wedding guests raising their glasses of champagne at a reception

Do you have a wedding coming up in the near future that someone has asked you to be the master of ceremonies for? Are you worried you don’t know how to do it right? We’ve got these 12 tips for emceeing a wedding that will help you get through the party without embarrassing yourself or being scared that you’ll get it wrong.

Many times, when people think of talking in front of groups of people, they get scared. They think “What if I embarrass myself? What if I say the wrong thing?” and some people even get so frightened they shake all over, literally from fear. This is all completely normal, but it keeps a lot of people away from public speaking or even speaking to larger groups in their personal circles for any reason. People call this “Stage Fright” and while it can be overwhelming, it can also be practiced out of you.

Some others, however, are absolutely fine in front of people and have no problem performing, talking, joking, or leading groups of people, they just want to be sure that they do it right. Especially when someone in their family or close group of friends happens to ask them to be the MC (Master of Ceremonies) for their very special day. No matter which type of person you are, we have these 12 tips for you so that you can get ready to take over that microphone like you were born for it.

What the MC (Emcee) Does

So beyond getting up in front of a bunch of strangers and talking a lot, the MC or Emcee (coming from the term Master of Ceremonies) is also responsible for running the schedule for the bride and groom, to be sure everything runs smoothly. This person is the one that picks up the microphone throughout the wedding to make announcements, transitions, and make sure that everyone is having a good time, sort of like an event host. They get everyone’s attention to move from one stage of the event to the next so the wedding can run on schedule, while also entertaining from time to time, when needed, to help pass the time when something may not be going quite to plan. Some people really relish the idea of being the MC; being the entertainment, if even just for a few moments, but if you’re one of the many that are afraid to be the center of attention, then you may need to reconsider the appointment or work at becoming confident in yourself enough to do a great job.

Not Really Into It? Suggest the DJ Do It

While it’s perfectly normal to be scared of holding the microphone, sometimes time commitments or changes in your schedule may prevent you from gracing your friends and family with your prowess on the mic. And sometimes, you just don’t like the idea of doing it. If something like this is the case, suggest that the DJ take over those duties.

The beauty of having a DJ at the wedding is having a built-in MC that has had lots and lots of practice behind the microphone, their voice on the speakers. They can work with the music to set the mood before and during each transition or event during the big day and adjust as needed because they know what to expect. Wedding DJs are professionals that have seen so many ceremonies and been to so many venues that they know just how to read the mood and work the crowds. With all that practice, you know they can get the job done without having to take months to prepare for it like you or a friend might need to.

Having that built-in emcee also helps cross off two things on that long list of items the couple needs to get taken care of before the wedding. Not only will music be handled, but so will the hosting while the family photos are getting done or the bride and groom are enjoying themselves with family and friends. No need for an awkward twenty minutes of a friend trying to make people laugh. Just ask the DJ.

Getting Over the Fear of Emceeing a Wedding

And since most people are simply afraid of being an emcee, they don’t ever try to take hold of a mic to do anything. They shy away from it and let someone else. However, if you are determined to deal with that fear in order to make that wedding a special day, then getting over your fear is something you’ll need to do before the big day, and luckily, for most people, it’s not too difficult to do. Take a look at these next few tips specifically if you are one of those people that are a little scared to stand up in front of large groups and speak. These are for you.

Practice, Practice, Practice. One of the best ways to get over your fear of public speaking is to just do it. Literally. Go to some open mic nights and read some poetry or sing a song. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel in front of a crowd.

Be Prepared. Be sure that you know what is expected of you. Most of the time, a wedding emcee is only requested to make introductions and transitions so that everything goes smoothly. No one is asking you to make jokes and keep everyone entertained, so give yourself a break and focus on the important parts of your job.

Take Deep Breaths. If you are still shaky on the mic, just take a few deep breaths. No one is expecting you to be a gameshow host. Before you pick up the microphone, take a few breaths and count to 5 or 10. This will help you calm down.

Know What You’re Going to Say. While you may not need a speech, it will help you to possibly write down what you’ll say for each part of the event. Index cards can help you if you get nervous so that you don’t miss anything important, so write down your timeline and use the cards to prompt you for each designated transition.

So, if fear of the mic is something you deal with, rather than just not knowing what to do, becoming a wedding emcee may take a little more work, but it’s definitely doable.

Other Considerations of Being the Emcee

Time commitments. Some people figure that once they are asked to be the wedding emcee that they just have to show up, but au contraire, mon frère; there is more work to be done. Have you tested the equipment yourself? Do you know how close or far away to be from the mic? Does the couple want you at every. Single. Meeting with the event planner? Be sure you know what exactly the time commitments or expectations are for the position so you won’t be surprised.

