Duties of a Best Man in Wedding Preparation
Being asked to be the Best Man in a friend’s wedding is probably one of the greatest honors a guy can be given. And you’re probably left wondering why you? Because this guy has seen you fail over and over again. He has seen every worst side of you, and he still wants you standing next to him on one of the most important days of his life. Whoa. So the big question now is how do you go about not screwing it up?
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My first blog post here, at Secret Wedding Blog, is all about being a best man. Now when this came to mind, I knew just who to ask! Andrew Mills, originally from the UK but moved to set up a new life in Melbourne. He is one of Mark’s best friends, so I interviewed Andrew online and asked him a few questions.
Welcome back to Grooms’ Week on Bridal Musings, this week on the blog, is all about the guys!
Yesterday we brought you Grooms’ Attire 101, but today it’s all about the other main man at a wedding – the best man.
How to ask someone to be your best man is not easy, mainly because we are men. Men as a whole like to avoid such things, and often wait until the last minute to ask. This is where the happy bride-to-be steps in, and through constant reminders, the problematic question gets asked.
We’ve pooled our best tips to help you be the best Best Man ever. But we can only do so much. The rest is up to you.
WHAT THE BEST MAN TRADITIONALLY PAYS FOR
- Bachelor party
- Wedding day attire
- Gift for the couple
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN ASKED TO BE A BEST MAN AND WHEN?
I am fortunate enough to have been joint best man twice & I have my third coming up next August in Sheffield. The first was in Cyprus last July, followed in September by Lawries down in Cornwall. I flew back for both from down under; I am still awaiting my costs to be reimbursed!
Being asked to be a best man is a pretty big deal, it means you’re a valued friend, you’re reliable, you’re trustworthy, you look good in a suit, and most of all, you’re probably a lot of fun.
The fear of asking exists on several levels. Unlike the marriage proposal, where the fear of rejection figures prominently, asking your best friend to be your best man brings out concerns that you may appear overly sentimental, primarily if your relationship with your friend, close as you may be, is based on a manly lack of emotional expression.
BEFORE THE WEDDING
Aid the groom
The job of the best man is to be there for the groom during the wedding planning season. It’s going to get a bit hectic in his house, so there will be times when he needs to vent or needs to get out of the house or needs help putting together floral arrangements.
HOW EARLY DO YOU START PREPARING THE SPEECH?
Haha, you want the honest answer? The first one I reckon I started as soon as I had been given the call-up. Safe to say I was pretty excited. I tried to get as much down on paper as possible; I think they all started as a 4-page assault on the groom! The majority of the ideas come early, but the fine-tuning & structuring so that all of the audience can engage is something that is just an ongoing process.
But a place at the top table comes with great responsibility.
You’ve got to be there for the groom (and the bride) every step of the way, attend suit fittings, write a speech, and try your darndest not to ruin the bit with the rings.
This is not the same as your wife asking her friends to be part of her bridal party, that has usually been discussed ahead of time. Instead, you’ve already got a set of close friends, but often it’s not easy to tell which of your close friends you’ll end up picking. Let your finance worry about her wedding party, and instead, you focus on your wedding and the most critical guys that will be a part of your wedding day.
You just never know what might happen and you need to be prepared to assist with anything he might need. Keep him sane and help make sure this wedding goes off without a hitch. Keep in mind, too, that this is not the time to complain to him about his bride. He can nag, but you can’t. Just listen and nod along.
I like to practice reading the speech out the night before to friends when they all say “Is that it?” & “It’s not very funny”, I let others get involved & give me a few jokes. The last one went down an absolute treat so I can’t take full credit for my “sh*t joke”, cheers boys!
And being a mediocre best man is one thing, but how about being the best best man, ever?
We’ve got you sorted! Follow our top ten tips for best man brilliance, and your friends will be lining up to give you the job.
There still exists this silly fear of asking the closest guys in our lives to be just that, a close friend, and be a part of our wedding. There are many ways one might be asked to become the best man, and it depends on the personality of the individual asking, and the nature of the individual being questioned.
Attend suit fitting
If necessary. If he’s going with online rentals, this won’t be required, but if not, it’s your job to be present when the bride’s not there and to help make decisions. Not to mention, you’ll need to be on top of your suit, as well. Getting fitted, handling any mishaps gracefully and getting it returned on time.
