Dear Captain Awkward,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my question! Here’s the situation: I got married nearly two years ago. For our wedding, we tried to keep things very simple and planned for two toasts, one from each side. I asked my best friend to give the toast on my side. Two days before the wedding, my Mom insisted that my brother give a toast too, since he gave a heartfelt and funny one at my sister’s wedding. I agreed, albeit just to appease her, because I love my brother and he’s a great speaker. I explained to him that I would be honored for him to speak and that Mom really wanted him to as well, and he agreed with a note that it might not be great with such short notice.
It wasn’t great. In fact, it hurt my feelings. The other toasts were sweet and funny with some loving jabs. My brother was okay at first, just some silly marriage advice. But at the end he was like “I know I’m supposed to roast my little sister: growing up, she was a poor sport and a tattletale”. The end. Nothing to blunt the jab, nothing about caring for me or that he’s happy that I found such a good match. We have never spoken about it.
If this matters, my husband agrees that it was harsh and maybe awkward. His brother roasted him HARD but did it in a way that showed how much he adores him and nothing had a sting to it.
Generally my brother and I have a good relationship. We live a few hours apart, text a little bit most weeks and see each other a few times a year. Typically we’re trying to make each other laugh or just catch up on life, but I think we could eventually be truly close.
For some reason I just can’t let this toast go. I know I’m being sensitive, but am I just being a “poor sport”? Also, I don’t know if I should talk to him about this. I mean, he DID warn me that it might not be great with such short notice. Maybe I should re-write the narrative in my mind that he tried to make a joke (based in truth) that just fell flat?
Hello Sensitive Sally,
Weddings bring out the weirdness, don’t they? It’s such an emotional time and a lot of families try to use them to spackle over the weird stuff or perform a certain kind of togetherness and closeness. The word “should” gets thrown around way too much for my personal comfort level. I also know all too well what it’s like to have that one thing someone said that isn’t true (but secretly you worry it might be kinda true) that you just can’t stop obsessing about.
I think you are suffering from a bad case of l’esprit de l’escalier or “staircase wit”: When the perfect thing to say in a situation occurs to you only after the fact. Because there was a good time to address your brother’s toast and that time was at the wedding. After the toasts you could have gone up to your brother, given him a sisterly little punch to the arm said “I’m telling Mom you said I was a poor sport, asshole!” and he would have laughed and you would have felt better and then it would have hopefully been forgotten.
But it’s been two years. Your brother was put on the spot on short notice and he didn’t do exactly what you would have liked. In the minds of the guests, if his toast was awkward, it reflected on him and not on you. It is extremely unlikely that any of them even remember what he said. Their memory of the event is most likely is “Good wedding!” And your marriage is a happy one, yes? Then you had a good wedding. So in my heart of hearts, I think it is time to let this one go.
What “letting go” looks like in practical terms:
1) Stop reliving it and chewing it over. Stop complaining about it to your husband and seeking validation about it. I hereby give you validation: It was kind of a weird thing to say in a wedding toast. You are validated!
2) Yes, rewrite this in your mind as an awkward attempt at a joke that just fell flat.
3) Enjoy the relationship you have with your brother now. Things are pretty good, right? So build on what’s good going forward. Connect over what you have in common. Be kind. Share jokes. Make good new memories to push the bad memories down.
4) What is bothering you about this really? Is it worrying that your brother doesn’t really like you? Or like you as much as he likes your sister for whom he did the great toast? Is it worrying that people think you’re “a poor sport and a tattletale”? What’s that thing that you can’t let go of? What’s the thing that is making you afraid to say “Brother this is silly, but it’s bothering me” and just clear the air already?
One possibility: This happened largely because you had a perfectly awesome plan and then your mom pressured you to override your plan in favor of her plan and her idea of what your sibling should be like. I don’t suggest talking all that over with your mom because again, it’s been two years, and “this minor thing from wedding planning is still bothering me” isn’t going to be a productive conversation. She either won’t remember or she’ll get defensive and you’ll feel even more bruised.
Even if you don’t talk about it, you can still address it in how you manage your relationship with her going forward. To do this, pay attention to times when you want something and your mom or other people in your family try to pressure you to override your wishes. If this weird wedding toast incident leads you to get better at saying “Thanks for the great suggestion, Mom, but I’m going to stick with my original plan!” it may have given you something very valuable in the end.
128 thoughts on “#1112: “I’m still upset about my brother’s wedding toast.””
I actually think this is something you can bring up with your brother, if you have a good relationship. I think a sibling relationship can wear bringing up something two years later, if it’s not done in an accusatory way. I would, with the framing of “I know this is silly and from years ago but I keep thinking about it” + if there’s anything you need to hear, like “do you actually think I’m a tattletale?”
Chances are he’ll say “Ugh, I know, I gave that speech at such short notice, it didn’t come out right, I’m sorry” or “I had no idea that hurt you, I’m sorry” and that will be that, and hopefully you’ll feel better.
Basically I think there are people who you can trust enough to bring up petty hurts with, so long as you do it with the acknowledgement that it’s petty. ie people you have really long-term relationships with. I’ve done this with stuff my long-term partner has said AGES ago and so long as it’s done not in a “I’m still mad at you” way but in a “can I just get some reassurance about something from a stupidly long time ago” way.
Basically you’re asking your brother for a favour: the favour of talking about a tiny thing from years ago and making you feel better. I think that favour is acceptable to ask!
sorry I meant to add – I’ve done this *and it’s gone really well* – a short simple conversation that got a quick apology and made me feel a million times better.
You know, this is totally possible, and maybe the fear at the heart of why this is bothering the LW so much is that she feels she can’t bring it up because they aren’t close enough for that. If she does bring it up and the conversation is stilted or awkward or he doesn’t get it, they are still gonna be related at the end of it, this isn’t going to be the one thing that sank their relationship forever.
I think the concrete request is key here. As long as it doesn’t happen often, I think asking for reassurance, or compliments, or, I dunno, other stuff that seems small but is big to you, is fine in a close relationship.
Asking sometimes gets you what you want, whereas accusing or “Why don’t you ever [x]?” just gets an argument.
For this kind of approach – I think that being really honest about the relationship that the OP has with her brother/family will be really important. My mom is one of those people who has a really hard time with “forgive and forget” – and will bring up things that people said decades ago as still actively hurting her.
So if this is a relationship where this might not pull at any other deep seeded strings/family issues – then I say go for it. But if this came out of my family dynamic, it would be lead to a bigger issue/fight. I think that likely requires just some keen insight on what the family dynamics truly are as well as what was actually bothersome from that line (the issue of being a poor sport/tattle tale? not having such a personal/special speech?).
Yes! I totally do this. I’m the worst at overthinking and dwelling on little things. I’m sure my husband rolls his eyes internally a bit when I’m like “Remember that joke you made two weeks ago? You don’t actually think I’m [whatever], do you?” but he always just goes “What? Of course not! I’m sorry you’ve been stewing on it all this time!” I try not to do it too often because I KNOW I’m being ridiculous, but it does make me feel better when I can’t get something out of my head.
Perfect timing around this kind of email!
My brother recently got married – and as a bridesmaid (that admittedly I didn’t love the idea of being to begin with), the “dress getting” process was very fraught. Not that my brother’s now wife had horrible demands (she gave the color and we needed to get a dress ‘around that color’) or that it was going to horribly put me out financially (my mother said she’d buy it) – but during that process I basically got pushed into a bad head space by my mom and ultimately ended up getting a dress that was not a good fit. Very literally.
Because my mother was buying the dress and brought her own a) wedding stress and b) mother/daughter dynamic – the process left me in a bad emotional place which then resulted in making a poor dress choice in the spirit of pleasing my mother. In retrospect, as mad and frustrating as that experience was, the take away for me was really how better to set boundaries with my mother even when she’s paying. And as much as some of my choices were made just to make my mom happy – the end result was a dress that everyone knew I hated and was uncomfortable with. And while for a bad bridesmaid dress, it’s really easy to blame the bride – in this case, just even wanting to scream “my mom pushed me to this place where I made a bad decision and that’s why I’m so angry” also did not help.
