It’s an honor to be the best man at your mate’s wedding. Standing next to them as they get married symbolizes the strength and depth of your friendship. But being the best man is also a lot of work! Much like being a maid of honor, there are set best man duties that help support your mate and keep their wedding running smoothly. After you’ve accepted your role as best man, take some time to celebrate. Your best friend is getting married, after all! If you rush into planning, you’ll miss this rare chance for celebration.
Once the celebration is over, however, it’s time to get to work! Your best man duties start well before the wedding, and end a few days after. Of course, if your mate’s wedding is a year or more away, you can take your time with all the pre-wedding tasks. But if it’s only a few months away, you’ll need to multitask on a few things.
No matter how much time you have, we’re here to help! This guide will walk you through traditional best man duties. Before you start on any of them, talk to your mate so you know what their expectations are. For example, they may not want a bachelor party or they may already have a suit picked out. Your number one responsibility is to support your best friend with the items on this list, and anything else they’ll need before their big day.
Before the Wedding
Help pick formalwear
What will the groom wear, and how will the groomsmen match? Will you wear a special tie or pocket square to show that you’re the best man? You get to help answer all of those questions! This may include searching for ideas online, but it will also likely include in-person shopping. Keep the wedding colors in mind, so the formalwear matches instead of clashes. Plus, the season and venue are important to consider—you probably want to skip the jacket for an outdoor, summer beach wedding!
Plan the bachelor party
Traditionally, a few weeks before the wedding, the groom and their groomsmen have one last getaway. It’s often called a bachelor party or stag party. It can be a low-key dinner or local sports game. But you may also plan an exciting night away in a nearby city. Whatever route you choose—it’s up to you to plan it! Of course, you can get help from the other groomsmen, but the majority of the planning falls to you. Before you start planning, though, ask your mate what they want. If they don’t have fun, the party is a bust!
Offer emotional support
While this duty isn’t as specific as some of the others, it is as important. Planning a wedding is stressful, and your best friend will need support throughout the process. You know your mate best, so you’ll know when he’s stressed and how to help him unwind. This may include giving input on wedding decisions, visiting venues or entertainers with him, or just watching a movie together to take his mind off things. Either way, your support is important during this time.
Attend pre-wedding events
The two most common pre-wedding events are the bachelor party and the rehearsal dinner. We’ve already addressed the former, which happens a few weeks before the big day. The rehearsal dinner, however, happens the day before the wedding. During the event, the entire wedding party practices the ceremony: Walking down the aisle, standing at the altar, and exiting. You may do this a few times before everyone is comfortable, and then everyone eats together. Hence, the name–first you rehearse, and then you dine.
Keep the groomsmen organized
The rest of your mate’s attendants will have questions. They’ll want to know what to wear, when to arrive at the wedding, if they can bring a date. And although your mate will have all those answers, they shouldn’t have to field those questions. Instead, be a liaison between the groomsmen and the groom. You should make sure everyone orders their suit on time and knows when and where to show up for various wedding-related events. We recommend starting a group chat on Facebook or via text message so the same information is shared with everyone.
Decorate the getaway car
What will the happy couple drive off in? And do they want cans tied to the bumper or a Just Married sign on the rear window? If so, you get to coordinate all of that with the other groomsmen! Unlock your creative side with washable window markers and silly decorations. After all, the goal is to make the happy couple smile when they drive to their next destination. (And embarrass them just a tiny bit, too!)
During the Wedding
Hold the rings & vows
This is one of your most important best man duties. Yes, the couple can technically get married without a ring and vows—but that’s not the point! The rings symbolize the commitment they’re making, and the vows express how much that commitment means. Triple check that you have both items before you leave for the wedding, and make sure they’re in your pocket before you walk down the aisle. You’ll have a lot of other responsibilities that day, too, so you can always ask a groomsman to remind you to check your pockets.
Be a witness
Even at a formal wedding ceremony, the happy couple needs witnesses to sign their marriage certificate, along with the officiant. Although the couple can ask anyone to sign the certificate, they often ask the best man and the maid of honor. Usually, everyone signs the certificate after the ceremony, but before taking photos. It’s a quick, easy process, so just make sure you know ahead of time if you need to be a witness. You can decide when to sign the certificate at the rehearsal dinner.
Give a speech
It’s tradition for the maid of honor and best man to give a speech during the reception. The couple may also ask one of their parents to speak, but usually the best man kicks off the speech portion of the reception. Because there are multiple speeches, you should keep yours short—three minutes is average, and anything over five minutes is too long. Remember to address the couple during your speech, but include the audience so they aren’t just watching a one-way conversation.
Keep the groom & groomsmen on schedule
A lot happens on a wedding day. From getting ready and arriving at the venue on time, to making it down the aisle and drinking enough water. It’s easy to get behind. One of your best man duties is to make sure everyone is on time and on task. It might sound overwhelming, but if you’ve been communicating with the wedding party all along, everyone should know what’s expected. Then, it’s just a matter of sticking to the schedule!
Check on the couple
Like we just mentioned, a lot happens on the wedding day. And while it’s important to keep the groomsmen on schedule, it’s also important to check on the couple. Often, couples are so preoccupied at the reception that they forget to eat and stay hydrated. While you want them to have a good time, make sure they remember to savor the day and take care of themselves, too!
Act as unofficial host
If the couple has a wedding planner or MC, then you can let them handle this part. Otherwise, your mate may look to you to announce reception activities, like cutting the cake, first dances, and kicking off the speeches. Even before the ceremony, guests may need help getting to their seats, or have questions about gifts or bathrooms. Helping the guests helps your mate!
You may have a lot of best man duties, and you may be challenged by some of them. But it’s also important that you have fun. You’re doing all of this to celebrate your mate and their marriage. It’s a time of new beginnings and fresh love—embrace it! Check in on the couple, yes. Keep the groomsmen in line, yes. But also have a drink, get your dance on, and take lots of photos! You’re here to celebrate, after all.
After the Wedding
Secure the gifts
Wedding gifts can be tricky. For starters, some couples go right to the airport after their wedding, instead of going home. So their gifts have to make it home without them. You can offer to bring the gifts to their home so they’re waiting for the couple’s return. Similarly, some couples spend the night at the venue and head out in the morning. Again, their gifts will need to be stored somewhere overnight. Even if the venue has a secure room for the gifts, still offer to help bring the items to the location, and back home the following day.
Return the tuxes
Any rented formalwear will need to be returned shortly after the wedding day. If your mate is on his honeymoon, he won’t be able to do that. And if out-of-town groomsmen have to head back home, they may not have the time, either. As best man, you can still help out after the wedding by returning the formalwear for the group. You have to return your items anyways—adding a few more can’t hurt!
Wrap up vendor contracts
Most vendors are paid before the wedding day, so there shouldn’t be too many vendor-related tasks to wrap up. But much like the suits and the gifts, the couple can’t handle them if they’re leaving for their honeymoon. Offer to handle any final vendor payments, including tips and checking out with the venue after the ceremony is over. That way, the couple can focus on getting some rest or getting to the airport.
The best man duties are a lot of work—we warned you! But they’re also totally worth it. You’re helping your best friend on one of their most important days. That’s priceless! Don’t feel pressured to overwork yourself, and certainly ask for help from the wedding party if you need it. But also try to have some fun with it, too. This is a celebration, after all.
What best man duties are you most excited for? What ones do you want more information about?