By popular request (by which I mean one person asked me), I've decided to compile a post about how I go about MCing for a wedding. I've done it twice now, so clearly I'm an expert on the subject.
I like being an MC. It's one of those roles that's important for a wedding, but you really don't have that much responsibility. I mean, no one ever leaves a wedding talking about the MC. When I've been called to the task, my first question has been, "Do you want someone who puts on a show, or just someone to move the show along?" People generally just want an MC to be able to move things along - no one likes sitting through a bunch of speeches, and when's the last time you've been to a wedding where people have enjoyed kissing games or trivia or some silly skit-type thing? I like to get up there and just get through things so you can move on to the party.
Before the wedding, make sure that you have a sit-down with the bride/groom and see what they're expecting. I like to ask about any announcements that should be made - things like information about a shuttle, birthday shout-outs, where the guest book is and any special instructions that might go along with it, things like that. I also like to offer to help out with any behind the scenes stuff - do they need someone to pay the DJ? Do they need someone to help set something up at the hall? The nice part about an MC is that they're a part of the wedding, but they're not actually in the wedding. This leaves them with time to do any running around before the wedding party arrives at the reception.
When you get to the reception, make friends with the DJ. Make sure that you know if you're using their microphone or if the hall has a mic for you. Make sure that you know how to make it louder and turn it on. Because the damn thing will never, ever work when you want it to. Figure out if the DJ will be announcing the wedding party or if you are - I've seen it done both ways, and I don't think it really matters. For the most recent wedding, I talked to the DJ before and gave him an idea of what announcements I would be making before the wedding party entered. This gave him the chance to start playing music underneath my announcements so we went into the introductions nice and seamlessly.
This brings me to my next point - make sure that you write down who is in the wedding party. First and last names. Even if they're people that you've known your whole life, there's a chance that you'll freeze and forget someone's name or call them by a nickname or something. Never hurts to have a cheat-sheet. Make sure that you ask the bride/groom how they would like to be announced too - are they Mr. and Mrs. Soandso? Mr. Soandso and Ms. Keeping her name? There's so many options - it's nice to be very clear about how they want to be introduced.
Find out when they're doing their first dance - often the couple will go right into the first dance before sitting down. I like to tell people that in my opening announcements so they can get their cameras and stuff ready.
A lot of being an MC is a personality thing. That's not to say that I have some sparkling personality that can command a room or anything, but I don't have a problem speaking in front of people. Of course, I'm not the main event of the evening. No one wants to hear an MC drone on and on about nothing. I try to keep things simple and to the point and keep the focus on the happy couple and wedding party. Make sure that you have the list of who wants to do a speech - I like to do a little bit of an introduction before each person, but nothing excessive. Keep it moving!
Once you get through all of the speeches, it's nice for the MC to sign off for the night before things get started. I'm not big on speeches, but a personal little toast can be really nice. Even if everyone else has short speeches, they can really start to add up in time and people are getting antsy to get back to their booze. A quick, but meaningful toast works for me - and if you're without a drink, just grab a bottle from the bridesmaids and take a swig. I did it, it's fine. Also, avoid the inside jokes if you can. I know it's tempting because you know for sure you'll get a big laugh out of the bride/groom and maybe a couple other people in the room, but for the most part you'll alienate and bore the majority of the room. And when people are bored during speeches, they get noisy and restless.
I like to think on my feet and just play off the audience, but you might feel better having things more scripted. It's all a personal preference thing, and like I said, I don't think anyone goes home at the end of the night talking about the MC. Although it is nice when people stop you to tell you that you did an awesome job - I do love that feeling.
When in doubt, have a drink or two (but not too much - no one likes a slurry MC) and just be sincere. You're there because you're important to the couple and they have faith that you can handle it, so just enjoy yourself.
Anyone else have any tips to offer? I'd love to hear them!