So OP, I definitely feel for you and hope that by framing this in a “going forward” context – it makes it easier to feel like “I’m taking these proactive steps around something that did bother me.”
And at the end of the day it was a dress that you wore once to one event – unless it had pins in it, or was badly-made and strapless and fell down to your navel, or ripped right across your ass on the dance floor I can’t imagine it’s worth much headspace over now.
My sister picked me for the maid of honor (there weren’t any other bridesmaids), picked the dress (over my objections, actually, but it was her day) that I paid for, and then on the day of the wedding told me I couldn’t be in the ceremony. Why? Groom’s best man had gone on a bender and was still at the police station, so having a MOH without a BM would look awkward (not the dreaded asymmetry a LW a few years back booted a bridesmaid for but rather, it would bring attention to the fact that BM wasn’t there) so sorry, but I would just have to sit in the pews like everyone else.
But you know what? Weddings be like that sometimes. They’re sorta supposed to be messy. The food was good, as was the band and the booze, so you just gotta let the rest of the shit go.
A++ awesome friending you did there by just rolling with it. Did you at least get to wear your own dress that you chose or did you have to wear the dress-strosity and also sit in the pews?
I wore the dress-strocity. It wasn’t revolting or uncomfortable, just not something I particularly liked. And hey, I paid for it and certainly wasn’t going to wear it again (very bridesmaid-y prom-ish and I had already been to prom) so, why not?
Traffic – you’re a darn good sport (and that’s one of the highest accolades I offer)
Well, thanks, but also – real talk – what could I have done? Fought my way to the dais during the ceremony and refused to leave? Made an angry ranting wedding toast? Ran away with the cake? Sometimes you just gotta be like “welp, I guess this is what’s happening,” and chill – and if you’re getting fed and boozed at the time, it’s easier than you might think, if you try.
When I’m in a situation where I’m trying to gauge if I’m over reacting, I try to press pause on my own feelings and think about how others reacted around me. In this case, how did his comment go over with the rest of the guests? Was there an awkward silence & uncomfortable shifting in seats? Was their polite laughter? Genuine laughter? Or did everyone look at each other in confusion when his speech ended so oddly? What kind of comments about it, if any, did LW get during the mingling?
Sometimes seeing where my feelings land relative to the feelings of those around me can help me reset my feelings-barometer and help me get over myself when I’m clearly being irrational or over reacting. And sometimes it helps reaffirm that I’m not nuts or out of line feeling the way I do.
FWIW, if anyone remembers it, it’d definitely one of those things where he’s the one who looks bad, not you.
This. I think a lot of people have wedding horror stories and honestly this would barely pop up on my radar as a guest- the time the best man had a powerpoint presentation of nudes of the groom would far out weigh it. Bad speeches happen more often than not at weddings. I’m so sorry you got pressured into making this unhappy memory but I doubt anyone else remembers it now. File it under ‘common misfortunate’ and try to forget it
The time the best man had a powerpoint presentation of nudes of the groom…
W A T
Ermagerd I hope there were artfully-arranged kitty cat heads or smile emojis or even cartoon fruit rather than, say, letting the bride’s grandma see the groom in his birthday suit all uncensored. There’s really, really bad, and then there’s even worse.
Tragically there were not. Fortunately the bride’s grandparents were sitting at the back of the hall and had forgotten their distance glasses so they just saw a pink blur and got mad when people didn’t want to tell them why everyone gasped. I still can’t look at that guy without thinking of those photos and it’s been nearly a decade.
I’m hoping for a naturist* wedding.
*Probably don’t do an internet search for this at work if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology – naturism is a specific (set of) sociopolitical movement(s) and practice(s) within the larger umbrella of clothes-free/clothes-optional umbrella of sociopolitical movements/practices that incorporates body positivity, environmentalism, and outdoor sport/recreation (also sometimes Hippie/New Age/Neopagan ideas and practices).
I have been in a wedding where there was a very, very boring and looooong Powerpoint show presenting almost every single day of the bride’s and groom’s life, including childhood pictures of them sitting on a potty, with a text: “[Bride]’s first poop!”. I still do not know why they do it in that family – but still, it was not the groom naked. Here in Scandinavia nudity is not as big a deal as it is in many other areas, but still… this would be really, really weird in here, too.
At my bff’s wedding a few years ago, a groomsman’s “toast” was a rambling story about how much the plane tickets cost to attend the wedding and then finished by saying what shitty friend the groom was, and before he and his wife left, he stopped to tell the bride that she should have worn more makeup because her nose was bright red and she looked like shit (it was not, but she has rosacea so she did have an adorable case of Tumblr nose in the back half of the evening).
Nobody looked bad there except that groomsman, and I doubt most people even remember his terrible toast in any specific way. (Other than “what a dick move” which several people said to me afterward.)
Powerpoint nudes of the groom is the kind of quality can-you-believe-it-? story that I hope for in a wedding guest experience. So much better than a thirty minute ramble through the happy couple’s lives from conception to five minutes before ‘I do’.
Sometimes I think we keep reliving the things that went wrong at our wedding because it was that ONE DAY that was supposed to be perfect. It’s never perfect, but even the most easygoing among us can’t help rehashing it. I’ve been married nearly 10 years and occasionally still groan over those couple things. But maybe this is more because it involves an interpersonal relationship, and you’re not sure if it’s what he actually thinks about you. Bring it out into the open, shine some light on it!
I was going to say this. It took me a few years after my wedding before I could even watch wedding-themed episodes of TV shows. Anything wedding-related just sent me into a complete self-loathing spiral of obsession over every little thing that went wrong at my wedding. And by any account I’ve heard, I had a really good wedding! People still tell me that, unprompted. The things I obsess over are, like, the cupcakes not being as pretty as I wanted. But when you’ve internalized the concept of the wedding as a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME event that must be PERFECT, and every little detail is infused with deep meaning, there’s just no way to ever be happy with it.
I don’t have a lot of good advice about this, unfortunately, but over time I have realized that expecting any human endeavor to be perfect is a losing proposition, and I’ve started to focus on the good memories instead of the bad ones (which, again, there are more of them anyway!). If that’s what’s going on here, then maybe recognizing it can help take the pressure off of the interpersonal relationship at least.
I told my sister, who recently got married in a perfectly lovely ceremony, that the stuff she thinks people notice are things people do not notice. No one will notice or care if your cake topper is slightly dinged up, or if the placecards came out slightly skewed. People remember food, booze, dancing, and music. Get those four things right and you’ll have a wedding people will look back on fondly.
Yes, this. My mom is far more worried about tons of little details for my wedding reception than I am. I keep saying, “Mom, do you remember that thing from any wedding you’ve ever been to? I sure don’t. As long as the food is good, people will be happy.”
Yes! This! My wedding was awesome and great, and despite me having been hit by a car a month earlier and being out of my mind on painkillers I had a great time…
But two years later I’m still apologizing to people because they served the wrong wine with dinner (I had a “good tasty [more expensive but still reasonable]” wine for the main course and a “good to drunk people [cheap]” wine for the dancing and inevitable drunken friends… And they served that one with dinner. Nobody but probably me, the wine distributor guest, and my friend who picked wines out with me probably noticed but I’m still MORTIFIED when I think about it.
I don’t know the details of your relationship with your brother, but I can tell you how the joke read to me. It kind of sounds like he was saying, “I’m supposed to roast my sister, but there’s nothing really wrong with her, so the worst things I can say are some extremely minor things from when we were kids, that take up literally one sentence.” It sounds like it fell flat, but it doesn’t sound like it was necessarily mean-spirited.
Agreed. Although, now I’m wishing that he’d said “she holds grudges forever over the weirdest things,” just for the irony.
Definitely not still holding a grudge against the first person who pointed that out to me at all.
