The Art of Speaking  

How to emcee a wedding reception the right way

Be a winning wedding MC

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YouTube Wade Paterson

Just over a year ago, I launched a YouTube channel and started creating video content to help people become more impactful communicators.

Some of my videos have less than 10 views, some have a few hundred, but my most-watched video to date (just over 10,000 views) is the subject of this column: How to emcee a wedding.

While many people will likely never have to worry about emceeing a wedding, I wanted to created a helpful resource for those who get asked to be an emcee, but have no idea where to get started when it comes to planning.

Tip 1 – Meet With the couple in advance

Schedule a time one or two months prior to the wedding when you can meet with the bride and groom to go over what they have in mind for their special day.

There are a few things you want to determine when you meet with the couple. The first is whom they would like you to give special recognition to. Often this includes family members such as parents, grandparents, siblings or perhaps anyone who has travelled a far distance to attend the wedding.

The second thing to find out is how the couple feels about the clinking of glasses. It is customary for a bride and groom to kiss every time someone clinks their glass at a wedding; however, not everyone is a fan of this tradition. Find out if the couple is OK with this, or if perhaps they prefer an alternative (such as a game).

The third thing to ask the bride and groom is for descriptions of their wedding party. I typically will give this as a homework project for them to take some time and write-up short descriptions of each member of their wedding party and why those people are special to them. This information is valuable to an emcee at the beginning of the reception when he/she introduces each member of the wedding party.

The next thing you’ll want to find out is what the general structEmbed Code:

ure of the evening is. While this decision is ultimately up to the couple, be prepared, because some couples may ask you for your opinion on how the evening should flow and you want to be able to provide them with helpful suggestions. When discussing the structure, be sure to ask who will be giving speeches and the order of speeches.

Finally, it’s a good idea to find out if there’s anything that’s off-limits from the couple’s point of view. Some couples are laid back and fine with edgy humour, but others may have family members who get offended easily, so it’s important to know where the line is so that you don’t accidentally cross it with an offside joke or remark.

Tip 2 – Don’t wing it

A great emcee is a prepared emcee. It’s very important to practice several times before the big event. The more you prepare, the more natural it will feel at the actual wedding reception. Once you’ve practiced a few times, you can always ask a friend or family member to give you feedback, or consider recording yourself on your phone and watching it back.

Cue cards or subtle notes are important to have on hand as reminders of things you need to mention (such as which family members to recognize); however, you don’t want to write down every single word you’re planning to say that evening. Each category of notes should be a couple key words that trigger your memory of what to speak about.

Tip 3 – Arrive early

When it comes to a wedding reception, expect the unexpected. Slight agenda changes are likely to happen, and great emcees will adapt and roll with the punches. By arriving early, you can be more prepared for these adjustments and mentally prepare yourself for the night ahead.

Arriving early also allows you to meet key people, such as the DJ (if the couple has hired one). Emcee and DJ responsibilities often have some crossover, so it’s a good idea to chat and get on the same page prior to the event. Another important person to introduce yourself to is the day-of planner (again, if the couple has hired one).

This person’s responsibility is to ensure everything runs smoothly, so consider having a conversation with him or her to make sure your expectations are aligned.

Tip 4 – Deliver with infectious energy

Once the actual wedding reception starts it’s incredibly important that you’re smiling and full of energy. This will likely start with the grand entrance and should be carried throughout the entire evening. If you can inject humour early on and get the crowd laughing, it will set the tone for the evening and your audience will be more relaxed.

Good luck and remember: if you’re lucky enough to be asked to emcee a wedding, take it as a compliment. Whoever asked you is asking because they believe you are the best person to take on the task.

If you’re interested in learning more about Impactful Communication in general, subscribe to: my YouTube channel.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Wade Paterson is an award-winning Toastmaster who is passionate about Impactful Communication.

His columns and accompanying YouTube videos are focused on helping others become more confident public speakers and communicators.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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