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Having an unforgettable wedding is more than just getting the perfect dress and a venue to die for. Unique wedding are about creating emotion, about bringing tears of joy to the people attending and giving them memories to cherish. This is where a toastmaster/master of ceremonies can truly kick-in.

But what is a toastmaster/master of ceremonies and what exactly can he do for your wedding? Michael Bidny, Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies, has agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to provide some insight on this topic.

Michael Bidny, Toastmaster & Master of Ceremony

Michael Bidny, Toastmaster & Master of Ceremony

Question: Michael, many thanks for agreeing to do this interview with us. First of all, please tell our brides what is a toastmaster, master of ceremonies and what is the difference between the two?

Answer: Very briefly: a Master of Ceremonies tends to just make factual announcements in the same way as a compare would when presenting an event, whereas I as your Toastmaster will get to know the bride and groom and their guests beforehand and, of course, I would tailor the wedding day in a more personal way. Personal snippets of information that the bride and groom tell me about some of their guests always goes down well, but at no time would I cause these guests any embarrassment. It’s a fine balancing act.

Q: What made choose this career path?

A: Having spent most of my working life in the public domain I felt at ease in the company of others and truly enjoyed the warm atmosphere of a wedding celebration. To be able to assist in the wedding day and “make it happen “ is something really special.

Q: What is you biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge for any Toastmaster or Master of Ceremonies is to ensure that he/she is are able to keep control of the situation no matter what is happening behind the scenes. As a Toastmaster I am a presenter, diplomat, communicator and organizer, it’s like the analogy of a swan, beneath the waves, your feet are paddling away furiously but above the waves all is calm.

Q: How do you convince brides they need a toastmaster/master of ceremony at their wedding?

A: Having performed the Master of Ceremonies role ( unofficially ) for my God daughter it became very clear that having one person ( Toastmaster ) to run the day made the day run ever so smoothly.

It is true that many venues provide a Master of Ceremonies as part of the wedding package and it has to be said that these people do try their very best, but it has to be born in mind that these people also have a host of other functions to do on the day, whilst your Toastmaster has only the bride and groom and guests in mind and will concentrate all of his efforts on this.

People generally would like to know what is happening and when, the speech-makers are always grateful knowing when its their turn to make the speech and equally important, I always try to put them at ease before the time comes for them to make their speeches.

The bride and groom need to be confident that the gifts that they have organized, which they will present, are in the right place at the right time and are ready for presentation.

“I am the man in the red coat, a soother of nerves and a point of contact.”

Q: Tell us exactly what you do at a wedding.

Each Toastmaster will do things slightly differently, but my way of doing things is that prior to the wedding day I will try and meet with the bride and groom on at least two occasions in order to take their instructions and run the event their way, and it is at this stage that I will try and establish how many different nationalities of the guests there are. I will welcome these guests in their own language. A small thing, but really appreciated by those guests.

I am there to ensure that the day goes exactly as the bride and groom have planned it.

I will liaise with the wedding venue and the staff well before the arrival of the wedding party to ensure that the timings are still the same and that everything is in place and as it should be,

As part of my duties, I also :

  • Receive and direct your guests
  • Take charge of any cards and gifts and arrange the Gift Table
  • Assist with the civil ceremony with permission from the Registrar
  • Greet the bridal party when they arrive from the church
  • Organize the receiving line
  • Announce the wedding breakfast and direct guests to their places
  • Announce the entrance of the bride and groom and escort them to their places, also if required escort the parents of the bride and groom to their places
  • Make any announcements that bride and groom require
  • Say grace before the meal or introduce a guest to do so
  • Announce and organize the cutting of the cake or other ceremonies
  • Announce any toasts and speeches and assist with presentations
  • Close the formal proceedings and escort the bride and groom as they retire
  • Should the bride and groom require me to stay until the evenings celebrations begin this can be sorted out at the time of your original meetings.

Q: Describe an emotional moment that you had while being hired to work at a wedding.

A: It is traditional at a Ukrainian wedding to leave one seat empty on the top table for those “guests” who are no longer with us. At the beginning of the wedding breakfast, I would then ask all the guest present to take a minute and remember all of those guest in their own way. I do this as long as the bride and groom agree with it.The saying “ you could hear a pin drop “ is an understatement.

Q: What should brides look for in a toastmaster/master of ceremony?

A: When booking your Toastmaster, you are trusting a stranger to run your special day so it’s very important that you feel sure and confident in handing over the reins. For me, it’s vitally important that you and your Toastmaster meet on at least two occasions ( it can be more if required ) before the wedding day to fully discuss the event, it’s always better to meet face to face but sometimes this is not possible, so this can be done over the telephone. It is at this stage that you will soon realize if the Toastmaster is listening to what you are saying. You may wish an informal event whilst the Toastmaster is trying to push you towards a very formal ceremony. It is not the job of the Toastmaster to push his ideas onto you – he is there to listen and do as you wish, adding style, grace. It’s your day!!!!

Q: One last piece of advice for our readers?

A: The one last piece of advice I would give to any bride and groom is this: It is your special day, do it the way you want to do it – as in years to come you may regret not doing it your way. Listen to what others have to say and suggest, and this includes your Toastmaster, but providing you will not offend anyone else. DO IT YOUR WAY.

Also in these days of civil litigation, ensure that your Toastmaster has public liability insurance and ask to see this.

If you want to know more about Michael and the amazing job he does, you can find him here.

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