The Gents’ Ultimate Guide to Being a Best Man / Best Woman

Being a best man is the honor and responsibility of a lifetime.

If you’re fortunate enough to know someone so well that they want you to be their #2 on their wedding day, then congratulations! You know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have a significant relationship with someone who appreciates and trusts you to an extreme degree.

That’s rare! Lifelong friend, school buddies, siblings — these are the relationships that become significant as people make serious decisions about their lives.

That’s how we (Alex, Gentry, & Chris) view it, anyway. All three of us married our spouses in 2019, and we had some great best men.

We’ve also acted as best men.

Most importantly, we’ve seen enough weddings among the three of us — especially Alex, who plays in a wedding band — to know what a good best man looks like.

So you’ve been asked to be a best man. What do you do if you have no idea what being a “best man” means?

Good question! We’re going to answer that — and everything else — in the blog below.

Let’s start with how you can accept the position of best man or best woman.

#1. Accepting the Offer of Best Man / Best Woman

Congratulations again on being asked to be someone’s best man. It’s the honor of a lifetime, and as a result, it’s best to treat it like that.

Modesty goes a long way in showing that the groom’s trust is well-placed with you. Thank-yous, smiles, and even early ideas about the bachelor party make great conversation items after the groom pops the question to you.

We’ll talk more about these concepts later, especially modesty.

Modesty is important because you’ve accepted the position to be someone’s second-best on the most important day of his life.

With that in mind, accepting the position of best man means nothing you do will be centered on you.

Instead, everything you do will center on the groom.

Your wants, needs, and ego will have to fall by the wayside to make sure you can give your groom the best experiences possible.

You don’t have to be deadly serious all the time. You should absolutely be yourself because, after all, that’s why the groom chose you to be their best.

But when it comes to the things you have to do as best man, you can’t think of them from your perspective.

You have to consider the groom’s.

To do that, you also have to understand your responsibilities.

#2. Understanding Your Responsibilities

Best men and best woman have the same set of socially-implied responsibilities.

While your experience may differ depending on the wants and needs of the groom, you can expect to:

  1. Meet the wedding parties
  2. Plan the bachelor party
  3. Execute the bachelor party
  4. Hold the rings at the wedding
  5. Speak at the wedding
  6. Supporting the bride and groom at the wedding
  7. Generally not making an ass of yourself

Meeting the wedding parties typically means that you get to meet the bride (if you haven’t already), her party, and the rest of the groom’s party.

Considering it can take anywhere from nine months to two years to plan a wedding, buckle up — you’re going to spend a lot of time with these people in the future.

This goes back to the principle of modesty. It’s great if you like the people with whom you’re in the wedding.

But that doesn’t always happen.

In the event you find yourself at odds with someone in the wedding party, take the higher road whenever you can.

Don’t engage in fights. Don’t provoke disagreements.

Make the experience easy and pleasant for your groom.

Aside from meeting the party, you’ll also have to plan and execute the bachelor party, regardless of where, when, or how long it is.

You’ll also be the person responsible for rings (unless there’s a specified ring-bearer), and you’ll certainly speak at the wedding reception.

You also may have to help the bride and groom at any point throughout the wedding, whether that’s grabbing them a fresh drink or just keeping their spirits high.

Finally, don’t make an ass of yourself.

Remember that while you worked hard for the bachelor party and wedding day to go off without a hitch, they’re not your days.

You’re the chosen representative of the groom. Your behavior reflects on them as well.

Don’t be the person who people see in 20 years and say, “Oh yeah, you were that guy from the wedding.”

It’s far better to be remembered for the other responsibilities of best-manning — the bachelor party, the speech, or your dedication to the bride and groom.

Still, there’s an important part in all of this that you can’t overlook if you’re going to successfully be someone’s best man.

You have to meet — and spend a lot of time with — the groom’s party.

#3. Meeting the Groom’s Party

The groom’s party includes you and all of the groomsmen who your groom asked to stand with him at the wedding.

Groomsmen have a sweet deal because all they have to do is enjoy the bachelor party, get a haircut before the wedding, and show up for photos.

You, on the other hand, have to meet and understand the people who are in the party, especially when it comes time for you to start planning the bachelor getaway.

Unless you run in an exceptionally close-knit group of friends, you’ll probably meet at least one person new in the groom’s party.

You may get along great. You may have to grit your teeth and get through a conversation or two.

Either way, remember modesty — it’s all about the groom.

In general, look to leave your first meeting with the groom’s party with:

  1. Everyone’s contact information
  2. At least three ideas for a bachelor party
  3. An idea of who’s dependable or approachable for questions

When you meet for the first time, get everyone’s contact information as quickly as possible. Even if it’s right after you meet someone for the first time, this is crucial to your future success as a best man.

Once you have their contact info, get some ideas for the bachelor party. Everyone is sure to have at least one, and most of the ideas will probably be jokes.

(Hopefully.)

If you leave the first groom’s party meeting with three ideas, you’ll be in pretty good shape going forward.

Finally, use your judgment to evaluate the character of the party members. Are any of them dependable? Could you ask one of them to look into something for the bachelor party?

Likewise, are there any that you totally can’t trust?

It may seem like a harsh judgment, and it is. But when it comes to getting stuff done, it’s important to know who you can call when you need some backup — because you can’t always call the groom with problems and questions!

Once you all break from your first meeting, the next thing to do is keep in touch with the groom and the rest of the party.

#4. Staying in Touch with the Groom & Party

A lot of the time, a groom, best man, and groomsmen will meet once and never talk again as a group until it’s time for the bachelor party.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not a rule that’s written in stone.

In fact, you can choose to do the opposite and keep a group text going with the party for updates about the bachelor trip, everyone’s budgets, and other important questions.

The more you know what and how the groom’s party thinks, the more successful you’ll be when you get to one of your most important duties.

Planning the bachelor party!

#5. Planning the Bachelor Party

Bachelor parties have a storied history of being off-beat tales of drunken debauchery that goes awry in every way possible.

Some bachelor parties go to that extreme, but a lot work by finding some middleground between life-ruining crazy and another-night-at-home dull.

The old standby of a bachelor party is the strip club or Vegas or something that represents cutting loose and losing control.

There’s also bar crawls, baseball games, beach trips, casino nights, concerts, and a whole lot more.

You always have the opportunity to spend an evening in playing board games too.

It comes down to what your groom wants.

Don’t throw them completely out of their element. Give them something that’s familiar enough to be fun and new enough to be exciting.

Or, if your groom prefers the same-old, same-old all the time, just do what they like — even if it’s not your cup of tea.

The best bachelor party won’t always be the wildest and craziest ideas you can create.

Most of the time, it’ll be something that works within your budget and the groomsmen’s budgets.

After all, the groom doesn’t pay for anything (or much of anything) on his bachelor party. You front the cash and he has a great time.

When you’re planning the bachelor party, get some key details before getting everything in stone:

  1. Everyone’s availability prior to the wedding
  2. Non-party people you should invite
  3. Approximate cost of the trip
  4. How people can pay
  5. When they have to pay

With those five points, you’ll have the major parts of the bachelor party nailed down.

Now you just have to execute.

#6. Executing the Bachelor Party

Because you’re the best man, you’ll most likely be playing the role of “group dad” when it comes to travel, logistics, and itinerary.

If people are driving out, make sure everyone knows how they’re getting to the venue.

If people are flying out, make sure they get on the plane — regardless of how drunk they may have gotten at the airport Chili’s.

Most importantly, don’t lose people. It’s surprisingly easy, especially if you’re planning the kind of bachelor party where everyone is intoxicated for 72+ hours.

You may wind up being the person who keeps track of things like hotel room keys, Uber arrivals, start times, and a whole bunch more.

While this stuff is important, bear in mind that you’ll probably have to change (or miss) something at least one time during the bachelor party.

Something’s bound to go wrong. Maybe a lot of things will go wrong.

But when they do, you have an important choice.

You could let those things get to you and drag you down.

You could also roll with the punches and search for the silver lining.

For example, if your group got tickets for a concert and the main act had to cancel, that certainly sucks.

On the other hand, you just had a whole evening of possibility open up.

Are you going to go back to the hotel and bitch about it?

Or are you going to find the city’s subreddit and start looking up things to do?

You’re practically guaranteed to find something spontaneous to replace a planned event during a bachelor party.

The only exception to this is if you have a rustic bachelor party in the middle of nowhere.

But if you do that, you’re probably not worried about showing up somewhere on time anyway.

You’re probably hanging out in the woods.

So. Win-win.

Regardless of what happens and how you deal with it, the best man has another important task during the bachelor party.

You have to remember it.

#7. Remembering the Bachelor Party

Depending on how much you have to drink and how terrible your sober memory is, you probably won’t “remember” much of anything during a bachelor party.

But everyone has a smartphone with a camera.

Snap photos. Get groomsmen to snap photos.

Celebrate people doing something cool. Embarrass people who did something dumb.

Just don’t ruin someone’s life with what you photograph and post online.

At the end of the party, reach out to the groomsmen and get them to send you their photos.

You now have an awesome gift for your groom!

This is just as well — the bachelor party is over.

Now, you have to think about your speech.

#8. Writing the Speech

There are a lot of different ways you can take your best man speech during the wedding.

Some general ideas include:

  1. Funny stories
  2. Serious stories
  3. Recounting your relationship with the groom
  4. Your feelings and wishes toward the bride and groom
  5. A toast

You can pick ideas outside of this list as well, but these tend to be the most popular ideas for best men.

Still, it’s important to remember that you’re going to be speaking in front of the groom’s friends and family at the wedding.

That means you don’t want to give incriminating, embarrassing, or otherwise “ugly” details about anything they’ve done in the past or during the bachelor party.

Don’t be the best man who talks about the groom’s past relationships.

Don’t be the best man who over-compliments the bride and makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

Even if you’re not a person who likes to plan out speeches, have some bullet points down so that you stay on topic.

It’s not a problem to go off-script — that’s when some of the funniest parts of speeches can happen.

But don’t go so off-beat that it turns into a semi-strange stand-up routine that’s about you.

Stay focused on the groom and bride. When they’re the center of your speech, all of the anecdotes, humor, and appreciation will naturally follow.

Next, give your speech some practice.

#9. Practicing the Speech

No, seriously — practice your speech.

Talk to yourself in front of a mirror. Take note of how your speech sounds, how the stories flow together, and how you look when you’re talking.

Also keep in mind that you’ll probably be nervous when you’re standing up to give your speech. The more you practice by yourself (or in front of a few other people), the better you’ll perform on the day of the wedding.

Don’t be afraid to rewrite your speech, either. Your original ideas may completely change by the time you settle on the speech you want to give, and that’s totally fine.

After all, you’ll be the only person who knows you changed it (unless you have someone helping you).

So make the changes you need. Practice those. Change them again, if you feel the need.

Do whatever you have to do to give your groom the best wedding day speech he’s heard!

Before you know it, it’s going to be game time.

#10. Wedding Day Support

The wedding day is the most important day for a best man because it’s the most important day for the groom.

Remember that even though you may be nervous to give a speech at the wedding, the groom is probably much more nervous for everything else happening.

The best thing you can do is to be there for the groom whenever possible. If someone needs to make things happen, you’re the guy to do it.

If a problem needs fixing, you’re the guy to find out how to fix it.

At least one thing usually goes wrong on a wedding day. If you can take care of it before news of it reaches your groom, then you’re absolutely killing it as a best man.

You may not get recognition for it — but you’ll know that you did your part to make your groom’s wedding the best it could possibly be.

With that in mind, you’ll probably spend most of your morning and afternoon taking photos.

