The Value of Having a "Back-Up” Plan: Part 2

By Liz Daley, WED®, ABC™ – “A Passion for Performance”

InPart I I discussed (1) the necessity of having back up gear, (2) the importance of clear communication to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to agenda disruptions, and (3) the usefulness of having weather contingency plans such as purchasing mobile generators for your DJ systems.

In this segment, I’ll talk about why you need an understudy, just like in the theatre, to cover you in the event of an unforeseen emergency.

The Understudy

While one talent is truly never completely replaceable by another, Broadway show producers make sure there is a back-up plan that protects every role in the production. The “stand-by” is always prepared to go on stage if necessary.

However, if you are doing a “one-man or one-woman” show, like Hugh Jackman, Whoopee Goldberg, or Billy Crystal, there isn’t really an option of someone else being the understudy and filling in.  In this case, if the star is unable to perform, the show gets canceled.

As wedding Master of Ceremonies, we are also doing a “one-man or one-woman” shows; however, we are not the stars of the event and the reception certainly won’t be canceled if we are unable to perform.

Therefore, while it’s true that one talent can never totally replace another, as entertainers we would be remiss if we didn’t address what to do and who would replace us in the event we were unable to perform – especially at a wedding!

This Will NEVER Happen to Me!

The understudy issue is much easier with a multi-op company, especially one where all the Masters of Ceremonies are trained in a particular performance style.

But what should a single-op guy or gal do?  Who do you trust to take care of your clients if you are unable to entertain because of a hospitalization…or worse?

Here are my Top 3 suggestions regarding what you should do to prepare for the emergency replacement of YOU, bearing in mind that you probably won’t be able to talk to your replacement:

1. Make sure your significant other; a trusted colleague, or best friend knows your backup plan, including where you keep your notes and who he/she should contact to perform in your absence.

2. Make sure your calendar of events and client contact information are up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible.

3. Prepare your agendas, audio edits and scripts well in advance and in a format detailed enough that ANYONE could see exactly what you and your client have planned.  Make sure your client has a copy of everything just in case they need to share that information with someone else.

I know that it is easy to fool ourselves into believing that we are indestructible and that nothing so extreme would ever happen to us.  But it just might.  So be prepared.

Now it’s time for me to try and practice what I was just preaching…


  • Liz Daley, WED®, AWP™ - A Passion for Performance

    Liz Daley is a seasoned veteran of stage and screen and is the owner of Liz Daley Events, a boutique entertainment company in Virginia opened in 2004 that delivers dramatically different results. She got her first radio job at 16, but her passion for live entertainment moved her across the country performing from New York to Nashville as well as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas! She works with brides and grooms to create Classic, Fun and Memorable wedding receptions. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Boston Conservatory of Music, she is a certified Wedding Entertainment Director® and the National President of the Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild® and an Accredited Wedding Planner™ with the Association of Bridal Consultants. She is currently co-hosting educational performance workshops for Wedding DJs and Masters of Ceremonies with Peter Merry, “The Fun Wedding Experts”.

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