Your questions answered
Why should I engage a Toastmaster for my wedding?
You want your wedding day to be perfect. You may employ a professional photographer, caterers, musicians and others because you wish to leave nothing to chance. But for all this to run smoothly, who will coordinate the day for you? Who will greet your guests, take care of cards and gifts? Who will warn your caterer that the photographer is running late and delaying proceedings? Who will manage the receiving line and ensure your guests are seated at the right time? Who will ensure that everyone knows when it is their turn to speak? Who will introduce them, and put them at ease? Who will tell the photographer that the cake is being cut, and to get the best shot? Who will make sure the band know when to play music for dancing and that the videographer is on hand to capture the couple's first dance?
The visual impact of your Toastmaster in full traditional regalia, resplendent in immaculate red tailcoat and white gloves, gives your guests, venue staff and other agents a reassuring point of reference. His or her friendly, calming manner will reassure everyone. Your relatives, friends and guests will not have to run around working for you but can relax, share and enjoy your special occasion. Announcements and introductions will be made in the appropriate style; formally or informally, as the occasion requires; and will be made accurately, briefly and clearly. Everyone will be made to feel special and comfortable.
Isn't the Best Man supposed to look after the details?
To most wedding guests, the visible signs of the difference that a Toastmaster makes show in the relatively few announcements he/she makes. This, however, is merely the 'tip of the iceberg'. Much of what a capable and experienced Toastmaster does is never apparent to the majority of guests attending a function. His/her careful planning beforehand, and discreet and unobtrusive attention to detail and close liaison throughout the day ensure that proceedings flow, apparently without effort, to a successful conclusion.
A Toastmaster is, of course, expert in procedure and etiquette, professionally trained and qualified, using a combination of tact, diplomacy and management skills to ensure the smooth running of proceedings, the more so if they involve large numbers of people.
The Best Man, however, is chosen because he is the closest friend of one (or both) of those who will marry. They have honoured him by inviting him to fulfill the role.They want him to participate in and enjoy the big day to the full. He will almost certainly not been chosen primarily for his organisational skills or his experience in looking after the needs of the wedding party and the guests, or his knowledge and experience of the hospitality industry. He is a friend; treat him as one by not burdening him with the responsibility of ensuring the smooth running of the big day.
But the venue management has promised to see to everything...
Well, maybe. But this usually means that the head waiter or banqueting manager will attempt to fit in what a Toastmaster might otherwise do along with his/her many other duties - managing the kitchens and front of house and ensuring that the meal is correctly served; supervising the banqueting staff; perhaps at the same time acting as duty manager at the hotel with responsibility for dealing with incidents that occur elsewhere; while possibly also managing another event hosted at the venue that day.
In addition, he/she will be working for the venue in the same way as the chef, the waiters and the bar staff. If something goes wrong his/her responsibility is to the venue, his/her employer, as much as it is to you. An independent Toastmaster, engaged by you, works for you and you alone. You can rely on him/her to deal with problems and to work diligently to ensure that the venue effectively delivers whatever it has promised.
How should I choose my Toastmaster?
Toastmasters are not formally licensed. In theory, anyone can buy a red coat and call themselves a Toastmaster. Such an individual could be good, or bad. A professional Toastmaster, however, has undergone proper training and so will hold independent credentials, as he or she should also belong to a recognised association. Check that whoever you consider engaging for your event meets these criteria; check that they hold suitable insurance, and ask to see testimonials from past clients.
To make your choice you should, of course, speak at length with them, and meet. For a wedding you might find them at a Wedding Fair, for example. Toastmasters are individuals, so working with somebody you like and can relate to, and who suits the style of the event or function, will make the pre-event planning easier and mean that you are confident on the day.
What will my Toastmaster do for me?
Your Toastmaster will liaise with the venue staff and any other suppliers involved, using his/her organisational skills to ensure everything happens as it should. He/she supports and encourages all those with a part to play, instilling confidence and providing a calming influence. Having a Toastmaster means that your event should run smoothly and to time; you and your guests can relax and enjoy the event without worry. Also, you are assured of that extra touch of style, making your event or function truly memorable.
Your Toastmaster will meet with you in advance to offer advice on protocol and etiquette, provide hints and tips and agree the schedule for the day with you. This is where your Toastmaster’s experience can prove a great asset by ensuring that you have the right plan for your event.
On the day you can expect your Toastmaster to arrive at the venue early for a thorough check of all arrangements; he/she will liaise with caterers, organisers, photography and video teams, entertainers and other professionals involved to ensure all is prepared, and will continue to do so throughout the day, reworking the plan should anything unexpected occur. Throughout the day your Toastmaster will keep a watchful eye and deal discreetly with any matters that require attention.
It is a common fallacy that a Professional Toastmaster only lends pomp and formality; in fact we are simply there to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible and that your event or function is successful and memorable for all the right reasons.