WHAT WERE YOUR DUTIES AS BEST MAN?
There were numerous duties, lots of housekeeping that only really get outlined on the day just to ensure the day runs smoothly, get everyone to seats & usher them around, nothing too hard. I suppose the unwritten rule/duty is to entertain & ensure everyone is having a great day out.
While bridesmaids are often expected to do a lot more in the lead up to a wedding, (dress appointments, hair trials, and DIY project crafternoons), your only big job ahead of the big day itself, is to organize a bachelor party or stag night.
Who to Ask
For the most part, people tend to have associations with people of the same temperament or like personality. Still, I won’t go into that because then this would be a book on psychology and not about men and weddings. Of course, such is not always the case.
The Best Man is essentially the top dog groomsman. The groom is going to rely on you to relay information to the rest of the party and keep everything in order. It’s your job to keep everyone in check, to make sure the other groomsmen don’t go too crazy before or during the wedding.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOU, AS THE BEST MAN, HAD TO RESOLVE?
There was one at Lawries Lawrie got thrown in the pool at his wedding reception, so I had to go up to his room & collect clean clothes etc…. it may have been my fault, but it’s a situation nonetheless. At Harry’s the only issue was the weather, 40 degrees & light blue shirts, thanks mate. Resolution to this was to drink more.
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The key to planning a great bachelor party isn’t about going with the crowd; it’s about catering it to the groom.
For example, a strong, outwardly-confident man might simply instruct his quiet friend that he is to be part of his wedding, whereas a mild, meek individual might have a lot of trouble approaching his more dominant friend to ask him to be his best man. If it’s your brother, that might be a whole different dynamic, and frankly more natural. Just go with what’s natural.
THE BACHELOR PARTY
It’s up to the Best Man, along with the other groomsmen to plan the bachelor party. It’s best to be as organized and accommodating as possible when it comes to planning this rite of passage. Here’s our shortlist of tips for planning a bachelor party:
HOW NERVOUS WERE YOU BEFORE GIVING THE SPEECH?
The honest answer, bricking it. The first wedding, I hardly ate or drank before as I was that nervous. Fortunately, I was doing a joint speech which I think helped me get through.
Of course, there are the cliches of a stag; pub crawls, strip clubs, and forcing your groom into all manner of embarrassing costumes/dares/challenges, which are all fine if your groom is that kind of guy.
The bottom line is that a wedding is a significant occasion and the question, however it comes, may not have been so easy to ask. As men, the fact that few women know, we possess a particular form of communication with each other. A sixth sense if you will.
Don’t ignore the ground rules. While, of course, you want to have the best time possible, you also want to keep the groom’s (and bride’s) wishes in mind before planning to spend half the night in various strip clubs. You can plan surprises, but ask the groom for some ideas that he thinks would be fun and the things that are off limits. Don’t take him skydiving if he has a fear of heights.
The second one I was the sole speaker; therefore, all eyes were focused in. I ate plenty, drank a lot & portrayed that I was the most confident man in the room (which is pretty tough when you’re following a comedian groom & the father of the bride who has worked in a public speaking industry for 25 years)! I’m hoping the next one will be a breeze.
But if not, a camping trip, surfing weekend, a night in a casino, or even a few beers in your local, might just be more his style.
We can usually tell, for example, what the other is thinking when a beautiful woman walks into the room. Then there are those brief gestures that we share across a crowded room, trying to scope out location or favourites in the crowd, gestures that no one else may understand or even notice. Then there are team sports.
Timing is everything. Pick a weekend that the most amount of people can join and when building your itinerary for the night, keep in mind that not everything is going to go according to plan.
HOW LONG WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A BEST MAN SPEECH SHOULD BE?
10 minutes tops. As its one of your nearest & dearest you could talk for a lot longer than a given, but just remember the bar is open.
While we hope your groom isn’t a flight risk, he might still be overwhelmed.
Wedding planning tends to get out of control fast, and while many brides will have been through it before with close friends and family, for grooms, they often hadn’t realized how much work, planning, politics, (and money!) is involved.
