The Wedding Series – The Best Man

I am happy to be here tonight.
When [insert name of groom] wanted a best man,
he asked the smartest man he knew. When he said no,
he asked the best looking man he knew.
When he said no, he asked the most popular man he knew.
And, finally, after being asked three times, I agreed!
~ Popular and Humorous Paraphrased Example of Best Man’s Toast

As the groom, choosing your best man is as important as the task of your bride-to-be choosing her maid of honor. The best man will be your honor attendant on whom you can lean throughout the wedding planning process, and especially on the day of the wedding. Therefore, he should be someone who you know well, with whom you are comfortable and on whom you can depend. If you do have the leeway to do so, ask someone who is mature, reliable, outgoing and a take charge but not overbearing type; that way, things will get done in a timely, smooth and proper manner.

Sometimes choosing your honor attendant is clear cut; you ask your brother, best friend or former college roommate. On the other hand you might experience the same dilemma many brides face when selecting their honor attendants. For example, there might be two people who naturally fit the honor attendant position or you might be “encouraged” to ask your fiancée’s brother or favorite cousin. It’s fine to have two best men, and just as our modern times allow the bride to choose a man to be her honor attendant, you may ask a woman to be yours. Put some thought into your decision and make the best choice, while aiming to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

You might be tempted not to have an honor attendant, and that’s fine, too. But keep in mind that there are some tasks that customarily fall to the best man that will help you to maneuver through pre-wedding planning and events as well as wedding day issues and tasks. That can help to take pressure off not only you, but on your bride-to-be as well. And, choosing to have a best man facilitates symmetry in the wedding party as well as provides you with an opportunity to honor someone important in your life. Thus, it’s usually a wise move to have a best man or woman — or two. Even if you’re the independent type who finds it difficult to lean on others, there will likely be many moments when you’ll be grateful for the support.

When the decision is made, remember to treat your honor attendant with respect, appreciation and consideration because he’ll be taking on a lot on your behalf.

If You’ve Been Asked

Conversely, if you’ve been asked to be someone’s best man, you’ve just received a great honor, along with which comes great responsibility. It is considered poor form to refuse such a request, so if you’re able with regard to schedule, comfort-level and finances you should accept.

You might be a seasoned honor attendant, having served previously in this role; or this might be your first time. Either way, it can be a lot of fun and a great experience. Chances are you’ve been asked by someone important in your life –your brother, best friend, a close relative or someone who is going to be in your new extended family or circle of friends.

But, if there’s a good reason that you feel you cannot fulfill the expectations of a best man, or if it would be a hardship financially or time-wise, kindly and gently decline and if possible explain why you cannot accept. If you’d like to be involved to a lesser extent, offer to help out in other ways.

If you can accept, do so with enthusiasm and pleasure, and leave the groom feeling relieved, reassured and greatly cheered.

What Is The Best Man Expected To Do?

The best man’s role in general is to provide the groom with emotional and practical support, as needed. While the groom traditionally does not have as much to do as the bride does, he still is one of the two major players in the wedding event and no matter how calm and pragmatic he might be will face some stress and anxiety during the planning process and especially on his wedding day. Having a “right hand man” to help him through the process can be an enormous comfort and asset to keeping him sane at certain moments.

Following are the typical responsibilities of the best man:

