A Super-Simple Guide to Being the Best Man at a Wedding
You’ve been asked to be best man at a wedding. What an honor! Someone clearly thinks very highly of you – you must be quite the guy.
Flattered to the hilt, you happily agreed, but now that you’ve gotten yourself into this, you realize you may not be entirely sure what you’re supposed to do as the best man. Just what exactly is the role of the best man? The responsibilities of the best man? The duties of the best man…? And what wedding etiquette does the Best Man need to know?? So many questions!
Yeah, I know, you’re usually a pretty confident guy, but now you’re feeling just a touch nervous and a little unsure of yourself. Maybe you haven’t been to that many weddings, and if you have, I’m betting you weren’t carefully studying the best man. The maid of honor, maybe – but not the best man. No doubt you had much better things to do.
So now that you’ve been selected to wear these shoes, you’re feeling uneasy … You don’t want to come off looking foolish, and you don’t want to get anything wrong.
Chill, honey. This is going to be a piece of cake for you. We’ll run you through everything you need to know, and you’ll pull it off with class and ease. You’ll be the man of the hour by the time you’re through this little crash course. A real confidence man.
Let’s take it from the top, shall we?
What is a best man?
The best man is the person selected to “stand up for the groom” at the wedding. The best man must be of legal age because he also serves as a legal witness to the marriage. (Remember, apart from all the wedding hoopla, marriage is a legal contract!).
During the ceremony, the best man stands next to the groom (to the groom’s right side). If there are other male attendants (ushers or groomsmen), they will stand to your right side.
If there is no ring bearer for the wedding (the little guy who carries that frilly little pillow onto which the rings are sometimes tied), the best man may be asked to hold the rings during the ceremony until the moment comes for the couple to exchange vows and rings.
Since the best man serves as a legal witness, towards the end of the ceremony you will accompany the bride, groom, and maid or matron of honor (who is also a witness), to witness the signing of the legal documents.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the best man escorts the Maid or Matron of Honor up the aisle, following directly behind the bride and groom.
As you exit the church, you will stand with the bride, groom, and other bridal party attendants to pose for photos.
If all of this seems a little overwhelming or difficult to remember, don’t worry – it will all be carefully explained – and you’ll get the chance to practice it, and ask any questions you may have – at the wedding rehearsal, a day or two before the wedding.
The Right Man for the Job
So who should be a best man at a wedding? If you are asking this, you’re second guessing yourself pal. The groom picked you because you’re the man! He knows what he’s doing, so relax.
The best man may be the best friend of the groom, or a buddy of the groom; he may be a brother, step-brother, or close cousin of the groom; he may even be the father or the step-father of the groom – which, in this wedding expert’s personal opinion, totally rocks (who could be more deserving of this honor than dear old Dad?).
What are the Duties of the Best Man?
Let’s start with the best part first, shall we? If you’d like, you can arrange to host a stag party (aka bachelor party) for the groom. I bet I don’t need to explain what that is. Keep in mind that stags are optional – you are not obligated to host one, but you may do so if you wish – and if the groom does not object to the idea. (No, really. Some guys don’t want a bachelor party. Really!). You might also ask the other male attendants in the wedding party if they’d like to host it with you, but they too are under no obligation. It’s strongly recommended that you discuss your intentions with the groom before making any firm plans for a stag. Some guys have agreements with their brides-to-be that there will be no stag party, and others have made promises about the types of activities which will and will not be involved. This can be a very touchy issue for many brides-to-be, and today many grooms, of their own free will, simply prefer to keep things pretty tame and mellow. The last thing the best man should be doing is creating upset between the bride and groom, so remember, talk to the groom-to-be about the types of activities that he is interested in, and determine what will be acceptable.
Attend fittings for tuxedos or suits at the scheduled time.
Attend any pre-wedding meetings or parties for the wedding attendants.
Attend the wedding rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner (that part is easy, just show up and enjoy!).
On the day of the wedding, arrive at the groom’s home prior to the ceremony to provide him with moral support, and ensure he gets to the church on time!
Hold on to the wedding rings and the marriage license prior to the ceremony and guard them with your life! Make sure you have these prior to leaving for the ceremony. If the couple will be leaving for their honeymoon directly after the wedding reception, you may also be asked to hold any plane tickets for safe keeping until the bride and groom are ready to depart the reception.
