What Is The Role of a Toastmaster / Master of Wedding Ceremony

By Ken Chaproniere

We are familiar with the terms toastmaster or Master of Ceremony and probably associate them with royal or VIP occasions. Yet this need not be the case. A Toastmaster can make your special occasion a memorable one.

A good toastmaster will discreetly go about his duties and provide confidence and a calming influence on the bridal party and hosts. He will be an expert on wedding etiquette and protocol which ensures that the members of the bridal party, who have roles to fulfil during the reception, do so in the right order and without embarrassment.

The toastmaster introduces guests to their hosts at the start of the receiving line; announces meals, speeches, toasts and organises the cake cutting. They may also help guests to find their seats for the wedding breakfast. Having someone with responsibility for these elements of the reception will ensure that the event runs smoothly, eliminating pauses where the bridal party and guests aren’t sure what’s happening or what to do next. This can save those awkward, quiet moments when everyone is waiting for something to happen.

Etiquette and protocol

The proposing of formal toasts should be considered as a particular and special honour or reward. In most cases, apart from State occasions, Civic receptions, and Wedding receptions, there is usually certain local customs and traditions that need to be maintained. The recipient of the toast is usually expected to reply. If a formal reply is expected, the recipient will have been briefed in advance of the occasion. When the toast is given the guests, as tradition dictates, stand whilst the recipient is expected to remain seated. The exception to this custom is when the toast is given on board a ship and is observed today at British Royal Navel dinners when the Toast to the Immortal Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson.

There are a number of general and conventional toasts included at any formal gathering or meal. Toasts are usually made at the end of a meal, with the exception of State events, where they are often made before the meal.

The normal or traditional toasts are:

The Loyal Toast

The Loyal Toast is usually the responsibility of the chairperson or president. The tradition here is for all to stand, except at Royal Navy functions and certain Regimental occasions, where convention dictates otherwise.

Formal Toast

The Formal Toast or a toast which is proposed, but to which no reply is expected or required is usually proposed by the Chairman or President or by the incoming President or a senior representative etc.

Usually proposed by the President; a formal reply is expected from one of the ladies present who will have been nominated before the event.

Burns Night:
A toast is usually proposed to Robbie Burns, and also to the Haggis. This would be carried out with due ceremony.

The first toast is proposed by the Father of the Bride to; The Bride & Groom. The second toast is proposed by the Groom to; The Bridesmaids. On some occasions the Best man will propose a second toast to the Bride & Groom, or a toast to; The Parents of the Bride & Groom.

Should any guests of note not be present, then a toast to Absent Friends is appropriate. Often the name of person of note is coupled with the toast.

A Toastmaster or Master of Ceremony provides a formal structure and brings centuries of tradition along to any special occasion to make it a memorable one for both hosts and guests.Ken Chaproniere is a professional toastmaster and officiates at many weddings and public ceremonies. One of his specialities is opening a champagne bottle with a sabre – known as sabrage. Ken brings the history and fine traditions of his craft to weddings, ceremonies and important family occasions. More information can be found at his website by clicking Master of Ceremonies