Best man duties have changed since it first became a ‘thing’ – and that’s good! The original best men had one job – to help the groom kidnap his chosen bride and make sure her family didn’t invade the wedding to try and steal her back. Luckily, this was way back in the early years of AD – it’s all much more civilised nowadays. So what does a modern best man do, exactly? The answers are right here.
Assist the groom with his to-do list. Some other halves simply aren’t good at this planning thing – maybe yours is the kind of person who couldn’t even plan a pair of matching socks. It’s ok – the best man can help with whatever the groom has been given to do.
Don’t agitate the bride. Many best men don’t realise this, but brides do worry about everything from the raunch factor at the stag do to what the best man will say in his speech. It’s best to be mindful this is a woman who’s about to become a wife of a best friend – a wedding is NOT the time to get under her skin.
Organise the stag do. This is part of the tradition. He’s supposed to call up the rest of the guys, collect money, make travel and fun arrangements, and make sure there’s beers aplenty.
Be available for any major pre-wedding events. Rehearsal dinner. Suit fittings. Engagement party. His role is to let the couple focus on their part, while he takes care of the rest.
Image from Sean & Claire’s real wedding by Couple Photography
All key people should know the best man. Opportunities for introductions are aplenty at pre-wedding events, and on the day of the ceremony, whilst waiting for the bride’s arrival.
Bring fashion sense to suit hire. It’s important the guys don’t end up looking like Prince’s backup band (ruffled shirts and pink crushed velvet suits are best avoided). Discounts are one thing – but photos last forever…
Visit the venue before the wedding itself. The best man should check out the parking, the loos situation, see the room, maybe even meet the coordinator. See how long the drive is from the ceremony location to the reception. Ask if there’s a safe room to stash the wedding gifts and cards the guests will bring.
Collect phone numbers of bridesmaids and all essential suppliers. The bride will have probably given this info to one of the bridesmaids too, but it won’t hurt to have a backup.
Image from Tara & John’s real wedding by Patricia Fitzpatrick from Insight Photography
Be the leader of the ushers. The ushers are the best man’s sidekicks – he’s responsible for briefing them on all their duties and telling them where they are supposed to be and when. Also the best man should bring all their boutonnières and make sure they’re not pinned on upside down or anything.
Being the groom’s support on the morning of the wedding. From ironing the shirt if need be to making sure the boutonnière is pinned just right, the best man is to the groom what mum is to the bride, on that very same morning.
Make sure the groom’s bags are packed and in the car. Whether he’s simply staying overnight at the venue, or going straight to the airport, the groom is bound to forget something – the best man should check that the bags and passport are in the trunk.
Church on time. There will be some waiting to do before the bride arrives. Now is the time to be helpful, greet arriving guests, keep the phone handy, make sure the ushers are all accounted for – in short, that the lead up to ceremony is as smooth as can be.
Looking after the rings. This is also a traditional role, and the couple may choose to stick with this, or plan an alternative. Of course, the best advice we can give is – don’t lose them!
Image from Criona & David’s real wedding by Michelle Prunty
Sign the wedding register as a witness. This is often the best man’s duty, but the couple may choose an alternative.
Make a speech. That’s traditional too, and a lot of pressure to make it the best speech of the night. But nowadays, it’s no longer de rigueur. Anyone can make a speech, including the bride. However, the best man should make a toast to the couple.
Help with the photos. The more people get on this, the better. Weddings of any size need good organisation when the photographer is ready to take group and family shots – so getting everyone ready is of utmost importance. Any photographer will say this is what causes the biggest and the most unnecessary delays.
Master of Ceremonies. The couple should know in advance who will take on this role – it involves anything from making announcements about dinner being ready, to inviting the couple onto the floor for their first dance. The best man is often the best person.
Collect those cash envelopes and gifts. If the couple haven’t assigned anyone else to the task, it’s very important for the best man to take care of it. The venue should have a safe place to store them all until the celebrations are over.
Image from Stephanie & Declan’s real wedding by Konrad Kubic Photography
Dance with the chief bridesmaid. Being a gallant gentleman and sweeping a beautifully attired lady into his arms for a graceful turn across the floor is one of the best parts of being best man.
Decorate the car. The world should know the car contains two deliriously happy people who are ‘just married’. Cans, flowers, ribbons are all ok, and there’s no need to do it alone – the bridesmaids and ushers can join in too.
Stay sober. Yes, we know it may be difficult – after all, it’s a huge deal when a best friend gets married. But it’s best to be giddy yet alert, and be of assistance to guests who may need it.
Return rented suits. You don’t want to wake up the day after your wedding and go ‘right, where’s that checklist, let’s return our lives back to normal.’ No. You enjoy being newlyweds, let the best man return the suits and anything else dude-related.
Welcome the groom back from his travels. Go to the pub, listen to honeymoon stories and look at lots of pictures on his phone. Single best men beware – ‘you’re next’ will be uttered at some point!
Image from Marie-Thérèse & Daniel’s real wedding by Aileen Kennedy Photography
Main image from Sinead & Gerard’s real wedding by Trish Fitzpatrick, Insight Photography
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.