Master and Mistress of Ceremonies Possible Duties at a Wedding
One of the keys to making the day a success is by having a good Mistress/Master of Ceremonies (M/MoC). They must have a firm grip on the execution of the whole event from the time of arrival of the first guests until the final statement following the departure of the couple. They are also there to provide the couple support as well as checking on them to see if they are ok and if they need anything.
The role of the M/MoC is simultaneously very important and quite straight forward. The main duty of the M/MoC, especially at larger and more formal weddings, is to ensure that everything runs according to plan, the wedding party and guests happy, and that everyone at the wedding is informed as to the order of proceedings, the location of amenities, the introduction of any key figures at the wedding, and the laying down of house rules.
Although the task list for the wedding ceremony and reception seems endless, many of the functions are simple like orchestrating toasts, speakers, or music if a program is planned at the reception.
Choosing your M/MoC
The Master and Mistress of Ceremonies are designated by the engaged couple. They are more acquainted with the families and arriving guests. The M/MoC could be a friend of the Bride or the Groom’s family, and in some cases with smaller more intimate events, can act as the Best Man or Maid of Honor. It’s also a great way to have a favorite aunt and uncle involved!
Just make sure they are really, really organized and know to stay on top of things. It’s your day and they need to handle anything and everything.
While it will help to be prepared, and the ceremony/ reception coordinators will assist in all aspects of the day, things don’t always turn out exactly just as planned. Your M/MoC need to be able to remain calm and flexible and maintain their sense of humor if the unexpected happens!
Depending on the personalities of the M/MoC, and the extent to which they are comfortable and familiar with the majority of family and guests, as well as his or her own public speaking abilities, you may choose them to be the emcee for the evening instead of the DJ.
M/MoC and Coordinators
It is also important for the M/MoC to make contact with the ceremony and reception coordinators on the day of the wedding. He/she will most likely be the obvious touch point or advisor on behalf of the couple. In this sense, the M/MoC should act as the facilitator; an unobtrusive organizer, who is able to answer any questions and help solve any potential problems specifically relating to the order of events during the reception.
The emcee or MC (from Master of Ceremonies) is responsible for announcing the events during the reception, from the entrance of the bridal party, to the speeches, cake cutting etc. Traditionally this role was fulfilled by the Master of Ceremonies, but the bride and groom may also choose a family member, friend, the band leader, or, especially common these days, the DJ. The DJ most often expects to perform this function and includes it as part of their service as they already need to know the order and timing of the events to coordinate the appropriate music. You may designate anyone you choose for this function however.
There are many responsibilities which must be fulfilled by the mistress (or master) of ceremonies from the day of the rehearsal dinner to the end of the reception. These are general guidelines only; you can change, alter or delete them wherever you feel necessary, especially because some on the roles and responsibilities may overlap with the coordinators of the ceremony and reception venues as well as the DJ.
Introduce yourself as the mistress (or master) of ceremonies
Find out from the ceremony venue:
Where to find things
Where everyone can dress
What to do in an emergency
The policies which the church/venue has asked the couple to enforce
Review the wedding service and its format
Wedding music and soloists
Make sure attendants know what they’re doing, where and when at the rehearsal
How the wedding party will enter the sanctuary or ceremony venue
Give members of the wedding party their cue when they should walk down the aisle.
Traditional procession is as follows: bridesmaid #1 & groomsman #1, bridesmaid #2 & groomsman #2, etc., then maid of honor, flower girl, bride and bride’s father;
Each person should wait until the preceding person is 3/4 of the way down the aisle and they should walk slowly and normally (no crazy steps)
If small children are in the wedding, make sure someone is waiting to escort them to their seats after their walks.
Make sure the person holding the rings knows when to present them to the couple.
If someone is doing a reading, let them to know when to head up to perform.
The traditional recessional is as follows:
The Now-Married Couple!
Flower Girl/Ring Bearer
Maid of Honor and Best Man
BM#1 and GM#1, etc.
Note that each pair should wait until the preceding couple is at the end of the aisle before proceeding (so the photographer can get pictures easily of all attendants)
Know how to properly pin on a boutonniere and corsage
Take care of pre-reception deliveries and setup
Meet the person delivering the cake to the reception venue
Meet the florist or decorator at the reception venue
Set up the escort card table and place favors at each place setting
Bring a sewing kit and stain remover to address any last-minute outfit emergencies with the wedding party.
Food if ordered
Flowers from the florist if necessary
Bottled water for the ceremony
Introduce yourself to the officiant in case you are needed to make any last minute announcements.
Welcome people as they arrive and direct them at the ceremony venue. Your primary function is hospitality.
Help the bride get dressed if necessary.
Distribute corsages and boutonnieres.
Ensure that everyone who’s supposed to have a corsage or boutonniere has one. Ensure they are pinned on correctly.
Help the Facility Wedding Coordinator as needed.
Make sure all chairs or extra chairs needed are set up correctly for the ceremony.
Check to see that all candles, flowers, pew arrangements/bows and any other wedding props are in place.
Get lighter for unity candles, if needed.
Put guest book and pen at church entrance where everyone can see, making sure guests do not block the entrance or the aisle at the book signing.
Bring the programs and instruct the ushers to hand them out to guests as they seat them.
Make sure videographer/photographer are set up and have everything they need.
Light all candles.
Help the photographer assemble the groups for the separate bridal parties pre- ceremony pictures
Make sure the couple does not see each other, if they have opted for no first look.
