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Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,830 ratings  ·  268 reviews

Inspired by her viral New York Times “Modern Love” essay “The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give”, Ada Calhoun’s memoir is a witty, poignant exploration of the beautiful complexity of marriage.

We hear plenty about whether or not to get married, but much less about what it takes to stay married. Clichés around marriage—eternal bliss, domestic harmony, soul mates—leave out the

Kindle Edition, 188 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give was much different than I was expecting. When I first heard of this book a few years ago, I assumed it would be funny, or at least have a solid slice of sarcasm. I actually found it to have neither - maybe just a sliver of sarcasm, but it was not what I anticipated. Not outright depressing, but a “gloom” factor was definitely present.

The easiest solution to making a marriage work according to Calhoun’s book? Don’t get divorced. She speaks on observations from her
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This is a charming memoir about marriage and what it takes to stay married. The humorous advice commonly given is, "Don't get divorced," and most of this book is about how that joke is both true and also ridiculously oversimplified.

Ada Calhoun begins the book by admitting she doesn't give toasts at weddings:

I prefer to sit quietly under the twinkling lights, enjoying other people's efforts. Some are perfect mini-sermons — but better, because at the end there's champagne. Some go rattling off the
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish Ada Calhoun and I were actual friends, because she's smart and clever and perceptive and likes to talk for a long time about things like the history of the East Village and how the fact that NYC is always changes isn't necessarily "bad" (this was in the fantastic St. Marks Is Dead) and, now, in the slight but effortlessly engaging and insightful Wedding Toasts, about the complicated nature of love and sex and relationships--specifically, in the context of marriage--and what they do to ...more
David Yoon
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a book filled with marriage advice - which clearly dooms this book to a purgatory of well-intentioned bromides and Pinterest worthy quotes suitable for placement over a picture of a sun dappled tropical beach. But Ada Calhoun is far smarter and way more real-talk than that.

Her advice on not getting divorced? Don’t get divorced. The idea you’d take a bullet for your husband or wife - that bullet is infidelity. No easy advice here - and she backs it up with candid vulnerability and a
Rene Denfeld
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a deceptive book. You might think from the title it will be cutesy, but it is not. Instead it is filled with warmth and wisdom—not just about marriage but all kinds of relationships, from parenting to friendships. Calhoun writes with grace and humor. She dismantles the cultural expectations of relationships deftly, but leaves plenty of room for hope. I often think of this book when navigating the rough but rewarding waters of foster parenting.
Lindsay Detwiler
"To hitch your rickety wagon to the flickering star of another fallible human being--what an insane thing to do. What a burden, and what a gift."

Ada Calhoun's frank, eye-opening, and deeply thought-provoking Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give truly sucked me in from the first page. I'm not a huge fan of books that give marriage advice because in reality, I've found them to usually be condescending in nature or too "prim and proper." Ada Calhoun shattered all of those ideas I had about marriage books
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway
I think I'm definitely in the minority here, but this book was just not funny or 'gosh this girl is so smart about marriage and she's cheeky about it too!' for me.

I found the second chapter, or toast, to be the best; the one that I really understood and felt strong, positive feelings towards. It made me feel optimistic, rather than depressed and out of my depth about marriage, reading as a single girl in her younger twenties.

A lot of this information about how marriage is a struggle and 86.9%
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this. It's a lovely elegy to marriage, why we choose people to stay with for the rest of our lives and why the best marriages are irregular and strangely shaped.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The idea that my marriage could end terrifies me. Yes, I know many people are caught in marriages that *should* end, and that a marriage ending isn't the end of the world--people recover and even thrive afterwards. Nonetheless, I love my husband, and one of the great goals of my life is to be with him and only him, truly, until death do us part. I believe in the promise I made to him almost 13 years ago. And it makes me sad, every time, when the marriages of family members, friends and ...more
Laura Jean
This is NOT a book to give newlyweds.

Tomorrow, I will be 3 months into my second marriage. I loved it though perhaps that's because my first marriage was over a decade long, so I am familiar with what a long term marriage entails. But for those newlywed and still full of young love and hope and without the disillusionment that reality inevitably brings, this book is not for you.

It is for anyone else who has been married for a while. The author looks at marriage and the struggle of marriage.
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a witty? read about marriages and the challenges faced. I liked it; didn't love it.
Laura K
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book after reading a couple of articles by Ada Calhoun in the Modern Love section of the New York Times. I really like her writing and her observations about relationships and marriage. The essays are both funny and thoughtful. Maybe I am old fashioned (and I am clearly not living nearly as an exciting life as the author where she seems to often have to fight off temptation), but I did not really relate to the parts where she discussed levels of infidelity. Nevertheless, I ...more
I’ve never been married. But I’ve had a lot of discussions and heard a BOATLOAD of advice from married friends. I’ve also observed and listened to them as they’ve gone through the highs and lows of their marriages. I’ve sat with them through divorce. I don’t read many marriage books, but this is one of the best I’ve read on what I’ve heard and observed. It’s a short book. And you may not agree with certain comments (especially her approach to her husband’s affair), but I suspect the book will ...more
Mary Robinson
I read this after seeing it recommended by Tom Hanks in an interview promoting his book
“Uncommon Type.” It is one of the best books I’ve read on the reality of the legal partnership of marriage, including its small hassles, big pains, overwhelming joys and, if you’re lucky, real comforts. This goes beyond the “happily ever after” of the wedding to the main event - and all that it can take out of you and all that it can give you … sometimes both at the same time. The author tells her own story
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding-- I even read the dang ole notes.
Bec Rindler
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was sweet and fun - perfect for a newlywed read. Made even better if you're familiar with her husband, the rapper and performance artist Champagne Jerry. A good reminder that relationships are a mix of awe-inspiring emotion and struggle, quotidian annoyances and companionship in storms.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some strong essays, and the author's surprisingly frank discussion of marriage and monogamy is refreshing, but overall I found the tone to be smug and self-satisfied. Despite having married and divorced in her early twenties before entering her current marriage at 28, Calhoun seems to view herself as some kind of marriage guru, and her writing suggests that she views marriage as a stepping stone into adulthood, something single or merely "coupled" but unmarried people are incapable of fully ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was disappointing. I like the concept of this book- taking an honest look at the realities of marriage- but Ada Calhoun is not the person to write it. She presents the realities of her marriage as if they're typical of loving marriages when they're...really not. It's not normal to kiss someone else when you're in a monogamous marriage. It's not normal to kick your husband out because he's having an affair and reconcile later. It's not normal for both people in a marriage to have married and ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fluff
Tom Hanks told me to read this book.

