know too.
Transport at the end of the night may be something to take into account too in terms of management if there’s nobody coordinating the day
After chatting to your couple, you may find that you’ll be taking care of all or just some of these jobs depending on who is around to help out, hired pros, or not!
All in all, have fun with your role as MC! I’ve been to weddings where the reception has been kicked off with boat races at each table and there have been ‘live auctions’ of high school sports memorabilia - Think about the type of couple you are working with, what makes them unique and put your hand up if you have interesting ideas to float past them. Having fun on the day is absolutely key to making a memorable event!
What you’ve just read is a solid starting point for a typical timeline of a wedding day, but you couples day could flow in any given order, add new ideas or completely take tradition out of the equation. No matter what, you absolutely got this and I’m so here to help if you get stuck!