When toastmaster Peter York turns up at a wedding complete with scarlet jacket, white tie and tails, he has an uncanny knack of making the whole occasion run like clockwork-without any of those dreaded hitches. “It’s funny really. When I’m at a wedding and ask a guest to do something they’ll do it immediately, whereas if a family member asks them, they’ll often ignore the request” he said.
This authority, combined with a good helping of tact, manners and a gift for seeing potential problems before they arise are just some of the reasons why Peter’s skills as a toastmaster are in demand at weddings in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties.
The 63-year-old began his career as a toastmaster while working in the electronics industry in the 1970’s.
What started off as a hobby with about six jobs a year gradually turned into a full-time post when Peter decided he wanted more control over his life and decided to become self-employed.
He said “it’s all about making people happy. A wedding day is such an important occasion and I like the couple to relax and not to have to worry about what happens next in the day’s proceedings.
Peter has found that he has been dealing with an increasing number of civil, rather than church weddings, lately.
He said “the procedures for church and civil weddings are slightly different. With a church wedding, I arrive at the reception venue and liaise with the caterers while the couple are still at the church. For instance I’ll make sure the cake is there and that a knife has been provided.”
“When the guests arrive at the reception, I will introduce them and help the photographer get family groups together so people aren’t standing around for a long time, maybe getting cold or wet”.
With civil weddings the toastmaster arrives at the venue about an hour before any of the guests to make sure they are all give a warm welcome.
He said “at civil weddings, often none of the family members are there right at the start so it’s important to make sure everyone is greeted warmly and made comfortable for the ceremony.”
During his 30 years of toasting, Peter has ironed out many a hitch before it has actually become a big problem for the couple.
“At the time I’ve found that none of these things are funny, but looking back after the event, I can see the amusing side,” he said.
One such occasion arose when Peter discovered an entire layer of icing from a wedding cake had slipped off.
“Fortunately it was quite a simple cake and the catering staff and I managed to patch it up without anyone noticing,” he recalled. It’s at times like this that Peter finds his services are invaluable.
“On a wedding day you need someone who is that one step ahead, thinking about all the smaller details to make sure the event is going along smoothly and running on time. If needs be, I can let the people such as the caterers, know that things are running late. Otherwise the meal could be spoilt”.
Peter is a busy man who gets his work from recommendations and the odd advertisement. With his services costing about £200 for a local wedding, he believes it is money well spent. Peter, who is deputy president of the Guild of International Professional Toastmasters, regularly mingles with the rich and famous. He has met the Queen Mother and Baroness Thatcher, as well as TV personalities such as Bob Monkhouse and Jeremy Beadle.
He said “it’s an absolutely terrific job. There is plenty of variety. I’ve officiated at many different types of wedding in lots of interesting venues.”
“It gives me great satisfaction to know I’ve made the day even happier for those involved, particularly the bride and groom.”
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