THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Whether they’re announcing the happy couple at the reception or coordinating the best man and maid-of-honour’s speeches, MCs play a vital role in ensuring a seamless and stress-free wedding. Here, Kirrily Ireland delves into the day-in-the-life of a wedding MC, consulting Jay Allen, a multi-award-winning Master of Ceremonies, DJ and marriage celebrant, and the owner of Wedding Sounds.
For Allen, performing at and managing events has been a life-long career, starting from his early days as a teen television actor and thespian. In recent years, Allen’s career has become more wedding-focused as he’s followed his true passion. “I love weddings most of all, there is no other atmosphere like a wedding,” he says. “The emotion, the joy, the love and the memories and the people. I love being a part of all that.” With his many years of experience, enthusiasm and charisma, Allen is able to deliver a top-of-the-range MC service, and offers Melbourne Wedding & Bride readers advice on how to find the right MC to make their wedding run as smoothly as possible.
THE PERFECT MATCH
Like with any wedding vendor, be it your caterer, venue or stylist, finding an MC who is on your wavelength requires a bit of research and a meeting face-to-face. Allen notes that to prove he’s the right fit for a couple, he listens to them, engaging in conversations to get a solid idea of their vision. “During these conversations we get to know each other,” he explains. “My couples get a feel for the kind of person I am and what kind of energy and professionalism I will bring to the day … I often advise couples take the time to get to know their potential MC. You need to feel comfortable with them.”
Speaking of comfortable, some couples might consider a family member or friend to take care of the MC duties, however going down the professional hire route will serve many benefits. “[A professional MC] won’t bring up those in-jokes only a fifth of your guests will know, or play to only part of the audience,” Allen says. “But more importantly you are not asking one of your friends or family to work at your wedding, asking them to stay sober, to spend the evening coordinating all the vendors, venue and VIPs.”
As each wedding is unique to the couple, it’s important that the MC asks questions and listens to what the couple want for their special day, so that it’s still as personal as possible. A true professional won’t offer a cookie-cutter wedding, and will instead honour your requests and tailor their services to suit your vibe. “My goal in the lead up is to have a couple who are relaxed that their big – expensive – day is in professional hands,” Allen affirms.
Once you’ve locked in an MC who matches your personality and is on board with your ideas, a bit of pre-wedding preparations and coordinating are key to ensuring that the day itself runs without hitch. “For me, I start with a comprehensive questionnaire via my custom online planning portal,” Allen explains. “From there I maintain communication with my couple, the venue, essential VIPs and any other vendor in the lead up. Being responsible for everything running on time is a big job, and I need to know the whole supplier team is on the same page.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
When the big day finally arrives, this is when it’s the MC’s true time to shine, both on and off the stage. While many may believe that the MC’s role is to merely make introductions, crack some jokes and pass around the microphone, their responsibilities go much deeper than that. “There are two parts to being a proper Master of Ceremonies, what I call on-mic and off-mic,” Allen explains. “The on-mic is the entertainer and announcer part, being an entertaining host while not stealing the show. The other part, the off-mic, is the behind-the-scenes coordination, being part event manager and part support person to the VIPs, all while keeping a relaxed calm vibe to help the couple stay calm.” While it may seem surprising, Allen notes that it’s actually this off-mic service that is the “critical part to a real, professional Master of Ceremonies”. Finding a versatile MC who can do it all will certainly help take many of the day’s stresses off your shoulders.
Often couples employ a DJ to take care of both the MC-ing and music, a perfectly logical choice, but one that requires some consideration. “It is important to work out if your DJ-slash-MC is just going to make announcements, or will they be a true Master of Ceremonies, including the behind-the-scenes parts,” Allen says. “DJs, musicians and even some celebrants can be natural entertainers, and thus have some of the on-mic MC skills. But don’t just assume they want to be the MC or are competent in being one. It’s a big job, make sure they are up to it.” Luckily, with combined professional services like the one Allen offers his couples, you can rest assured you’re in capable hands, and focus on enjoying the celebration.
TAKE THE STAGE
As for the on-mic duties, this is when an MC’s core abilities come into play, which include but are not limited to making announcements, getting the speeches rolling, and encouraging guests to get up on the dance floor. In his twenty years of MC-ing weddings, Allen has seen it all, from introducing surprise strip shows to announcing pregnancies and assisting members of the bridal party to put on performances, but among these, his favourite moments are “the ones involving family, especially children, expressing love and thanks to the newlyweds”.
Since most of his work involves standing under the spotlight, Allen has had to balance his act to avoid stealing it completely from the star couple. “This is one of the trickiest bits of being a great MC, especially when you are starting out. I like to think of the on-mic part of being an MC as being like an awards show host. My job is to be entertaining, funny and to bring the right ‘energy’ to the event. I am the warm-up guy for the real stars of the show.” An experienced MC will make sure they don’t take up too much of the spotlight, directing the attention back onto you and your new spouse.
Bringing a confident voice and a helping, organised hand, wedding MCs have a wealth of value, making your big day just that little bit easier. Do some research, find one who matches your vibe, and when it comes time for the reception, you can simply sit back and relax knowing the rest is taken care of.
Photography by Tahnee Jade Photography