How to toast someone you don’t like

toast someone you don't like

Most wedding toasts are fairly easy, because you’re toasting someone you like. What happens if you’re put in the position of leading a toast for someone you don’t like?

It happens. A dad wrote in to advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, presenting his dilemma:

“My son is getting married, and I’m expected to give a toast. I am struggling to say something nice about him. He’s selfish, excessively frugal, and doesn’t do for others except (thankfully) for his future wife. He is, in a word, ungrateful.”

Whew! That’s a tough one. Sometimes family relationships are dicey, and yet you’re pressured to give a toast for a brother, or sister, or even your future in-law, and there’s no graceful way for you to extract yourself from the situation.

Your alternatives

Other than lying through your teeth, what are your alternatives?

  1. Search hard for a positive attribute. Even the most irascible fellow … or lass has a redeeming quality imbedded somewhere in their soul. As the dad in the letter above acknowledged, his son IS generous with his future bride, even if he is an ungrateful tightwad with the rest of the world. Home in on that single attribute and milk it for all it’s worth. Don’t worry, toasts should be brief, even one to two minutes, so you don’t have to go on very long.
  2. Focus on the spouse. If your son doesn’t offer many redeeming traits, perhaps your future daughter-in-law does. Talk about how she has brought out the best in your son.
  3. Share an anecdote. In a lifetime of raising a child, there MUST be some happy memories and experiences you shared together. Relate one to your guests that casts your son (brother, sister, in-law etc.) in a positive light.
  4. Quote a saint or celebrity. If you’re desperate and keep coming up blank on what to say, talk about marriage generally using a quote from a saint.

Sample toast

Let’s look at an example that ties a few of these ideas together:

I remember taking [Jerry] to church when he was a boy. I told him to pay attention, and that we’d go out for a donut afterwards. We had some of our best talks over a Crispy Creme after church. I think something must’ve rubbed off on him from those many Sundays for him to have found such a perfect mate. [Julie] is a wonderful complement to [Jerry], and certainly brings out the best in my son.

As the Venerable Fulton Sheen said many years ago:

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

[Jerry], you have found yourself a good woman, just as [Julie] has found herself a good man. Welcome to the family. Together, may you build a life devoted to truth, justice, and goodness. Together, may your love make this world a better place than you found it.

To all of you witnesses here present to this beautiful union, join me in raising your glass to toast a couple whose marriage was made in heaven.”

You get the idea. Let’s hope you never have to toast someone you don’t like. But if you do, perhaps one or two of these ideas will get you over the hump.

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