Here we have the innate ability (some more than others) to be able to make a blind pass or shot to a friend, knowing without question that he is there. It is for these reasons that when it comes to essential items in our lives, we often leave them unspoken.
Stay in budget. Budget of everyone else in attendance should also be considered. Not everyone can afford the across-country trip, and you want to make sure to include all of the groom’s close friends (and family members). On that note, while the groomsmen are mostly in charge of paying for the bachelor party, this doesn’t mean you have to cover the groom’s portion of everything. Talk amongst yourselves and see what extras you can all afford.
WHAT CRITERIA DO YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE?
- Tear the groomsman to shreds – this is the time to embarrass him!
- Compliment the bride & bridesmaids.
- Do any thank-yous that have yet to be done.
- Share a few stories (hopefully to get a few laughs).
- A few hearts felt sentiments are always lovely.
- And finish with a toast.
He’s probably so thrilled about being a husband, but it’s all the wedding stuff beforehand that’s terrifying.
Check-in with him regularly, and ask how he’s getting on, and give him plenty of space to vent.
Reading His Mind
We assume that our friend will know exactly what’s on our minds. After all, we are men. This, however, does not always work, blame it on bad connections if you will, and so we are forced to put our thoughts into words.
. Like you can all split the hotel, and each buys him a few drinks, but he could pay for his food and any extra juices. This shouldn’t be a problem with the groom, but you might want to mention that to him beforehand.
WHAT ARE THE ABSOLUTE NO NOTHINGS THAT YOU SHOULD NOT MENTION IN A SPEECH?
The things I wouldn’t mention would be any past conquests/history. The last thing you want to do is ruin anyone day. I’ve been asked to avoid anything overly sexual with close family & grandparents, which is fine. Anything else I think is fair game…
Maybe you couldn’t care less about place settings, photography styles or wedding cakes.
Perhaps you’re single and finding it hard to feel happy for your buddy.
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Many of us will simply blurt it out in a single breath. “Hey, I’m getting married, want to be my best man?” “Sure.” Others will take the scenic approach. “Hey, did you see the game last night, wow, I can’t believe they won.” “Yes, what a comeback.” “Oh, by the way, I asked Deb to marry me, and she said yes. Want to be my best man?” “Sure.”
Plan transportation. Is one of you staying sober? Are you hiring a service? Getting an Uber between locations? Something to consider beforehand.
YOU HAVE BEEN JOINT BEST MAN TWICE, HOW DO YOU THINK THIS DIFFERED FROM THE TRADITION OF HAVING ONE BEST MAN?
The first it was great having 2. It was our first time at doing the role, so roles were shared even down to the speech. The second we defined more specific purposes, so Lloyd did more with regards to the service & I was at the top table for the reception delivering the speech. Having two just takes some weight off the best men to enjoy & take in the day a little more.
Friendships change and evolve; it’s natural. But putting your thoughts aside about love, marriage, and china patterns, is essential for letting your friend enjoy his time as a groom.
Then there is the more cordial or professional route. “It is determined on this day, by myself and my bride-to-be, that on the sixth day of December, in the year of the Lord 1998, we shall be wed before the eyes of God, and several close friends and family. It is thereby sworn to ask you to be in attendance on this occasion to serve as my best man. That is, of course, if you would be sporting enough to patronize us on this day with your approval?” “Jolly good of you to ask.”
Go hard, but don’t go hard too early. No one, the groom especially, should be pass-out drunk at 11:30. That’s not too much fun, now is it? If possible, it’s also a good idea to have one of you that doesn’t drink as much as the rest to make sure no one gets into too much trouble. Eat when you need to and everyone should be drinking water between shots. Let’s aim for zero trips to the hospital.
HOW DID YOU DIVIDE THE BEST MAN DUTIES IN BOTH WEDDINGS?
The first wedding, it was very much down the middle & it was a hell of a lot of fun, its not very often you can do this with one of your best mates who you’ve known since kindergarten.
Don’t just say, “Let me know if you need any help”, offering specific assistance with certain tasks, is so much more helpful and appreciated.
The sentimental path:
“Well, we’ve been friends for a very long time, and well, it just wouldn’t be the same if you couldn’t be there to be a part of our wedding. I think of you, not only as a friend, but as a brother, and that, well, I love you, man.