Heh. It’s like the old joke:
A: “You’re very stubborn.”
B: “You’re wrong and never in 100 years will I admit otherwise.”
A: “You’re too paranoid about people.”
B: “Who’s been telling you that?”
Yes this! And these are pretty much generic things that you would say about any little sister!
Based on the description, that’s also how I read the joke as a hypothetical guest. There’s a meta-joke element about wedding toasts/roasts – have these two perfunctory childhood complaints without stories or context becasue I have no actual complaints, irritating tendencies, or mortifying stories! The short notice probably didn’t help. And I’m laughing out load at Traffic_Spiral’s suggestion. 🙂
That’s how it reads to me as well.
Calling a sibling a poor sport and a tattletale sounds to me like a funny admission of brotherly guilt, not a complaint against LW at all, except in a funny, tongue-in-cheek way, along the lines of: the very worst I can say, since I’m required to roast her, is that she did not take it lying down when I did naughty, annoying things.
That’s what I thought.
Yes, agree! That’s how it read to me, too!
I’m almost wondering whether the whole roast bit was something he improvised or added at the last minute after hearing the other toast do the roast thing well — like he felt like he had to do some sort of joke-insult to keep the mood going or he was inspired by how funny/touching their bit was or something
That’s how I read it, too, especially with the “I know I’m supposed to roast my little sister” preface. Sounds like he felt obliged to say SOMEthing as a “roast” but maybe at short notice couldn’t come up with something that was funny/had the right tone/etc. So instead he kind of skimmed over it with that weird, awkward thing.
I projected what it would be for me: that “roast” is just *not* my thing, I have no idea how to do it (hard but without a sting, how do I? I only know how to be actually cutting), so here’s this awkward meta statement. I mean he literally said the “I know I’m supposed to do this roast thing” part, and he surely acted out the “don’t know how to do it”…
I think he panicked and put in a placeholder roast.
For me, the line that leaped out from your letter was “… I think we could eventually be truly close.” So – you’re not as close as you’d like to be to your brother. Is he closer to your sister than you and this is bothering you so much because the toasts feel like a reflection of that? Is his awkward toast from two years ago the biggest thing getting in the way of a closer relationship with your brother?
If it is, then try what @McKinleyValentine says above might be your best bet.
But if it’s not – if there are other ways of connecting you could be building on or doing or saying – then that may help you both feel better and build the relationship that you want with him (and make the “hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that toast…” question an easier ask, if you still feel you need to).
I thought the same thing as it reminded me of my own sibling dynamic. I get along with both my younger siblings and am especially close to my sister. My brother is also close to her, closer than he is to me. I’m not sure why it turned out this way, it could be as simple as her being in the middle of our ages so there are only 2 years between him and her, and me and her, but 4 years between me and him. Or it could be that they share more similar interests.
I sometimes get sad thoughts about it or try and compare, things like ‘my sister has been to stay at my brother’s student place but he’s never invited me’. It’s not even that I really want to go, it’s just how my jerkbrain talks to me and tells me that our relationships should be exactly equal or it means he doesn’t like me at all, which I know logically is untrue. I can totally see myself comparing wedding speeches, especially as the sister’s wedding already happened and the brother’s speech was well received, now the LW has something immediate to compare to which wouldn’t have happened if the LW had gotten married first.
I think it links to Yolanda B. Cool’s comment about unexpected strong feelings sometimes being really about something else, so they can be worth examining. Please don’t beat yourself up for having these feelings in the first place, and I think it’s really encouraging that you have identified that the feelings may be out of proportion and you have come here for help instead of trying to hash it out with your brother while still upset, which would increase the chance of accidental Feelingsbombs. I hope that if there is an underlying problem you are able to identify it and that it makes you feel a lot better about your relationship with your brother when you do.
Wow. I’m pretty annoyed with your mother here; even apart from the effect it’s ended up having on you, who the hell thinks it’s a good idea to give someone two days notice to prepare a public toast? (I completely agree that you shouldn’t bring it up with her; it’s not like you’re going to do the wedding over and get her to give him better notice next time, so, yeah, this one gets filed under ‘learning experiences wrt boundary-setting’. Just wanted to vent about it.)
As far as your brother’s comment is concerned… my advice would be to figure out if it’s bothering you in a ‘how dare he?’ kind of way or a ‘oh, no, is that really what he’s been thinking of me all along?’ kind of way. If it’s the former, then, although I completely agree that it was an out-of-line thing to say, I think it’s probably best at this point to let it go, assume it was a poor attempt at a joke, and focus on what’s good about the relationship. If it’s the latter, then I think McKinley Valentine’s advice is sound.
No kidding. That is such a mom thing to do–she probably had got wrapped up in her head that your brother would resent you because he didn’t “get” to do a toast at your wedding…because she thinks that she still needs to divide things evenly between siblings to prevent fighting or some other mom-ness, hopefully, if you’re optimistic about your mom’s motives. Maybe she was afraid that his feelings would be hurt, maybe he’d made an offhand comment (“Aw, sis never asked me to do a toast!”) in a joking way that she thought was serious and she was stressing about it? You had a great plan–I would shift blame to mom here, if you must blame someone!
WHY oh why do parents (especially mothers it seems) still try to manage the relationships between adult siblings? My mom was still trying to do this when I was 45 years old and my sister was 41 (a “few” years ago). Not for the first, or thousandth…time I had to tell her to stay out of it. We don’t need her to navigate our thoughts/feelings/emotions vis a vis each other.
So much this! My sister and I now contact each other every time after our mom pulls a “Oh, your sister was upset about X.” “You should talk to your sister about X because she told me…” and have a good laugh-rant about it to each other.
We’ve learned over the years that our mom can’t handle her own feelings and anxieties, so she’s resorted to managing ours to feel like she’s in control. She also hates being left out of the loop, so she tries to keep things going that have a simple solution, namely: “Let us deal with it, mom!” Once sis and I figured it out, we were thankfully able to work out a few things that our mom had triangulated us with, mostly just things she had blown way out of proportion.
We don’t tell our many of our actual “stuff” because we know that she’ll spread it around, unfortunately, and we’re just sad that she managed to stir up hurt feelings between us at both of our weddings due to her needs. Oh well, we figured it out before too many years had passed, thankfully (in our late 20s, now in our 30s), and we can manage her between the two of us.
I don’t think I would bring this up, mainly because I don’t think that I would feel any better if I did. In fact, I think I might feel worse, because I can’t imagine that conversation not being awkward or weird (or maybe more), and then I’d have TWO awkward things to try to carry.
Based on your letter, it sounds like you have a generally good relationship with your brother. He made an awkward joke. It bombed. You wish he hadn’t. I don’t see how you can undo that, other than to just move past it. Focus on ALL the good stuff about the wedding. Chances are only you and your brother even remember his speech. Do you remember wedding speeches from other people’s weddings? I certainly don’t, beyond a vague “that was nice”, or ” they seemed a little nervous”, or whatever. I only remember details of my dad’s speech at my wedding (out of the MANY I have been to), and to be fair, he cracked jokes about Hitler (he has a …weird… sense of humour).
Try to reframe it in the way you and the Captain mention, I think it’s the best way.
I got married a year and a half ago, and I still sometimes feel haunted by little things that people did that disappointed or hurt me. What helps me is telling myself that weddings are hard because it’s this super big, important, complicated thing that we only get one shot at and want to NAIL IT on our first and only try (even if you get married again later, that’s a different wedding with different dynamics).
So it’s okay that something didn’t go right and that it bothers you. But something was bound to go not-right, and it did, and now it’s over. The best we can do is tell ourselves that we all did our best and what’s done is done.
Thank you for this. I’m getting married in two weeks and I know I have a tendency to get hung up on some little thing someone said,, and analyse it to death. ‘Something was bound to go not-right’ – love this. Thank you for this comment!
