The origins of the “best man” are a bit murky but were thought to originate centuries ago, where the groom would have to steal his bride-to-be away from her disapproving family.
The best man, therefore, was usually the best swordsman who could fight off anyone who wanted to steal the bride back.
That tradition did not survive through to modern times, but the best man is still a mainstay of any modern marriage ceremony. So what exactly are the best man duties that you’ll be expected to perform?
Best Man Duties: Before the Wedding
Introduce the Other Groomsmen to Each Other
Once the groom has chosen his groomsmen, it’s the best man’s job to introduce them to each other if they haven’t already met yet
Organize a dinner or night out and invite all the groomsmen so they can get to know each other before the big day. This can be as informal as you want it to be, but it’s good for the other men in the bridal party to meet beforehand.
Help the Groom Choose a Tux
The groom is going to have a lot on his hands in planning his wedding, so helping him choose and coordinate the formal wear for the men in the bridal party will take some of the stress off.
If any groomsmen are coming in from out of town, you’ll likely need to get their sizes and make sure everything matches.
Organize the Groomsmen’s Fittings
Once the tuxes have been ordered, you may have to set up a time to make sure they’re fitted correctly. Call the other groomsmen and set up a time where you can go get your fittings done.
This may be difficult if any of them are coming from out of town, but you can remedy that by getting the correct measurements before you order the tuxes and make sure the out-of-towners get their tux with enough time to get a fitting at home if they need it.
Coordinate Travel and Accommodations
If you and the rest of the bridal party and guests will be traveling to attend the wedding, make sure that everyone books their flights and hotel rooms in a timely manner.
The bride and groom generally arrange wedding hotel blocks for out-of-town guests, so if you need a room, make sure to book once the room block opens for reservations. The last thing you need is to be stuck without a place to stay on your best friend’s big day.
You can even coordinate shared rooms with other members of the bridal party to save on the cost.
Plan and Give the Bachelor Party
As the best man, it’s your responsibility to plan the bachelor party and make sure the groom has a great time.
Get other groomsmen to pitch in and help with the planning. However, don’t believe everything you see in the movies – going to a strip club sounds fun in theory, but it doesn’t make for the best outing.
Talk to the groom about what kind of party he would like to have and try to plan something fun that won’t get the groom in trouble before the big day. And don’t worry about the finances – the cost of the party should be split evenly among everyone who plans to attend.
Best Man Duties: Shortly Before, During, and After the Wedding
Attend the Rehearsal Dinner
You’ll be expected to attend the rehearsal dinner as part of your best man duties with the rest of the bridal party to make sure that everything is set before the big day. You’ll be practicing your part in the ceremony, so make sure to pay attention so you know what to do.
Sign the Marriage Certificate as a Witness
Before the ceremony, the bride and groom will sign their marriage certificate. Usually, the maid of honor and best man sign the certificate as the official witnesses to the legal proceedings of the marriage. This is a particularly special moment that you’ll have the privilege of being a part of.
Help the Groom and Other Groomsmen Get Ready
On the big day, you’ll want to make sure that everyone is awake on time and getting ready together. You’ll help the groom and other groomsmen get themselves looking perfect before the ceremony.
Be sure to watch a few “How to Tie a Tie” videos on YouTube, just in case anyone needs help with theirs, and bring some emergency materials (like buttons or an extra boutonniere) in case the need arises.
Be the Emotional Support for the Groom
As the best man, it’s your job to keep the mood light and happy before the ceremony begins. This is especially important if the groom is feeling nervous.
Crack open a few beers and calm your best friend’s nerves with video games or a couple jokes. You and the other groomsmen are supposed to help the groom get excited for his big day, and keep any drama that may arise to a minimum.
Stand Next to the Groom During the Ceremony
The best man is expected to stand next to the groom during the entire ceremony. You’ll act as emotional support throughout the ceremony, and give the rings during the ring exchange. The bride and groom may have you do other things during the ceremony, like the next two duties mentioned.
Hold the Rings Until the Ring Exchange
As part of your best man duties, you’re expected to hold the rings until the couple is ready to exchange them.
Make sure that you have them on the big day, and that your pockets don’t have any holes that they can drop through.
You don’t want to be fumbling with the rings once the time comes, and you definitely don’t want to drop or lose them. So, hold tight.
Help the Maid of Honor Get Everyone Together for Photos
After the ceremony, you’ll help the maid of honor get the rest of the bridal party organized for the official wedding photos.
This might be a bit chaotic, so make sure that everyone is looking good and ready to set themselves up how the photographer or the newlyweds would like.
Best Man Duties: During the Wedding Reception
Stand Next to the Bride in the Receiving Line
The bridal party will be expected to stand in the receiving line to greet the guests coming in to the reception.
Usually, the best man stands next to the bride to receive the guests, but it’s ultimately up to the couple to determine what order you’ll be standing in.
Play Host During the Reception
You’ll likely be expected to help the Maid of Honor play host during the reception. Various weddings guests may seek you out to answer any questions, like where the restrooms are or what the general schedule of events during the reception may be.
The newlyweds are going to have their hands full making the rounds around the tables to speak with the other guests, so be prepared to answer any questions or work out any issues while they’re busy enjoying their big night.
Dance with the Maid of Honor during the First Dance
Once the bride and groom have had their first dance, it is usually expected for you as the Best Man to dance with the maid of honor for the next song. Then the dance floor usually opens up to the rest of the couples in the bridal party and any wedding guests.
Give the Best Man Speech
You’ll be expected to give the Best Man speech during the reception, so be prepared.
Bring some notecards with what you want to say, and if you’re worried you might embarrass the couple, have them read what you’ve prepared before the reception.
It’s best to leave the crazy party stories for another time. Your speech is meant to be a congratulatory send-off and message of happiness, not a cringey recounting of a college frat party.
Make Sure the Bride and Groom Get Back to Their Room Safely
When the newlyweds are ready to leave, it’s your job to make sure that they get to their car and get back to hotel (or the airport, if they’re headed out for their honeymoon) safely.
You can decorate their limo with “just married” signs, if you’d like. At the very least, help them say their goodbyes and head out.
Being the Best Man is an Honor
If the groom chooses you as the best man, treat it like the honor it is. He has entrusted you with helping him have a night that he’ll remember for the rest of his life. You’ll be able to help make sure that everything goes well and that the newlyweds start their new married life on a happy note.