If you're anything like me, the mere thought of getting up in front of a room full of people and giving a speech makes you want to crawl under a table and hide. But as the matron of honor at my sister's wedding, I had to put on my big girl pants and give a toast. Luckily, I survived the experience and came out of it with some advice to share on how to execute your speech with confidence!
Photo Credit: Maria Angela Photography
1. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute
The last thing you need to be doing the week before the wedding is fretting over your toast. I started working on mine about a year in advance; I read through Sharon Naylor's cheat sheet on writing your MOH speech at least five times and began jotting down any ideas as they came to me. Then, about a month before the big day, I sorted through my various ideas and worked them into a cohesive speech.
2. Do Run it By Someone You Trust
I was hesitant to have anyone look over my speech ahead of time, because it took a long time to write, and even if the person hated it, I really didn't want to have to re-do it. But a few days before the wedding, I started second-guessing everything and finally asked my husband to read it. His reaction helped reassure me that the jokes were okay, that I wasn't rambling too much, and that I had the right balance of talking about the bride, talking about the groom, and personal stories.
3. Don't Read Your Speech
When writing out your speech, write out exactly what you want to say, word-for-word. Practice it (a million times), rephrase any awkward bits, and memorize it. Then, turn your speech into a bulleted outline, and bring that with you to the wedding. Not having the option to read off a piece of paper will force you to make eye contact and really engage with the couple and their guests. And if you do get stuck, it's a lot easier to find your place on a bulleted list than if you have a block of text in front of you.
4. Do Speak S-L-O-W-L-Y
Everyone tells you this. You know you're supposed to do this. But when the DJ hands you the microphone, the speed of your speech is the absolute last thing on your mind. I was slightly horrified when I watched a video and heard how quickly I was talking. If you feel like you're talking too slowly, you're probably going at the right pace.
5. Don't Drink Before the Toast
My cousins looked at me like I had five heads when I told them I wasn't drinking until I'd given my toast, but the worst thing you can do is get drunk beforehand. You'll slur your words, you'll get more emotional than you should, and you'll probably start improvising and really regret it. Hightail it to the bar immediately after you say "cheers" instead!
—Kristen O'Gorman Klein