I know it’s not the same thing as a wedding, but if you know anyone in theatre, many of us have great stories about things going wrong and how we dealt with it. Because something *will* go wrong, and that’s just the price we pay for doing the thing.The show goes on; half the time the audience doesn’t even notice and has a great time anyway. It’s always worth it.
If nothing else, take comfort in knowing that the worst thing that’s ever happened to me as a director on opening night was arriving to find that someone had parked a sailboat right in the one place I had been promised a sailboat would never be, and that almost definitely won’t happen to you.
Congratulations on your wedding, and good luck!
I am curious about what kind of venue you were performing in that was so liable to be overrun by sailboats…
Some sort of beach/harbourfront venue I’d guess. They make for beautiful pictures, but ideally you don’t want a random boat blocking the view. They’re not so nice looking close up.
It was a site specific piece which we staged in a boatyard as part of the local Fringe Festival (how we wound up with that particular site is a long story). We’d arranged to rehearse and perform at times when the boat lift wasn’t being used, so we were performing on this one guaranteed clear stretch of pavement by the water. Opening night, however, there was apparently an emergency and somebody’s boat had to be taken out of the water RIGHT THEN. And then the guy who operated the thing went home with the boat still in the lift, parked right on what amounted to my stage. When I got there at call time, there was no one around who had a license to work it, so it couldn’t be moved even a few meters. The company and I had to reblock the show as best we could in twenty minutes, including changing a couple of entrances whose path was now obscured by a frigging sailboat.
Theatre: because you can’t make this shit up.
I broke two toes and everything went fine on the day.
Do not recommend.
So true. For most people, they have little or no experience planning a wedding, they want to NAIL IT on the first go, and also, there is SO much out of their control because its made up of people, sometimes many, that are all doing their own thing. Good stuff to keep in mind when the inevitable happens.
Each time you feel the memory of the toast gnawing at you, visualize your brother cringing because he meant to say something heartfelt, funny and kind, and instead it came off witless and dull. He was known as a good speaker, and he flopped. Not his greatest moment, but imagine that he’s working to get over it. Then imagine every terrific performer in the world remembering their worst moments, the times they bombed. It’s that realization that likely everyone else is cringing too that helps me more than anything. Or think of some time when someone did purposefully put down another in public. Who was made a fool of? The taunter or the victim? Everyone who hears the jibe ends up thinking that the speaker didn’t end up looking good.
You see, that’s why I don’t like the “roasting” tradition. Roasting someone in a way that’s funny to *them* is a real balancing act. You really need to know someone’s insecurities/triggers/etc. very well and know exactly how a joke will land if you don’t want to hurt or embarrass them. A LOT of people don’t know how to do it. And if you’re hurt by a roast, you’re the one “who cannot take a joke”, so there’s pressure to suck it up and pretend it’s all in good fun.
If you don’t have the time to write a great speech for a wedding, just say you love the newly weds and wish them all the best. Better be boring than hurtful.
I had no idea that insulting people on their wedding day was even a thing. Of course it is going to go badly sometimes. Not everyone has the finesse to insult people in a non-insulting way.
I’ve never heard of the roasting tradition before!
When I gave the MOH toast at my sister’s wedding, I thought I’d make a funny reference to how, growing up, I always had advice for her. I was such a smug know-it-all older sister and she never listened to me and did things her own way. Blah blah cute example from middle school. And now that she’s getting married my one piece of wedding night advice: take all the bobby pins out of your hair before you go to bed lest you end up spending seven million hours unsnarling it in the morning.
I thought it was super cute, and neatly dodged having to say anything about her husband, who I did not like or approve of at all, but it fell flatter than a pancake. My sister was pretty darn annoyed, and I feel pretty badly that it didn’t work for her.
See, I’d have laughed at that if you were talking about me. Just shows how hard speeches are.
I don’t know how helpful this is, but I just wanted to chime in and say that even prepared, non-roasting toasts from people with whom you have a close relationship can go horribly wrong due to nerves. My best friend in the whole world, who once took me into her home for 6 months when I was abruptly homeless, served as my matron-of-honor and said a TREMENDOUSLY awkward thing in her toast. What happened was that she made a totally mundane reference to how we met (I used to hang out with her husband and watch anime in his parents’ basement), realized after it came out of her mouth that it sounded vaguely inappropriate, tried to clarify that it wasn’t, and in the process, accidentally implied that I slept with her husband’s brother (which, whoops, I *did*, a very long time ago). Nerves + joke + forgetting that I hooked up with her BIL 10 years ago = will a hole in the ground just open up and swallow us both right now please for the love of all that is holy. The whole thing was embarrassing for both of us, and we carefully avoided the topic for a good 18 months. At that point, she profusely apologized, and I did the kind thing of pretending I’d forgotten and saying I know she didn’t mean to (which she didn’t) and it was fine. I still get embarrassed thinking about it, and I’m sure she does, too, and that might never change. Sometimes people who love you say weird things because of nerves and excitement and general awkwardness.
Anyway, all this to say that I suspect your brother made a dud of a joke and immediately realized that it fell flat but didn’t know how to recover. Absent any other signs that he was serious and truly meant to hurt you, I’d suggest following the Captain’s advice. It sucks, because it would be nice to have a do-over or some sense of closure, but if it was a one-time thing, it’s sometimes best for everyone if you just pretend it never happened.
Sending Jedi hugs, though, if you want them, because I know that this hurts, regardless of intent.
OP you say your brother is a good speaker, but it sounds like he is only a good speaker when he has a lot of time to write a speech. Given enough time I am a good writer, but it takes me quite a while to get something together. Did he have a lot of notice for your sister’s wedding toast? Has he had more notice for other speeches in the past?
I’ve been married 40 years July 1. I can’t remember that much about my wedding. It isn’t important. Let it go.
Love this. Xx
I think you’re right that he just tried to make a joke and it didn’t work. I’ve done this before and then WINCED SO HARD afterward when I remember things I said that I thought would be funny but then they just WEREN’T—and then I worry that if I brought it up with a sincere apology, that would make it MUCH WORSE (as if I DID mean it, if you see what I mean, because now I’m apologizing as if I deliberately hurt their feelings). YERG.
Here’s my guess: he couldn’t think of a good roast, but it sounds like the expectation was that it ought to be a roast—so he said that thing about how he knows he’s supposed to roast you, and then he gave two little-kid-era insults so that no one would think he was serious. Like, if he’d said you were superficial and that you cheat on your taxes, that would sound like they applied NOW—but “tattletale” and “poor sport” are right out of childhood/sibling era, so it can sound like not-real insults that show your childhood bond.
I agree with Swistle – though I must say that this wedding “roasting” tradition is quite alien to me. I have seen it in movies and tv series but never in real life. I cannot help but wonder if these were insults the LW’s brother used during their childhood together or were they just sort of random? I the brother had never before mentioned anything like these words during their adulthood they are probably just meant to be generic silly stuff, probably not that well thought of either. Still, I get that hearing stuff like that can be hurtful.
Still, Swistle’s idea of calling a person superficial and telling that they cheat on taxes is so bad that it is comedy gold.
Dear LW, whether or not this comes from not being close enough to your brother improving your relationship to him would probably be a good thing so if you have any extra spoons, I would recommend connecting more with your brother. Perhaps talking of your childhood with him might erase these thoughts: instead of asking of this speech you could just ask him how he saw you when you were children. Whatever he tells you during a heartfelt private conversation is probably more truthful than the things he said during a poorly prepared wedding roast.
I wonder if it’s a function of trying to be funny and not knowing how else to do it + feeling uncomfortable being mushy, esp. in front of a wide swath of friends/family/family friends/etc.
I don’t quite get it. Nobody roasted us at my wedding except to say we’re giant nerds who managed to find equally nerdy partners in one another (which is true, anyway).
