Your buddy has just asked you to be his go-to guy on one of the biggest days of his life. Congratulations. It’s now your job to steward him through the days between bachelorhood and matrimony, guiding him down the path to wedded bliss like a tuxedo-wearing, champagne-slurping sherpa.
No pressure or anything.
If this is your first time performing these hallowed duties, every brain cell is firing on full panic mode. You’re falling asleep every night in a cold sweat, imagining all the things that could go wrong if you forget your best man speech or Aunt Jodie hits the bar too hard and gets frisky.
As the groom’s second-in-command, you have one job above all else: get your shit together. It’s your sacred responsibility to ensure things go smoothly and the happy couple makes it to the honeymoon with their love, sanity, and limbs intact.
Here’s how to make sure he never regrets choosing you over some other chump.
Start Planning Now
The countdown to the big day begins the second he gets on one knee and she says yes. Likewise, your role begins the second he asks you to be best man (whether he gets on a knee or not) and you say yes.
It may be too early to make definitive arrangements, but it doesn’t hurt to start musing on things like where the bucks party should be held, who should be invited, and whether any of them are out-of-towners who will need accommodation. The sooner you start planning, the less everyone will be stressed when things really hit the fan.
Make Bucks Party Magic
Ah, the fabled stag do. Responsibility for this legendary last celebration of singlehood falls squarely on your shoulders. You’ve seen The Hangover. You know you have a lot to live up to.
The most important thing to remember is that, whatever you do to mark the occasion, it must suit the groom. If he wants to lose teeth and steal tigers and hook up with Heather Graham, give him a night so debaucherous it will be impossible to forget and traumatic to remember.
But if he’s not that dude – if he’d rather play a round of golf and go whiskey tasting, or just hit the local bar for pints and pizza – give him the bucks party he’ll actually enjoy. Talk to him about what he wants if it’s not obvious.
While you’re at it, take the rest of the guests into consideration, too. Don’t book a lavish weekend away if you know everyone is on a budget. Do your best to choose something that won’t make anyone uncomfortable or late on their rent.
And please, please don’t hold it the night before the wedding. Vomiting mid-vows is not a good look.
Clothe The Crew
It’s up to the bride and groom to decide what the wedding party will wear, but you can ease the process along by helping to arrange fittings and alterations. Round up the groomsmen, ushers, and ring bearers and get them fitted for their kits. Make sure they have everything they need beforehand and again on the big day, including accessories like pocket squares and cuff links. Pick up the clothes when they’re ready and, if they’re rentals, return them when the the couple is safely shacked up in the honeymoon suite.
Abide by the scout motto: always be prepared. Ideally nothing will go wrong, but if it does, it’s your job as the groom’s righthand man to make sure he doesn’t have to worry about it. Have cash and cards on hand in case last minute expenses crop up. Save pertinent phone numbers (caterer, limo driver, DJ, wedding planner, florist, officiant, parents, etc) in event of emergency. Pack a bag with a selection of easily-forgotten essentials, like deodorant and a phone charger, in case something is left behind.
Attend The Rehearsal
Make sure all the groomsmen know when and where the rehearsal takes place. Threaten grievous bodily harm if they don’t arrive on time. During the rehearsal, pay close attention to all instructions you’re given. The rest of the groomsmen will be following your lead. Learn as much as you can about other people’s roles during the rehearsal. If it turns out they weren’t paying attention, or something goes wrong on wedding day, you’ll be able to swoop in like a caped crusader and save the day. Attend the rehearsal dinner after to blow off (drink off) some steam.
Get A Good Night’s Rest
Sleep the night before. Seriously. Don’t just do it – make it a priority. Yes, you’ll be stressed. Yes, you’ll want to stay up all night watching best man speech videos on YouTube. Yes, your mind will be running worst-case scenarios through your head like the world’s shittiest slideshow. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you actually sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on any curveballs wedding day has in store.