Have a list of who the couple want in the various photographs.
Double-check that Maid of Honor and Best Man have the rings
Assemble wedding party when guests are seated
Direct the procession of wedding participants on cue of music
Seating of grandparents and parents
Release and spacing attendants
Father of Bride and Bride
Adjust bride’s train before releasing down aisle
• Direct the wedding attendants to their proper location in the receiving line.
• Distribute the birdseed or bubbles to guests with which to shower the bride and groom as they leave the church
• Ensure limo, bus or trolley is ready
• Tell family members to hang around for quick pictures immediately after the ceremony
• Assist the photographer assemble the bridal party for pictures
o Have a list of who the bride and groom want in the various photographs.
• Pick up the guest book and pen
• Put luggage in limo (make sure to include bride’s emergency kit in too!!)
• Bring home or transfer to the reception flower arrangements and unity candles
• Take the guest book to the reception
• Bring home leftover programs
• Place food basket in limo
Reception Pre-Arrival of Guests
• Introduce yourself as the mistress (or master) of ceremonies to reception coordinator and staff.
• If not addressed earlier –
o Make sure reception area is set up correctly (have diagram) o Set up the escort card table and place favors at each place setting o Make sure cake is OK ensure the knife is available and the cake ready o Make sure cake flowers and food table centerpiece are OK o Make sure all tables have centerpieces o If anything is wrong, find coordinator of the reception venue
• Place the guest book and pen at the entrance of reception venue
• Make sure band or DJ is there, ready, and all audio equipment is working properly.
• Make sure bartenders are prepared and ready to serve
• Make sure caterer/ food are ready
• Sometimes the MC is expected to announce the wedding party and cue the dances but most weddings use the DJ to announce events through the evening
o If so, go to DJ and have him pronounce all of the names of the wedding party so
he introduces them correctly
▪ check beforehand on preferences of names and pronunciations o M/MoC will help cue the timing of the announcements and order of events
Arrival of Guests
• Greet arriving guests
• Welcome the guests on behalf of the bridal pair or the family responsible for hosting the reception
• Direct guests to guest book, gift table, escort cards/seating chart
• Direct special guests to their reserved seats
• Answer any questions guests may have
• Any house rules should be covered by the MC.
o These may include reference to things such as smoking, cell phones, the use of
camera’s, the bar and bar consumption, guest transport and accommodation, the location of refreshment areas and rest rooms, etc.
• Let guests know of the time the evening will end, when the bar will close, and any other information to make the evening finish smoothly.
• Make reminders about the guest book (if there is one) Make reminders about cameras on the tables (if they are there)
Arrival of Wedding Party
• Direct the wedding attendants to their proper location in line for announced entrance.
o Begin with bride’s parents, groom’s parents, flower girl and ring bearer, bridesmaids and
groomsmen, best man and maid of honor, and finally the bride and groom
• Check presentation of attire, bouquets, boutonnieres, etc
• Cue DJ that bridal party is ready to be announced
• Once the guests are seated, announce the entrance of the bridal party and the bride and groom.
• Announce that the couple will be having their first dance as husband and wife.
o First dance with the bride and groom only can take place right after the introductions
above or after the meal is done
• Announce the cutting of the cake.
o Direct guests to the location o Usually done before the meal, so the cake can be served in sequence after the meal,
without having guests get up and down
• Cue video/slide shows of bride/groom’s growing up
• Make sure champagne is poured before toasts begin
• Make any special announcements.
o Honored guests such as a grandparent o There may be guests who have travelled some distance to attend o Reading special messages or greetings that have come for the bride and groom;
• Introduce each person who is to speak or give a toast very briefly. o The best man is introduced and he toasts the couple. o The maid of honor can also toast if she wishes.
A toast can also be given to the Bride’s parents and the Groom’s parents.
• Announce the serving of dinner.
o If there is a buffet, some direction may be announced on what is where and perhaps a
table order for forming the lines. o Have officiant say a prayer o Assist in dismissing tables for the buffet
• Begin Dancing after dinner with Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance
• Announce dollar dance
• Keep an eye on the gifts and money box
• Periodically (once or twice) remind people to use disposable cameras (especially if no one appears to be using them)
• Help everyone get to know each other, especially if you spot a single person who does not seem to know anyone
• Toward the end of the reception, let the guests know the bouquet will be tossed
o Gather eligible ladies to the middle of the floor and the bride tosses her bouquet. o The groom can remove the garter and toss it to eligible men.
• Keep a watch out for any unruly guests, so you can have them escorted out if they become a problem.
• Announce when the bridal couple are leaving
o They may decide to leave before the end of the reception
• It may be the MC’s job to find transport for those guests who are a little ‘under the weather’ rather than have them drive on their own.
• Any guests need a ride from the reception to their home or hotel room, call a cab for them
• Try to ensure that no one leaves with disposable cameras
After the Wedding
• Help mother of bride stay sane and get everything to take home
• Help the parents of the couple load the wedding gifts into their car.
• Take down any decorations that need to be saved.
• Take the bride and groom’s wedding attire from them for safekeeping if they’re leaving right away for their honeymoon
• Take any leftover food to a prearranged location.
• Bring home the following:
o Toasting glasses o Cake o Cake knife and server o Disposable cameras o Leftover favors o Centerpieces, o Guest book and pen
• Supervise the cleaning crew.
• Before leaving, take a last look around the room and collect anything behind.