All about toastmasters

Toastmasters - what is their history and how can they help to make sure your day runs smoothly?

Toastmasters have been a traditional part of weddings since the 18th century and they certainly add a touch of class and flair to your special day. They also help to make the event run smoothly, often working very hard behind the scenes as well as being at the front of house. So you can enjoy the day, while they rush around on your behalf.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has reference to a Toastmaster's glass, circa 1730. It is about the size of an ordinary drinking glass but with only a quarter of its capacity. The glass creates the illusion of being full. It owed its origin to the clubs of the 18th Century where the toastmaster had to remain sober enough to carry out his office! It is etiquette that a Toastmaster never consumes alcohol when working.

The traditional uniform of a professional Toastmaster is a red tailcoat and black trousers with a black ribbon down the side. Underneath, they wear a white, starched dress shirt and winged collar and white bow tie.

Accessories include black, patent leather shoes, matching studs and cuff links. A professional toastmaster always carries two uniforms to a function just in case one of the waiting staff tips red wine down them.

Peter York, a professional, gay-friendly Toastmaster says: 'I would recommend that a Toastmaster should arrive at the function venue at least an hour before the scheduled start time of the function. This will allow ample time to prepare, have a chat with the organisers and generally acquaint themselves with the layout of the venue.'

At a wedding reception it is usual for the Toastmaster to greet the wedding car and escort the happy couple into the reception venue, having ensured that the cake has been delivered, set up and available for cutting. They will also make sure that the caterers are ready to hand out drinks and serve food. They will also co-ordinate the photographer, videographer and musicians. Often they can recommend suppliers who they have worked with before.

A Toastmaster will also familiarise themselves with the table plan and names of guests and advise on any protocol, for example, if you are having a receiving line. They will also introduce guests and speakers, acting as a compere for the after dinner section of a wedding.

The Toastmaster will calmly and skilfully transform a wedding reception into a memorable occasion. The wedding party is thus free to relax and relish every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Find a toastmaster in your area