Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sucka-Free Emcee

The prevailing scientific theory of the universe is that it naturally tends toward chaos. Orderly structures break apart; matter decays into energy; random events occur without warning. Despite our best efforts to make sense of the cosmos, chaos ultimately reigns.

Clearly, the scientists who conceived this theory have had some experience planning weddings.

Hey folks, Jason here again. Let's face it: random, spontaneous moments are unavoidable at even the most meticulously-organized event. Weddings are no exception. Yet we must still try to impose some order on the day, despite the perverse laws of the universe. While we can't control every last second, we can at least set up a framework for the day to follow (typically including a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, some speeches, and dancing). And since a crowd rarely steers itself, it helps to have a Master of Ceremonies who is responsible for directing the flow of events. Which brings me to the real point of this post: who will be our emcee, and how will we incorporate him/her into the proceedings?

First, we need to agree on what the stages of our wedding will actually be. It's a bit difficult to define the role of an emcee when we're not sure exactly what he/she will be doing. Still, I can envision a few key moments where an emcee would come in handy (keep in mind, these are my own thoughts; Becca may have a different take on some aspects):
- announcing the end of cocktail hour and steering guests toward the reception hall for dinner
- introducing the newly-married couple as we enter the hall
- leading a round of toasts & speeches
- encouraging folks to get up & start dancing at the appropriate time
- coordinating with the music supervisor (see my earlier post about having an iPod wedding) to start & stop the music so the emcee can be heard

Often, a wedding DJ will fulfill the emcee duties, but even if we were having a DJ, I'd prefer to keep the two roles separate. You can't always trust a DJ to be a good emcee. I've heard horror stories of deadpan DJs killing the mood, or of megalomaniac DJs veering off-script and hijacking the wedding. At best, a DJ/MC ends up sounding (and feeling) like a good radio announcer -- clear voice, smooth delivery, effective but bland. I'd prefer something a little more personal. Someone who really cares about the event and the people involved in it. Someone who's glad to fulfill the emcee role, not just doing it because they're getting paid to.

That's why I plan to ask one of my close friends to play the role of emcee. He's a good buddy from my college a cappella group, and he's known me & Becca for several years (we attended his wedding last summer). He's an extremely talented actor, very funny, has a great personality, and would be a natural fit. I plan to request his assistance in lieu of a wedding present (frankly, Becca & I plan to ask several of our friends for help, and we intend to let them know that we consider their efforts gift enough for us). His improv skills will come in handy since, as I noted earlier, chaos has a tendency to intervene at weddings. I just need to be careful not to ask too much of him; I want to make sure he can relax, have fun & enjoy the party, and only revert to "emcee mode" when necessary. Hopefully, his presence will make the whole event feel more personal.

I'll open it up to your comments now. How did you folks handle the emcee duties? Any tips or suggestions?


  1. Sounds like you have a good match in mind! Our venue comes with a Day of Coordinator who seems to be the one doing a lot of these things. At the dinner though, I think we are going to pass the ball onto the dj, who luckily seems capable of handling it as he works in radio. Good luck with your search. I'm sure your friend will accept and be honored you thought of him!

  2. All I know is avoid the DJ who clearly moonlights as the voiceover guy for monster truck rally commercials. We went to one wedding where he introduced the couple in the same voice as "SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!"

  3. such a great idea to have a friend be your emcee. there is something about knowing the couple personally that would benefit when doing his duties.

    we lucked out and found a local company comprised of sb area djs who do weddings during the wedding season. their younger/party appeal and professionalism helped to ensure our emcee needs were met. our reception ran smoothly.

  4. Oh Mouse, that made me smile. We're lucky in that one of our dear friends is also an emcee (on the radio). He volunteered for the gig a long time ago.

  5. we're debating whether we should even have an emcee. but then our venue is small... we don't really have any friends who would fit (or would want to). I will probably put someone in charge of the ipod, but since we're Rock Band-Guitar Hero-ing it up for a while, really teh dancing is for those "others" who like to dance :)

    We'll haev to problem solve around speeches, keeping them under control adn coming up with a non-corny glass-ding dealy for "couple kiss"...

    sounds like you and Becca have things under control :)

  6. @Eco Yogini: wow, you're having Guitar Hero & Rock Band at your wedding? You are officially AWESOME.

  7. We're doing the same thing as you guys - we selected two of our closest and most outgoing friends to share the duties. I have no fear of people not paying attention to them :) They don't have to do much, but I'm wondering how to make sure they know what to do and when to do it. Sit them down and take them through the rough program and trust them to make announcements when it feels right?

  8. I'm so glad I read this post as my fiance and I are on the fence in terms of music. We want an iPod wedding, but we also want an emcee and oddly never thought to ask one of our friends. We assumed we'd need a DJ, hands down. Now that we talk it over, we have a friend on the guest list who is a voiceover actor and radio producer. He'd be perfect for it and I can't wait to ask him.

  9. We had a good friend of ours, husband of the maid of honor, be our MC. It was really great. He even managed to provide comic relief when a few things went to hell during the reception.

    Your plan sounds great.

  10. I've been fortunate that a lot of my vendors are friends. so it cuts costs and stress b/c i know them. My brother's friend (whom i've known since my childhood) is dj'ing for us. He'll handle the limited emcee duties. My friend recently had a destination wedding and they opted for ipod instead of hiring a local dj... it was great. It was music she knew her crowd would love and nobody even noticed there was no "emcee", whenever anybody needed the mic - they just headed up there. it went REALLY smoothly even without... so i think the ipod wedding with an emcee will be just as smooth if not smoother. :)


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