Be On Time
Since you were careful to get adequate beauty rest (right?), you’ll have no problem rising early and getting to the venue on time. Now it’s your job to play drill sergeant. Marshal the troops. Make sure everyone else also arrives in a timely fashion and looks ready for a Vogue shoot. Like it or not, this is part of your job and you have to be the boring responsible guy who badgers everyone else if circumstances call for it.
See above. They may be the groom’s men, but they’re your responsibility. Write a checklist and make sure everything is in order before Mendelssohn’s wedding march plays. The groomsmen need to be well groomed, well dressed, well behaved, and definitely not drunk. Depending on the group, this may or may not be a difficult task.
Be The Body Man
If “best man” came with a job description, it would be pages and pages long. A better way to look at it is this: almost nothing isn’t your job. Leave the “kiss the bride” bit to the groom. Beyond that, come prepared to be anything and everything required of you. Gopher. Chauffeur. Valet. Wrangler of the ring bearer dog. No task is too small for the best man – after all, they didn’t name him the mediocre man.
As important as these errands are, remember that there’s a second, even more essential, piece of the puzzle. You’re also the groom’s emotional support system. Warm his feet if they’re getting cold. Listen if he needs to complain or confess or have a cry. Hold back his man bun if his nervousness causes nausea. Help him stay comfortable, relaxed, confident, hydrated, and – this is important – sober.
Guard The Ring
Now’s the time to whip out the Gollum impression you’ve been working on. Guard the ring like it’s worth more than your life (if the groom is rich, it actually might be). Set an alarm to check on it at regular intervals if you have to, and make sure to check your pockets for holes to avoid any mishaps. Remember exactly which pocket you put it in. You don’t want to be fumbling for it when the moment comes. If it sounds like too much responsibility, remember this: people let their dogs do it. You can handle it, champ.
Start The Party
Think of yourself as a junior host. The bride and groom may be the official hosts of the evening, but you’ll be the one getting the party started. Hit the dancefloor if no one else is brave enough to take the first step. Mingle with relatives (bonus points if you’ve memorised some names ahead of time). Charm moms and bridesmaids. Flirt with Aunt Jodie a little bit. But remember, moderation is key. Don’t go overboard and get hammered, or try to hookup with a bridesmaid (or Aunt Jodie) in a corner.
Nail The Speech
This is your time to shine. Though most of your duties are performed behind the scenes, the best man speech is your moment in the spotlight. Don’t screw it up. Much has been said about how to nail it. A few good rules of thumb are:
- Prepare. This is not the time for winging it.
- Make it a toast, not a roast. No offensive jokes, wild stories, or tales of the ex-girlfriends.
- Focus on the groom, but don’t forget to give a shoutout to the bride.
- It’s cool to be funny, but don’t try too hard. Your audience also wants to hear something heartfelt.
- Use accessible anecdotes. They cease to be funny or moving if no one but you and the groom knows what the hell you’re talking about.
- Don’t drone on. Ten minutes is plenty, and many a best man has brought the house down with less.
Here’s what not to do: 5 Ways To Completely Mess Up A Best Man Speech.
Design An Exit Strategy
Help the bride and groom make their escape. It’s harder than you think to exit a room full of (now intoxicated) people trying to drown you in goodwill. If they’re leaving in some kind of vehicle, gather the rest of the wedding party to decorate the getaway car. After the dust has settled, assist with any luggage, transportation arrangements, hotel check-outs, and vendor payments that remain. It ain’t glamorous, but somebody’s gotta do it. Think of the karma you’re racking up.
Decline If You Need To
Here’s something that’s rarely talked about: if you don’t want to be best man, is it ok to say no? Opinions may differ, but we’re saying yes. It’s hard to imagine a worse best man than one who doesn’t want to be there. It’s generally considered an honour to be tapped for the role, but if you know it’s not your thing, it’s better to disappoint now than be a disappointment on the big day. The sooner you let the groom know, the sooner he can find a happy replacement.
Pat Yourself On The Back
If you took the job, and the wedding is done, give yourself a giant gold star for the miracle of modern manliness you just achieved. Your friend bestowed his highest honour upon you and you pulled it off like a pro. Now reward yourself with a massage and the stiffest of drinks.