Weddings

Weddings of Most Cultures

image by Lee Allison Photography

There are many traditions associated with wedding celebrations, and I will be pleased to discuss them with you. I can advise you on tradition and etiquette, procedure and timing, speeches and toasts, and the special touches that will enhance your special day. I will prepare an outline plan as you want it to be, and from this point on you will receive full support, answering any questions and addressing any matters that might arise.

I am mindful that tact and discretion are called for when considering the requirements and wishes of the modern family, including same-sex, LGBTQ+ and mixed-faith couples, and couples with children or divorced parents. It’s your wedding, your day, your way, so you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to; you can pick and choose the traditions that work for you.

image by 3Aphotography

On the day itself I will take the agreed plan and make it work. I will look after you and your guests, liaising with the venue, suppliers – and my watch – to ensure that everything runs smoothly and on time. I will make all the announcements, introducing the speeches and toasts, using the appropriate etiquette.

After all those months of planning and preparation, this is when you want everything to be just right, so that you can relax with your family and friends and let me soak up most of the stress. I’d love to be the difference that will make your guests talk about your wedding long after you’ve said: “I Do!”

I am available for mid-week weddings as well as at the weekend, and if required, I can put aside the traditional Toastmasters’ livery and wear less formal attire; you will still receive the same professional service.

My fees for weddings are as follows:
Pearl package: early afternoon to early evening (arrival of guests to first dance) from £550;
Ruby package: early afternoon to late evening (arrival of guests to carriages) from £625;
Sapphire package: late morning to late evening (arrival of guests to carriages) from £700.

Matt & Phillippa, Barn at Redcoats, Hitchin
with matt and phillippa at redcoats

Image by Stephen Pike Photography

It was a wet start to the day when I set off for Matt and Phillippa’s wedding at The Barns at Recoats in Hitchin, but the weather improved when I arrived. The rustic barn was decorated in autumnal colours, and the wedding ceremony and reception ran without a hitch.
Phillippa writes: We were delighted to meet John at a Wedding Fair and had no hesitation in asking him to be part of our Wedding Day. He played a truly integral role. We knew we needed help if the day was going to run smoothly but did not want to be organising family & friends so they could provide it. Having John to hand meant we could forget the logistics, and essentially leave the details around the timetable to him. He was not only reliable, but incredibly polished, and professional, adding a real touch of tradition to our day, which our guests really appreciated. John was easy to get to know, is well versed in wedding etiquette, but equally very happy to flex his approach to suit an individual couple’s situation, and preferences. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend John’s services, he really did take so much worry away, both ahead of, and during the day, allowing us to focus on really enjoying it, knowing we were in very safe hands. Highly recommended.

Hemal and Tara, Froyle Park, Hampshire

Mandap at Hindu wedding ceremonyFive years ago, I had the pleasure of serving as Toastmaster at the wedding of Anni and Dale at Heatherden Hall in Buckinghamshire. I have now had the honour of serving as Toastmaster at the wedding of her sister, Tara, to Hemal at Froyle Park in Hampshire. As guests arrived, I could see that this was going to be a colourful and jolly affair!
The afternoon started with the bharat, gharvi and milnis pre-wedding ceremony on the arrival of the bridegroom and his party. After a short break for refreshments in the Great Hall, I called the guests to the Ball Room for the Hindu wedding ceremony. At the conclusion of the ceremony the guests returned to Great Hall for further refreshment where they were entertained by Marsha (Bollywood violinist), Robert (magician) and David (caricaturist).
After calling the guests to tables in the Ball Room later that evening, I brought Hemal and Tara in to an enthusiastic welcome and waving of white table-napkins. They cut the wedding cake, played the koda-kodi game (with shouts of encouragement from Team Hemal and Team Tara) before I introduced the first three speeches of the evening, which were immediately followed by Tara’s dance with her father and her husband. After dinner (yes, more food) I introduced two more speeches before saying goodnight and handing over to the DJ from Ritzy Music for party time.

