The Host With The Most by Tom Haibeck

October 15, 2009 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

Be the best MC you can be-and get paid for it!

Are you charging extra for your services as a wedding MC? If not, you should be.

After all, time is money. If you spend additional time helping the couple plan their reception-and then provide extra service to that couple as a professional MC-you are entirely justified in charging a fee over and above your normal rate for DJ services.

Think of it this way. If you hire a contractor to renovate your kitchen (at a set price) and then ask him to also renovate your bathroom, do you think he’s going to take on that extra work for free? If you retain a lawyer to draft your will (for a set fee) and then ask for your wife’s will to be drawn up as well, do you think the snake, I mean lawyer, will throw that in for free? Hair stylists charge extra for colour treatments (not that I’d know anything about that). Ski instructors charge more for private lessons. Even my shoeshine guy dings me an extra buck if I’m wearing boots (which require more time to polish).

Yet sadly, far too many mobile entertainers are willing to throw in their services as MC for no extra charge. And worse, they often agree to those terms on the day of the wedding (when the bride and groom are in panic mode and suddenly realize they haven’t made any arrangements for an MC). That puts the DJ in an incredibly awkward position, and leaves little or no time for them to properly prepare for their role as MC. The result can be disastrous for all concerned.

And that’s precisely why you need to address the situation with your client at the time of the booking. The fact is, most couples simply don’t have any background in event planning. (Why would they?)

They don’t “get” the fact that feeding and entertaining several hundred guests requires both a carefully planned agenda and a strong presence to lead guests through it (in the form of an MC). As a result, they spend countless hours writing vows and trying on dresses and finding flowers and buying diamonds and trust that everything will just magically flow together on their wedding day.

As we all know too well, that seldom happens. That’s why you, as the wedding professional, need to be proactive in educating your clients about both the need for proper planning and the importance of a properly-prepared MC.

It’s simple communication-if your ski instructor, for example, explains that the one-on-one attention you’re going to get through a private lesson will accelerate the learning curve and have you off the bunny slope on day one, you’re going to readily grasp the advantage and be willing to pay the extra fee for his or her personalized expertise.

Paint a similar picture for your prospective clients. Tell them that you offer two different “packages” of services as a wedding entertainer. Package one-the after-dinner music and entertainment program-provides the basics (music/dancing/entertainment). Quote your price for that and ask them if they have thought about who will MC the wedding reception.

They may have no idea as to what a wedding MC does-so here’s your chance to educate them on the need and up-sell them on your services.

Explain to them that a wedding reception falls into the category of “special event”-the bringing together of a large group of people. And just as a meeting needs a Chairman, a special event needs a Master of Ceremonies to lead people through it.

Emphasize how your experience and professionalism will prove invaluable throughout both the planning process and the performance to follow. Explain why it’s so important to have an experienced professional at the podium to help ensure the evening unfolds as planned (so everyone can have a great time). And be sure to outline the kind of research, attention to detail and overall prep time needed for you to do an outstanding job as Master of Ceremonies.

Once clients grasp the fact that an MC’s role involves far more than just “making a few announcements” and that the time you invest will have an enormous impact on the overall success of the event, they’ll be more than willing to pay you a premium for your professional services. Because while they might not fully appreciate the intricacies involved, they most certainly understand the need for their wedding reception to be fun, exciting and classy.

After all, it’s not only “The Biggest Day of Their Lives”-it also needs to be “The Greatest Night EVER.” Deliver on that dream and it’s money in the bank.

How to MC a Wedding: Top Ten Tips

  1. Meet with the couple well in advance of the wedding to plan an agenda for the wedding reception. Commit that to paper and make sure they sign off on it. Then give a copy of the agenda to all key players (caterer, photographer, videographer, people making toasts).
  2. Know your audience. Get a read on who is going to be in attendance (ask the couple for feedback) and tailor your presentation accordingly.
  3. Don’t try to be funny if you’re not. Your main role is to lead people through the event-and you don’t have to keep the audience in stitches in order to achieve that.
  4. Classy and low key always work. Save the jokes and magic and pyrotechnics for the after-dinner dancing and entertainment segment (and let guests enjoy dinner and chat amongst themselves).
  5. Interview members of the wedding party so you can use their “back stories” to introduce them. Wedding guests are always curious about who is in the wedding party, their relationship to the couple, where they live, what they do and who they are (as people). Use that information to make an informed introduction (and to perhaps kid each person a little bit as well).
  6. Schedule the wedding toasts for the dessert/coffee time. That way, guests can enjoy some special time together, and the people making toasts can have their full attention during the formal “after-dinner” wedding toasts and speeches.
  7. Suggest to the couple that all “toasters” be identified in advance of the reception and identified on the agenda. “Open mics” are too often an open invitation to disaster.
  8. Try to work with those toasters in advance of going “live.” Make yourself available prior to the start of the reception to give those individuals a chance to rehearse their speech and familiarize themselves with the setting. Be sure to show them how to use the microphone. (You might also suggest ahead of time that they buy a copy of Wedding Toasts Made Easy at WeddingToasts.com).
  9. Limit the toasting and speeches segment to a maximum of twenty minutes. Politely advise each speaker that they should limit their speech to a maximum of three to five minutes, and that you may have to give them the hook if they drone on (simply bring up some music and canned applause).
  10. If you’re nervous about public speaking, enroll in a Dale Carnegie Course or join a Toastmasters chapter. You’re being called upon to “preside” over the reception (as Master of Ceremonies). The more confident you are as a speaker, the more effective you will be in taking charge of that event and making sure it stays on track.
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Mobile Beat Staff Writer (228 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


Filed Under: Issues from 2009, Performing