While the result will be beautiful, weddings require a lot of planning and a lot of work along the way. And as a couple works to plan the most important day of their life, having people close to them such as a best man or maid of honour who will stand by their side and help throughout the process is crucial.
Similar to the maid of honour, the role of the best man typically comes with specific duties. Once the best man agrees to step into this role, he’s tasked with serving as the groom’s right-hand man, lightening the groom’s load before, during, and after the wedding. And while the best man is certainly there to stand right by the groom’s side on the big day, there are a few other specific duties on his list to be aware of.
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What is the best man?
The best man is the groom’s right-hand man (or woman) at the wedding. Usually a close friend or relative, this person is asked to stand by the groom’s side to support and assist in any way possible before and during the wedding.
What is best man’s role?
If you’re wondering what a best man does, it’s important to realise that this role involves making sure everything runs smoothly on and before the couple’s Big Day. The best man is often in charge of the groomsmen, as he plans the bachelor party, helps them dress for the wedding, and even organises their transportation to the ceremony. He is also responsible for lending a hand during pre-wedding events and the reception. Above all, he is there to support the groom.
Who is usually the best man at a wedding?
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.
Best Man Duties Before the Wedding Day
Provide moral support during the ring selection
Even though you haven’t officially been asked to be best man yet, there’s a good chance your best bud will ask for your help with selecting an engagement ring. Whether you’re a ring novice or a diamond expert, provide your honest opinion as the groom chooses the rock, but as gently as possible. Purchasing an engagement ring can be a stressful process—your job is to be a voice of reason if needed.
Lead the groomsmen
Once the couple is officially engaged, date and venue have been set, and you’ve been officially asked to be best man, it’s time to introduce the groomsmen (a key best man duty). If you all know each other, that’s great, but if not, it’s the best man’s job to introduce everyone. If you all live nearby, set up a time for everyone to grab a drink together and get acquainted. If you’re in different parts of the country or world, start an email chain or group text to start the conversation.
Shop for formal wear and coordinate purchase
As the best man and official “leader” of the groomsmen, you’ll not only assist the groom in picking out everyone’s formal wear (Tux or suit? Necktie or bow tie?), but also make sure that each groomsman orders his attire in a timely fashion—or if you’re renting or purchasing as a group, you’ll make sure the order is submitted and collect payment from everyone. And don’t forget about the alterations! One of the often-overlooked best man duties is to ensure that the groomsmen’s suits are all received AND tailored.
Check out our post on How to choose a suit for the groom?
Serve as counsellor and confidant
Planning a wedding can be stressful, and the groom will need to rely on his best man to help him make decisions and solve problems. One of the biggest best man duties? Be a supportive friend throughout the process—even if wedding planning isn’t necessarily your thing.
Coordinate travel and accommodations
If you and the groomsmen will be travelling to the wedding, make sure that everyone books, flights and hotels in a timely fashion. The couple will have likely arranged hotel room blocks and accommodations for out-of-town groomsmen, bridesmaids and wedding guests, so jump on these as soon as they become available. If feasible, you can even help pair up groomsmen to share hotel rooms or rental cars to help everyone save some money.
Plan the bachelor party
It’s the best man’s responsibility to organise the bachelor party, with the help of fellow groomsmen. Talk to the groom in advance about the type of bachelor party he envisions. Does he want to travel or stay closer to home? Does he want a wild party or something a bit tamer? Work with the groomsmen to plan a night or weekend that suits the groom’s style—not your own. Also, be mindful of everyone’s schedules and budget. A trip to Vegas might sound like fun, but if certain groomsmen don’t attend because they can’t afford it, you might want to come up with a plan that works for everyone.
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Help the guests
Guests may look to you for assistance if they have questions about the wedding. While you don’t have to memorise the entire wedding invitation and schedule completely, it’s a good idea to know the couple’s wedding website address to provide to guests—most of the answers they seek will likely be listed on the wedding website.
Attend pre-wedding events
You probably won’t take part in planning the engagement party, rehearsal, or rehearsal dinner (but maybe you will!), but you should still try to attend all these events. The most important of these to attend are the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, both of which usually takes place the day before the wedding and will iron out any last-minute scheduling and details.
Best Man Duties Before, During & After the Wedding Ceremony
Create a best man emergency kit
You never know what mishaps may occur on the morning of the wedding, so, as the Boy Scout motto goes: Be prepared! Head to a drugstore the week before the wedding and pick up essential toiletries like spray deodorant, bandages, tissues, and pain relievers. You’ll also want to bring a stain remover, sewing kit, and even an extra pair of socks and tie in case someone forgets their own. Also, don’t forget to bring cash in case of emergency.
Get dressed with the other groomsmen and groom
The best man should be a relaxed and upbeat presence on the morning of the wedding—especially if the groom is feeling a bit nervous. Play music, break out some beers, a deck of cards, or video games to help pass the time. And be sure to memorise those how-to-tie-a-tie YouTube videos before the wedding in case anyone needs last-minute assistance!
Make sure the groomsmen are wearing their boutonnieres
If the groomsmen are supposed to wear boutonnieres, ensure that everyone’s is pinned on properly before walking down the aisle.
Try to keep things on schedule
Ask the couple to provide you with a timeline of the wedding day’s events before the big day, so you’re aware of what needs to happen when. The best man may have to play camp counsellor a few times during the day—if you notice that people are wasting time instead of lining up for photos, or not where they should be at the appropriate time, try to get things on track. You should also introduce yourself to the venue coordinator and/or wedding planner, and volunteer your assistance.