Drive groom to the venue
If necessary. You might be staying at or close to the site and not need transportation. Or the groom might have arranged for a car service. Don’t forget to be on time.
The second we divided the roles so that Lloyd would have a much more significant role during the ceremony as his little girl was a flower girl (she stole the show!). I sat on the top table to do the speeches so he could sit with his family, it just made logical sense & I think worked pretty well.
“Let me collect the suits”, “I’ll put the cards in the hotel safe”, “Who’s picking your Grandma up from the airport?” – offering to help with precise tasks, shows you know how much there is to do, and you intend to assist with it all.
Your friends will feel more supported and be more likely avail of your services.
Would you be our best man?” Sniff, sniff. “Sure.” Of course, your friend may not personally tell you this in words – men seldom do; however, I am quite sure that this is what has been left unsaid and articulated through some passive grunts and maybe even a handshake or a hug.
Help the groom get dressed
More than likely, you’ll all be getting ready together, but you’re there to make sure his tie is tied correctly, and the right buttons are buttoned before the ceremony or pictures.
AS A BEST MAN, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART OF THE ROLE?
On the day – you have a licence in the speech to take the Micky out of your best mate & it’s excellent (both have done it to me over the years, it was payback time).
One of the most important tasks of a best man is to be present in the morning (and maybe the night before) the wedding.
Then we will immediately turn the conversation to sports. The “I’ve known you for a long time” approach. “Well?” “Of course.” The “we’ve been friends forever” approach (like a couple of mimes without the make-up or silly costumes). The groom-to-be approaches his friend, who gestures to him that there is a pretty girl across the street.
The groom will usually be in charge of getting the wedding bands to the ceremony, but he will pass them off to you before. That’s your most important job of the day. Making sure those don’t run off and are ready for the exchange during the ceremony.
Outside of the day – organizing the stag. I missed one due to living down under; the second was held to a tee & went beautifully. Indeed, a few new lifelong friends made I cannot discuss any detail!
You can’t just turn up at the ceremony, and call it showtime. Have a drink (not too many), make sure your groom has everything he needs (maybe learn how to tie a bow-tie ahead of time), play some tunes or perhaps even organize a kick around.
It’s all about making his day fun, keeping his nerves at bay, and getting him to the church on time!
The groom refuses to look. His friend, surprised, raises his eyebrows and shrugs his shoulders in a “really?” matter-of-fact way. The groom nods in assent, to which his friend smiles and extends his hand to congratulate his friend, patting him on the back. The groom then lowers his eyes, and stumbles in his motions, kicking a stone on the ground, as if he wants to ask his friend something difficult.
Keep the groom sober
Yes, yes, I know, you want to take round after round of shots before and after the ceremony, but that’s not what’s best for him or the wedding. We’ve made it this far, let’s not disappoint the bride now. Give the groom a drink before the ceremony to calm the nerves, but no more. And during the reception, no one should be drinking heavily until grandma has gone home and the real party begins.
I didn’t either. I bought a book/guide. It talks about everything you need to know. From congratulating the newly engaged & thanking them for having such an honour bestowed on you through to the day after the wedding. I also did a lot of research online, read lots of speeches & talked about the role through with numerous friends & family. The other key point is to start organizing the stag nice & early, and you will become very popular very quickly.
If you want to earn your best man credentials, attention to detail on the day is critical.
Does your groom need a mint? Did the caterer forget about the vegetarian starters? Or will the DJ be an hour late?
His friend senses this and places his hand on his friend’s shoulder. Their eyes meet, and the groom offers the expression of “well,” to which the friend happily nods. This done, they shake hands again, and the friend tilts his head in the direction of the street, and the two leave for a celebratory drink.
Tips for vendors
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The groom might take care of this himself, but if he passes it off to you, it’ll be your job to get the payments for the vendors to them before the end of the night. They are best kept in marked envelopes somewhere out of the way, but easy to access.
THE VIDEO BELOW SHOWS YOU GIVING YOUR SPEECH WHEN WATCHING THIS VIDEO, HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
The speech is something I can look back on with great pride, and it really is an honour to be called a best man & this was undoubtedly the better of my two attempts I reckon I may have even got a few laughs for the first time in my life!! Do you think I have a career in speech writing?
