How to choose your best man?

The best man at a wedding ceremony and reception is a celebrity. He is known for his hilarious (and sometimes embarrassing) speech, and he can throw one hell of a bachelor party. The best man is the guy who gets the party started and keeps it going all night. He’s also the guy that you rely on to accomplish some wedding tasks, like holding onto the rings, helping you pick up the tuxes, and helping you determine what kind of beer you should serve at the reception.

Out of all your buddies, who should you choose to be your best man? If you don’t have any idea of who you should ask, or you’re torn between two guys, here are a few things to consider to help you choose your best man.

Picking your squad of groomsmen is probably a pretty easy call—you’ll choose your closest friends and relatives to stand by your side on the big day. But figuring out how to choose the best man might be a bit trickier. Your best man will have to handle the same responsibilities as your groomsmen, plus quite a few more. He will also serve as de facto captain of the crew, which means taking the lead when it comes to planning the bachelor party and other pre-wedding events.

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Family is Typically Chosen Over Friends for the Best Man

If you have a brother, your job of choosing the best man just got simple. A brother, whether younger or older, has all the makings of the perfect best man: he knows you well, he’s likely met your fiancée/fiancé, and he would know exactly what kind of bachelor party he should throw for you when the time comes.

Unless your brother is significantly younger or older, or you just really don’t get along that well, having your brother as a best man is often the easiest choice. If you have more than one brother, there’s no “rule” that you can’t have more than one best man. Have them divide up the responsibilities between them to avoid any potential conflicts. The last thing you need is a brother-on-brother smackdown due to the wedding.

Best Man Tips

Which Friend Lives Closest to You?

One way of choosing a best man is to choose a friend who lives closest to you. After high school and college, friends have a tendency to move away, and a lot of your buddies might be on the other side of the country from you. Living close to your best man would give you the advantage of being able to meet up and chat about the wedding. There’s also an advantage of being in close proximity to a solid support system that you’re going to need before the wedding day.

Which Friend Have You Known the Longest?

When you’re thinking about asking a friend to be your best man, you might find yourself reflecting on your friendships. You meet friends throughout your life: in college, at work, at happy hour; but there’s just something about a friendship that has lasted the test of time. Choosing a friend who you’ve known since you were a kid, or who you’ve known for a long time, is always an appropriate choice for a best man. This person likely knows you the best out of all your friends and has been there through good and bad times in your life. Who would be a better choice to stand next to you?

Which Friend Knows Your Future Spouse?

You never know when you’re going to meet your future spouse, but when you do, you’ll want to introduce them to all of your friends. But sometimes this isn’t possible, as friends tend to move away, making it difficult for them to meet your future spouse.

Choosing the best man that knows your relationship with your future spouse will make the celebration just that much sweeter. They’ll probably also be the one most qualified person to talk about your relationship during their big toast, which is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Pick Someone Capable

A best man should be useful to the groom, helping him with preparations that he either doesn’t want to deal with or can’t.

As the head groomsman, the best man should make sure all the other groomsmen have their shit together: their tuxes fitting right, their roles in the ceremony clear, their understanding of wedding decorum firmly established.

As wedding wingman, the best man can help the bride and groom with some pre-wedding preparations: organising a list of toasts for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception, arranging the “getaway” car to transport them to the honeymoon suite, and making sure the groom brings the wedding license.

Find the best man who’s well organised and task-oriented. Go with your best friend who works as an accountant instead of your other best friend, who’s only organisational skills are lining up drinks for his buddies at happy hour.

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Pick someone sociable

On the other hand, you don’t want an office manager or a hall monitor. A lot of the best man’s job does require an agile touch with in-laws, guests, vendors, and other event professionals. You want someone who is at ease with other people, who likes to schmooze and be social. You want someone confident enough that their glad-handing will seem unforced and natural.

Pick someone discreet

One of the few duties that everyone expects every best man to complete is the Best Man Toast. This is an area where the groom will not have direct influence (unless you vet the speech beforehand, which is, frankly, a little weird).

