Last year I filmed two weddings where the MC (Master of Ceremonies) was not a friend or family member, but rather a hired professional. I was surprised by how well this worked out. It had such obvious benefits that I wanted to dedicate a blog post to the topic.
Using a loved one as MC – pros and cons
A common joke made by MCs at weddings goes like this:
Being asked to be MC at a wedding is a bit like being asked to make love to the Queen… It’s a great honour but nobody wants to do it.
There is so much truth right there. Being an MC is an enormous responsibility. Most MCs take the job seriously enough to hold off on drinking too much until their duties are over, which isn’t until very late in the night. But they are trying to enjoy themselves while also watching the time, and liaising with your photographer, videographer, function manager and anyone else with questions about what is happening. They are not just a person to introduce the speeches. They effectively stage manage the whole evening.
The obvious disadvantage: your loved one quite possibly won’t enjoy the wedding as much as they otherwise would.
However, some people revel in the chance to perform, warm up the crowd, acknowledge their love for the couple, and to be acknowledged themselves by having been chosen for this special role. And of course, the personal touches these MCs bring are sometimes pure magic.
Using a hired MC – how does it work?
More and more DJs are investing in professional training so that they can become competent MCs. So in many cases, couples hire someone who can both DJ their wedding and be the MC. There are also companies who offer just an MC service.
What I observed at the weddings with a DJ/MC was this: a much higher level of organisation and time management than I’d ever seen before. The hired person is completely sober, dedicated to watching the clock, keeping the behind the scenes team happy and informed, and generally making the day flow seamlessly.
As a videographer, I was amazed by how helpful DJ Brad was at a wedding in October last year. He offered the celebrant his own microphone and speaker when he realised his equipment would provide better sound for the venue. He assisted me with my audio recording set up for reception speeches and kept me informed when something important was about to happen… without me having to chase him. And when the photographer had a broken piece of equipment DJ Brad miraculously found a zip tie that saved the day. There were so many things he quietly did behind the scenes that the couple wouldn’t have even known about.
What I was surprised about was the way DJ Brad managed to personalise his introduction, and get people laughing, without ever crossing the line and trying to be too familiar. I was also impressed that he didn’t try to steal the show. He let the couple and their loved ones be the stars.
“I think styling, and personalisation is really important. If the wedding is very formal and elegant, then I adapt my style to suit that occasion. If the wedding is fun, and a big party than my energy will match that style,” DJ Brad says.
DJ Brad also suggests an MC should show people to their seats, and have brief chats with them as they arrive, so that the MC feels more like a family friend than a stranger by the time s/he addresses the crowd.
Snippets of DJ Brad acting as MC at Kelly and James’ wedding.
Choosing the right MC
I would highly recommend couples meet with an MC before making a decision to hire him or her, as you would want to make sure they are on the same page as you. The biggest risk is obviously hiring an MC whose personality jars with your crowd, or who lacks the experience to make a wedding day run smoothly.
“An MC should be asking what type of wedding you are having, and what you like and don’t like at weddings. That way you are going to have the right person, speaking on behalf of you, your partner and your guests,” DJ Brad says.
Also be really clear about how much you want the MC to speak, and on what topics. At a completely different wedding I observed a hired MC make a brilliant but lengthy introduction in which he told the story of how the couple met. One of the family members giving a speech later on had wanted to tell that story, and was understandably disappointed.
In short – make your intentions very clear, and then sit back and relax and let your hired MC do all the hard work on the night!