How to be a great best man

01 December 2016

"To be the best man is an infrequent honour and should be treated with respect"

The tradition of a best man is said to have originated with the Germanic Goths in the Sixteenth Century. The best man’s role was to prevent neighbouring tribes or disapproving family members from stealing the bride. He was also probably the best at wielding a sword. While modern-day nuptials lack the gore and threat of impending kidnapping, the role is no less important than it was then. A best man is the groom’s left-hand man and thus, the best man’s conduct must be exemplary to stay in good favour with the bride and the family. To be the best man is an infrequent honour and should be treated with respect.

The Buck’s Party/Stag Do
Boys will be boys, but men should be gentlemen. Having a send-off for the groom is standard, and the planning can eclipse the actual wedding. While it’s tempting to arrange a raging bender, it’s important to remember decorum through celebration. A great best man will contact the groomsmen and arrange an event in collaboration with them; one that caters to a range of tastes, budgets and familial relationships. While fun it should be appropriate and remember the importance of keeping the groom happy. It’s perfectly acceptable for the groom to be uncomfortable for spells, but the whole event shouldn’t comprise public humiliation.
A great best man will ensure everyone is introduced, has their drinks filled and is well-fed and content. They’ll intervene and ameliorate any altercations that might arise, and they’ll monitor the behaviour for whom he’s responsible. It might be tempting to document the event, but remember that once a photo is shared online it’s considered permanent public record, no matter how private you think it is. One day of debauchery can be the undoing of some of some of the most upstanding, so think twice and consider whether the groom would appreciate his reputation sullied. As best man you will communicate this and even instigate a mobile phone amnesty if required.

The Lead-Up
A great best man is there to serve the needs of his groom and to be an extra pair of hands. Picking up and ferrying suits across town, last-minute cufflink emergencies or grooming adjustments. Or just being there to talk the groom off the ledge. The best man is there for guidance and support, and to help the groom get to the ceremony unruffled and ready for matrimony.
 

The Day Of

Before the Ceremony
When the day arrives, the best man should be up early and with the groom as soon as time permits. A coffee delivery will help pep the groom who has likely had a sleepless night and the best man will be there for the moral support. While the groom might want a drink to ease the nerves, the best man should monitor if and when this happens, as well as the quantity. Every groom should have his faculties when standing in front of his bride. The best man should help the other groomsmen stay organised and should defer to them for any other assistance he might need on the day. And perhaps the most important, the groom should keep their eye on the time and ensure they depart for the ceremony according to schedule.

During the Ceremony
Once at the wedding venue the best man is there to lend more support to the groom and his guests. By greeting and introducing himself to those who arrive he will take the pressure off a groom preoccupied with remembering his vows and steeling himself. Once the music starts the rest is over to the gods (and the event planners), so this is the penultimate responsibility of the best man. He should stand back, smile and most of all, remember the rings.

The Speech
Perhaps the second-most important event of the day, many look to the best man’s speech as a highlight. It’s an opportunity to win over the crowd and convince them just how spectacular the groom is and the ideality of his union with the bride. The speech should be polite, complimentary and only marginally embarrassing for the groom, and not a warts-and-all lynching in front of a packed room. The best man should feel free to be comedic and self-deprecating, but must remember to speak predominantly about the couple and not himself. He should discuss the special bond he shares with the groom and why the bride is the most suitable candidate for his counterpart. Speeches by best men have the potential to move the audience, to make them laugh and cry; make it memorable and no one will question the groom’s decision to make you best man.

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