Being a Best Man is a challenging and often daunting undertaking. Below Lawrence Bernstein and Anna Quayle of greatspeechwriting.co.uk share their advice on how to tackle the responsibilities of the day, and also deliver the perfect speech and be the perfect best man!
He’s your best friend. You’ve known him since you were kids. You’re his wing-man: the Dynamic Duo, Maverick and Goose (he’s Goose of course). You were there the night he met his girlfriend. You encouraged him to go and talk to her. And now, five years later, he’s finally popped the question: Will you be his Best Man?
No doubt there’ll be man hugs, handshakes, and slaps on the back. After all, it is the ultimate accolade. The greatest honour a man can bestow on a friend. The pinnacle of your long, fruitful bromance.
Then the Groom puts the fear on. It’s going to be a massive wedding. Marquees, fireworks, swing bands. They’ll be hundreds of people. The Bride’s millionaire parents are pulling out all the stops. It’s costing tens of thousands of pounds. And your speech as “The Best Man” will be the main event. After all, you have always been “the funny one”.
Then there’s the other stuff: Getting measured for suits, not losing the wedding ring. You read something once about the bridesmaids’ toast (but no one seems to know how or why this happens). And of course, you have to organize the all important “Stag Do (bachelor party)”. Like Napoleon surveying the vast Russian Steppe in 1812, the enormity of your task starts to sink in.
The Groom might ask you for help in choosing the wedding attire for the groomsmen. In most cases this will involve selecting a suit hire company that is conveniently located, arranging a fitting session for the group and organizing the collection and safe return of the suits.
Planning the Last Night Out
Remember this is not your stag do. Whatever fantasies you might have about flying helicopters, racing dune buggies or carousing in the flesh pots of Amsterdam need to be put to one side. Ask the Groom what he wants to do and who he wants to invite. Do not impose an agenda on him. Will it be a Stag weekend, day or night? Decide on a reasonable budget for the event and a location. Oh and PLEASE do not plan this the night before the actual wedding – we need the groom to present and sober, thank you!
Once the outline has been agreed you will need to organize invitations for the stag party, make the hotel and other reservations and think about mundane issues like transport and logistics. Check that any bars you might be planning to visit are happy to take stag parties. If the plan is to go abroad you will need to ensure that the group have valid passports, visas (possibly) and insurance. Check the Foreign Office website for travel advice to make sure you are not going to a war zone, somewhere with a revolution in progress, or any location where Brits are especially vulnerable. Remember that the best stag dos are planned carefully in advance, not improvised by a group of well-meaning drunks on the streets of Newcastle, Dublin or Riga at 2 o’clock in the morning!
The “Do” itself
Contrary to common wisdom on a stag do, it is not the job of the Best Man to get spectacularly drunk, humiliate the Groom by shaving, tattooing or otherwise exposing their private parts, or to live out their own stag fantasies.
Primarily, your job is to ensure the day or weekend runs smoothly, the Groom has a fantastic time and eventually he gets home safely. Any problems that emerge during the day will be your responsibility to resolve. Everyone else will look to you for leadership. Expect little help from other party members, especially once the alcohol starts flowing.
Wedding Day Duties
It is your responsibility to get the Groom out of bed, cleaned up and dressed presentably, and importantly transported to the church in good time.
He will undoubtedly be nervous so be supportive and don’t make things worse! Make sure that you have the wedding rings safely secured in your inside jacket pocket. You will be asked to present them during the service. Also ensure you know where the church is – a good suggestion is to drive the route beforehand at least once.
You may also be responsible for organizing the Ushers, and for getting the guests seated in the right place. This will vary from wedding to wedding but try to take as much pressure off of him as you can.
So it’s already D-Day and Zero Hour is fast approaching. Everyone has told you repeatedly how much they are looking forward to your speech. Some have asked you to make last minute changes reminding you of some hilarious incident or other that MUST be in your speech. Be strong and resist their requests. Your speech was (hopefully) written well in advance.
It begins with a thank you on behalf of the bridesmaid and for the Groom’s generous toast (hopefully he remembered to give it in his speech!).
Your comments are well structured, funny and poignant. You have not included anything offensive.
You have avoided clichéd wedding jokes, you have included some stories about the Groom as a teenager, described the night he met his bride to be and incorporated a carefully worded report on the stag do!
You have practiced your delivery in front of a trusted friend. You have written it onto hand cards which are securely placed in your inside pocket. You are sober, focused and ready to deliver!
These are your main responsibilities. But the specifics will vary from wedding to wedding. Being a Best Man is a major undertaking and your reward will be the appreciation of the Groom, his wife and family. You will have the undying gratitude of the stag party. You will bask in the acclaim of the reception audience for your brilliant speech. And you may even have the honour of the first dance with the chief bridesmaid!
Our guest blogger, Lawrence Bernstein of greatspeechwriting.co.uk has always loved writing, and made the move to a professional speech writer in 2005 after placing an ad in a magazine offering his services. Since then he’s written for clients in politics, business, charity and sport, as well as special occasions such as weddings and birthdays.