How to Propose a Toast



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How to Propose a Toast

by Tim Virnig

Chances are you will run into an occasion in life which requires you to give a toast. Perhaps the event is a wedding, or a birthday party, or an event recognizing some achievement. With more formal events, a more formal toast is appropriate, and unless you're a naturally-gifted and golden-tongued speaker, you'll need to do some practicing beforehand in order to get it right.

But before practicing it, you'll have to make up the toast. It might be funny, or it might be more serious. When I had to create a toast recently, I turned to the movie, "The Count of Monte Cristo", in which Jim Caviziel's character delivers a gem of a toast to an adolescent boy entering adulthood. The toast was so impressive in form and substance that I not only memorized it, but I also broke it down so I could adapt it to my own situation.

What I present here is but one way to create your own toast using certain guidelines. The toast itself is comprised of eight or nine lines, but you should feel free to adapt it to your own liking.

Before you begin the toast, you will probably want to break the ice by mentioning something about the person(s) of honor to whom the toast is directed. Perhaps a memorable story, a funny anecdote, or some other remarks about the individual. This story, then, should lead you into, and relate to, the toast itself.

The first line of the toast should state a general observation in life using a metaphor related to the introductory remarks that you just made. For example, if your story told was about a bride's particular love of the roses her groom regularly gave her while they were dating, you might start the toast with, "Roses are the symbol of love". Or, if you are toasting someone who will be soon be traveling to a far away country, you might use, "Life is a long journey." Or, for an entrepreneurial business partner, "Success is a vast ocean". This first line should set the mood and the theme of the rest of the toast.

The next two lines are inter-related; the first should convey a benefit or positive aspect related to the metaphor in line one, and the next line should convey a negative aspect. So, if I begin with "Life is a long journey" the next two lines might be "You may be greeted by friends in one town" and the next might be "only to be scorned by strangers in the next".

Now that tension has been created, the next line should reconcile the previous few lines. For example, I might say, "But what traveler gets to his destination without venturing into the unknown?"

The next part of the toast gives encouragement or advice based on the same theme. It should continue with a line about the honoree(s) and the future.

Uing the same theme of a traveler going on a long journey, I could say, "May you never hesitate to step into that unknown".

After that, we have two more lines which are interrelated and give a sense of advice or observation about the world. This part might be difficult to create, but if you do it correctly it can make all the difference. An example here might be, "For to take a step outside the ordinary / Creates a life for you that is nothing less than extraordinary".

To wrap up the toast, you will want an "epic" closing which pertains to the public or the world and the honoree(s) of the toast. The last two lines wrap it up neatly. Concluding the journey-themed toast, I could say (using a dramatic pause between the lines), "And at the end of the road of life, may you proudly proclaim to the world / 'I lived my life as a Traveler'".

Of course, you should adapt the toast guidelines presented here to your own needs and situation. Add a line, or subtract a few as needed. Be sure to plan ahead and spend some serious time thinking about the lines in your toast and writing them down beforehand.

By following the basic structure of metaphor - tension - resolution - encouragement, you can probably develop toasts for all sorts of occasions. But remember that the quality of your toast will depend also on your word selection, the advice you give, and your delivery. I also suggest memorizing the toast by heart so it rolls off your tongue. When dozens or hundreds of people are staring at you, the last thing you want to do in a moment of expectation is to look like a deer caught in headlights. As a backup, make sure that you have a written copy with you.

And lastly, have fun with the toast. Standing up in front of a crowd and trying your best is far better than not having tried at all.

About The Author

Mr. Virnig is a cocktail aficianado and the owner of

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