You can, however, eliminate someone from the running if you are worried they’ll say something tasteless or embarrassing. If you’re pretty sure their speech will be a dumpster fire, then pick someone else to do the job.

Ask him in person

When you’re ready to make your offer, make it in person. It’s not only more special for them, but you’ll get to see the reaction on their face. If you see a look of dread and panic, start back-peddling; surprise and pleasure, and you’re good to go.

Try not to make your offer in front of other friends, in case they thought they might be the one chosen. Instead, visit with them separately and ask them to be one of your groomsmen, or give them another role in your wedding: an usher, say, or an official bachelor party beer chugger.

Having trouble deciding how to choose the best man? Here’s a list of traits that make the best leader of the pack.

The obvious choice is usually the right choice

The question of how to choose the best man might have an easy answer. If you have a brother, a best friend since childhood, or a cousin or other relative whom you’re extremely close with, the decision has probably already been made for you. Your best man should be someone who knows you well, and a loved one who has been there for you for most of your life is the clear winner.

If you don’t have a brother or a best friend, that’s okay. The below criteria should help you decide how to choose your best man.

He knows the crew

An ideal best man should already have a relationship with the other groomsmen. The best man will be able to more effectively lead the crew if he already knows them and trust is already there. This is why your future brother-in-law (if you have one) might not necessarily be the best pick for a best man (though you should include him as a groomsman). If he doesn’t know the rest of the groomsmen, he might not be the best one to lead them.

He’s a doer, not a complainer

Your best man should be the type of person who takes action, rather than procrastinates or complains about taking on a task. He shouldn’t be afraid to start a text chain with the other groomsmen, remind the guys to order their suits, or make a decision on the bachelor party location. A lot of these responsibilities are time-sensitive, so your best man should be someone who is a quick thinker and deadline-oriented to set a good example for the rest of the crew.

Check out our post on Best Man Wedding Tips.

He has your best interests at heart

Your best man should know you well enough to know your likes and dislikes. Even if your best man would personally prefer a wild bachelor party, he’s wise enough to know that you’d prefer a low-key camping trip with the guys—and selfless enough to put his tastes aside to plan a bachelor party that you’ll love. And when it comes to the wedding day, he’ll step out of the spotlight to let you shine. That means, not fake-tripping down the aisle, making a thoughtful toast (not an inappropriate roast), and keeping it classy during the reception.

He has party-planning skills

When thinking about how to choose the best man, don’t worry if your top pick hasn’t done the job before. A newbie will be eager and excited to take on the best man responsibilities, but it’s a good idea to pick a leading man who has planned parties or trips in the past—or even attended a bachelor party or two. From choosing a location to booking travel to making dinner and activity reservations, there can be a lot of details involved with planning a bachelor party, and you’ll want your best man to be knowledgeable and on-the-ball enough to handle all of them.  

He’s organised and trustworthy

A best man’s responsibilities require a great deal of organisation—from planning your bachelor party to making sure the guys have ordered their tuxes to keep track of your wedding rings on the big day. Your best man should be someone who you would trust with these important details—not someone who is constantly losing things or always running late. Even if your best man isn’t a naturally organised person, you should be able to trust him to step up for your wedding day.

Breaking the rules is okay

If figuring out how to choose a best man is proving too difficult, remember that you don’t have to have a best man at all. You can skip the tradition entirely (as long as you think your groomsmen can work as a team to handle important responsibilities), or have two best men, or even the best woman if you’d prefer. Some couples choose to forgo, having a wedding party entirely. Your decision should reflect your relationships and needn’t follow tradition if it doesn’t feel right to you.

So what does the best man and groomsmen have to do?

Despite what many men believe, it is not a one day job. There is a buck’s night to be organised. Suits have to be measured and fitted in good time, and subsequently collected and tried on well before the day so that any mistakes can be rectified.

The groomsmen will often take specific roles on the day. These can vary from standing in as ushers in the church to taking responsibility for ensuring the wedding band are paid. The best man himself is responsible for looking after the rings, making a speech at the meal, and frequently acting as general coordinator for much of the evening.

