In my profession, I give a lot of presentations and speeches in my role as an assistant professor. From teaching classes to presentations at international conferences, I am used to giving speeches in front of many people. However, I had the opportunity to do one speech that took me a while to prepare for, and that was the MOH speech, or other words, the Maid of Honor toast.
Like research presentations and teaching lessons, I did my research and tried to figure out what are some of the best tips and practices for maid of honor toasts. I wanted my speech to be personal and funny – but touching at the same time. I wanted to share my story of how I saw Kristin and Scott go from friends to becoming husband and wife.
Good thing I had practiced and knew what I was going to say – because I actually forgot the copy of my speech in the hotel room! Luckily, I did the abbreviated version at the reception (which got some laughs from the wedding guests) :), but I wanted to share with both Kristin and Scott what I had prepared before heading down to Orlando. I wrote draft after draft – some times I laughed, sometimes I cried – but I felt that this was one view of Kristin and Scott’s story I could share with everyone.
So, without further ado, here is my official MOH speech:
Good Evening! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Karen, the very proud and little (well, not necessarily in size!) sister of our glamorous and fabulous Bride. I want to start by congratulating bride and groom and for allowing me to be part of their special day. I would like to thank you all for coming here today. By the way, for those of you who are active on social media, the Twitter hashtag for the wedding is #kandssalingwedding.
Today, we are all in a place known for telling classic fairytales surrounding true love with classics like Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White (this for you, Mom, I didn’t forget!). What did all of these stories have in common? All of these stories had a beautiful Princess and a handsome Prince, who fall in love with each other while battling sea creatures, evil queens, and making friends with dwarfs.
These classic stories are magical and inspiring for all of us to take away key lessons – and allows us to know what true love is. I would like to add to the wealth of these classic stories by sharing another one. This one is set in modern day times, with our version of the hero and heroine, overcoming long distance and falling in love with each other. I have witnessed this story unfold in person and virtually. This is the fairytale story of Kristin and Scott. So, in like all of the classic tales coming from Disney, it seems they all begin the common phrase: Once upon a time. So, let’s begin by turning the first page on this particular story of Kristin and Scott.
Once upon a time, a young beautiful combat Army engineer/skydiver/real life inspiration of Laura Croft /travel and culinary adventurer named Kristin joined the land of Facebook in Hawaii back in 2008. Coming from a social media family herself, Kristin naturally established herself proactively online with managing her relationships with family and friends, professional contacts, and establishing her own personal reputation as a social media guru and systems engineer extraordinar. She posted updates, shared pictures of her latest adventures around the world from China, Iraq, Greece, and Italy while broadcasting her thoughts, well wishes and opinions of the day ranging from skydiving adventures to the growing need of coffee (I can completely understand this one – it is a major food group). Her smile would light up the social media sphere with Facebook likes and positive comments among her friends. Kristin was indeed the Belle of Facebook and reigned gracefully.
One day, her friends and family noticed an interesting notification appearing on Kristin’s Facebook wall. A public notification came up stating the following “Kristin Graham is now friends with Scott Saling.” Interesting developments followed. Scott liked all of Kristin’s updates, commented on her pictures, shared encouraging words of support on momentous occasions and adventures with her fabulous sister (aka Maid of Honor and fellow IBWM). And it was consistently positive – yet Scott was always present and definitely persistent. One of our family favorite movies is called “Romancing the Stone,” and one of the classic lines from the movie during a chase scene goes “This man who is following you – he is very persistent.” We definitely thought about this line when we saw the virtual interaction between Scott and Kristin on Facebook.
Little did I know that what I was witnessing virtually on the world’s largest social networking site was an event that would evolve from friendship to true love – starting at the very beginning as “friends” and transform into “in a relationship” to happily “engaged.” Now, it will updated to “married” – and as they say, once it is on Facebook, it is official!
Scott definitely made quite an impression on the family and got the family approval quickly. This was apparent in February 2011 where my friends, Monica and Sabrina, and I headed for a girl’s weekend visit to Charlottesville to see Kristin during Valentine’s Day, also known as “Singles Awareness Weekend.” While toasting to cheese fondue with friends and learning how to make chocolate molten cake in a chocolate cooking class, Scott – the clever genius and strategic thinker he is – sent Kristin a gift for Valentine’s Day. Was it flowers? No – too predictable. Was it chocolates? Nope, it wasn’t that either. So, what was it – can you guess? Well, Scott actually sent Kristin a case of her favorite beer for Valentine’s Day. Yes, beer. At that moment when we found out about this, the girls and I responded to Kristin with a typical and totally normal Californian expression – DUDE!!! Scott really knew Kristin – he was good, he was really good!
In the last 29 years I have known Kristin, I have never seen her so happy. Scott, you bring the light and glow to Kristin unlike anyone I have ever seen. And you have the gift – no talent – in calming her down in a matter of mere few seconds (where were you when I was a kid? J) I got to first meet Scott virtually through Google+ (social media of course!) and then went up to NY to visit Kristin and Scott not only for a visit, but also for “the sister test.” As soon as I met Scott in person, I knew that he was the one for my sister. Before I left NY, Scott and I had coffee at Dunkin Donuts in Sleepy Hollow – and I proudly gave him the lil’ sis approval and blessing.
Anyway, got to get back on track – Kristin and Scott, you are two special, remarkable people, but together you are complete. As you sit side by side through this roller coaster of life, remember to scream from the peaks with joy (even if it is from top of Mt. Everest or Machu Pechu), hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loop the loops, and enjoy every twist and turn in your adventure. Enjoy seeing and experiencing the world together – Kristin has been my travel buddy for the last couple of years walking all over Beijing to the Great Wall, climbing Greek temples in Athens, and in Rio de Janeiro where she said by our hotel in Copacabana Beach – “Oh look – Sugar Loaf Mountain is just over there, we can walk there!” Little did I know at that time how FAR it was.
In conclusion, most fairytales end with the phrase “And they lived happily ever after.” We are all here today to witness a union of two people who are in love and are beginning the wonderful life journey together as one. Congratulations Kristin – you truly found your Prince Charming, your Mickey, your Han Solo, and the classic romantic hero in the movie Romancing the Stone “Jesse.” Scott – I always wanted a brother – yet I always felt Dad was both a father and a brother to my sisters and I growing up. Now, I have a brother who is the world to my sister – so I welcome you proudly to the family.
Please raise your glasses while I toast my sister and her husband.