The best man assumes many duties in his role to the groom. Knowing what is expected of him before and during the wedding prepares the best man for his friend's 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 own 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 center 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 honor 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 honor 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 he's given guidance by the couple. 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 honor 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 honor that neither you nor the happy couple will ever forget.