Preparation is golden when it comes to avoiding MC disasters. I was the DJ for a wedding where Charlie, an ‘amusing’ uncle was the Master of ceremonies. Uncle Charlie was a ‘brown cardie man’. He bought his nice brown suit in 1972 and never updated it. He had horn-rimmed spectacles, a comb-over hair do, and an adenoidal ‘train enthusiast’ voice. What happened that day has haunted me for over 15 years.
His first error was missing a wonderful opportunity to make a fantastic lifetime memory with the introductions into the room. The wedding party just wandered in and sat along with all of the guests, so most of the guests never knew who they were and what their connection with the couple was. The newly-wed couple were introduced simply as “the Bride & Groom”, not even using their names.
He started off once everyone was seated with a risqué comment, asking by show of hands who had seen the bride naked. He then said that he had personally seen her naked, but relieved the awkwardness by showing a large photo of the bride as a two year old, riding her tricycle naked. Luckily this got a nervous laugh from the crowd.
His duties extended to being about him a fair bit, with him telling amusing (to him at least) anecdotes about the Bride and her family. The Groom and his family were more or less ignored, presumably because he didn’t know them.
Uncle Charlie failed to liaise with me (the DJ and the person in charge of the microphone and the music), but also the photographer, the catering staff, the videographer and the couple. This meant that he would periodically start unexpectedly talking on the microphone.
He would do this from different places in the room and without warning, so none of the wedding professionals were ready for him, and the guests didn’t know where to look to see where he was speaking from. Most of the time the music was playing and I had the microphone volume muted. I did this because he left the mic turned on and on several of the tables, so if I didn’t mute it, everyone would be hearing the private conversations of the people closest to the mic.
Although I was trying to keep an eye on him to pre-empt his announcement, his actions were so erratic that it was impossible to be ahead of him at every moment. The videographer was never ready to shoot (the camera was in standby and took a moment to roll), and because Charlie started talking from a variety of different places, the camera and tripod (and lighting) was seldom in the right place. This meant that every time he spoke, the first few sentences weren’t recorded on the wedding video.
Additionally, because he hadn’t talked with the caterers before he started to speak each time, he hadn’t checked if they were ready for the next part of the night. He never checked to see if the plates were cleared after the last course, or if the toast wines were poured, or if the cake was ready.
The cake cutting is where things really went bad though. Uncle Charlie started talking, “Hello, hello, is this thing on?” This time it was, as I was watching him like a hawk by this stage. “OK folks,” he continued. “It’s time for our Bride and Groom to cut the cake, so if you could all just…. Oh what? She’s where? Oh… She’s in the TOILET!”
Yes, he said that over the microphone. Then he thought he’d be funny. He said “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we wait until she comes back in the room and we’ll give her a big round of applause?”
Awful, awkward silence followed, then nervous shuffling in the seats, and stifled quiet, embarrassed conversation amongst some of the guests. As the Bride came up the stairs from the rest room, she looked bewildered as the room was so silent.
When she walked in, Uncle Charlie exclaimed loudly over the microphone “She’s back safely!” then starting a slow clap, which was joined in by the drunkest of the guests who found it funny.
I’m pretty sure that when the Bride was dreaming of her perfect day, this wasn’t one of the moments she wanted to remember and cherish. The poor girl looked mortified, as did her parents and her new husband.
Where did Charlie go wrong? It wasn’t just his poor attempt at humour. Uncle Charlie’s error was his lack of planning and preparation. When I am Master of Ceremonies, before I announce something as simple as the cutting of the cake, I’ve already completed a silent checklist in my head.Uncle Charlie’s error was his lack of planning and preparation
- Is the cake in the room?
- Is there a knife on the cake table?
- Are the couple going to feed each other a piece of cake? If they do, there will need to be a pair of cake plates and napkins, as well as a cake slice to accompany the knife.
- Are the caterers ready to take the cake away afterwards and cut it up?
- Is the DJ or band ready to play the appropriate music?
- Are the photographer and videographer ready?
- Is the cake in the best place for lighting and backdrop for the pictures?
- Here’s a thought… are both newlyweds in the room and ready for the cutting of the cake???
Charlie failed to perform any of the checklist, but if he had, this awful moment would have been avoided entirely. This sort of checklist needs to be performed by a wedding MC before every element of the wedding reception.
If you’re going to be the Master of Ceremonies at a wedding, don’t be a Charlie. Plan properly.