Venue Tours. Go on the tours. It may seem like a lot but think. You’ll be on the mic and you’ll need to know where everything is going to be staged and happening so you can direct people what to do and where to go during the evening. Or if that’s not possible, show up to the venue early so you know where things are. Having this information ahead of time will save you a headache later when you’re trying to tell the group to head to the “main ballroom”, and have to describe how to get there when they are staring at you expectantly.

Vendor Introductions. Be sure to make yourself known to all of the vendors either by arriving early or by meeting them beforehand, so that when things get going, they know who you are in case something changes a bit. Since you’ll be running the schedule, they’ll need to know to tell you if dinner will be a bit later than scheduled and you’ll need to be able to pass along that information in a timely fashion, so having already met the “team” will be really beneficial for everyone.

Speeches. Will there be speeches? Will there be enough time for them? Since you’re the MC, it’s one of your responsibilities to check with the other invitees that may be speaking that their material isn’t too long so that everything stays on schedule. You may wish to meet with them and let them know how long you have between items for speeches, so you can allow time for them, and they know what to expect.

No drinking. Ah, yes. While it *IS* a wedding, you are one of the few that have to stay vigilant and sober to be sure that nothing goes wrong. For some, this is perfectly acceptable. For others, this is a non-starter, so be sure to weigh this information before accepting the position.

Tips for Emceeing a Wedding

Still think you can handle things? You’ve likely seen or heard an MC at parties or events that you’ve been to and you can probably tell the difference between a good host and a bad one. The good ones are able to seamlessly work from one part of the day or evening to the next, and maybe even make people laugh as they go. But the great ones are prepared long before they touch the microphone on that big day, so here are a few tips to help get you there.

Ask the Couple for a List/Timeline. Every couple may want things to go a little differently, so it’s important for the wedding MC to know how the schedule is going to go. Having this timeline ahead of time will also help you practice, if you need to.

Meet Everyone Involved. Like meeting the vendors, you’ll also want to make sure you’re familiar with the different family members that will need introductions and will be making speeches throughout the wedding. This way, you won’t have to worry about calling Aunt Sally by the wrong name when she stands there waiting for her turn on the mic.

Ask About Hashtags, Introductions, Any props/Photobooths, etc. In this day and age, wedding hashtags and photo booths are commonplace, so knowing what they are and where is essential to making sure the wedding goes off without a hitch. You may also need to make some introductions during the evening while people are ready to give speeches, so knowing if there will actually be any speeches and when they are happening is critical to your role.

Proper Name Pronunciation. We know not everyone has an easy name like “John Smith”, so be sure that you are aware of the correct pronunciation of each family’s name, as well as anyone that you’ll be sharing the microphone with, so you don’t embarrass yourself or the bride and groom! Asking for this information ahead of time and even writing it down phonetically will help you if there are any tough last names or quirky nicknames you’ll need to pronounce.

Test the Equipment. We mentioned this, but it’s worth mentioning again. Test. The. Equipment. Get to know it and how it works so that in case of a problem, you won’t be stuck in the middle of a sentence and not know how to handle it. Who will you need to approach at the venue (if it’s their equipment), or how can you correct a problem if a speaker fails? Be sure to know this before it happens! (If all else fails, however, take the mic away and speak clearly and very loudly to your audience).

Check the Playlist (if you’re asked to manage the music). If you’re pulling double duty and the bride and groom have asked that you also play and manage the music, be sure that you double-check that playlist! It would be terrible if they asked for certain songs specifically and you go to play them, only to find they are not there! So do yourself a favor and double-check that you have it all at your fingers.

Be Short and Sweet, Concise. One of the best pieces of advice anyone can share with you is to be short and sweet. No one is there to hear YOU, they are there to enjoy and celebrate with the happy and lucky couple of the hour, so keep your intros and other announcements relatively short, unless asked to do otherwise. You’ll keep everyone happy by just keeping everything flowing without a whole lot of ‘extra’. In our industry, you don’t want to be at level 10 when your family and friends are really expecting a level 4!

Congrats! You’ve been asked to do one of the more important jobs in your friends’/family’s wedding! We hope these tips have helped you to get more prepared for such an honorable task. If not, though, and you think it might be a better idea for the wedding party to consider a built-in emcee with a wedding DJ, we’d be happy to help! Just send your family or friends to our website where we can get them a free quote.

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