Hold the wedding rings until the couple’s ring exchange
If there is no ring bearer, the best man may be responsible for holding the wedding bands until the ring exchange portion of the ceremony. Be aware of where the rings are at all times and keep them in a safe place, like your inner jacket pocket (check in advance that your pocket doesn’t have a hole in it!).
Stand next to the groom
The best man usually stands next to the groom during the ceremony. This is a clear display of your love and support for your pal, so—we’re going to sound like your grandma here—stand up straight, look interested, and smile during the ceremony! While the best man typically walks down the aisle solo during the processional, he will likely be paired with the maid of honour during the recessional.
Deliver officiant’s payment after the ceremony
The newlyweds will typically be a bit busy immediately after the ceremony, so the best man is usually tasked with ensuring that the wedding officiant receives his or her payment. Talk with the couple before the wedding to see if this is a task they’d like you to assist with.
Sign the marriage license as a witness
The marriage license is super-important—without it, the couple isn’t married! The couple will usually sign the license after the ceremony, but sometimes it’s signed before. The best man is usually present for the signing—and as two witnesses are typically required, the best man and maid of honour typically fill those roles.
Pose for pictures
Whether the couple takes wedding party portraits before or after the ceremony, you’ll need to be game to smile for the camera—many, many times over. Being in front of the camera might not be your favourite thing in the world, but the couple will be grateful for your cooperation.
Does the best man buy the groom a gift?
It’s traditional for the happy couple to buy their best man a gift to thank him for his support and effort during their wedding planning. Best man gifts can range from simple tokens such as a personalised pint glass to more lavish gifts such as an engraved watch.
It’s not required for the best man to buy the groom a gift, although it’s nice for him to treat the newlyweds to a wedding present. That being said, it’s a lovely touch if the best man and the ushers club together to get the groom a treat on his wedding day – a nice bottle of whiskey, for example, just to show your appreciation for being so included on his big day.
Before the Big Day
Perhaps the most important duty of the best man (to a lot of men, anyway) is that he is responsible for throwing the bachelor party. This sendoff from singledom can be as simple as a good meal and a party or include a trip out of town. Traditionally it involves paid entertainment. It all depends on what the groom would like and how much money the groomsmen are willing to shell out. Today many men choose alternative bachelor parties, such as attending sporting events or going fishing. Some couples even forego the bachelor and bachelorette parties altogether and choose a couples get-together instead. As the best man, you probably know the groom very well, so be sure to keep his interests, preferences, and personality in mind as you plan a bachelor party or event.
In addition to the fun bachelor party planning, there are a few more tasks to complete before the big day rolls around.
The best man traditionally is expected to pay for his tuxedo rental and to go to at least one fitting before the big day. He might be asked to visit the tux shop with the bride and groom to help pick out tuxes if he lives nearby.
The best man is expected to attend the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. It’s not usually expected that he’ll give a toast at this meal because the parents of the couple take centre stage.
The best man is also expected to be available to help with getting things to the ceremony or reception site or to do whatever else the busy couple needs in the days leading up to the wedding.
Wedding Day Duties of the Best Man
The primary role of the best man is to be the groom’s “right-hand man” on the day of the wedding. This includes everything from walking the maid of honour down the aisle to helping the groom relax during photographs to dancing in the bridal party dance at the reception.
Before and During the Ceremony
On the day of the wedding, the best man is chiefly in charge of the groom. He helps the groom get dressed, helps him relax, makes sure he gets to the ceremony on time and holds the bride’s ring (or both rings) until the big event. The best man is usually considered a witness to the vows and will sign the marriage license. It’s customary for the groom to give the best man an envelope with whatever payment the officiant is to receive, which the best man then gives to that person before the ceremony.
The best man will stand for wedding photographs either before or after the ceremony (perhaps both if the bride and groom take photos separately before the ceremony). He’ll be expected to walk with the maid or matron of honour down the aisle during the ceremony and stand next to the groom at the altar. Sometimes, the best man may be asked to seat important guests, such as parents or grandparents of the couple.
During the Reception
The most well-known duty of the best man is to toast the bride and groom at the reception. It’s completely up to the best man what he wants to say unless the couple gives him guidance. Toasts can be funny, serious, sad, joyous, or all these things by turns. The best toast is heartfelt and brief. Congratulate the couple, tell a funny story about what happened when they met, how the groom told you he was getting married, or anything else you think is appropriate.
Of course, the toast isn’t the only thing the best man does at the wedding reception. Other duties include:
- Walking the maid or matron of honour into the reception
- Dancing during the bridal party dance
- Sitting next to the groom at the head table
- Assisting, if necessary, in the garter toss (acting as a chair for the bride)
- Helping clean up after the reception, if asked
- Transporting gifts to another location, if you live close to the wedding site
- Returning groom, groomsmen and usher tuxes to the rental shop
Remember that sometimes you may be asked to go above and beyond the typical duties of a best man, depending on the groom or bride’s circumstances. Make sure you speak with the groom to get guidance on the best man’s duties he expects you to perform. Being the best man at someone’s wedding does require work, but it is a great honour that neither you nor the happy couple will ever forget.
The best man is usually a very close friend or male relative of the groom, but there’s no hard and fast rule about who can be the best man. The majority of grooms tend to pick their brother or best friend, but you could ask your dad, your granddad, your son…or if your best friend is female, nothing is stopping you having a best woman at your big day.
It needs to be someone you trust – being the best man involves a lot of responsibility, so think carefully when it comes to asking someone to be your best man.