in: Character, Etiquette

• Last updated: September 25, 2021

The Duties of the Best Man

Vintage groom and best man together before wedding.

“Wedding season” is currently upon us. June is the most popular month for weddings, and they’ll be going full steam from now until September. You may have received a few invitations in the mail or even been asked to be your friend’s or brother’s best man.

Being asked to be the best man in a wedding is a great honor. We don’t get bestowed with the title “best” very often in our lives. It shows that your friend or family member holds your relationship in great esteem. You’ve been his go-to guy in life; now he needs you to be his point person during this weighty rite-of-passage. So don’t just shuffle through your role; instead, help your buddy through the most important day of his life by stepping up and fulfilling your duties with competence.

Just what are those duties? Here’s a rundown of your responsibilities as the best man:

Before the Wedding

Plan the bachelor party. This is one of your biggest responsibilities. Luckily, we’ve written up a handy guide on just how to do it.

Get fitted for a tux/suit. In former times, etiquette dictated that the groom pay for rental or purchase of the tuxes for his groomsmen. These days, the groom often expects you to pony up the dough yourself. Personally, I find it in poor taste to ask someone to be in your wedding and then expect them to pay for their own tux, but it’s become a common practice.

Whether you’re buying or renting, paying or not, you will likely be expected to get fitted for your tux or suit. You’re responsible for showing up to the appointment and making sure the other groomsmen do as well.

Go to the rehearsal. The day before the wedding, there will be a rehearsal held where the actual wedding will take place. It can’t start without you, so be sure to arrive on time. It should only last for a half an hour or so.

Go to the rehearsal dinner. After the rehearsal, those in the wedding party (and other family and friends the couple may have invited) will head over to the rehearsal dinner, typically held at a restaurant. There is usually toasting at the dinner, and while you are welcome to make a toast, I recommend holding off until your big speech at the wedding reception. You don’t want to use up your best material.

The Day of the Wedding

A wedding day is a whirlwind of activity. Your job as the best man is to take the burden of stress off the groom and onto your shoulders. You’ll be his go-to guy: his support, assistant, and valet. You make sure things are in place, that the groom has what he needs, gets to where he needs to be, and stays relaxed. If you do your job right, the groom will only need to worry about walking down that aisle.

Before the Ceremony

Hang out with the groom as he dresses for the ceremony. Keep your friend calm and relaxed (although not with spirits). There may be some downtime before the ceremony, so play some video games and just chill. Skip questions like, “Dude, are you sure you want to do this?” and instead offer calming encouragement.

Make sure the groom has whatever he needs. Not just for the wedding but for the honeymoon as well. He may not be coming back to his house/hotel/apartment before heading off into the sunset with his bride. So make sure he has the marriage license, that he’s all packed, and that the luggage, tickets, passport, etc. get put in the car.

Drive the groom over to the wedding location. Get there at least 30 minutes before the ceremony starts.

Distribute the boutonnieres and make sure the groomsmen are wearing them properly. They should be placed in the buttonhole of the left lapel of one’s suit jacket. If there’s no buttonhole, then pin them there.

At the Ceremony

Enter with the groom. The order of the wedding processional varies by the type of wedding and the couple’s faith tradition, but most frequently the minister or priest, best man, and groom (in that order) come into the church through a side door at the front.

Hold onto the groom’s ring. It’s your job to keep the ring safe and sound in your pocket and to fish it out at the appropriate time during the ceremony. This is one thing you absolutely don’t want to flub, lest you end up as a clip on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Don’t faint. See the aforementioned reference to AFV.

Escort the maid/matron of honor out of the church at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Sign the marriage license. After the wedding, you may be asked to be a witness and sign the marriage license.

At the Reception

Dance with the matron/maid of honor and the bridesmaids.

Kick off the toasting with the best man speech. This is the job that probably first comes to mind when you think about being the best man. And it’s probably the job you’re most nervous about. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a foolproof plan to knock your speech out of the park.

An interesting side note: The best man used to also read telegrams from well-wishers who couldn’t make it to the ceremony. Sounds like a nice tradition from bygone days.

Vintage wedding car decoration.

Decorate the getaway car. During the reception, sneak out with your groomsmen and decorate the bride and groom’s getaway mobile. Make it kitschy, a little embarrassing, but not uber annoying. And of course, don’t get too carried away and damage the car. Use your judgment in how far to take it by how good of sports the bride and groom are.

Tying some cans with string to the underside of the car is classic, as is writing on the windows with window paint. Stick some balloons on the outside and stuff them in the interior. Tape some ribbons to the hubcaps. Stick on some window clings. They make personalized wedding specific ones, but I would go with something truly random like Dale Earnhardt or Hannah Montana. But that gives you an idea of my sense of humor.

If they’re renting a limo or a slick set of wheels, you’ll probably have to skip this step.

After the wedding, bring the groom’s tux to the cleaners or back to the rental shop. Take care of this while he’s on the honeymoon.

Have you been the best man in a wedding? What advice would you give other best men on how to fulfill this role? Share your advice with us in the comments.

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