Stepping Stones: DJ to MC

The mobile DJ community here in Canada often runs into a small roadblock when communicating the MC side of their services to potential brides and grooms (if that DJ even offers MC services). Most time, brides and grooms have never heard of the DJ performing the role of MC and, often times, they’ve already asked someone else to MC their wedding by the time they hire a DJ. This is that roadblock. They can’t exactly “un-ask” someone to be their MC, can they?

In Canada the DJ is typically NOT the Master of Ceremonies (MC). The role of a wedding MC is often left to the Best Man, Maid of Honour, a cousin, close friend, Uncle Bob…whomever. Breaking free from that long standing Canadian tradition, is something that has required a bit of effort. Here is how I accomplished that task.

The first step was to convey the value of a hired MC at the initial sales consultation. I often did this (and still currently do) by sharing my story of initial disbelief at the idea of a hired MC and how I transitioned over to become a believer in the idea. Remember, at one time, I too thought hiring a DJ as the MC was the craziest idea I’d ever heard.

The second step (where a wedding couple had already chosen an MC as described above) was to tell them that I will do my utmost to make their chosen MC (family member, friend, etc.) look as good as possible, while dividing up the MC duties between us. The idea of having two MCs, one for the sake of tradition (the family member or friend) and one with performance training behind him (me) was nearly always a great way to ensure I was going to be given the chance to do my work for the benefit of their party. It was also often mentioned that this would ensure the other person could enjoy part of their evening, as opposed to feeling like they were working the entire night.

My duties would include going through all of the pre-wedding MC planning with them which included brainstorming activities to use for kissing and buffet invitation, how to introduce the wedding party, the order of toasts and speeches, etc. I would also be the person that started the evening by securing the guests’ attention, welcoming them to the celebration and conducting the grand entrance and all of the wedding party introductions that come along with that. Then, at the end of the grand entrance, I would introduce my co-MC for the evening (the family member/friend) and we’d tag team the night from there, until the dance started (at which time, I would take over full control again).

The other part of my role in this was that I would sit down with my co-MC prior to the wedding and go over all of what the wedding couple and I had planned. Many times, this would happen a few weeks before the wedding, other times, it would happen during the time between ceremony and reception.

My co-MC would then be given as much opportunity as they wanted to lead the kissing activity and buffet invite activity (if there was one). The co-MC would also introduce people forward to present their toasts and speeches as the wedding couple and I had previously organized.

There was the occasional push back from my co-MCs that their role was being diluted as a result of the parts I was taking over (the grand entrance, for instance) but most times, my involvement was met with a sincere sense of relief. Most of the family member or friend co-MCs were thankful that they didn’t have to plan and run the entire night on their own and I received a lot of thanks for my involvement from these people.

Were their times that co-MCing didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked? Absolutely. There were also other times where my involvement with a co-MC produced results that were greater then what I could have accomplished on my own.

The biggest challenge I have had to deal with was putting my co-MCs in a negative light, relative to the “stage presence” I would have. Some very careful energy shifts and transitions had to take place prior to introducing my co-MCs. This was not always easy.

As I came to be more proficient and confident in my role as MC, many of my wedding couples did end up asking the people they’d previously chosen for the role of MC if they would, instead, like to have the “night off” and just enjoy the evening. As my confidence grew, so did my wedding couples confidence in me. This led to fewer and fewer co-MC positions for me to deal with. I no longer take on weddings unless I am the only MC for the evening. I’m sure exceptions will arise from time to time, but they would be just that, exceptions.

Without having complete control of the evening, from cocktails to last dance, I cannot ensure the results my wedding couples hire me to produce. Transitioning from just being the DJ to now also the MC, has been critical to my success as a mobile wedding DJ.

With the launch of Bill Hermann’s Entertainment Experience in Hamilton, Ontario less then two weeks from today, the conversation among Canadian DJs becoming a proper Master of Ceremonies and how to integrate that into the weddings they are already being hired for will become a more frequently discussed topic. I hope this second entry in my Stepping Stones series provides some insight into how I made this possible for me.

While the role of the DJ and that of the MC might sound pretty self explanatory to my American readers, things are not quite that simple north of the 49th parallel…or anywhere else in the English speaking world for that matter.

~ Dave

4 thoughts on “Stepping Stones: DJ to MC”

  1. I have run into the Co-MC issue a handful of times and often they don’t understand what real MC does. I agree the more you educate your clients they seem to drop the other MC so they can enjoy the evening. Thank yo for your insights.

    1. Thank you for your comments Rob. There is certainly a world of difference between what we do and what other folks might do. Communicating that to the Canadian marketplace can be a challenge for many DJs up here these days. But it is getting easier…more and more I am being contacted BECAUSE I am the MC at the weddings I work with. So things are changing…for the better. 🙂

  2. Good morning Dave I enjoy this post, however to me it is missing something, how do you take it to the next level for MC Duties. I always do some MC duties, either introducing the Bridal party, The Speeches, First Dance….but what do you do or what do you recommend to make it POP….I have sat with the couples and go over who is in the Bridal Party, names how long they have known each other etc….all of that stuff…but what do you do to make them what you as the MC…because I’m sure you don’t do that extra bonus for Free?


    1. Hey Greg, that topic is separate from this one, which is why information about that isn’t included here. The answer to your question lies in performance training, attending workshops and conferences and getting face time with instructors. I realize you might do some of the things you mentioned above (intro wedding party, intro speeches, etc.), but if HOW you’re doing them isn’t compelling people to book your services, that simply indicates there is still work to be done on things. You’ve read Peter Merry’s “The Best Wedding Reception… EVER!” haven’t you? He offers up pages and pages of ways to introduce a wedding party, for example. Have you tried those methods?

      And I am sorry, I don’t know what that last question means (about “extra bonus for Free”). I do not work for free. I am paid decently well for the service I provide.

      Thanks for your comment as always!

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