Dave and Dawn, Milling Barn, Buntingford

Image by Chris Douglas Photography

National Grey-Hair Grumpy Old Man Day, but I did smile at the wedding of Dave and Dawn at the Milling Barn wedding venue, with its combination of rustic charm and timeless elegance dating back to the 17th century. Dodging a short shower, the ceremony was held in the Oak Barn after which everyone enjoyed drinks and garden games before I called the guests to tables in the Milling Barn and brought the newlyweds in to an enthusiastic welcome and waving of white table napkins.
Dawn writes: “We first met John at a local wedding fair as he stood out with his redcoat looking very smart. We weren’t sure at first what he could do for us. On talking to John, we found him to be very knowledgeable and professional. We decided to book him, and he guided us on timings of our order of the day and speeches. John greeted our guests and helped us organised our photos, by gathering the guest we needed at the time, before calling them in for our wedding breakfast, then welcoming us into the room as newlyweds to our guests. We entered the room to receive cheers, claps, and napkin waving: what a great atmosphere it was. John introduced each of our speakers in turn and announced a toast to us. John once again organised our guest to greet us for the evening when we were ready to re-enter the room for our cake cutting and first dance. Our whole day flew by so quickly without a hitch, with John keeping an eye on the time. I would highly recommend John as we felt in safe hands knowing he was there to deal with any problems. Thanks, John, for helping us have such an amazing day.”

Alex and Louise, King’s Chapel, Old Amersham

Image by Flack Photography

The weather forecast for Alex and Louise’s wedding at Old Amersham was ‘thundery showers’, but with Plan B in place all went well. Following the ceremony, reception and photographs, I escorted the newlyweds to the wedding breakfast and a resounding welcome from their guests. After several great speeches and my toastmaster’s tribute, the guests retired to the garden before I called them in for the tossing of the bride’s bouquet. After introducing Alex and Louise’s first dance as husband and wife, I took my leave as the party started to swing.
Louise writes: “It was an absolute pleasure working with John to arrange the easy-going plans for our wedding day. Meeting John at a wedding fair back in 2022, we were impressed with how he presented himself & really thought his talent and skills would definitely benefit us. When booking John, everything was discussed over the phone & team’s meetings. All our questions were answered. John was amazing throughout the whole day of our wedding, from welcoming our guests, calming the groom, organising our photos with our photographers during our drinks reception to even guiding our guests to their seats for our sit-down meal. John blessed us with his toastmaster’s tribute, which we thought was lovely.
We highly recommend John for your wedding! Not only did he take the pressure of us by organising everything & making sure everything run smoothly he made everyone welcome. An absolute pleasure to have at our wedding. We can’t thank him enough. “

Charles and Andrea, The Priory, Little Wymondley

Having just returned from holiday in Greece, I was looking forward to the wedding of Charles and his Greek bride, Andrea, at The Priory in Little Wymondley, an impressive rustic venue with magnificent views across the Hertfordshire countryside and affording a stunning backdrop for photographs. I was delighted  to be part of Charles and Andrea’s wedding day, and to offer the Toastmaster’s tribute to the newlyweds – συγχαρητήρια και στους δύο.
Charles writes: “Wow! Our wedding day was made even more incredible by the amazing Master of Ceremonies we had the pleasure of working with. From start to finish, John was an absolute delight and made sure every moment was filled with joy and excitement. His creativity and attention to detail were truly impressive. John worked closely with us to understand our vision for the day, and then brought it to life in the most magical way. John’s ability to seamlessly transition between different parts of the ceremony kept everything flowing smoothly, and his energetic and friendly personality had everyone engaged and entertained throughout.
Not only did John have a firm grasp on the schedule and timeline, but he also effortlessly adapted to any unexpected situations that arose. His quick thinking and problem-solving skills were truly commendable, making us feel at ease knowing that everything was under control. John’s announcements and introductions were flawless, and he had a knack for keeping the energy high. Beyond John’s professional skills, he was an absolute pleasure to work with. He exuded warmth and kindness, making everyone feel like they were part of the celebration. His friendly nature and genuine enthusiasm made a lasting impression on us and our guests.
We cannot recommend our Master of Ceremonies enough – He has an exceptional talent who truly goes above and beyond to make your wedding day an extraordinary experience. John’s dedication, creativity, and friendly demeanour makes him a standout choice for anyone looking for a Master of Ceremonies who will make their wedding day truly unforgettable.
Thank you so much for being a part of our special day and making it so incredible!”