  • Organizes the bachelor party for the groom: The best man probably knows how the groom likes to unwind and have fun. But if unsure of the kind of party to host or organize on his behalf, ask him. A bachelor party is purely optional, however, and depends on whether the groomsmen, if there are any, wish to co-host an evening or weekend. The party need not be grand or expensive to be fun. Thankfully, the infamous alcohol-soaked parties with scantily-clad women jumping out of cakes seem to be fading into history, with the trend toward guy friends getting together for more mature and meaningful activities such as fishing trips, sporting events, a day at an amusement park or cultural institution, or simply a backyard barbecue or night of board or video games with some five-star take-out or catering. In any case, the bachelor party should be held weeks, not days, before the wedding.
  • Oversees the toasts at the rehearsal dinner and reception: This is the best known and highest profile responsibility of the best man and, traditionally, his moment to shine. He organizes, oversees and initiates the toasting at both affairs. The same people may toast at both. However, the toasts at the rehearsal dinner/party usually occur in a random order and are less formal, longer, more humorous and anecdotal, while the toasts at the reception are more formal, prepared, shorter and occur in a particular order.
  • Arranges transportation for bride and groom to ceremony and reception venue(s) and to their destination following the reception: The best man does not have to drive the bride and groom himself, especially if he has imbibed during the reception, but he is responsible to arrange for transportation. It is advisable that the wedding couple do not drive themselves; before the wedding ceremony they will be nervous and their minds will be on a million details and after the reception they might be overly tired, emotional and full of champagne. The best man needs to ensure their comfort, convenience and safety, as well as his own and that of his spouse or date. As a courtesy, the best man should also check with the groomsmen to ensure that they have transportation.
  • Reviews and oversees groomsmen’s and ushers’ attire and duties: Prior to and on the day of the wedding, the best man is responsible to ensure that the groomsmen and/or ushers have rented or purchased their ensembles, had them properly fitted, arrive early or on time for the ceremony appropriately attired and have been thoroughly and clearly briefed on their duties.
  • Keeps the bride’s wedding band for ceremony: The best man keeps the bride’s wedding band safely in his possession to present to the groom at the appropriate moment during the ceremony. This is true even if there is a ring bearer, as it is advised that “prop” rings be carried in the processional rather than the real ones.
  • Delivers marriage license to ceremony and witnesses its signing: The wedding couple will have obtained their marriage license prior to the wedding and the groom typically gives it to the best man to deliver to the wedding ceremony and sign it as a witness immediately following. The officiant is usually responsible for its delivery to the appropriate office in your state for filing, upon which a certified marriage certificate will be mailed to the couple for their records.
  • Delivers the groom’s payment to the officiant for his services. The best man might also take care of other incidental payments on behalf and at the request of the groom; the groom will have provided these payments to the best man in advance or will reimburse him later.
  • Assists groom in dressing on wedding day: This includes picking up both his and the groom’s rental or own clothing before the wedding day and delivering the groom’s ensemble safely to him and helping him get into it. The best man will also ensure that the groom has all the necessary pieces and accessories that go with his ensemble and will help him dress; this will depend on the level of formality of the wedding and could include the groom’s boutonniere, tie & tie tack or bar, cummerbund, gloves, handkerchief, shoes, socks, hat, etc.  The best man is also responsible after the reception to have the groom’s ensemble cleaned and returned to him or returned to the place of rental.
  • Collects and distributes boutonnieres for groom, groomsmen, ushers and himself: He should also ensure that the boutonnieres are properly attached to each groomsman’s and usher’s lapels by assisting himself or asking someone else to assist.
  • Stands in receiving line at reception: This is optional and is up to the bride and groom and depending on the size of the wedding and whether the receiving line is held immediately following the ceremony or at the beginning of the reception. If the line is held at the reception, typically the best man and the wedding couples’ fathers mingle with the guests, greeting them warmly and directing them to the bar, their tables, restrooms, gift tables, etc.
  • Dances with the maid of honor and others at reception: Dancing with the maid of honor, bride, mothers of the bride and groom, bridesmaids and finally his spouse or date is among the duties of the best man. He might also prompt the bride and groom to begin their momentous first dance if there is no host or MC to do so. As the first and second dance orders are important, the best man would do well to learn or brush up on some basic ballroom dance steps. He should first check with the groom or maid of honor for suggestions. And, as mentioned in last week’s entry about bridesmaids, many dance studios offer special wedding lessons, and some online sites provide instruction. Getting down the basics of the waltz and rumba box steps will help the best man to look good in this spotlight moment. As well, it might be wise to brush up on the basics of the Hustle and La Macarena — two popular group dances at wedding receptions.
  • Jack of all trades and chief troubleshooter before, during and after the wedding ceremony and reception: Who are you going to call when the dog swallows the wedding bands, the groom’s pants rip or the wedding cake explodes? How about when a guest throws up or becomes intoxicated? Or when the wedding gifts have disappeared? The best man, of course! He will also assist the maid of honor with tasks, as necessary, and delegate when possible and appropriate. He will do whatever it takes, calmly and authoritatively, to keep everything on track and running smoothly. And, the best man will fix those pants, repair the wedding cake and find those wedding gifts (or find the right people to do so)!

Accepting this role is an honor for both the best man and the groom. It is hoped that it will increase or solidify the bond, be a journey to treasure and provide both with a lot of laughs, gratification and memories to treasure. So, if you as the best man have decided to take this ride, enjoy every aspect of it. It will be an experience of a lifetime. And, don’t worry; I’ll be elaborating on aspects of the best man’s duties in future entries as the Wedding Series continues. Please stay tuned!

Until next time,


2 thoughts on “The Wedding Series – The Best Man

  1. Jeanne Nelson says:

    Candace, thank you for your comment! I'm so pleased that you and your husband enjoyed the dance videos! I thought they were great fun, as well. And, I'm glad you're finding my Wedding Series so helpful. That news definitely made my day!My apologies for the glitch that delayed displaying your lovely comments!


  2. Candace Smith says:

    "The Best Man" was so much fun to read, and I enjoyed getting caught up in the dancing videos. My husband and I shared a few twirls of a waltz and rumba and reviewed the La Macarena. (The Hustle was a big much for us, and we enjoyed sitting that one out.) To be expected, the article was thorughly informative. The "Wedding Series" is my go-to source for weddings in the U.S. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s