OTOH, my spouse went the sweet/sappy route in a wedding toast for a friend, only to have their opposite number stand up and slag that speech, along with slagging one of the people getting married to a truly amazing degree. Soooooo… not everybody is on the same page re: What Wedding Toasts are For.
like an angry apple tree, what do you think, is this roasting an American tradition? Since we Scandinavians do enjoy tv series and movies made in US we do have seen speeches like this but they do not seem to be that common in here. Usually one of the parents or siblings gives a heartfelt (and sometimes boring) speech and that is about it – though this varies greatly.
I do not really get this roasting tradition, anyway; for people who have been bullied in school (like me) it would probably just feel terrible. There are tons of other ways to be funny and interesting beside being mean and I would take a sappy speech any time over a mean one. I wonder if it is more acceptable for women to be sappy? After all, a lot of comedy have been done on men giving sappy wedding speeches (including How I Met Your Mother – and for some reason residents of one of our Scandinavian countries were included in the episode in question).
Please, if you believe your spouse would like a Jedi hug from an internet stranger, please give them that. Sappy speeches and toasts are clearly underrated.
America doesn’t have just one tradition, either. I’ve never been to a wedding where a roast type toast was done. Everyone went sappy or just respectful and loving.
On the other hand, a guest at MY wedding walked up as we were getting in the car to leave and handed my husband the cash he had been intending to use for the money dance…which was definitely not something I had at my wedding.
(Other people can have that tradition, and it’s fine. It wasn’t something I was happy doing, so it had no place at MY wedding. )
It’s also saying, “she’s never been a pushover, and she never let me ignore her feelings or fairness.”
Think about it: when would a brother complain about his sister being a tattletale? When she isn’t willing to suffer his foolishness gladly. And when would he say she’s being a poor sport? When she’s insisting that the rules have to be fair for everyone – not just benefit him – and not just letting him win every time. She wouldn’t cater to his image of himself as being the true center of the universe and made him consider somebody other than himself. That’s what I’m seeing brother’s clumsy attempt at a ‘complaint’ revealing.
It’s kind of like when my baby brother says that I’m his ‘bossy’ big sister. It’s his way of acknowledging that really, I was looking out for him back then, and saying he appreciates it… now.
LW, I am sorry you felt so upset at your own wedding. I am sure that was really hurtful when your mom ignored your wishes and your brother said those negative things. Jedi hugs, seriously!
Not sure if this helps, but from an outside perspective your brother’s speech seems to reflect badly on him rather than you. His comment about you was quite a clunker, and sounds like it made him look really awkward.
Unfortunately, I doubt that a conversation with your brother now would give you the outcome you wish for. You feel awful, and you want the awfulness to go away. I totally get it. Carrying the weight of this for 2 years must be exhausting. I just doubt that talking about it now with your brother or mom would help that awfulness to go away. I am really sorry to say that, and I may be letting my personal experiences with a similar situation color my comment.
Often, folks who either violate boundaries or make thoughtless comments in public are resistant to any call-out of that behavior, even in the moment. When much time has passed, in my experience, you get a lot of, “if it was so bad, you should have said so,” and “that never happened,” and “calm down, you are so dramatic.” Maybe your family is more reasonable than mine, so I could be way off base here and if so I apologize.
It helped for me to look on my bad/sad feelings as the motivation for me to be more assertive with my overbearing family and in-laws. They all acted like jerks at my wedding, and embarrassed themselves. They said hurtful things, and tried to change my wedding plans. They hated my courthouse wedding, my skirt and blouse rather than a wedding dress, the lack of a big cake or flowers or attendants. They hated the atheistic service and the guest list of 6 people. They invited guests without telling me or my husband. They bought and arranged hideous flowers. My sis purposely and in full knowledge of the facts made a cake that she knew I detested, with a filling I am allergic to (not hospital-type allergic, but itchy mouth & rashy skin). My MIL actually gave an impromptu speech at dinner, where she complained that we were not really married as I hadn’t worn a white dress, then called me a godless heathen. My mom tried to invite my (abusive, pedophile) dad to the wedding. My sis-in-law gave a full volume, ten minute monologue about the time my cruel, unfair husband told her to move out of his house. Twenty years before. After she burned the house down. Then, she finished up by saying that she was prettier than I am even on my wedding day (actually, that one was so ridiculously nasty that I had to laugh). It was like all the Disney villains showed up at our wedding.
After this shitshow of a wedding, my husband and I had all the motivation we needed to set firm boundaries with everyone. We are a lot better at saying NO and having folks respect it.
And LW, it took awhile, but we have actually learned to laugh about our wedding from hell. We will never have memories of a perfect, gloriously happy wedding, but we have each other’s backs in a way we did not before. We had to reframe what happened, so instead of thinking of it as emotionally devastating we are able to see it as a trial by fire. My husband talks about it as being similar to the bonds he formed when fighting in the Gulf War. It sucked big time, but we are stronger and closer because of it. And we have soooo many jokes about it now! 12 years later, we are not hurt anymore, we just laugh about it. I just wish I knew at the time how I would feel about it now, because it still sucked. so. much.
Maybe reframing your brother’s comments would help? They were either petty and a bit childish or awkward and embarrassing for him. Also, your mom kinda messed things up by interfering with your wedding plans. Now, you have a concrete example of what happens when she runs roughshod over your life. Reframing this all as their issue to deal with means you no longer have to carry the emotional burden for their mistakes. This frees you up to set the boundaries you want and to enjoy your marriage and your life.
Dayuuum! Now that’s some grade-A wedding weirdness.
There is more, but I had already written too much. There is a reason husband and I don’t live near/spend much time with family. 😉
The Captain’s advice has definitely helped when I have been feeling like I was the one who made it weird. Which can happen, right? Gaslighting is like emotional Kryptonite.
Had I been a guest at the wedding, my thought would have been, “Ah, he’s taking the opportunity to deliver a sideswipe in a circumstance where she can’t defend herself or even respond, really. What a jerk. I hate him.” (Any spillover from my own upbringing is, of course, purely coincidental.)
Did he previously have the habit of delivering sly little jabs whenever he could? Or was the wedding thing out of character for him? If it was out of character, then the others have good advice here. Weddings are fraught; you got through it; today is another day. Think about the kind of relationship you’d like to have with Brother, and make a plan to achieve it. The Captain and commenters throughout this site offer a vast library of suggestions for doing that.
On the other hand, if, on reflection, you do find that your relationship was always imbalanced, that you liked him better than he liked you, please consider whether a “closer” relationship with him would really do you any good. Just because somebody is Family doesn’t automatically mean they are your Kin. You are allowed to spend your greatest energy on people who nourish you.
But these are such silly jabs – as someone says above, straight out of the little kid / sibling playbook – I don’t think they were ever intended to be hurtful at all.
Yes, although that may be exactly why they ended up being hurtful… Perhaps he or someone else called her those things as a child? Sometimes someone says something that the adult part of you can rationalise but the little kid in your heart is still hurting about.
“Did he previously have the habit of delivering sly little jabs whenever he could? Or was the wedding thing out of character for him?”
I agree this is key – if there’s an unmentioned history of this, it definitely reframes what’s going on as less innocent. Good catch!
Just a little funny wedding toast anecdote: During his rehearsal dinner toast, my father explained that he was happy I had turned into a relatively upstanding citizen and was getting married to a wonderful woman despite the vast amounts of weed I smoked when I was younger. It seemed dramatic at the time & supposedly a few of my wife’s family members were “aghast”. The drama faded almost instantaneously, and now it is one of our “remember how hilarious it was?” stories.
Oh god–at my bff’s wedding, her MIL, when she heard that Fiancé and I were attending from Colorado, said “Oh, I guess they’ll be bringing pot for everyone”, which annoyed bff, confused her husband, and caused bff’s mum, who is the perfect Southern matron and mum, to have to retreat to her fainting couch.
(We did not bring pot, for the record.)
Comradde not sure if you were groom or not but I feel like it’s some kind of groomdad thing to make horribly awkward “hey they had all these problems but wow, managed to get married!” speeches XD My husband’s dad pretty much has a speech that was about all his (actually relatively minor) problems as a child, and one of his friends who got married had a dad that gave a similar speech.