Carl & Natascha, Hyde House, Stow-on-the-Wold

Image by Stephen Walker Photography

I was at Hyde House in the Cotswold village of Stow-on-the-Wold for the wedding of a delightful couple, Carl and Natascha, witnessed by 120 guests in the Grange. Glorious sunshine and stunning views across the Gloucestershire countryside provided an impressive backdrop for the reception and photographs.
The Barn was arranged in banqueting style with top table and sprigs for the wedding breakfast. After calling guests to table, I escorted the bride and bridegroom to their seats to an enthusiastic welcome.
After the speeches and meal, the wedding party and their guests retired to the garden where our bride tossed her bouquet to the single ladies. On returning to the Barn, Carl and Natascha then cut their wedding cake before I introduced their first dance as husband and wife to Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”.
Carl writes: “Natascha and I were lucky to have someone as experienced as John be around us on our big day. John made sure the day ran to our plan, and without any stress or drama. The prep work John does prior to the main event really gave us the confidence that our day was going to be the day we had planned it to be. Brilliant coordination and communication on the lead up, and on the day. We would highly recommend John!”

Mike & Caroline, Eversholt Hall, Milton Keynes

Image by Lloyd Dyer Photography

Eversholt Hall near Milton Keynes: such a quintessential English village hall setting, overlooking the village green and cricket pitch that you could almost hear a poem by Sir John Betjeman. I was there in late May as Toastmaster for the wedding of Michael and Caroline. After the ceremony and forming the confetti tunnel, the guests continued to enjoy the reception in glorious sunshine, before I called everyone to tables for the wedding breakfast.
The traditional speeches included a request by the Best Man for the lady who still had a door-key to the Bridegroom’s home to return it to the top table; half a dozen ladies then approached the top table – and each dropped a key into a wine glass(!). After the wedding breakfast, I related the origins of the wedding cake before inviting Mike and Caroline to cut their wedding cake. As the sun set later that evening, I left Mike & Caroline to enjoy their first dance as husband and wife to Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. Well done to Vikki Richman (Your Wedding Friend) and Ruth (the Bride’s sister) for putting it all together.
Ruth writes: “Thank you very much for steering my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding in such a timely and professional way. Thank you for taking the time out to look so Uber smart on the day and being a special part of it that they will remember for a lifetime.”

Ty & Lolly, Swynford Manor, Cambridgeshire

Image by Stephen Lake Photographer

Swynford Manor in Cambridgeshire, a great venue and a great team for the wedding of a wonderful couple Ty & Lolly, the brand-new Mr & Mrs Reed. During the reception and group photographs, the guests were entertained by a delightful singer and an amazing magician before I called them to tables for the wedding breakfast and the formal entry of the bride and bridegroom to an enthusiastic welcome. A short break followed the Toastmaster’s tribute, speeches and toasts. On the guests return for the cake cutting ceremony, the evening kicked off with Ty & Lolly’s first dance as husband and wife to “Let’s Stay Together”.

