As a professional toastmaster, James Hopkins will ensure that your big day runs super smoothly. Hiring a professional toastmaster is like taking a great weight off your shoulders immediately.
James will take responsibility for the smooth running of your day and he’s also available to coach members of your wedding party who may feel nervous about giving a speech, and to be honest who doesn’t?
Of course, the work of a toastmaster extends beyond weddings to all manner of corporate functions which keeps James on his toes, but we would like to give him our special respect for using his skills to help raise so much money for charity – well done James.
Back to weddings now and we’ll let James guide you through what to expect if your hire him as your toastmaster for your big day, and a little more on his associated work.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business
My name is James Hopkins and I am a professional Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies. My role finds me at all sorts of events, not only weddings, you could find at a corporate awards night, a Bar mitzvah, a Golf society dinner or even on stage in front of thousands at a music festival!
What motivated you to start your business?
I have been a compere and MC for over 15 years now and my first event as a compere was a Dance show my daughter was in. There were two sold out shows each with an audience of 1200 people and it was my job to announce all the acts, fill in while costume changes took place and make the show look as slick as possible whilst back stage chaos reigned as any show would with 230 children in in aged 2 years and upwards.
From this show I was asked to MC a charity ball and the role and types of events grew from there. I knew I had a talent for organising, remaining cool under pressure and meeting people’s needs, getting my break to demonstrate this has led to me wanting to be professionally trained as a Toastmaster and Master of ceremonies so I know I am doing everything I can in the right way for anyone that books me.
Tell us a little more about the day to day activities of your business
The role used to be seasonal but not so much now with weddings taking place all through the year so this added to the other types of events I cover it is a year round role. Day to day I will be in touch with other suppliers, this may be in connection with wedding fayres, open day events and future bookings. I also stay in touch with people that have booked me, I always meet couples who have booked me for their wedding face to face several weeks before the happy day to go through the plans for the day, offer help and advice and get to know them personally so on the day I can react well to their needs.
I also offer coaching to any members of the family and friends who are doing speeches, I have several coaching methods that will get the most nervous of speakers through their speech without having to partake in too much Dutch courage beforehand.
The feedback I have had about this meeting is that it has made the Bride and groom feel like a weight has been shifted from their shoulders having met me and knowing that on their special day I will be taking responsibility for getting things running well.
If our readers were to order from you, what can they expect?
A friendly professional service from the start, I have held very senior customer service roles through my career and this comes across once you get in touch with me. I will chat through the role that I can do and understand what it is the couple are looking for.
I always remember that it is the couple’s special day and I am there to make sure it is the day they want, not the day someone thinks they should have.
There are so many options for couples these days and I can use my experience to say what has worked well and what hasn’t in the past and then leave the decisions with them. I will always meet them before the wedding, and be only a phone call away to answer any questions throughout their planning process if they need me.
On the day I will be at the venue at least an hour beforehand to check everything is as it should be and to meet the events co-ordinator. The biggest thing to remember when hiring a Toastmaster is that I work for the Couple on the day of the wedding, not the venue or caterers so I can oversee the whole event not just one part.
How can couples judge if a company is the right fit for their wedding?
You can tell a lot from the first time you speak to someone, and when enquiring over the phone you need to be comfortable with their approach, read testimonials and see what previous customers are saying is related to any of the concerns you may be having at that time. If you can see that other couples had a good experience you know you will too.
What are your favourite moments from previous weddings you’ve been involved with?
There are many moments that happen at a wedding, most only seen from those behind the scenes but my role has seen me cleaning shoes after photos were taken on a muddy lawn, help a photographer climb a children’s climbing frame to get a shot from above everyone, help rebuild a doughnut wedding cake that had collapsed in the heat and find a missing child no one else could after they took a game of hide and seek too far!
Couples always remember little things from the day, I always send the Bride a silver sixpence for good luck when she is getting ready, and couples always value the 10-15 minutes I get them on their own with a glass of fizz to relax a little before going into the reception.
But the best moments are always those when someone says to you “you really made a difference” and “the day would not have been so special without you here”
The bigger picture – does your business offer goods/services outside of the wedding world? Tell us more
I have been fully trained in many events from Masonic ladies nights to an event where Royalty are present as part of my comprehensive training from the Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies Federation which is the Federation I belong to, this means I have a wealth of experience to tap into to if I need it and also have my own liability insurance.
I also act as MC at charity auctions, corporate launches or award nights as well music events like concerts and festivals. I have also coached and mentored people in presentation skills, as presenting is something I have done for nearly 30 years at Senior board events to a vast audience at Olympia.
What have you got planned for the next 12 months?
I have a variety of events lined up in 2018, some Weddings at new venues which are always exciting as well as charity events which involve some fantastic and unusual auction items from what I am hearing from the organisers.
There is also a large music event, a regiment’s reunion dinner and something completely different a Diamond wedding anniversary. And I still have weekends to be booked!
And finally, what or who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by the fact that I know I make a difference to events and people. Wedding days are so special and such a commitment in many ways, I always consider it an honour to be part of it which is why the role is so much more than just a job/service.
I have been lucky to have been involved with some really worth charity events and auctions over the last few years which when I totalled up the other day how much had been raised it was over £100k!
Speaking to the charities and people who have benefitted from the research I have done before the events and the work that goes into them on the night I can never fail to be inspired.
All images courtesy of James Hopkins