I thought it was lulzy but honestly his dad was kind of a vaguely condescending jerk and they’re fairly estranged now.
Personally I hated the idea of a wedding but went through it because I knew family didn’t; I didn’t expect much from my wedding except to be a nice party for people we knew so lame toasts from people I was so-so on was just part of the expected wedding nonsense. The only part about my wedding that pissed me off was the bill 😛 What is it with wedding planners always going 25% over budget even when you say that’s the only thing you’re worried about and then acting like you’re a premadonna on your wedding night and honeymoon! (and no I was picky about nothing except to say keep me abreast of budget changes)
Oh my goodness! A *relatively* upstanding citizen? Ouch!
Though I can see why you would find it hilarious now. 😉 What else can you do?
In addition to the interpersonal relationships in this story, my takeaway is that writing is hard and non-writers don’t know that. It’s like that with any art. Ballet dancers practice for hours/day in order to make it look like they flutter effortlessly across the stage. Actors rehearse and rehearse in order to make it sound like they deliver each line like it was so natural they just thought it up. And writers just whip out fantastic speeches in their spare time after jotting down a few notes. Hah! I’m going to guess that Mother in this story hasn’t written much beyond grocery lists, or she’s convinced that the good writers in college were lucky. She doesn’t know what it is to write a draft, look it over, rearrange sentences, take out words, read it both silently and out loud to check how it flows, put back the words you took out, tear hair, shred copy, and repeat. Brother knew good writing was hard. Mother hasn’t seemed to figure it out. My first choice would be to let it go, but if that’s not possible, I wouldn’t talk to Brother; I’d talk to Mother. Why was she so vested in having Brother speak?
You’ve been given some good advice relating to your brother, so I’ll just add this: in my personal view, referring to oneself as ‘[too] sensitive’ is like negative bodytalk – many of us, especially women, hear enough of that crap from terrible people in our lives; we shouldn’t feel obliged to fling it at ourselves too.
Even if you decide not to pick a particular battle or bring up a particular topic, or you choose to reframe an incident in your mind to help deprioritize it going forward, how you FEEL about it is how you feel. You are not bad or weak or lesser because of that.
(And in a way, I think writing oneself off as ‘too sensitive’ can actually worsen the brainweasels – if you’re stuck in a trap of thinking ‘Ugh, you’re obsessing about that again, self? Stop being so sensitive and let it go!’, it crosses into don’t-think-about-an-elephant territory.)
I love this.
LW, you’ve gotten some really good advice here. I just wanted to add that I’ve found that when something small is bothering me vastly out of proportion to the offense, it’s often pointing to an underlying issue that I need to resolve within myself.
Like, being mad about a forgotten birthday (and I was crying mad for months) was really about the fact that I was putting a lot of effort into doing stuff for other people and not taking time for myself. So the next year, I went crazy shopping for myself and treating myself for my birthday, and I felt a lot better. Sometimes the reason I’m disproportionately upset about a small thing is because I need to set boundaries with the offender. Sometimes it’s an area I’m just insecure about, and I need to be kind and treat myself gently around that Thing (in my case, acne and weight fluctuations.)
I’m wondering, since its been two years, if it would be helpful for you to talk about what’s bothering you about this with a therapist or mental health professional who can help you dig in and figure out what the underlying need is, rather than just rehashing the offense and nourishing the grudge. It may be that giving yourself permission to set boundaries with your mom, or your brother, even just being kind to yourself about your disappointment that your wedding wasn’t Perfect with a capital P, will help you feel better and put this to bed.
Best of luck to you, LW.
This is a very good point, while I was reading I couldn’t help wondering if maybe OPs brother had a history of pranks or not very funny “jokes.”
And I also love this! This has been such a revelation for me.
My youngest brother got married this March. I travelled home from Japan to Scotland to attend – everyone else lived nearby. During my brother’s speech, I got increasingly disappointed and hurt that he didn’t mention me at all. I felt silly for being selfish, but then everyone else in the family got an individual mention, and I was the only one not at the head table, so I felt very left out. And I had travelled almost 6000 miles to be there! On the other hand, I’m the only one in the family who has not had a fraught relationship with my youngest brother, so I thought maybe he had just focused on the way their relationships had improved so much, and we had always been good so he didn’t need to mention me.
But I didn’t want to let it fester and ruin anything, so I went up to the head table after the speeches, gave him the requisite teary hug, then poked him in the arm and said “You dingied me in your speech!” (Dingied being a Scottish word for ignored) He was very amusingly shamefaced, and admitted that he should probably have written something down instead of winging it! So we had a good chuckle, and all is well.
My youngest brother also got married this past year and I traveled across Canada with my family to be there. I was the only sibling not in the large wedding party. During speeches, I was hurt and sad that my new SIL did not mention me at all, while she had thoughtful things to say about everyone else in the family. While I was pretty sure that she was speaking off the cuff and using the head table and parents’ tables to help her remember who to mention it did not help my feelings. The speech feelings probably combined with feeling left out and anxious earlier during the photo session as I ended up asking in the middle if they wanted any photos with me/spouse/kids as there was no way that my kids were going to keep clean for much longer.
Wedding feelings are hard; I think that often it is about something deeper. SIL apologized the next day for missing me and I love her for it. I think that I still feel left out as my siblings and I have always been divided along gender lines (3 brothers/ 1 sister).
I realize this is totally subjective on my part, but I know why this would bother me, and it’s that “poor sport” and “tattletale” were concepts my sister and my mom used to gaslight me for my whole childhood.
When my sister deliberately provoked and tormented me all day long and I broke down and cried, it was because I was a poor sport. When I told my parents she had done so, that was being a tattletale.
Someone I dated for about three months broke up with me and told me it was because I was “too emotional.”
I laughed about it at the time, but, then I wondered if it was a manipulative strategy to avoid breakup tears? Something he said to motivate me not to make a scene? It was weird and not what I expected, for sure.
So, saying someone used to be a poor sport as a roast sounds like it might be heading off complaints preemptively.
Or, it might not be.
Hey! What I’m reading here is “I was insulted on my wedding day, in front of my family and friends, by a brother who I’m not close enough with to laugh it off and/or give a ‘wtf, dude?’ eyebrow arch to, whose speech was forced on both of us by a mom who wanted things ‘just so,’ and I feel bad that I still feel bad.”
So, I would hold that grudge, too, for the record. But also, in validating this, I’d also say that you might want to examine how much of an impact you want this to have on your life. Is it worth an air-clearing conversation and then feeling much better? Is it worth two or three sessions with your therapist, or writing a letter you don’t mail, or writing two—one to your brother, one to your mom? Is it worth some deep breaths or some reframing exercises where this was a couple minutes in an otherwise gorgeous day? Is it worth some compassion to him for being asked to do this (remember, he knows you about as well as you know him; these generic jabs that feel so pointed could have been him reaching back to when you were both pre-teens and grasping at something that feels intimate), and compassion for your own feelings of hurt? I’m not letting him off the hook, but working through it, and ultimately putting it on the shelf or addressing it with him, is going to feel better than this current “what does it MEEEaaaaNN/what an unkind thing to say/ON MY WEDDING DAY TO BOOT” feelings miasma.
Ooof. I personally do not understand the whole “roast” thing at all, much less at weddings. I attended a wedding a few years ago where the father of the groom made a rambling, sort of incoherent ‘toast’ in which he just talked a lot about the groom’s first girlfriend (NOT the bridge) who “taught him a thing or two” that also included some really weird references to her race. It was gross.
Fortunately I don’t think the bride really got it, between the incoherence and English being her second language. At that wedding my then-boyfriend’s stepmother, who detested him and his brother, tried to press-gang us into pretending we were wait staff. Haha, no.
If I ever get married there will be no toasts. I can 100% guarantee that my brother would say shitty stuff and it WOULD be mean-spirited.