Mark & Lisa, King’s Chapel, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Image by Kathryn Harker Photography

A return to the King’s Chapel in picturesque Old Amersham for the wedding of a delightful couple, Lisa and Mark. It was a glorious day with great photographs in the garden after the ceremony. After drinks and canapés, I called the guests to tables and escorted the newlyweds into the wedding breakfast to an enthusiastic welcome. After the cake cutting ceremony and my Toastmaster’s Tribute to Mark and Lisa, I introduced the three traditional speeches plus a bonus speech from the bride. Great speeches, including the Best Man teasing the bridegroom over his use of the 24-hour clock. When the evening guests had arrived, I thanked Mark and Lisa for inviting me to be Master of Ceremonies at their wedding, before inviting everyone to gather round for Mark and Lisa’s first dance as husband and wife to Tom Walker’s “Just You & I“.
Lisa writes: “John was the Toastmaster at our wedding in June 2022. He was helpful and proactive before and during our wedding day. He helped to make the day run smoothly and took some of the stress out of our day.”

Katie & Tim, Quy Mill Hotel and Spa, Cambridgeshire

Tim writes: “From first meeting John, he has been the ultimate professional and worked tirelessly to ensure we had a really special wedding day. He handled the ups and downs of planning, cancelling, rearranging, and changing wedding venues during the Covid pandemic like a real professional and was always available when we needed him. He ensured everything was planned and prepared in the run up to our day, so we didn’t need to worry. On the day, John was always there for us and thinking ahead making sure everything was ready before it was needed. He did an excellent job at keeping all our guests happy and our family loved him. We couldn’t have asked for anything more! Thank you!”

Ellie & Charlie, King’s Chapel, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire

image by Eneka Stewart Photography

When I met my couple, Ellie and Charlie, to discuss their wedding plan, they told me that they were getting married at St. Mary’s Church in Old Amersham and then walking the short distance to the reception venue. I suggested that I meet them at the church after the ceremony and escort them and their guests, ringing my hand bell and holding up the traffic; they jumped at it! We certainly turned a few heads and put a smile on a few faces; such fun.
Ellie writes: “Not only was John an excellent Toastmaster at our wedding day, but he was also a great support throughout the strange times we currently live in. We had to postpone our wedding date twice before finally tying the knot in June 2021! With constant changes to Covid-19 restrictions and rules, John helped us to organise and offered great advice. From our perspective (and of our guests) the wedding was AMAZING and everything ran so smoothly! We highly recommend John; he’s an utter professional and gentleman. We wish you all the best, John, and a huge thank you for everything!”

Toby & Ali, The Barn at Alswick, Buntingford, Hertfordshire

image by Lee Allison Photography

Toby writes: “From my point of view, the wedding was a huge success! Everything happened on time, all the guests knew what was going on, and all the staff seemed to work seamlessly. Just the fact that Ali and I did not have to worry about anything during the day meant that you did your job superbly. It was a relaxed wedding, but you gave it a sense of occasion and helped everything run smoothly and to time so thank you for all your hard work on the day. There were no problems, no hiccups, and no delays! Once again, thank you for all your work for our wedding, and you contributed immensely to the fond memories we will always have of the day. Take care, John, and may you long be taking care of other couples on their special day as you did with ours.”

Anni & Dale, Heatherden Hall, Iver, Buckinghamshire

Photograph by www.katrinabartlett.co.uk

Anni writes: “Thank you so much, John, for facilitating our packed wedding day schedule. It was a huge relief knowing that our itinerary was being left in your capable hands. From our preliminary chats, you reassured us of your expertise through your calm nature, traditional etiquette, and the time you invested in us. It was refreshing to see such passion for preserving the traditional role of a Toastmaster. For our fusion Indian/English wedding reception – uniting different cultures – it made perfect sense for us to draw on your services and it was a vital role on the day. Thank you for taking great care of us on our special day John.”

Rest assured; I will always work with your best interests in mind. If you have any questions or would like further information about the services I offer, contact me for a no-obligation chat, so that I can fully understand your requirements and we can begin planning your wedding. When you confirm your booking, I will send you a copy of ‘How To Make A Confident And Memorable Wedding Speech’ by Graham Le-Gall, The Wedding Speech Coach, with our compliments.

John Ashmele FGPT
Fellow of the Guild of Professional Toastmasters
Graduate of the Professional Toastmasters’ Academy
m: 07710 400412 e: john@ashmele.co.uk