Being a best man is probably the ultimate expression of best-matery in the known world. Suddenly it’s not just a case of making sure his beer is always chilled, or letting him use your season ticket, or walking him home when he’s pissed. This is serious. What you do and how you behave on the day of the wedding really matters, not just to the groom but to the whole darn operation. In fact, it’s a genuine honour to be asked to be best man, and the last thing you want to do is screw that up.
There’s often a crowd of ringleaders jostling for control at weddings, and between the mother-in-law, the bride and the wedding planner they ought to have pretty much everything covered. Your duty as best man, above everything else, is to look after the groom. You are the Sam to his Frodo, the Robin to his Batman. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you make sure this really is the best day of his life…
1. Be available
This may be a party for everyone else, but for you the party doesn’t start until all of your duties are done. You should be there whenever the groom needs you, at a moment’s notice. Don’t disappear at vital moments, don’t wriggle out of responsibilities – make yourself available to him and offer to do anything necessary to make sure things run smoothly.
2. Be organised
Your best mate has a lot on his mind. He’s about to make the biggest promise of his life, and it won’t help if he’s worrying about where his cufflinks are. That’s where you come in. Do his worrying for him, do his ironing for him, cut up his food if you need to. Start the morning by sitting him down and making a big list of the stuff he’ll need throughout the day (rings, breathmints, chequebook to pay the band, aftershave, speech notes – that sort of thing), then elect yourself entirely responsible for that list. Make the little stuff your business, and he’ll thank you forever.
3. Be supportive
The main reason you’re there is because you’re the person who knows him best. Weddings are an emotional time, and if he needs a conference or a pep talk or just someone to chat with, you’re the person he’ll turn to. Be the rock.
4. Stay sober (at least until after your speech)
It’s not easy to stay sober at a wedding, but it’s really important that you do, at least until you’ve delivered your speech. Apart from anything else, public speaking when you’re hammered is terrifying, and won’t ease what will already be a nerve-wracking experience. Plus you’re effectively head of PR for the groomsmen – you set the tone for your team. People remember weddings forever, so if you act like a drunken lout, you might not be forgiven for decades…!
Duties of the best man, in a nutshell
At the end of the day, the golden rule is ‘be a good mate’. Simple.
And don’t lose the rings.
(Did you know…? The role of best man originated partly from the need to have a ‘substitute groom’ in case the man himself got struck down by the plague on the way to church. When my best friend got married, his fiancée explained that this meant I was legally obliged to marry her if he didn’t turn up, which I have to say I would have been quite happy with.)