At the wedding I attended last weekend (I’ll stop going on about it soon, honest), we were greeted at the door of the reception venue by a smiling man in a red coat. He showed us up to the room, told us where to put our coats and pick up the champagne (important, that) and then hung around the room unobtrusively, chatting to people who approached him. We thought he came with the venue, but as it turned out, he was a toastmaster, hired separately.
I’d never come across this before, but I can see why it would be extremely useful. Later he acted as a master of ceremonies: calling us into dinner, introducing the speeches and announcing the cutting of the cake and the first dance. He was charming and funny and added a bit of structure to the reception (which can sometimes be a tad chaotic). Of course, it also takes the pressure of the bride and groom, who should get to relax and enjoy the reception too!
If you’re going to hire a toastmaster, you should make sure they’re a member of a professional organisation, such as the Guild of Professional Toastmasters or the Federation of Professional Toastmasters. There are, of course, female toastmasters available (although they’re called “Lady” Toastmasters) and toastmasters are happy to attend non-traditional weddings and civil ceremonies too.
If you’ve used one, let us know how you found the experience.