Master of ceremonies, witnesses, celebrant, registrar, “vőfély”, wedding planner.
And what about the Best Man, Maid of Honour? In this writing You can get acquainted with the most important key roles of a Hungarian wedding.
Photo credit: Magistero
In Hungary, wedding traditions are a bit different than in most of the other European countries and they definitely differ from the overseas weddings. Let me introduce the participants of a Hungarian wedding ceremony and reception, which helps You to choose your wedding vendors on the Hungarian market, when planning your destination wedding in Hungary.
Best man and Maid of Honour
We have bad news for the best friends of the brides and grooms. In Hungary, these functions are not known. Of course, all brides and grooms can have a Best Man and MoH also in Hungary, but some of their tasks used to be executed by other (usually professional) participants.
This Hungarian expression has no tally in English. This function is known only in some European countries (e.g. Hungary, Greece and Turkey - kumbaros in Greek). We can say, “vőfély” is an official best man. This function originates in the late 1800’s. Originally he was the friend or relative of the family. His tasks were the following:
he helped the families to arrange the marriage itself (don’t forget that these times, the marriage of the children rather was a business agreement than a love-match)
on the wedding day he helped the groom to request the bride from her parents and say goodbye for the parents in the name of the couple
he informed and entertained the guests, he always was speaking in comic verses.
he coordinated the wedding vendors (band, kitchen, etc.)
This nice tradition is still kept also nowadays by a lot of men (and some women). If You see somebody wearing traditional Hungarian gown and a hat with colorful ribbons (and holding a walking stick also decorated with ribbons), You can be sure You are seeing a real Hungarian vőfély. More details about vőfélys on Wikipedia.
Master of ceremonies (or wedding mc)
The wedding mc’s role is always a question mark for couples coming from abroad. This function originates in the traditions of Hungarian vőfély and the US/UK’s Best Man. The Master of Ceremonies is like a modern style vőfély not wearing traditional clothes (but elegant suit or tuxedo), nor speaking in comic verses. He or she is like a show-man/toast master/host of the wedding. His/her task is to inform and entertain the guest on the wedding day and to ensure the smooth running of the wedding day working together with the vendors and the planner.
mc joins the guests at the first event of the wedding (usually the church or civil ceremony or the welcome reception);
he/she introduces himself/herself and let the guests know that they can turn to him/her, if they have any questions;
the mc informs the guests about the programs;
he/she helps the wedding planner, the wedding vendors and the couple to keep the wedding scenario and to make everybody be present in time, where they are needed;
he informs the guests all day and announces the most important events (arrival of the couple to the ball-room, first dance, introducing the speakers, wedding cake ceremony, etc.);
the master of ceremony conducts the wedding games (quizzes, funny tricks, etc.);
For couples and guests coming from abroad a bilingual master of ceremony is very helpful, since the guests don’t know the Hungarian traditions, or they are not sure, what traditions and customs are followed on the wedding they are attending.
You could ask what is the difference between a master of ceremony (or vőfély) and the wedding planner, since both of them seem to have the task to coordinate the wedding. The most important difference is the time, what they are working on a wedding. Since the mc (except one or two meetings before wedding) is working only on the wedding day (to be more exact usually from the early afternoon), the wedding planner’s tasks begin months before the Big Day. The wedding planner’s task is to help the couple in planning their wedding from the first time: to find the most appropriate venue, to find all wedding vendors, collecting wedding offers, preparing contracts, etc.
On the wedding day she is working in the background, being one step afore the real events. She doesn’t grabbing a microphone to inform or entertain the guests. She is working together with the master of ceremony as the helper of him/her and the couple.
She arrives to the wedding venue, usually when the decoration or other works (e.g. installing the tent) begin (not rarely on previous day) and she leaves, when all important events of the wedding party are finished (around 1 am).
The registrar is the person performing official civil ceremony in Hungary. She/He is the employee of the Hungarian State and has geographical competency. More about Hungarian wedding ceremonies in our other writing... And in another about how to get married officially in Hungary.
Celebrant is the person conducting symbolic wedding ceremonies in Hungary. However a symbolic ceremony has no legal effect, it has countless advantages. A symbolic ceremony can be held anywhere and anytime without the necessity to meet the requirements of an official civil ceremony. A symbolic ceremony is always tailor-made and is written especially for and about the couple (at least at HungarianWeddings.com). More about Hungarian wedding ceremonies in our other writing...
In official civil ceremonies both the bride and the groom need a witness to confirm their identity for the registrar. The witnesses also undersign the register. The witnesses used to be the best friend or sister/brother of the bride and the groom, but it can be anybody (also foreign citizen) above 18 year.
Bridesmaids, pages, flower girls, ring bearer boy/girl
These functions are also known in Hungary, so the brides needn’t worry they have to go down the aisle alone.
But this function is not known, so the Hungarian grooms can rely upon the help and support only of his witness at the altar or the ceremony table.