Kia ora koutou, I'm Mr Ash, the other half of Alta Weddings - the half that's usually menial labour - so count yourself extremely lucky to catch any content from me!
This blog has appeared through a "nice request" to write on any topic to do with weddings... Unfortunately, I'm no planner, stylist, celebrant, or expert on many things in the wedding world, but I have been told that I make a passable MC (trying not to brag here). Leaning into this small area where i do okay, I thought “that's what I can blog about”!
The main role of an MC at a wedding is to keep the day moving along, basically you're herding sheep at the same time as being a flight attendant pointing out emergency exits. You can choose how much or how little to say, just make sure you clear any hefty speeches with the couple beforehand! So, without further preamble, here's my five quick tips for those who've been dobbed in or drunkenly (or foolishly), volunteered to emcee a wedding.
Tip 1 - Pretend you're having a conversation with yourself and the audience....
Strange concept, right? You're up there in front of 100 odd people, how can it be a conversation? Well, it is. Just because you're the one standing with a mic and they're not, it doesn't change the dynamics of engaging with the people you're talking to.
Start in your head by pretending you're introducing a new persona of yours (ones that's an awesome MC), make a comment, get a response from one or two people, and let the words flow from there. It might take a few sentences and/or terrible jokes to get used to it but you'll soon get an idea of where/how/what to engage your audience on for the duration of the night and you learn to read your crowd.
Tip 2: Pick someone to bounce off.
Surely you'll have a friend in the audience that you've known forever and can bandy some marginally inside jokes off? Then do it! It'll make everyone feel like they're a part of your friends and family (which they should be, seeing as it is, you know, a wedding...) to help break down any tension - plus they won't want to miss out on the potential banter. Just make sure that it's not anything offensive or too much of an inside joke; you don't to make anyone feel excluded.
Final piece of advise for this one - don't rely on it the whole night – use it once or twice throughout the evening to make things fun and inclusive. Giving this a go also allows you a chance to practice Tip 1 and get your nerves over and done with.
Tip 3 - Know the message you need to convey, but not what you're going to say.
How many times have you seen people stand up and give a lecture or read from a script in a dry, boring, and un-engaging manner. Please don't do it! I'm sure you've seen how it creates tension and nerves in the person talking and quickly makes the audience switch off. Don't be professor stuffy bum. It's harder to write a full script than it is to know the message is “we need to move inside for dinner” or “leave the bride and groom alone for 5 f**cking seconds so they can eat/drink/go to the toilet” and state something to that effect.
Just ensure you have a runsheet with key timings so you know what is happening next and wing your delivery based on how your MC persona has interacted with your audience. It makes everything a lot more organic, relaxing, and lets you gently move into the role you’ve been given. If you're giving a larger intro speech at the start of the reception and aren't great at memory games, then this is where you can have a small reference card so you can remember certain details about the bridal party or stories that you want to include.
Tip 4: Laugh at yourself.
It's a wedding, not a funeral or parliamentary speech! Have you noticed how relaxed and engaged comedians are when up on stage? It's because they don't mind making a mistake and cracking a joke at their own expense. It makes you realise things don't need to be perfect and you can make a bad joke, ramble about something off topic for a little bit, or trip over your own words. It happens – laugh at it, make a joke about it, and move on. You'll soon see that it's nothing to be afraid of and, as a consequence, will actually make less mistakes.
Tip 5: Know when to stop.
Make sure you scan the room while you’re talking. When people are starting to fade, shorten the message, make a stupid joke/statement, and call it quits for a time. This will keep people happy and engaged with you.
Bonus Tip: Have a drink, but not too many...
Relax. No one's going to die from your speech or directions, unless you forget to point out the emergency exits. Have a beer/wine/whiskey or two and chill. Just don't have too much – you still need to be able to speak and engage with some spark, as well as know when to hit tip 5 :)
Right'o, thanks for reading folks. Hopefully there's something in there that you can take away for the big day. Good luck!
Kia pai tō koutou rā – Ash.