Team up with the other groomsmen and bridesmaids to be the first line of defence for any problems that might arise on the day.
You should also put some thought ahead of time as to what their responsibilities may be before the wedding and on the wedding day, so you’ll manage their expectations upfront. It could be that you want them to help the maid of honour with the rehearsal dinner. Or it could be that you want them to do something specific at the wedding ceremony.
Keep everyone in check
Including yourself. Not only do you need to help make sure the groom isn’t drinking too much, but you should also keep an eye on the other groomsmen. While all the family is still at the reception, you and the boys need to be on your best behavior. Smile and hold the door for everyone you see, strike up a conversation with the bride’s crazy aunt, slow dance with a couple bridesmaids. Be the gentleman we all know you can be. All bets are off after 10 pm.
Get a list of the critical vendors, with arrival times and contact details, prepare a kit with the essentials, (mints, safety pins, pain killers, indigestion pills, a spare copy of the groom’s speech) and check-in with the bride and groom throughout the day to see if there’s anything else they need.
Organizing the bachelor party is also something they’re likely to do, but don’t assume that they’ll do it. Ask them. The one thing they know they’ll have to do is the speech. So don’t forget to mention that. The best man speech is something that usually a critical part of their role, besides being with you at the altar.
THE BEST MAN SPEECH
Also known as The Speech. Sure the bride’s father and maid of honor and whoever else will be giving speeches and toasts, but is anyone really listening? No. They’re waiting for you. Here is our shortlist of tips for writing a killer best man speech:
Aunt Karen should stay away from the gin, the bride’s divorced parents can’t be next to each other in the pictures, and the groom’s cousin is gluten, lactose, and peanut intolerant.
Being part of the wedding party makes you feel like one of the family, for good reasons, and wrong!
The ESP route: If you stop and think for a moment how your friend initially asked you to be his best man for his wedding, you may get an idea as to how difficult it was for him to ask.
- Start with an attention grabber. This is usually the last of the speeches, so you want to make sure you still have everyone’s attention, even if they’d rather be on their way to the bar.
- Introduction. A short welcome and thank you to the guests.
Not only should you be prepared for pitfalls, but you should be clued in on the fun guests too.
Know who’ll get the photobooth started, who’s reliable to pass around the guest book, and which guests will need a little coaxing onto the dancefloor, but will stay on it for the night, once they’re there.
That being said, he is happy that you answered yes and realizes that it wasn’t so tight after all. Now that you have been asked to perform this honourable duty on your wedding, you know that you have no idea what to do, and you didn’t bother to factor in this variable when you so quickly answered your friend. What’s next? Don’t forget to get the lucky groomsman a best man gift! That might help you out when popping the question – to him, of course.
- Talk about how you met the groom. By all means, be funny, but don’t be offensive, his entire family will be there. Some stories are not for all ears. Any jokes should be at his expense, rather than the bride’s, but not cruel enough to make her family have second thoughts.
- Talk about the groom’s character and accomplishments. You don’t need to rag on him the whole time. If ever there was the best opportunity to get sentimental about your friendship or how he handled tough situations, this would be it.
Ah, the best man speech. Pretty terrifying, right?
The best man speeches are hilariously fun, beautifully poignant, and just a touch is embarrassing.
You don’t want to shame the groom on his wedding day publicly, but you don’t want your speech to be dull either.
- Mention the bride. While making fun of her is off limits, you should definitely mention her and their relationship. Think of a sweet story or a way to compliment her.
- Toast. Give your well-wishes and raise a glass.
- Delivery. Write it and rehearse beforehand. You really don’t want to mess this up. If you need to, have notes on your phone or index cards to take up there with you. And don’t forget to speak up and enunciate.
The key is to go just far enough with the jokes, that you’ve given a tease of his wilder days, without causing any embarrassment for his parents or another half.
Then reel them back in with something sentimental and tearjerking, and you’ll have the guests so adoring, you won’t have to buy a drink for the rest of the night!
Oh, and it goes without saying, but don’t make your speech all about you and the groom, be sure to include his new spouse in your gushing as well.