The following text is taken from a video I recorded for a TV show about the unexpected rise of the professional wedding MC. It was filmed just before the wedding reception was about to begin. You can watch the video at the end of the page.
Well firstly, a little bit of history about myself. How did I get to be a wedding MC? I didn’t grow up telling everyone I was going to be the wedding MC – who does?
The industry has taken on enormous change. When I first started emceeing weddings in the mid-90s, it was a cliche that the wedding MC was an older gentleman with grey hair, a frilly shirt and told very bad jokes – that he laughed, but no one else did. And it was a real cliche, and it worried me. In fact, I was told by my corporate clients not to say that I was a wedding MC – but I was proud to be wedding MC.
And it happened by accident. I was a corporate MC as I said, and I used to do a lot of work. I first started with Westfield Shopping Center – thank you, Westfield, for all that thousands of hours of training on their stages. I made all my mistakes there.
One of the marketing managers had a girlfriend who was getting married, and she put me up “I know this guy – a compere – and he can do it” and she rang me and said “you’re going to emcee my girlfriend’s wedding” I said “oh no, I’ve never MC’d a wedding before – I don’t think I’ve even been to a wedding – what’s going on?” she said “please please” and it was well paid and so forth like that – and I said okay.
So I had enough smarts to ring a DJ – and it was the first one in the Yellow Pages and he was close to where I lived, and he’s still a friend today and he was great “A Ball Entertainment” Rick Chisholm – thank you, and he sat down, it was for free, and he sat down and he said ‘yeah I’ve MC’d a bit’ in those days the DJs kind of had to take it on board whether they liked it or not and some of the run sheets that he gave me I still use today.
And so I turned up at this wedding and I started to MC and I thought “goodness me, how long has this been going on for?” this is fantastic; this is much better fun than a corporate MC job. I mean the corporate MC is great – it’s a big responsibility like a wedding, but the wedding so much fun. And I thought ‘oh please’ and I’ve stayed there ever since I’ve never looked back.
But what happened, how the agency came about; I got booked and double-booked, and it just it went crazy because I was writing down everything; there was not one piece of information, apart from Rick Chisholm’s run sheets, on how to do it – so I wrote down everything. I was learning so fast that I used to come home at night time and I’d get home about half-past 12 at night-time – and everyone would be asleep – so I’d write and write and write and I’d sort of fall into bed about four o’clock in the morning having these scribbled notes.
Then a bride rang me on a Wednesday she said ‘can you MC?’ and I said “no sorry I’m booked already’” and she “please please please” and she started to cry. She said I’ve just been to a wedding and their friend did it and it was terrible.
I’ll never forget that phone call, I’ll never forget it. I thought ‘I have to do this’ I can see what the world is telling me to go out there and be a really good MC – a wedding MC – and train other people to do it because it’s a really important job – you only get one chance to get it right – so I put the phone down. Originally I said “No”. I put the phone down and then I thought about it. I sat there. I’ll never forget it
I sat on the desk and thought “Peter, come on you can do better than that” and I thought I’ll ring my mate Gary and he’d done a little bit of compering for me and helped me out in jobs I couldn’t do and he said – nice guy – “yeah okay”. I said ‘look I’ve got these notes, these handwritten scribbled notes – I’ll send them to you.”
So I rang her up and I said ‘look I think I’ve got someone’ and she went ‘thank you thank you thank you’ so I ran to the newsagent and I photocopied them I put them in the express post he got them on Thursday and looked at them on Friday.
I rang him on Monday and I said ‘Gary how did it go?’ he said ‘mate it’s good fun’. ‘yeah it’s great fun isn’t it’ and he said ‘those notes you gave me were excellent’ he said ‘mate you should make it into a book’. I went ‘yeah yeah yeah yeah’
Anyway, to cut a long story short, he did another job for me and he said ‘mate you’ve got to make those notes in your book’ because what I’ve done I had written out the scripts; and I didn’t realize that it’s a plug and play template.
And that book YOU CAN BE A WEDDING MC became a best-seller straight away it was published and now it’s on Amazon and it’s sold lots and lots of copies. It became the handbook for all professional wedding MCs around the world and so that’s how it started … completely by accident; there was no plan. There was just a need, a real need for it to be done well.
Watch the actual video here
See you on stage