The Toast That Started It All: Raising A Glass To Friendship

Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC

I crossed a major milestone a couple of years ago, and invited a few friends for dinner to celebrate. 

As George Costanza would say – worlds were colliding!  – and I wanted to make sure everyone felt at home even if they didn’t necessarily know each other.

I decided a toast was the way to go.

And that’s when I discovered first-hand how mind-blowingly, heart-burstingly great it feels to raise a glass to the people who matter in my life. 

It can feel pretty daunting to stand up and speak in front of a group – even a small, supportive audience. All eyes are on you. Maybe you’ve already had a drink or two… and I don’t know about you, but sometimes my mind just goes blank when I’m nervous. 

That’s why it’s so important to prepare.  

By getting my thoughts down in advance, I was able to clear space to enjoy my big day, rather than wasting time worrying during the event about what I was going to say.   

It took a few more months to realize this was a gift I could share with others, and then the light came on… and Centrepiece Writing Studio was born! 

Here’s how I welcomed my friends: 

Hi everyone,

For some reason I thought it would be fun to do some public speaking on my birthday!

I promised I wouldn’t single anybody out, but I hope you’ll mingle and introduce yourselves to each other as the night goes on.

You have a lot in common.

You are the people I read stories with, I watch movies with, and most importantly… I share meals with!

On the surface of things, this could look like an awful lot of unproductive entertainment, but I’ve been reflecting on this for a while…and there’s more to it than that.

Through our discussions, you are the people who help me make sense of the world.

Together we look at characters – in fiction and real life – and try to understand their motivations.

We consider how language, lighting and perspective – in fiction and real life – combine magically to make us laugh or cry… Sometimes unexpectedly.

Through these conversations, I’ve learned more about myself. And we’ve learned more about each other.  

We don’t always agree, and that’s okay.  I’m a stronger debater because of our discussions.  (Just ask Richard!)

And so on my birthday I want to raise a toast to thank you all for helping me get here. 

[One hundred] years – wow!

I lead a happier, healthier, and richer life because of you.

Thank you for coming tonight to celebrate this milestone with me.

It’s really so amazing to have you all here with me.

I’ve always wanted to eat in this private room!

Enjoy the meal…

Feel free to take leftovers home if you want – don’t let this food go to waste!…

And don’t forget to save room for dessert!


There were no leftovers that night after all, but what I did take home were some amazing memories from a special night with close friends.

As well as a new understanding of how great it feels to nail an important moment.

Leaf - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC

Shannon Marshall

Hi - I’m Shannon, a speechwriter for all occasions, and owner of Centrepiece Writing Studio. I write heartfelt speeches, handcrafted just for you.

If you need a hand finding just the right words for your toast, eulogy or milestone celebration, I've got you covered. I'll help you tell your story.

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Shannon Marshall - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC

Centrepiece Writing Studio is grateful to operate on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen people, now represented by the Songhees and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) nations...
The glorious land commonly known as Victoria, BC.

With great respect for the earliest residents of our shared coastal home, CWS strives to uphold our mutual values of storytelling and environmental stewardship.

Flower - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC