Congratulations – you’ve just been asked to be the best man. You probably have a passing awareness that this involves helping him with various tasks throughout the process. And yes, you’ll need to give a speech. Finally, you’re in charge of throwing the bachelor party. However, these are but the most visible aspects of a role that you must assume from this point forward, and if you want to go down in history as truly the ‘Best Man’ – it’s going to require that you step up in no less than five big ways, which I will share with you now.
Let’s get into the spirit/mindset of this role before we continue. Eric and I have seen a lot of weddings where the Best Man is… not the best. He can be loud, attention-seeking, and irresponsible. Phones in the speech, or creates an uncomfortable situation during the speech, making an ass of himself. If that’s the kind of Best Man that you want to be – let’s part ways now.
The kind of Best Man that I’m speaking to here is the one that wants to just be remembered as the ‘Good Guy Greg’ meets ‘The Most Interesting Man In the World’. It’s going to take you being quite selfless, quite prepared, and willing to be flexible with your time and energies, but the payoff is worth it.
I’ll never forget the satisfaction I felt that night when Eric and Gretchen were driving away – my wife and I were some of the first ones in, and were definitely the last ones out that night, and the joy of knowing that we were a big part of the day’s success is a pride I hope you come to know. Let’s dig in.
5. Be flexible and responsive.
Plans are going to change, arrangements are going to need adjusted, period. This isn’t about you and unless you’re asked, you’re not there to exert any kind of influence on the proceedings whatsoever. All you’re there to do is hear and see what needs to be done, and have it done before they even asked you to do it. You may get a call from the groom at some point asking for help with some random, odd task. Do everything in your power to come to his aid. He wouldn’t be calling you if he didn’t need you. You’re his first and should be the last call he needs to make.
4. Nail the Bachelor Party.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a ‘strippers/hookers’ guy. I think it’s cliche. If that’s your bag, that’s fine, but don’t force the groom to do something that he doesn’t want to do. See prior points in this about it ‘not being all about you.’ When I was planning Eric’s bachelor party, I wanted to make sure he knew that I wasn’t going to blindside him with that level of debauchery, and I wanted his fiance to know it too. Granted, we had a TON of fun, and it was a wild night that most of them don’t remember, but you should be taking into consideration what the groom’s idea of a good time is and building from there. Here are some points and tips about building an epic experience for the crew.
- Start planning early. Eric wanted a lot of friends to be able to attend- I did too. That required me planning quarters in advance. Getting 15+ people to commit was tricky, and it took a lot of orchestration just to get everyone there. So start now. Get a list of the people, and start kicking around dates.
- Don’t talk about money. The Groom needs to be 100% removed from the financial aspects of the bachelor party. Split up the fixed costs ahead of time among the crew. The good guys will slip you money as you go.
- Cheap on what you can, make the rest baller. I rented a 15-passenger van for about $100, and got 2 hotel rooms. It wasn’t technically legal to stuff that many dudes into a pair of hotel rooms, but no one minded and it kept the per-person price at around $25 for the group-ride to Baltimore and lodgings while we were there. This gave everyone more spending money while we were there, so dinner was higher scale, and everyone was able to buy Eric/each-other drinks. It was a win-win. Pro-Tip: If you’re going to rent the big van, be the designated driver. I was able to gather 15+ guys into the van, and move from destination to destination, and we were never separated – and I’d estimate we hit 20 bars that night. It was ideal.
- Coach the crew. Be a leader. Take a moment with the team before you hit the town. I talked to the guys about how happy I was to have them there, and how I was confident that they’d really help me make the night about Eric. It set the tone for the rest of the weekend, and before I knew it, the crew was not only making it all about Eric, start to finish – but they were also making sure that I was taken care of in every way.
3 . Be helpful not only to him, but to everyone.
The Best Man is not about a position of power or honor – it’s about a position of responsibility.
My wife and I were blessed in that she was the Maid of Honor and I was the Best Man. Although Gretchen (Eric’s fiance at the time) would typically go to Jenny for a lot of the ‘Maid of Honor duties’, I made sure to extend myself to both of them in case there was slack to be picked up. Even if you’re not related to the Maid of Honor, reach out to her and ask if there’s anything you can do you help. Then ask the parents how they’re doing; ask the other bridesmaids if they need help with anything; and during the reception, make sure the bride’s glass is never empty. Be visible, but in a helpful way – not one that’s about attention, but about propping up the efforts of others and still giving them the credit.
2. Nail the Speech.
This is so crucially important that it warrants a follow-up post outlining 5 more points – Just about the speech. But I will say – start writing it now, and start with being ‘real’, then worry about things like humor, cleverness, etc. Even if you don’t ever add jokes to it, you’ll still have a classically-strong, honest, and heartfelt speech that people will enjoy. If you start with the jokes and never manage to make it touching and honest, it’ll fall flat.
1. Be the Best Man Forever.
You’re a damned fool if the wedding’s over and you don’t still think of yourself as the Groom’s Best Man. I still strive to live up to that honor on a daily basis. My best man still lives up to his name. It matters, and the duties and responsibilities continue long after everyone’s recovered from the wedding reception. Embody the spirit of the Best Man and continue to live it in perpetuity.
P.S. And of course, have fun!