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An interview with a toastmaster … or two!

If you want to relax and enjoy your day, then the simple answer is – get a Toastmaster. And you can’t get much better than our Lesley and John…

We thought it would be a good idea to find out more about our suppliers so asked them a series of questions about themselves and their jobs.

We are starting with our Award-winning Toastmasters Kent – John & Lesley

Q. What did you do before you became Toastmaster?

John: ” I had been an Estate Agent with offices in Kent and Sussex for over 30 years”

Lesley “I was a Job Centre Manager in the Medway Towns”

Q. How did you meet?

” We both applied to become Marriage Registrars at Medway Register Office and having been appointed we met during training”

Q. How long have you been Registrars?

“Nearly twenty-two years…”

Q. Did you need to have training as a Toastmaster?

Lesley: “Yes, we were both trained by two former chairmen of a National Toastmasters Association. We had to learn about the traditions of weddings and other functions. How to control an event. The various protocols involved for different types of events. The history of the Toastmaster. How the expression to “toast” someone came about and how our uniform became a red jacket. If you want to know more ask us when we see you…”

Q what made you decide to do this?

John: ” Having given up my Estate Agency career I was too young!! To sit at home doing nothing. I was also bored and needed something to do. My wife thought that I would be well suited to the role and encouraged me to go for it. I think she was fed up with me being under her feet!! I had always fancied the idea of being a Toastmaster as I had often seen them working in my Professional life when going to formal dinners and thought that it would be something I would love to do in my retirement.”

Lesley: “I was persuaded by the owners of a venue that I worked at as a registrar. They thought that it would be lovely to have a lady Toastmaster.”

Q. How long have you been a Toastmaster?

Both: “About 18 years”

Q. Do you only do weddings?

John: “No, I do weddings, corporate events, around the country, product launches, livery dinners in the city of London. Ladies nights, fashion shows. Awards evenings and anything that needs a Master of ceremonies.”

Lesley: “Initially I performed at other occasions but now I specialise in weddings as I find these events very fulfilling…”

Q. How would you describe your role?

John: “Organiser, coordinator, timekeeper, problem solver, “gopher” occasionally peacemaker!”

Lesley: “We co-ordinate the day to ensure that all runs smoothly and to time. Take care to ensure that everyone in the wedding party is relaxed and happy and their day is perfect for them.”

Q. Why have a Toastmaster, surely the Best Man can do the job?

John: “The best man is a friend of the bridegroom and has the very important role of looking after the bridegroom and the rings! In most cases he will not have any experience of holding a wedding together, and even when he tries to get things organised the guests will ignore him because he is a friend. He is more concerned about getting a drink and doing his speech!! In any case why should he not relax and enjoy the day along with the other guests.

We have officiated at over a thousand weddings and know how to coordinate and control them with good humour and professionalism without being overbearing or “Bossy” Wearing our traditional uniform of bright red jacket helps and adds extra style and dignity to this very special day.”

Lesley: “We have huge experience of marriages and how to ensure that the day runs smoothly. Wearing the red jacket we are an obvious point of contact for all guests to ask question without having to bother the couple. The best man is a guest and needs to enjoy his day and not to be ‘on duty’. He will usually be quite concerned about his speech and chatting to friends.”

Q. Why do you do what you do?

John: “…because I love being involved with people and playing a small part in ensuring that our couples have the best day possible.”

Lesley: “It is extremely fulfilling to know that we have facilitated happy, successful, and memorable day!”

Q. What is the highlight of a wedding for you?

John: “Going home at the end of the day knowing that my couples, their friends and family’s have thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I have played a part in ensuring that outcome.

Lesley: “The highlights vary with each wedding as they are all unique, but the job satisfaction when leaving the event to know that everyone has had a great day and we have helped.”

Q. What is the most unusual thing you have been asked to plan?

John: “A surprise entrance of a famous singing group for the bridegroom whose brother was in the group. He thought they were in Spain performing but they had flown back specially and had to be hidden until the “big reveal”…”

Lesley: “I was lucky enough to be a toastmaster at the marriage of a very famous musician.600 guests arriving at different times, some at the church some at the venue, others arriving after the wedding breakfast.”

Q. What is the favourite personal touch you have seen at a wedding?

John: “There are many, but a balloon launch for a brides recently deceased Mother was very moving, and a speech from a little boy welcoming his new stepdad to the family was lovely.”

Lesley: “I pride myself on having many useful items in my bag. I have had to lend braces to the father of the bride who turned up in his suit, no way of holding the trousers up!!! Also have had to use superglue to glue the uppers and sole of shoes (twice, once for the best man, once for the bridegrooms mum) I carry sewing kit, spare tights, cufflinks etc.”

Q. What do you most love about your job?

John: “Seeing two people in love making a lifetime commitment to each other in front of their family and friends.”

Lesley: “Knowing that two people who have planned their marriage, often years in advance, have had a perfect day. If I have been able to help any of the guests with anything that gives me enormous pleasure.”

Q. What is your favourite moment at a wedding?

John: “Too many to mention, they are all favourite.”

Lesley: “When at the ceremony one partner turns to see the other walking towards them, always makes me feel emotional.”

Q. What about your business are you most proud of?

John: “The thousands of couples and events that we have worked at knowing that we have ensured that the all have a brilliant day or event. And the many wonderful testimonials that we have received.”

Lesley: “The huge number of cards and thanks that I receive makes me feel really proud. Also, the number of awards Toastmasters Kent have gained validating our very high standards of professionalism.”

Q. Describe your typical process with a couple?

“Initial consultation without obligation. Ongoing advice and support as required leading up to the big day. Detailed discussion with the couple normally in the week before the day but whenever they require to ensure that all the couple requirements are in place. After initial contact with the couple we are available to them at any time for advice and guidance if required. We use our many years of experience to discuss aspects of the day which possibly have not been considered by the couple”

Q. What is your number one planning tip for couples?

“Talk to any wedding professional you are thinking of employing, do not just rely on price or recommendations.
Make sure that there is no clash of personalities as that can spoil your day. We love what we do and want you to have the perfect day, so, our style has to fit in with you, not the other way around. Book your venue as soon as you know where you would like your event!”