Summer Solstice 2024…

…and my wife and I spent the week cruising around Iceland on board the Azamara Quest, looking out for volcanos and icebergs, lakes and waterfalls, whales and puffins, and being just within the Arctic circle we experienced virtual daylight at midnight; weird!

On Easter Sunday I had the pleasure of serving as one of the MCs for the Pungudutivu Welfare Association (UK) dinner, raising funds to provide computer equipment for village schools on the island off the west coast of Sri Lanka. After the lighting of the sacred lamp, several hundred guests were entertained to traditional music, singing and temple dancing. As the proceedings were in Tamil, my responsibilities for the evening were primarily the promotion of the raffle and announcing the draw.

I was also pleased to be engaged as Toastmaster for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society formal dinner and celebrity concert, part of the centenary convention at the Grim’s Dyke Hotel and  formerly the home of W.S. Gilbert. After dinner, the loyal toast, the welcome speech, and toasts to the immortal legacy of Gilbert and Sullivan and to 100 years of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, I had the honour of introducing the society’s Royal Patron and guest of honour, HRH the Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO. More blogs…

Guest Blog…

Band stand at BrightonIn the excitement of planning, it’s easy to overlook the negative impact weddings can have on the environment. To raise awareness and promote circularity, 77 Diamonds created an in-depth guide on planning an eco-friendly, zero-waste celebration. In this guide, readers will learn about:
Carbon footprint: The environmental impact of nuptials and the biggest sustainability culprits.
Planning a green wedding: Practical tips on budgeting, selecting eco-conscious suppliers, and utilising sustainable resources.
Celebrating love and the planet: How your celebration can support environmental nonprofits.
Read the guide here:

Special Touches…

Occasionally I come across something that is a little different; these are the special touches that can make your special day just that – special.

Traditional Wedding Speeches

How to make a confident and memorable wedding speechTraditionally, there are three speeches at a standard English wedding: father of the bride, the bridegroom, and finally the best man, in that order. Other speeches can be slotted in as required, for example, the father of the bridegroom would follow the father of the bride, and the bride herself would follow the bridegroom (so that she has the last word!).
When delivering your speech, talk more slowly than you would normally. Also, take longer pauses between sentences, giving the guests time to laugh or wipe away a tear before you start in on the next sentence. Avoid pauses mid-sentence, and if you cannot tell jokes, do not tell jokes! The five S’s of starting a speech: Stand, Smile, Scan the room, wait for Silence, take a deep breath and then – and only then – Speak. The Fifteen Peas of Public Speaking (by Graham Le-Gall, Wedding Speech Coach) will help you create and deliver the perfect wedding speech; visit

Breaking the Glass

Breaking wine glass at a Jewish weddingIt is a tradition at Jewish weddings that the bridegroom breaks a wine glass under his foot towards the end of the wedding ceremony to shouts of ‘Mazal Tov’ from the guests. We are told that this commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, and that we should remember the sad times when celebrating joyful occasions. My Rabbi told me that it was the last time I get to put my foot down!
Eva Edery creates bespoke Judaica and wall art pieces with the shards of the chuppah glass, fusing them into customised pieces including mezuzot. Art created with broken chuppah glass shards is a celebration of a memorable event during the Jewish wedding ceremony, and Eva’s Mediterranean heritage influences the vibrancy of colours, hues and shapes found in her designs.  Visit for further information.

Changing Names

A question most brides will ask is “Will I adopt my husband’s name after we are married?”, and in most cases the answer is “Yes”. However, there are several alternatives open to both brides and bridegrooms, including concatenating the two surnames (with or without a hyphen) and meshing the two surnames to create a new name. It is not unusual, also, for same-sex couples to adopt their partner’s name or even create a brand-new name.
Fast-track to your new name, officially, everywhere. Excited for a new beginning but daunted by the prospect of notifying each company? Say goodbye to confusing paperwork, endless phone calls and waiting on hold. Get it right first time with the help of the award winning NameSwitch Service.  Visit if you would like more information and advice; the discount code is  JTOAST_FIVE

A Different Photobooth Experience

East London Photobooth is the ultimate portable booth experience; the perfect setup to capture any occasion – from weddings to festivals to conferences! Hi-res photos, videos, GIFs and boomerangs can be captured and shared instantly to your device via text, email, airdrop and QR code.
The Girls Club writes: ‘We absolutely loved Charlie and so did all the guests, we also loved the booth itself as it’s unique and not like any we’ve used before. The designs, demeaner and overall vibe were the most professional of any we’ve worked with so thank you so much for this.” Visit for further information.

John Ashmele FGPT
Fellow of the Guild of Professional Toastmasters
Graduate of the Professional Toastmasters’ Academy
m: 07710 400412       e: