Standing on ceremony: the role of a toastmaster

From checking the venue is ready to receiving your guests and introducing the speakers, a professional toastmaster can help your day to run like clockwork

With so many things to think about on your wedding day – from getting ready, remembering your vows during the ceremony and then thanking everyone you need to during the speeches – it is important that someone is making sure all of the key points of the day run on time.

It is only natural that you will get swept up in the romance of the day and may not be thinking about what time everyone needs to be sat down to eat by or remembering to cut the cake before the dancing starts, so hiring a toastmaster will help take the stress out of making sure everything happens at the right time.

Toastmasters, or masters of ceremony, originated in the form of a person in charge of a public speaking event responsible for introducing speakers and ensuring everything runs on time. Traditionally they dress in a red jacket.

Today, a toastmaster is a key part in the structure of a wedding day, carrying out duties including getting all the guests to the dining area on time, announcing the arrival of the newlyweds to the venue, as well as introducing the speeches, announcing the cutting of the cake and first dance and even reading messages from guests who cannot make it to the ceremony themselves.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a toastmaster, then you could ask a family member or friend to play the role. A natural suggestion would be to ask the best man or brother of the bride (if she has one), or you could ask one of the ushers.

When deciding who to pick, key qualities include:

• Being a confident speaker as well as being well presented.
• Having a clear voice that will carry in a hall or large room.
• Being organised and able to keep to schedule.
• Agreeing not to have too many glasses of champagne until the evening partying gets underway!

The right man for the job

As professional toastmasters have these skills already, if your budget can stretch to hiring one, this may help your day to run more smoothly and relieve the pressure of the role from someone who is not experienced – and who may not want to do it but at the same time, doesn’t want to let you down.

So how will you know that the toastmaster you hire has the training and expertise to help make your wedding that special day you have always dreamed of?

Well, there are many toastmaster training schools such as the UK School of Professional Toastmasters Ltd and all should be affiliated to the Toastmasters General Council (www.toastmastersgeneralcouncil.org). By being affiliated, your toastmaster should have public liability insurance, which will be a requirement of most venues.

He will also most likely be a member of one of a number of Toastmaster Associations. The largest of these is The Association of the UK School of Professional Toastmasters (www.professional-toastmasters.org). With more than 70 members this will ensure that in the event of illness or accident your toastmaster will be able to call upon a colleague to cover him and avoid spoiling your special day.

Because they are independent they will all charge slightly differently depending on requirements. They will probably offer different packages depending on whether they are needed for just the wedding breakfast or for the civil ceremony and evening reception as well.

When talking to potential toastmasters ask how long they are willing to stay at the ceremony for, what they will be wearing, if they have worked at the venue before and importantly, should they be unable to make it at the last minute, what contingency plans they have in place.

As you will have so much to organise both before and on the day, enlisting the help of a professional toastmaster may just make the difference in ensuring that you walk down the aisle the serene bride you’ve always dreamed of.