Bold move, Tom Hanks.

Bad move, Tom Hanks.

Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give is a collection of anecdotes wherein Ada Calhoun shares that she cheats on her husband sometimes, but then flips out when another woman finds him attractive.

Girl gets points for being honest in a world where people like to pretend that, unless you never fight and never think of someone else naked, your marriage is a failure. We're all animals: we are going to fight and we are going to want
Joanne Serling
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I went into this book with a bit of skepticism. I had never read Calhoun's famous NYT column and assumed the book would be similar to a women's magazine article. However, I'm on a quest to read current memoirs and essays collections and this book kept popping up on my Kindle feed. As soon as I started the sample, I was hooked. Calhoun is a gifted and very funny writer who isn't afraid to be honest about her own marriage. I loved the way she wove her observations about her relationship into ...more
Very charming rumination on marriage. Though I don't relate entirely to the author's marriage or the problem (and joys) within, this is a good reminder how universal so many aspects of marriage truly are. I laughed out loud several times and also got a little teary-eyed with gratitude. She writes that marriage is not made up of many endless years slogging through faithfully but of moments of grace. A quick, uplifting read...and deeper than it appears. You have to admire someone who writes an ...more

Though there were some moments of insight and wit in this slim memoir-style book on marriage, I found the overall narrative to be disjointed and too slim on content to really feel like I gained much from it. I also found the tell-all style of the author to be less endearing or relatable than I think was intended, and the voice came across as often simultaneously smug and adolescent, which didn't endear me much to the couple's struggles and triumphs.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this collection of essays is a lot more affordable and fun than couples therapy. Funny and sad and contemplative and honest -- it nudges you to reevaluate and appreciate your own relationships.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't find this book "witty" or "full of humor." Ada was not very likeable and had a generally negative outlook on marriage. Partly, I'm tired of books about bad marriages but I was also hoping for more from this.
Rene Cozzi
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weddings are always a joyous occasion, getting to celebrate in a couples’ special day. Attending a wedding always brings me back to the day I got married, and the intense feelings I experienced on that hot, August afternoon in 2005. But as most married couples know, those feelings fade, faster for some than others.

This book talks about just that. Why people stay married, well after the “wedding bliss” has disappeared. Ada, the author, is just a regular gal who chose to write about her
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
Some books are great to listen to, whether it's because the reader gives a great performance or it's the right kind of book. For me this was the right kind of book read by the author- which always makes a difference since they should know how to do all the right tones etc. But the drawback to conveniently being able to borrow audio books from the library is that you can't go back and write down the specific quotes you want to remember and report on. And this book had a shit ton of quotable ...more
Mrs. Bradshaw
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, it has taken me entirely too long to make reading it a priority, and now that I have finished it, I'm sad I didn't do so sooner.

I think this is the perfect book for every married person to read. Ada Calhoun recounts times in her marriage that'll make you stop and say, "Wait, you guys, too?" There's really something to be said about acknowledging the similarities in all marriages despite how different they can be. It normalizes
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A dose of realness

I finished this book a month before my own wedding and feel it was the perfect read for this moment. My partner and I have been together for 7 years so I didn't want to read fluff about how marriage is this amazing celebration of love with rainbows and glitter (although don't get me wrong, I love glitter). Ada Calhoun talks about the hard parts of being in a relationship with another person, the work of takes to make that relationship successful, and the times when people screw
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few books I'd consider buying even though I've already read it. Ada Calhoun's take on marriage is incredibly relatable and insightful, and her "toasts" were the perfect blend of humor, romanticism, and honesty. The only caveat here is that if you are divorced or seriously considering it, this book might make you feel ostracized. Calhoun is very much in the "stay married always" camp, and she writes about divorce in such a way that it seems to have no benefits. With that said, ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DNF. I like the honest discussions about marriage and the fantasies we build around this institution, as well as the beauty of marriage and what it means to make that commitment, but something about this never really captured my attention. I got a few essays in and couldn't get motivated to pick it back up. Life is too short, so back to the library it went.
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Award-winning journalist Ada Calhoun is the author of the NYC history St. Marks Is Dead, chosen by Kirkus and the Boston Globe as one of the best books of 2015; the essay collection Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, named by W magazine one of the best 10 memoirs of 2017; and Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis, coming out January, 7, 2020.
“By staying married, we give something to ourselves and to others: hope. Hope that in steadfastly loving someone, we ourselves, for all our faults, will be loved; that the broken world will be made whole. To hitch your rickety wagon to the flickering star of another fallible human being -- what an insane thing to do. What a burden, and what a gift.” 16 likes
“So what's the secret to staying together?" I asked her. "Be nice?" she offered. I laughed, but that may be it, the way a secret to losing weight is to eat less. Be nice. Don't leave. That's all.” 6 likes
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