Hang on to the payment for the ceremony officiant (the minister, rabbi, or other religious officiant, or the judge in the case of a civil ceremony) as well as payments for any ceremony musicians (organist, soloist, string ensemble, etc.), and ensure everyone gets paid at the end of the ceremony.
You may be required to stand in the receiving line either immediately after the ceremony, or at the start of the wedding reception. Sometimes the best man and groomsmen are excused from participating in the receiving line – this will be the couple’s call. You might want to read more about the receiving line so you know the score.
It is traditional and customary for the best man to make a toast to the groom at the reception. (For those who are just curious, see more about wedding traditions in general). If you are so inspired, at your option you may also toast the bride, or toast the bride and groom together as a couple. If you’re a little uneasy about having to make a toast, you’re not alone – this is usually the part that the best man is most preoccupied about. Once again, don’t worry, there is help! Learn how to make a brilliant wedding toast or speech with absolute ease.
Sometimes the best man is also asked to serve as Master of Ceremonies (otherwise known as the MC) at the reception, while in other instances, someone totally different may fill this role. If you are asked to MC, at the appropriate time, usually following the meal, you’ll have the job of introducing the bridal party seated at the head table, and of announcing special guests (like the brides great-great-great-great grandma), or out-of-towners. At the appropriate time, you’ll announce any of the individuals who will be proposing a toast or making a speech. You’ll read any telegrams which have been sent to the bride and groom from out-of-town guests who could not attend, and you’ll make any other special announcements that are passed on to you. Now don’t let any of this get you uptight – the bride and groom should provide you with written notes and instructions to prompt you on who to introduce and what to announce, you won’t be expected to memorize it! But to ensure you have it all under control, you’ll find this terrific guide on how to be an ace MC will provide excellent coaching, cover all you need to know, and make things super-easy for you. Generally, once the dinner portion of the festivities is over, and the party really starts to get under way, all MC tasks are taken over by the DJ or band leader, freeing you up to party down!
Hang on to the payments for the vendors who will be providing services at the reception, and disburse the vendor payments to the appropriate individuals at the end of the reception.
Help the bridal couple make a smooth exit at the end of the reception. Ensure that a car will be waiting for them, or drive the new Mr. and Mrs. yourself (only if you’ve been sipping nothing stiffer than soda pop throughout the evening, otherwise leave the driving to someone sober).
Other miscellaneous responsibilities: You may be asked to run the occasional errand, help in decorating cars or the reception room on the wedding day, or other such small tasks. The couple will let you know if they are in need of any of these sorts of favors from you.
What expenses is the best man responsible for?
- As the best man, you’ll need to cover the cost of your wedding day attire – tux or suit, shirt, tie, appropriate dress shoes. Generally the couple will choose the attire for you and the other wedding attendants, but it’s still up to you to pay for what you’ll wear. The couple may have you and the other attendants rent tuxes (which will generally run you between $50 – $100), purchase new suits, or, in the case of a less formal wedding, an easy going couple may allow you to wear a suit you already own (assuming you have one which is appropriate), but don’t hold your breath on that one!
- Like any other wedding guests, you’ll also need to budget for a gift for the happy couple, if you intend to give them one. Etiquette says that gifts at a wedding are never “required”, and should never be expected by the couple. However, though wedding gifts aren’t mandatory, they are somewhat customary, so do what feels right for you. If you’re one of those folks who always feels a little clueless when it comes to gift-giving occasions, following this next link will help you with some terrific wedding gift suggestions that every couple will love. Told you we’d make this easy for you!
- If you don’t live in the same city or town where the wedding is taking place, etiquette requires that the couple cover accommodation expenses for attendants who must travel to participate in the wedding (but you pay for your own transportation). Now brace yourself here; not every bride and groom today is as up on their etiquette as you are obviously working at being (kudos to you!). If your bride and groom seem oblivious to the fact that this is the proper thing for them to do, you can always send them to this article to give them a gentle heads-up.
There it is in a nutshell. With all this info under your belt, you’ll pull this gig off like you’ve done it endless times before. Now there’s just one last instruction – enjoy the wedding!
If this article doesn’t answer all your questions about being the best man at a wedding, just submit your question in the comment box below.