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Toasts and Tributes: A Gentleman's Guide to Personal Correspondence and the Noble Tradition of the Toast

Toasts and Tributes: A Gentleman's Guide to Personal Correspondence and the Noble Tradition of the Toast

by John Bridges, Bryan Curtis


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Toasts and Tributes helps men master these important skills with examples of more than 40 different toasts and 40 different notes. Includes examples of what to say and, perhaps more important, examples of what not to say.

Perhaps he’s been asked to say a few words at his college roommate’s engagement party. Maybe he’s at a family cookout, toasting his sister’s recent law school graduation. Have his parents reached a milestone anniversary that deserves a son’s perspective? Is his professional mentor retiring after decades as a leader in his field? Throughout his adult life, a man encounters those occasions that depend on his ability to distill the emotions of the moment into a toast, a letter, or perhaps just a few words of gratitude.

John Bridges and Bryan Curtis call on their trademark wit to illustrate the skill of meaningful expression and show how to avoid those clichés, awkward jokes, and rambling speeches that threaten to derail the mood of any occasion. Learn how to keep your “just a few words” as succinct as possible, which rare occasions are suitable for an e-mail, and the proper way to give a toast everyone will remember.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401604677
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/02/2012
Series: The GentleManners Series
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 774,243
Product dimensions: 4.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

John Bridges, author of How to Be a Gentleman, is also the coauthor, with Bryan Curtis, of seven other volumes in the best-selling GentleManners series. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society. Bridges has appeared on the Today Show, the Discovery Channel, and CBS Sunday Morning, and has been profiled in People magazine and the New York Times.

Bryan Curtis is an author and the president of Dance Floor Books. He is the author/coauthor and editor of more than 25 books, including My South, My Southern Food, Classic Wisdom for the Good Life, Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life, and the popular GentleManners series.

Read an Excerpt

Toasts & Tributes

By John Bridges Bryan Curtis

Rutledge Hill Press

Copyright © 2007 John Bridges and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-40160-254-3

Chapter One

A Gentleman Raises His Glass

A gentleman's life is full of happy occasions, some of them formal, some of them as easy-going as a cookout on a Labor Day afternoon. A gentleman knows that on any of these occasions he and his friends may choose to mark the moment by raising a glass, or a bottle, in honor of a special guest or a treasured colleague. The occasion itself may call for a toast for no other reason than to acknowledge the spirit of the moment and the simple pleasure of being among friends. At such times a gentleman should feel most at ease, since he is only being asked to say what is truly in his heart.

It is at just such moments, however, that a gentleman often clinches-particularly if the occasion involves the marriage of his own child, the retirement of a beloved colleague, or his own departure from an organization to which he has given much of himself over a long period. He may also find it difficult to put into words his feelings about the marriage of a long-time friend or the union of two friends whose relationship he has helped nurture.

A gentleman's discomfort may be made greater by the sense that a spotlight is shining in his face. In his heart of hearts, however, a gentleman knows that, if he is the one offering the toast, he is not the center of attention. He also knows that he is not expected to wax eloquent or to be quoted in the morning paper. He just says what is in his heart and lets the party proceed.

What follows are some simple guidelines for making toasts, accompanied by some easily adaptable examples. These should not be taken as strict rules that must be followed or as rigid models to be imitated. Rather, they are intended to point the gentleman in the right direction at those times when he chooses to raise his glass and express his respect, admiration, or love for a friend.

A gentleman knows that toasts are intended as tributes and, as such, are a means of celebration.

* * *

A gentleman knows that a toast need not be epic in length. Usually a few well-thought-out words are more effective than an extended tribute would be.

* * *

A gentleman knows that the freshest toast of the evening is the first one offered.

* * *

To make a toast more personal, a gentleman may include reminiscences and anecdotes. However, he makes sure that the entire assembly will appreciate and understand them.

* * *

A gentleman knows that a toast is not a full-fledged testimonial, outlining the honoree's lifetime achievements and accomplishments.

When a gentleman makes a toast to someone present in the room, he makes it directly to that person, not to the table at large.

* * *

A gentleman knows that he need not end his toast by saying, "Here's to Tom," "Here's to Gloria," or "Here's to the bride and groom"- although such expressions are never inappropriate. Simply extending his glass toward the honoree is a sufficient conclusion.

* * *

A gentleman knows that, since toasts are intended for celebratory occasions, they require at least moderately formal glassware.

* * *

A gentleman knows that, beer steins excepted, he may not toast with anything resembling a coffee cup.

* * *

A gentleman does not take it upon himself to deliver a toast at a breakfast meeting.

a gentleman is delivering a toast to his host or the evening's honoree, he raises his glass to that person and waits for other guests at the table to lift their glasses before he begins his toast. When he has finished delivering the toast, he may wish to share in the "clinking" of glasses by touching his own glass against that of another guest near him. Once this activity has subsided, he feels free to take a sip from his own glass.

* * *

Before delivering a toast, a gentleman waits until everyone at his table has at least some wine (or some other liquid) in his or her glass.

* * *

A gentleman never initiates a toast until the glasses of all the ladies at his table have been filled.

* * *

After a toast has been delivered, each guest takes a sip from his or her glass.

* * *

Knowing that further toasts are likely to follow, a gentleman does not drain his glass after the first tribute has been given.

* * *

If possible, a gentleman disdains the use of note cards when delivering a toast. Not only are the cards distracting to him and to his listeners, but they may also require the awkward juggling of glassware and cardstock.

* * *

A gentleman understands that a toast is a public-or at the very least, a semi-public-gesture. He understands that it is most likely inappropriate at a tête-à-tête dinner. If he attempts such a thing, he runs the risk of asking his dinner partner to respond in kind, which boils down to begging for a compliment-pretty much the same thing as asking a friend to say thank you for a thank-you note. Neither of those activities is in any way attractive or socially acceptable.

* * *

If a gentleman feels that he must propose a toast at a tête-à-tête dinner, he says nothing more than "Here's to us" or "Here's to our friendship."

* * *

A gentleman knows that, when he is asked to make a toast, he does not seize upon the opportunity to do stand-up comedy-even if he is by profession a stand-up comic.

When making a toast, a gentleman keeps to the point and remembers that he is on the clock.

* * *

A gentleman does not take it upon himself to deliver the opening toast unless he is the host of the celebration or has been asked to do so by the host or master of ceremonies.

* * *

When he is one of a number of scheduled toast-givers, a gentleman does not monopolize the microphone.

* * *

If in a series of toasts or tributes, a gentleman hears a story he was going to tell or a toast he was going to make, he does not repeat it. He thinks quickly on his feet and composes a new toast if he is capable of doing so. Otherwise, he makes a simple congratulatory toast, knowing he will have other moments to share his feelings with the honoree.

A gentleman knows that even at a bachelor party a toast is intended to be a tribute, not an embarrassment.

* * *

In the spirit of fun, a best man may include ribald remarks in his toast at the bachelor party, but at the rehearsal dinner or wedding reception, he keeps it clean, kind-hearted, and concise.

* * *

Considering the likely emotional impact of the moment, a father of the bride is especially wise to plan his toast carefully, keeping it brief and, to the best of his abilities, convivial.

* * *

A gentleman knows that a well-planned or well-phrased toast should never last longer than sixty seconds. A gentleman knows that, even in the most celebratory of circumstances, a toast merely underscores the reason for the celebration and is not the celebration itself.


Excerpted from Toasts & Tributes by John Bridges Bryan Curtis Copyright © 2007 by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis . Excerpted by permission.
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