CommanderBanana, I second the dislike if “roasts” as wedding toasts. My BIL tried to get me to contribute embarrassing stories about my sister for their wedding. He wanted really mean stuff so he could “really make her squirm.” Umm… NOPE!
Nope, even after she purposely made a cake I was allergic to for my wedding after being told to not do it. I was still pretty annoyed with her, but not enough to publicly humiliate her at her own wedding. That just sucks!
Well, it would have been the perfect time to bring up the cake story.
Hahaha! Yes, that would have been kinda funny.
I was going for the “I am above all of your ridiculousness” method of dealing with them. Sis & BIL are both really condescending and self-righteous. When I take the high road, it pisses them off in a very amusing (to me) way. I appear to be the reasonable one, and I can giggle about it later. Plus, over the years, using this method has helped me to train BIL to stop trying this nonsense with me. He likes to gang up on people and humiliate them just for fun. Nope!
This site needs the capacity to register upvotes.
A lot of people have said they’ve never seen a “roast” speech done in real life. Not sure if this is a cultural thing, but I’ve seen my fair share of them here in the UK. The vast majority were perfectly fine; one was in poor taste, although I can’t remember the details of it at all (which may reassure the LW).
The key seems to be a) pick something the target isn’t truly sensitive about, b) tie it into a specific amusing anecdote (or two at most), and c) sandwich it with actual praise for the person. The LW’s brother seems to have failed on all fronts there.
I’d like to put in my anecdotal bid for finding a cheerful, low-pressure moment to check in with the brother; if it can be done without hanging too much stress on it, the LW might get a nice surprise and a release of angst.
I literally spent decades sweating over a comment my sister made once, that I thought meant she had accidentally eavesdropped on something staggeringly embarrassing to me. More than tweny years after the event, a conversation wandered its way to that day, and I found out that she had heard a completely different thing at a completely different time of day, and my twenty years of embarrassment had been entirely self-created. Now I can laugh about it. It was a truly wonderful discovery.
(All this is making me deply glad that we had no toasts at my wedding, period, end of story.)
Last-minte toasts are weird. My now-SIL did a weird thing–my husband asked her to give a toast several months before the wedding (he did so in my presence). Cut to the rehearsal dinner and she says she didn’t know she was supposed to give a toast, then switches it to she’d thought he’d been joking(?). She began her toast with a little snark about how she’d only found out the day before and a bunch of her speech was about how noteworthy it was that my husband was affectionate with me because he was never affectionate with her. (Probably true honestly. I don’t quite get how their family relates. I was stressed at the time because my mother AND father AND sister each wanted to make a toast, and no one on his side wanted to, and I was convinced I was going to look like a spotlight-hogging diva. Weddings are weird.)
We are on very good terms with said sister (she’s awesome if a little salty) but I always found that so weird.
I read it that she was hurt that the toasts for her sister were really warm, loving, and playful, and the toast for her was kind of bland and perfunctory. Made total sense to me. BUT, yeah, it has been years, and he said up front that he wasn’t sure how good it’d be on such limited time. It’s not like he openly insulted her and was vulgar. Feeling less loved and less special/feeling insecure about her relationship with her brother totally makes sense to me, tho.
As someone on the other end, I can bet you there are plenty of speakers who deeply regret—even years later—the stuff they said and pray their transgression have been forgotten by the public.
Chances are, your bro could be one of them. Possibly kicking himself in the arse for the boneheaded speech and wishing he had all the time to make something better.
I think it is better to chalk this up as that embaressing family moment. Maybe the one you might mention every now and again at family dinner to pole fun and your bro along with the embaressing baby stories of how yall ran around naked or something.
Otherwise, let it go. There are some things that you have to let go, no matter how embaressing it was
For anyone who googles their way here because they’ve been asked to give a wedding toast on short notice, here’s your script:
“Please join me in raising a glass to the happy couple. To [name] and [name]!”
Then you drink and sit back down.
People will be happy because they can have a drink without having to listen to a rambling speech, and people will either remember your toast fondly for its brevity, or will never think about it again.
This! Yesyesyes! I don’t want to listen to a long speech full of inside jokes and stories of childhood and that one time at university.
Oh man if I asked someone to give a toast on short notice and they said yes, and I was looking forward to hearing what they had to say, and that was it? I’d probably cry. I’d much rather they just told me they couldn’t do it, rather than agree and get expectations up only to do nothing as impersonally as possible.
It feels like someone saying “Let me tell you how lovely this couple is and all my wishes for their marriage… nevermind, all done, can’t think of anything.”
As it happens, I didn’t line up toasts until late and most of our wedding party said nope, fear of public speaking, not prepared, not comfortable, etc. and that was really quite fine. So if you’ve been asked to give a toast at the last minute and really hate the idea, you can probably say no! And if you can’t, bland and kind is always nice.
What, seriously? I thought toasts were really short normally.
I got married four years ago and reading all the wedding stories here is so therapeutic! As a very young, quiet, people-pleasing introvert, I am still haunted by moments where I thought other people might secretly not be enjoying our wedding (augh!!).
My photographer took longer than we thought and my grandma impatiently gestured at me when I was finally able to sit down to eat my own wedding food as though I was supposed to get the ball rolling to the next thing, a donkey robustly brayed once during the ceremony (budget ranch wedding ftw), and the paper plates disappeared for the cake. Layer that with a bachelorette party falling extremely flat a couple nights before because my young sister only planned “watching movies in a hotel room” as the main activity (surprise! No dvd player!), and had also forgotten to tell one of the bridesmaids that it was a sleepover which resulted in said bridesmaid feeling excluded and texting me for emotional punishment the day before my wedding… and any illusions I had about a wedding being “the bride’s day” had completely evaporated by that point.
These experiences do make it easier to have meaningful discussions with other brides when they realize they’re not alone, and the day itself went off remarkably well other than those hiccups!
A donkey? Ouch. I bet you laugh now, but you weren’t laughing then. Ditto re: the emotionally punishing bridesmaid. Jedi hugs to you, Earl Grey Fae!
My friend had gardeners start a leaf blower and a chainsaw at different times during his outdoor ceremony. Also, his dad hired a drunken Elvis impersonator to give a very foul-mouthed and risque toast. I am his ex fiance, but we remained good friends. The bride was not super thrilled about me, but we were polite. After I stopped the loud equipment from disrupting the ceremony, and semi-forcibly put Drunk Elvis in a cab *before* the toast, the bride and I were a lot friendlier.
Aw thank you, sending a jedi hug your way too Salymander!
Oh geez, I think the leaf blower and foul-mouthed elvis take the cake! You are awesome for shutting that down! I would have been content to sit and watch this “entertainment” at an ex’s wedding; you’re an especially good person.
My MIL invited her son to speak at our baby naming, causing a lot of awkwardness by forgetting that my kid has a lot of aunts and uncles who are not her kids (none of whom were invited to speak). Parents—stay out of your grown kids’ ceremonies. Thanks!
I’m with Twitchy, Johann7, N.B, Swistle, Maddie, Clarry, Dr. Sarah, Perfectionist, Kaos, and a few others.
I got a nickel says that while your mom was saying to you, “Your brother will be really hurt if you don’t let him do a toast at your wedding as he did at your sister’s wedding,” she was also saying to your brother, “Your little sister will be so hurt if you don’t do a toast at her wedding as you did at your older sister’s wedding.” And that if there was any genuine hostility in your brother on your wedding day, it was along the lines of “Geez, if she wanted me to do a toast all that much, it would’ve been great if she’d given me more than like five minutes’ notice! This is gonna be really lame and make me look bad!”
And if there’s anything more in it than that, I strongly recommend taking the interpretation of the above-referenced commenters: “I’m required to roast the poor child here, but honestly I’ve got no material because she’s such a sweetie-pie. So, all I can do is throw some generic big-brother-baby-sister stuff at her as kind of a meta-joke and hope it works.” Then it didn’t work, because that kind of subtlety requires perfect delivery to work. Unfortunately, his delivery failed to sell it. The reason his delivery failed to sell it is that he was sleepy and tired and not at his best. The reason he was sleepy is that he had stayed up all night for two nights trying to write a brilliant speech.
