When you start planning your wedding you very quickly learn that there are many people out there offering their help and support, so it comes as no surprise that as soon as a Wedding Toastmaster is mentioned, you question – what is that they ACTUALLY do?
We have the pleasure of our well known and very much loved Norfolk Toastmaster & Master of Ceremonies John Driscoll tell us what he does and what his role as a wedding toastmaster entails. This very helpful article came about from one of our Norfolk Wedding Business Club Meetings where John told us what some of the differences were between a professionally trained Wedding Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies (and you would be surprised – there are quite a few!) and I just wanted to make sure that we also shared this fantastic and insightful article with all you lovely couples. I’l now leave things up to John …
“Part of my role as a professional Wedding Toastmaster & Master of Ceremonies (MC) is not just to educate clients, but very often wedding suppliers to that perennial question….”What does a Wedding Toastmaster do?” So I was more than happy to be asked by Dalia to appear at the Norfolk Wedding Business Club at Caistor Hall on Wednesday 16th July 2014 addressing that very question!
The first thing to clear up is that the difference between a Wedding Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies is that an MC often acts as a host for a special evening e.g. a charity event and is not unlike a compere complete with a dash of humor and generally being entertaining for the guests. A Wedding Toastmaster is concerned with the meticulous planning, etiquette and use of proper form (I use De Brett’s here as my standard) and liaising with all parties to help personalize the wedding or civil partnership, as well as offering guidance about the day itself.
It was interesting at the beginning of my presentation when I invited that special group of wedding suppliers to stand up if they had previously employed a wedding toastmaster for their own wedding or civil partnership….. the room fell silent, heads bowed and nobody stood up! Just the response I had expected and offered a nice rationale for my discussion about the role of the professional Wedding Toastmaster!
In Toastmaster circles we estimate that only around 10% of couples employ the services of a professional Wedding Toastmaster which rather than making us feel downhearted, means that there is a 90% potential out there in wedding land to employ us! Although there are a number of reasons / assumptions for such a low uptake of professional Wedding Toastmasters these could be summarized as;
- The red tailcoat seems far too formal
- They must be very expensive
- Having had a poor previous experience of a Wedding Toastmaster (perhaps as a wedding guest)
- But more than likely…being unsure about what a professional Wedding Toastmaster brings to such a special occasion
Although all Professional Wedding Toastmasters operate slightly differently on the day as regards personalities, we all have similar values with our clients. For me, my clients can expect a totally transparent and professional service that begins with completing my Toastmaster Enquiry Form and returning it back to me so I can offer an equally professional quotation for my services depending on what is required e.g. availability at the church or ceremony room, wedding breakfast services, evening services such as announcing the first dance, cutting the cake etc. Following payment of a Booking Fee I am then available 24/7 either on the telephone or via email for any issues or concerns based on my wide experience of all sorts of weddings and a working knowledge of suppliers. Additionally, I will meet my couples at least twice on a face-to-face basis (approximately 2 hours per meeting), to help the happy couple really personalize their day and plan with them (and their families) just what it is they what they want to happen and when on the day.
My own mantra as a professional Wedding Toastmaster is Your Wedding…..Your Way! I also state that I care passionately about the couple….and am willing to carry their ‘worry bag’ on the day freeing them up to really enjoy the day with family and friends. That ‘worry bag’ can sometimes become quite heavy. In my experience common concerns for the couple can be;
- Being unsure about the content of key wedding speeches
- Uncertain about the roles and responsibilities on the day of the Best Man / Chief Bridesmaid / Bridesmaids / Ushers etc.
- Ensuring proper wedding etiquette for seating at the top table and during receiving lines
- Locating guests in the ceremony room without the bride being seen
- Organizing the wedding breakfast seating plan that can become quite ‘family political’….for instance who will sit where and next to whom?
- Being aware of sensitive family issues on the day e.g. divorced parents
- Paying wedding suppliers on the day e.g. vicar, organist, disco etc.
- Securing the gifts and cards on the day as well as during the evening
- Ensuring everybody is in the right place at the right time on the day
- Looking after frail or disabled guests
On the day itself I will arrive 2 hours before to check, check and check again but also to get to know all the suppliers in person and ensure there is plenty of banter and a good working relationship prior to the arrival of the happy couple and their family and guests. I also ensure that I have the mobile phone numbers of all suppliers on the day as well as that of the Best Man should I need to contact anybody. Additionally, I have a car boot full of items that might be needed on the day such as spare cuff links, cleaning materials, accessories for the corsages and buttonholes….just a couple of weeks ago I had a Best Man come to me rather embarrassed to say he had torn through the seat of his pants on his hire suit and needed a needle and cotton for his wife to apply first aid to the trousers in the privacy of a disabled loo!
My main role as a professional Wedding Toastmaster is to cope with anything that might unexpectedly happen that might spoil the day…..I even carry heart shaped umbrellas in the car that can double up as a parasol on a hot day or to keep the rain off the couple or even the photographers expensive kit!. Of course I meet and greet all the guests on arrival and will already having a working knowledge of all the key players present. I ensure that everyone is in the right place at the right time, stage manage ‘special moments’ , support those giving wedding speeches and of course YES….what everyone expects a Wedding Toastmaster to do…..make key announcements!
As a professional Wedding Toastmaster I carry my own Public Liability Insurance, am accountable to the British Toastmaster Circle and am qualified (as an optional extra), to carry out Sabrage ….the removal of the top table champagne cork with a sabre (with) or for, the happy couple.
I hope that this Blog has given you more of an insight into the work of a Professional Wedding Toastmaster and will be happy to talk to any of you reading this without obligation.”
On the other hand….why not add that 10% touch of finesse to your wedding…..and let me…. John Driscoll carry your ‘worry bag’ on your most special of days….freeing you up to really enjoy your day with family and friends? I look forward to hearing from you!