How to Write a Wedding Reception Script

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here's a post that originally came out on another blog of mine, The Life and Times of The Renzie Man. I came up with this post shortly after my brother's wedding last August, and has turned out to be rather helpful, particularly for those who need help in putting together a script for the post-wedding festivities.

So you're about to do emcee work for a wedding reception- how exactly do you come up with a script for an occasion like this?

Putting together a wedding reception script isn't all that hard, really. Bear in mind that as the evening's master of ceremonies, you also have to play the part of a good host, and pretty much fill in everyone on what's going on.

Here are a few tips on writing a wedding reception script.

1. Remember: this is the newlyweds' big night, so the spotlight should really be on them, not on anybody else. Everybody else- family, friends, colleagues- can get their share of the limelight that evening, but special attention must be given to your couple every single time.

2. Get with the Master Plan. Consult with the future husband-and-wife exactly how they want things to happen. If you are to set the tone for the wedding reception, you have to take your cues from them. Sitting down with them will enable you to find out exactly what's important for them:

  • Would they want it to be done and over with as quickly as possible?
  • Would they want to have lots of ballroom dancing?
  • Do they want to incorporate particular wedding traditions on top of, say, the wedding bouquet and garter tosses?
  • Maybe they want their reception dinner completely untraditional- so what other fun stuff can you think of working in?
Whatever the future husband-and-wife wants, it is your mission to essentially carry out their wishes. After all, it is their night- you want it to be as memorable and magical as possible for the newlyweds, as well as for their friends and relatives.

3. Remember that you're writing a wedding reception script. Which means that once you've worked out the general plan with the couple (and with the wedding planner/s, if need be), you're now off to a PC or a laptop somewhere ready to work your magic.

No need to go verbose and all wordy. Keep it simple, short and sweet. In fact, get straight to the point.

Get a draft prepared well ahead of time, touching all the pertinent events of the reception according to the couple's wishes. Submit the drafts to the couple (and the wedding planner/s, if need be) to get their input. If you've listened well and worked in their needs and wants, then you should do just fine.

4. The usual program flow:
  • introduction of parents, principal and then secondary sponsors/wedding entourage
  • introduction of the newlyweds
  • dinner, as well as accompanying toasts and speeches
  • traditional ceremonies, wrapped up by garter and bouquet tosses
  • acknowledgments and thank you's
Modify elements according to how the couple wants their wedding reception done. For example, the bride would probably want a bouquet toss, but something a more out-of-the-ordinary, like tossing out multiple smaller bouquets instead of just one, or incorporating more cultural traditions into the program.

Ask the couple if there would be family members giving speeches or preparing toasts, or even friends who might be singing, dancing or otherwise have something prepared for our newlyweds that evening.

Once you got everything, go right ahead and work those elements right into the script.

5. Get to know a little bit more about the couple's family and friends. One of the more important things- pronouncing names. You'll be introducing members of the wedding entourage, acknowledging the presence of guests who may have flown in from some faraway country, or calling them out for a speech or a toast.

You might know who they are, and your other relatives (or friends) probably also do, but remember that other half of the room might not, so introducing them properly to all guests present would work well for everyone.

If anyone should know how certain names or surnames have to be pronounced, it's the couple. So go ahead and ask questions if you have to. If all else fails, look the person up yourself and ask him/her how to pronounce their name or how they want to be introduced. It's all part of the evening's fun, meeting new people.

6. Make the effort to get the story on the smaller details. Just enough detail to come up with the couple's story.

Maybe you can find out why the bride wanted the motif for the day's affair. Is there a story behind the wedding cake- say, any particular reason why the couple chose this specific design or make? Does the couple have a special song? There's always lots of stories behind songs.

Maybe the couple has a bunch of pictures flashing up on screen- you can use those as well to tell the story of how the couple met, or how he proposed, or some other significant event in their relationship.

Play up the little things that are special to the newlyweds, share their story, and convey that same warm and fuzzy feeling to your guests at the reception. Work those into your script as well.

7. Print out at least three copies of your wedding reception script- one should go to the couple, another to the wedding planner (or program coordinator, or whatever equivalent), and one for you.

As for your copy, you may want to come up with easy-to-use cue cards. You are going to glance at them every now and then, as you go about your hosting duties for the evening, so keep them handy. Also have a pen with you to scribble down notes and maybe some last-minute changes.

8 . Yes, you'll be reading off a script, but you don't have to sound as if you're reading it.

More importantly, you have to sound natural and as real as possible. The guests will be getting their cues from you, so your words have to radiate warmth, confidence and a sense of welcoming, but at the same time, deliver the appropriate level of formality for the affair at hand.

Make eye contact with your guests, inject just a little bit of personality, and be generally pleasant.

9. Even the best-made scripts are just guidelines. There may be some last-minute changes, or some sections you might have to do away with really quickly.

Regardless, you might have to make improvisations and maybe even have to adlib on the fly. Don't forget to get all your cues from the newlyweds- if anything needs to be changed, it has to be on their say, and you must be prepared to do so at a drop of a hat.

Don't worry about it- as long as you stick to the couple's Master Plan (see #2), everything will be just fine.

10. Bear in mind that you're also playing the part of a secondary host, someone who would be welcoming guests and keeping them engaged while the newlyweds are attending to other friends and mandatory photoshoots.

So take ownership of your role in the whole affair. Be cordial, be pleasant, be sensitive to the needs of your guests and of your newlyweds. Almost like hosting a party at home, only with more formal clothing.

There you have it. I hope this helps. I used to do a lot of wedding receptions and hosting gigs- mostly back in my earlier days of radio.

Hosting a wedding reception might be a little taxing, but they are lots of fun. It's a big night, everyone's all dressed up and in a festive mood, made even more memorable by the presence of family and friends- and particularly means so much more to the newlyweds.

Cheers, everyone!

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