It depends. Nowadays there are many names for a wedding coordinator, so you cannot draw a clear separation between the Hungarian best man and a master of ceremonies.
Nevertheless, let’s give it a try. Let’s start with the difference between the traditional Hungarian best man and the modern master of ceremonies. And trust me, it’s not just about money.
The Hungarian best man (vőfély)
Hungarian history, and within it, Hungarian traditions go back many-many years, before the time of microphones an Instagram stories. There used to be weddings even back then. But not parties with mere 100 to 200 people. The entire village joined the celebrations, the relatives of relatives and their relatives. And this wedding party had to be outshouted, even entertained. The Hungarian best man, so called ‘vőfély’ became the person to fulfil this task. He was dressed in traditional Hungarian folk costume and was carrying a baton, and he entertained the wedding party and the newlyweds with his rhyming speeches. The vőfély was not necessarily responsible for solving problems, nor for coordinating service providers. On the other hand, he would be tirelessly and loudly announcing the traditional chicken soup and roast meat plates to be served. For every moment of the wedding, he would make a rhyming and funny commentary to keep the newlyweds and the wedding party alert and entertained. Sometimes he would use annoying or uncomfortable jokes along the way. It is fine, as the newlyweds and the parents of the bride and groom are aware that a vőfély would be telling mother-in-law jokes as part of their work.
Overall, if you want a traditional wedding, you should opt for a vőfély…. or maybe you shouldn’t? Read on and you may change your mind.
Master of ceremonies (CM, modern best man, wedding coordinator…)
Who are we? My response is that a master of ceremonies is a traditional Hungarian best man disguised to look modern, equipped with the knowledge and approach to meet modern expectations. This profession started not so long ago in the United States (where else?). About 20 years ago, back then still young and handsome men (who have since become some of Hungary’s most influential masters of ceremonies) thought that they should try something new and bring new life to what was considered to be rather boring weddings. A wedding should be very special, shouldn’t it? You can make a wedding unique, couldn’t you? It’s like a ‘show’ that stars the bride and groom, while the audience consists of the wedding party. This is how the concept for wedding master of ceremonies was born in Hungary. And their idea did work. By 2021, 90% of the couples choose a master of ceremonies or modern vőfély as their wedding coordinator. How does it work? The answer is simple. I have MC-ed over 100 weddings, so I know that a bride is a truly happy bride when the BIG DAY is perfect. The master of ceremonies helps you. And not only helps, but even achieves this. From the moment you sign the contract, he is looking out for you, assists and guides you. You put together the script of the Big Day and shape it as the young couples wishes. And on your wedding day, he will be responsible for greeting the guests, all the way until the last program ends! Manages the situation, solves problems and entertains the wedding party. He keeps an eye on everything! He is always attentive and alert. A true master of ceremonies has one specific goal in mind. To see you very happy at your wedding. At least that’s the spirit in which I do my work, and I think this is what makes this profession is beautiful. And it’s beautiful because of the many delighted and happy people.
Of course, you don’t have to abandon tradition even if you are using the services of a master of ceremonies. Maybe it be the traditional Hungarian customs of asking for the bride, the groom’s cake, the bride’s dance, the stealing of the bride, traditional games (but not the carriage one, I plead with you), they all fall under the task list of the master of ceremonies, but in a modern, presentational way. Obviously, you can talk about your own profession only in superlatives and you wish to be the one chosen when it comes to the selecting an MC. I think that being a wedding MC is a very beautiful profession and it is your call whether you choose a ‘vőfély’ or a master of ceremony for your BIG DAY. But you should choose a master of ceremonies instead. Someone… like me.