CONVERSATIONS: What Makes A Great MC?

The Master of Ceremonies (MC) has an important role to play in any wedding. Their responsibilities include coordinating with vendors, introducing speakers, making announcements and generally making sure everything runs smoothly and everyone has a good time. Needless to say - it’s crucial to find the right person for the job.

We sat down with friend of Assembly, George Harper Jnr to get his advice on what makes a great MC. You may recognise George from She Loves Golf or Short and Wide. He’s a fab public speaker and dishes out some great tips for anyone preparing for an MC role or couples choosing their MC.

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Hi George!

FIRST AND FOREMOST, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHERE YOU’RE FROM…

I’m from a little place called Geraldine in the heart of the South Island but I have been based in Auckland trying to follow my media dreams since 2011. After working with a fellow failed sportsman to start a TV show called Short & Wide, I have been working at New Zealand Golf for 4 years and have been trying to grow the game ever since.

I naturally love my sport and have recently decided to pack my bags and head over to the UK and Japan for work which happens to be at the same time and the Cricket & Rugby World Cups. I also LOVE wedding season! Apart from the fact I am so far away from my own, everyone else seems to be getting hitched so I am just enjoying the ride and celebrating with an amazing group of friends.  

YOU WERE THE MC AT ASHLEIGH AND DAVID’S WEDDING. What did you do to prepare for the role?

It’s very hard preparing for the Royal Wedding! Hugely nerve racking, plenty of nightmares and a room full of all your best and very judgemental friends (in a good way) to stand up in front of.

This was only my second wedding as an MC and although I have been in charge of the microphone at many other events in the past, this was certainly different. A stadium full of fans at a Crusaders game all of a sudden felt easy.

I had a busy few weeks of travel before the big day, so an 11-hour flight to and from Singapore was a big session of prep coupled with a few Singapore Slings to get the creative juices flowing! There were plenty of long showers practising a few shocking one-liners and a very intimidating Haka which we performed for the couple after the ceremony.

Being so close to everyone there, a big part of my prep was to talk to every member of the Bridal Party and hear some of their thoughts about the couple and how they all met. I think introducing everyone up front is a great way to set a wedding off to ensure the punters know who everyone is and it’s also an easy way to get the laughs rolling with less filter required for the Bridal Party compared to the married couple.

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WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?

A small challenge was controlling everyone’s drinking before the wedding ceremony started. We were all meant to wait until the knot had been tied but I dare anyone to try stop our friends group tucking into a couple of cold ones on the beach in the glorious Matarangi…No chance!

Dinner was also delayed in the kitchen which was a bit of a hurdle but thankfully this was when the father of the groom was mid-speech. If you don’t know Al Hutchens - the man can go longer than Richie McCaw on a full tank, and although I momentarily lost a friend in Big Davo, the groom, for not shutting him up, things were right back on schedule – Thanks Al.

I have always thought organisation hasn’t been a strong suit of mine so trying to make sure the wedding ran smoothly and to schedule got me rather nervous. I was like a duck in the water, trying to remain calm and more importantly look calm so Ash and Dave could see and feel that all was going to plan. You quickly find out that you would do everything in your power to make things go to plan and I surprised myself and even Nick Lawrie (the time keeper of all keepers).

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WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST?

The main reason anyone would love being an MC, especially for your friends, is that you feel part of the biggest day of their lives and can contribute towards helping it be exactly that and more. It’s a chance to show your love for the couple who have been such great friends and take any little bit of pressure you can off them.

I enjoyed taking a risk!

I ended the night with a song/chant that I wrote on the way back from Singapore/the drive to the wedding with a musically talented friend of mine who had a very fresh fade haircut for the big day. Throughout the night I was wetting myself about this moment and had decided to completely abort mission. However, after a few tri-stars that were hidden under my seat and one last pep-talk with fade, we went all in.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as we did, but it ended the night with a huge amount of energy in the marquee which set the tone for the party to come. I believe ending strong really helps the segue into the next chapter of the night where everyone let’s their hair down and all of a sudden think they can dance…

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WHAT SHOULD A COUPLE LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING THEIR MC? What attributes does a good MC need to have?

The role of MC is a funny one, some say it’s for a person who misses out on the podium next to the bride or groom and with Dave having approx. 26 groomsmen, it’s fair to say everyone there was gutted to miss the cut.

But the MC needs to be someone close to you, someone that can hold the room, someone who you can shout at behind the scenes and someone you trust!

I sometimes think the role of the MC is getting bigger and bigger every year and that you need to be funny, professional and perfect. But you must remember it shouldn’t be about the MC, it should be about the couple everyone is there to see.

Sometimes the perfect friend for the role may never have done public speaking, but their knowledge and love for the couple is far superior than a flamboyant talker and goes a long way to creating a lovely atmosphere on the big day.

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Lastly, what are your TOP THREE TIPS to being a great MC?

01 | Spend time with the families.

After two weddings I have found on both occasions that sisters, brothers and parents have so much to offer an MC. Whether it’s superb stories from the past, letting you know their family history or just the pure emotion and love they have for the couple, it really hits home what this occasion is all about and should enable you to show your softer side while on the microphone…After planning all week for my first wedding, I threw all notes aside after giving both sets of parents a ride from the church to the reception and was all of a sudden filled with confidence rather than stress.

02 | Leadership group.

Organise your own mini-leadership group of close friends that you know will help when the pressure is on. Rounding up sheep is never easy on your own, so to be able to reach out is a big part and to help spread the whispers that it’s time to move location, check on the kitchen or find people that aren’t at their seats #delegation


03 | Do everything you possibly can to help.

Whether that’s taking an extra few days off to get there early and mow the lawns three times and hand pick the grass clippings, or just to be there to share a drink with everyone, it all adds up to create a helluva week!

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