And if you are now thinking “OMG now that a handful of nice strangers on the Internet have explained it to me it is so obvious that this is exactly what was going on! Why didn’t I realize it at the time?!”, then the answer to that one is, because you were frazzled. People don’t think clearly when frazzled. Even the two years of post-wedding fretting is covered by this, because you took in the emotional effect on the day of frazzle; and the emotional effect thereafter circumvented any potential retroactive clarity.
If, and only if, your brother has the lifelong bad habit of delivering little zings, as Weftage cautioned, would I read anything else into it.
Otherwise, if your brother ever brings it up to you by saying, “I’ve always wished I could get a do-over on that toast at your wedding; it didn’t come off at all the way I wanted it to,” stare straight into his eyes and lie like a rug: “Pfft! Don’t be silly; I thought it was goofy and sweet.”
If he mentions the short notice, roll your eyes and agree: “I know, that was so awful for you, poor baby. Just Mom doing her little thing about ‘fixing’ things that don’t need fixing, again. And as you will recall, I was too wussy in those days to be able to tell her exactly when and how far to step off.”
Because it’s entirely possible, in fact likely, that your mother’s instigation of the whole thing will be coming as news to him.
Clarification: I am not calling LW wussy, and in fact do not think she is wussy at all; she is just temporarily hostage to a brainweasel. What I am advising is that if she characterizes it this way with her brother, she is likely to gain his sympathy and support.
Because I got another nickel says he is probably not all that skilled at mom-opposition himself.
My then-boyfriend made an incredibly rude and hurtful speech at my 21st birthday. It involved a poem he had written specially for the occasion in which, I will concede, the metre and rhyme were perfect, but the content was a litany of my many faults in language that was highly embarrassing to my conservative religious family (all of whom were there). I am now 45 and I have not forgotten this, although of course I don’t dwell on it every day. It was 100% the precipitating factor in that relationship ending a couple of months later.
All of which is to say – mean stuff said under the cover of a roast can still really hurt, and I feel for the LW a lot. It’s easy to say, brush it off, let it go, but not as easy to do. Granted, what her brother said sounds more off-the-cuff and less intentionally cruel than what my ex said about me, but the sting is real. If it were me and I wanted to have a good relationship going forward, I would raise it with him, not adversarially but to hopefully get at least some acknowledgment of what happened and how it made me feel. (In my own case, the solution was to sever the relationship, but there were other irreparable issues there – the roast was just the most flamboyant outward sign of these).
I’d think carefully about how to approach bro, if you want to ask him about this, as it’s possible that bro has bad feels about that day too – and it sounds like you’ve decided that it’s only worth bringing up to you if it’s going to heal any breaches rather than make them worse.
One thing I’ve found interesting, is that it’s really really hard to tell from the way a presentation comes across just how nervous a person was before it. I have an friend who is a lovely engaging public speaker, but she is made miserable by doing it, and spends several hours in advance of speech in a spiral of increasing misery and anxiety. But no-one who hadn’t seen her beforehand would be able to guess this. So although you know he can give a lovely speech, you don’t really know how much anxiety and preparation he typically puts into the few minutes of spotlight.
Bro’s bad feels might go along the lines of (obviously I’m making some of this up). “I enjoy giving good speeches, but they’re really hard work. OtherSis asked me for a speech several months before, and the time and energy spent preparing it was a huge part of my wedding gift to her. (Maybe, I’d have enjoyed giving that kind of gift to LW too, if I’d had the chance). But LW didn’t ask me until 2 days before, so in the time between the weddings LW must have discounted the size of my gift to OtherSis. And, actually I thought I’d pretty much nailed that speech, so I was kind of hurt in the months leading up to LW’s wedding that she didn’t ask. But when I was asked two days out, well I gave it my best shot. But yeah, there was other stuff happening in those 2 days too, so it couldn’t get all my attention. And speech really crashed and burned! . Gee, I never ever want to face the leaden silence of a joke failing in an important speech again.. I still cringe to think about it. Aaargh, I need to think about something happy now.”
For what it’s worth the “tattletale”and “bad sport” labels, are surface unpleasant, but are also things that almost all children will have been at one time or another. Those things are all about learning how to engage with difficult situations – and that’s one of the things childhood is about. So yes, maybe you were those things sometimes, but I’d bet that he was them sometimes too; and I’m with the other commenters who think that he might have been saying in a joking way “The worst I can say about her is that when she was a child she behaved as a child”.
Yep. His delivery crashed and burned because he was exhausted from staying up all night for two nights in a row writing a speech!
Is a roast speech at a wedding a new thing? I’ve heard jokey comments, usually in the best man’s speech, but never anything like described in the letter. I hope this isn’t going to become a thing the way cake smashed into the bride’s face was a few years back.
Different people have different traditions. I haven’t actually seen a roast, and I had a conversation with my husband before the wedding about the cake smashing thing; if he did that to me it would be an indication that we didn’t really know each other or fit together, and the marriage would end, right then.
We did not smush cake in each other’s faces.
(The friends of his that indicated disappointment in that? I will admit that I never fully recovered my trust in them.)
OMG I hate the cake-smashing tradition! It was a big thing in a lot of the weddings I had to attend as a child in my mom’s side of the family. (Though she never approved of that either.) My husband and I agreed very early on that we would not do the cake smashing. (Of course, what other couples do at their wedding is not my business).
I don’t know where the cake-smashing “tradition” came from either, but I know it’s not an old “tradition.” A few decades, at most.
When my brother got married, my sister and I took him aside before the reception and said, “Look. Your wife spent a lot of time to look her very best today, and if you ruin her make-up, WE will make you pay. Also, getting frosting up your nose is uncomfortable, and you don’t want the woman you love to be uncomfortable, do you? Also, do you want to lose your bride to the bathroom for an hour while she repairs the damage? DO YOU?!” He agreed that the consequences were horrible and it would not be a thing.
“Friends” who goad a couple into doing this to each other (especially doing it to someone who paid a make-up artist to prep them for the party!) are not good friends, at all.
LW, I second the captain on this probably being about your relationship with your mother or about how she got you to do something you didn’t want to do. When I look back at moments similar to yours here (feeling bad about something small for a long time), it was me being angry at myself for not being able to set and defend my boundaries. Which isn’t to say that anything here is your fault. It rather means: We somehow feel angry and that anger is meant to help us stand up for ourselves but we feel small and powerless and thus we direct that anger in a direction that doesn’t challenge us to be small and powerless. If you work on getting better at setting boundaries and seeing it as a normal thing people do all the time (rather than as a horrible, difficult, impolite or unloving thing), you will also feel like your feelings are way easier to understand. They will be more in proportion of what happens and not that connected to the unhealthy patterns people develop with each other when all parties involved are bad at boundaries.
Weddings can be really crap, can’t they? I am still smarting from my younger brother’s wedding and that was like ten years ago. I was his matron of honour, I hosted his bachelor party, I helped him rehearse his (very lovely) wedding speech, I managed our father when he got pissed…not used to drinking. And when his wife got up to throw her bouquet, I got up to join in and my brother pointed and laughed in my face and said WHAT ARE YOU DOING. OK I’d been single for a very long time but that really hurt and I’ve never quite forgiven him for it.
Did he think you’d been single so long you were honorary-married, or something? Like Elizabeth I being “married” to England?
1) There is no requirement to roast the guest of honor at ANY party except a party specifically labled A ROAST. Would all future speech-givers please avoid roasting, unless it is specifically requested, and focus on the positive, instead? Especially at a wedding.
2) LW, I don’t know if this will help you let go, but please note he put the “roast” in the past tense. “Growing Up” you *were* a poor sport and a tattle tale. Grammatically speaking, at least, you have matured beyond those two flaws.
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