|You've Been Asked To Be The Best Man. What Now?|
|One of the smartest things any attendant can do is to ask the bride or groom (whichever one asked you to be an attendant) a simple, direct question: "What do you expect me to do?" This tactic saves misunderstandings, which is important, because wedding-related blunders are usually expensive and painful. The question also motivates the bride or groom to stop and think about just what it is that they do expect.
Asking is important because there's no one right way to be a best man. It could be as simple as showing up reasonably dressed and be prepared to go get extra lemonade if it runs out during the reception -- a task that appears nowhere on any official list of duties that I've ever seen. That task, though, speaks to the basic function of the best man, which is to provide the groom with whatever sort of help and support he needs to get through the event.
|A best man can contribute to a successful wedding by being prepared to do any or all of the following:|
Organize the groomsmen/ushers.
Hold a bachelor party that won't ruin the wedding.
Keep the groom stable on the wedding day.
While you're planning an emergency kit, some items to include are a roll of clear strapping tape (great for repairing hems), a small scissors or pocket knife, a mini-stapler, a black permanent marker, a collapsible cup (useful for taking aspirin when your only source of water is a restroom sink or a drinking fountain), and a small pack of baby wipes (not for a baby, but because they clean up a remarkable array of stains). Cash is also a great problem solver, so bring some. Finally, if you want to be the best man who saves the day, stash in a safe place in your car a CD with the correct version of the happy couple's first dance song. There's a special version of Murphy's Law that decrees that, if the DJ forgets only one CD, it will be that one (and never the Electric Slide).
Give a toast.
Be an assistant host.
Dates of best men will doubtless fix their attention on the advice to dance with many women and shriek, "But I don't know anyone there -- he's supposed to spend time with ME!" A wedding reception is not a movie or a play, where you sit with your date and watch the show. It's a social event, which means guests are supposed to socialize. Since the best man probably does know several of the other guests, it's his duty to introduce his date to some of them so that she isn't stranded with strangers while he's doing wedding stuff. A really perceptive best man (the kind who has a great future as a groom at some subsequent wedding) will think about which of his acquaintances his date might enjoy meeting, rather than just assuming that she'll love the wives of his college buddies.
Be a good sport, not a party animal.
Most important, don't be the first to mock the ritual of getting married. Sure, in the old days, the groom's job was just to show up -- but today, it's not uncommon that the big formal wedding is at least partly the groom's idea, and that he picked some of those oh-so-mushy readings that you're hearing (along with the elephant-gray tuxes with lilac vests that you're wearing). Even if he's been hog-tied into his tux and he chalked "HE - LP" on the bottom of his shoes so the congregation would see it when he kneels, he probably doesn't really think that he's a pathetic idiot to be marrying the bride, so you don't help anything by trying, even in jest, to change his mind.
Finally, even if the bride is the best sport in the world herself, don't, in the final week before the wedding, email her the infamous "If Men Were in Charge of Weddings" page. To do so is like jumping into the trenches in the middle of a battle to lecture a soldier on pacifism. No matter how right you are, you aren't helping with the immediate problem, and you're likely to get shot by one side or the other. Save it until the bride's best friend gets married, when she'll have a whole new perspective on "every detail has to be perfect."