#11. Wedding Day Photo Shoot

Wedding day photo shoots are fun. You’ll have some photos of everyone getting ready, staged pre-ceremony pictures, the ceremony itself, the reception, and maybe some aftermath.

Overall, it’s a good time. But it’s also strenuous. You’re going to smile a lot, even when you don’t feel like it.

The one thing that makes or breaks a wedding photo shoot is the mood of the people in it.

As a result, it’s on you to lead by example. Be the person who smiles. Be the person who makes a few jokes. Make small talk, be involved in the moment, and help the photographer(s) do their job well.

It may not sound like much, but the mood of the pre-ceremony photos is an enormous indicator of the overall tone of the wedding.

If people are miserable during the photos, you’re going to have a rough ride.

Worse, your groom’s best day ever is in danger.

So whatever you do, stay positive. Your groom — and others — will thank you.

#12. Wedding Day Ceremony

After your photos, you’re going to be in the actual ceremony.

You’ll walk down the aisle with the maid or matron of honor. You’ll stand to the side of your groom. You may even be responsible for rings.

No matter what you do, just stay poised.

We recommend not having drinks until the reception for this reason. Nothing throws off a wedding more than when someone falls or is visually intoxicated.

(Or just have one as a pre-wedding toast.)

If you’re responsible for rings, keep them with you at all times. Have them in a pocket you can secure — not just a jacket pocket that you can lose by changing clothes.

Check for the rings often. A lot happens on a wedding day, and you never know what can fall out of your pockets.

Then, when it’s time, hand them off.

When the ceremony concludes, you’ll have a little bit of time until you’re announced and enter the reception.

Start mentally prepping for your speech.

And if you can, grab something for everyone to eat. It’s crazy how little you’ll eat until the reception.

#13. Wedding Day Speech & Reception

Now you’re announced into the reception. Make an entrance that’s in line with what your bride and groom expect.

You’ll probably be walking with the maid / matron of honor as well, so brainstorm some ideas on how to enter together.

Some weddings require fun entrances and others might be more serious. As long as you and your walking partner do something together — and something that doesn’t violate the values of your bride and groom — you’ll be good to go.

Afterward, grab a seat and enjoy the dances. You have some time before you need to speak!

But also, that time goes by quickly. Mentally prep yourself and get ready to grab that microphone — it’s time for the most important part of your best man responsibilities!

Honestly, this isn’t as high-pressure of a situation as a lot of best men picture it to be.

Run off a few jokes, tell a good story, get a couple laughs, and close shop.

A good rule of thumb is to make them laugh, make them cry, and leave.

If you can do that in 90 seconds, then your speech doesn’t have to last any longer.

If it takes you five minutes, that’s fine too.

But don’t go much longer than that.

Overly-long best man and maid of honor speeches have the potential to destroy wedding receptions.

Remember, the day and the speech aren’t about you — even when you’re the one standing in front of all the guests!

Say your peace, make it good, and yield your time to the couple.

When you sit back down, give yourself an internal round of applause.

You did it.

Still, you have a few more hours in your tenure as best man.

That means you have a couple more responsibilities to fulfill before the end of the wedding.

#14. Wedding Day Conclusion

Basically, don’t mess it up. You crossed the finish line — now you just have to maintain.

Weddings are fun. People are a blast. Alcohol is a good time in moderation and for those who want it.

If you find yourself slurring your words, stumbling to the bathroom, or forgetting the groom’s name, it’s time to grab some water.

You just pulled off the triple crown of being a best man — the acceptance, the bachelor party, and the wedding day speech.

Don’t mess it up by horking on the dance floor during Build Me Up Buttercup.

You’re Done!

First of all, you just read something like 3,300 words on how to be a best man.

Commend yourself and give yourself some credit. You’re doing more work than a lot of best men have done in the past.

Hopefully, it pays off.

Now that you know what to do, all you need to do next is follow through.

Keep your head up. Help your groom. And most importantly, stay modest.

Now go be the best damn best man you can possibly be!

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