Quite aside from defined jobs, your best man and groomsmen are also responsible for keeping you on track in the lead up to the day. They should be available if you need anything, whether that be ensuring Uncle Peter is picked up from the airport or simply calling over for calm the nerves chat in the days beforehand. Their job is to make sure your day goes smoothly.

It’s a job that comes with great responsibility, and you should choose the people to fill these roles carefully. Big Jay that from university might be a great drinking buddy, and he might have people crying with laughter from his speech, but do you know him well enough to trust him to keep your wedding rings safe? Can he be trusted to stay sober enough during the evening to deal with any last-minute emergencies?

Many people will tell you that you should pick a family to be the best man – usually a brother. This is completely untrue. It may well be that your brother is the best man for the job, but it completely depends on the circumstances. In some situations, men have even chosen their sisters to be their best woman! Before choosing a best man and groomsmen, there are three questions that you should ask yourself.

Has this person supported your relationship?

First and foremost, your best man should always be someone who has supported your relationship with your partner. They have the all-important job of giving the premier speech to toast your marriage. This speech should be genuine and from the heart, something that will be difficult if the person giving it has not always been behind your relationship, through thick and thin.

Is this person responsible and trustworthy?

The best man probably shoulders the most responsibility of anyone in the bridal party on the day. It is a huge job, and not everyone is up to the task. You must be able to implicitly trust your best man that the speech will be appropriate, that the guests will be looked after without anyone bothering you on the day, and that he will remember the wedding rings! Your faith in your best man should be absolute. If it’s not, you’ve probably picked the wrong man.

Would they be the first friend you ring with a problem?

Moral support in the lead up to the big day can be just as important as any duties and roles performed on the day itself. Your best man should be someone you can confide in and call upon at a moment’s notice. He should be someone that will keep you calm in the face of pre-wedding jitters. Too proud to admit you’re having pre-wedding jitters? Your best man should know you well enough to tell when something’s bothering you, even if you don’t say a thing!

Multiple best men

Although it sounds like a contradiction, it is possible to have more than one “best man”. This situation is especially common if your groom has previously been best man for more than one person and feels obliged to ask them both to return the favour.

If you do decide on two best men, however, you must be very clear about dividing up responsibilities. Ask the most confident and articulate to make a speech and the most organised to bring the rings to the ceremony and oversee the running of the day.

The ultimate decision about who should be his best man lies with your fiance. Regardless of practicalities and protocol, your groom’s best man should be the guy he wants beside him as you walk down the aisle, not just the person he feels he ought to ask, or the one he thinks will make the best speech.

For some people, picking a best man and groomsmen is the easiest thing in the world. For others, it can be the cause of great anguish trying to choose between candidates. The most important thing is that you pick the right person for you. Don’t be influenced by outside opinions or fear of upsetting anyone. Choose carefully, and choose the best man for the job. You can’t go wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions

In choosing your groomsmen, talking to your spouse-to-be is the best place to start. Often, a couple getting married want symmetry in photos, or the same number of people on each side. Before choosing your groomsmen, be sure to discuss with your fiancé/e the expectations and needs they see as important.

The best man is often the groom's closest friend or relative. Sometimes it's a brother, childhood buddy, cousin, or even the groom's father or uncle. There are no rules around who the groom can and cannot choose.

The short answer is no, your brother does not have to be your best man. So whether you're eyeing someone else for the job, have multiple brothers to choose from, don't want to play favorites, or want to skip the wedding party all together, you don't have to say “yes” just because he's your brother.

Keep it simple. The gift for the groom from the best man should be simple: something you know he will like, but nothing overly flashy or ridiculously expensive that goes over the top. The gift is a small token of your congratulations on his wedding day, so something around the $75-$150 mark is a solid gift range.

Who pays for the best man's suit?
As for the best man and usher suits? Unless they are matching and require special suits, the ushers should pay for them themselves. If the suits need to be tailor-made, it's an expense that the groom's side should kindly cover.
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