How to be the best Best Man
May 29, 2010 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Advice for being a Best Man.

So I'm going to be the Best Man in my buddy's wedding coming up in July. Any tips or advice, aside from the questions I'm asking, that helped you would be greatly appreciated.

Few things that have crossed my mind I was unsure about

1. Gift. There are a few gifts that I know the groom would love but they don't really apply to the bride. Is this acceptable or should I get them a gift they would both like in addition to the one I'm getting the groom. Keep in mind I'm on a budget because I'm already paying $350 to fly back and taking almost a week off work.

2. Gifts for the rest of the groomsmen. Both weddings I've been in all the groomsmen have received a small token gift from the Best Man. Is this expected? I so, gift ideas?

3. For the bachelor party I made all the arrangements but the guys are asking me if I could book a hotel for everyone. I've seen too many times in the past where the guy booking the hotel didn't get all his money back. Is it rude if i tell them where I booked and tell them to make their own arrangements?

4. Advice on the speech? I'm pretty sure I'll do fine here but I'm open for tips to keep me from getting burned.

Thanks.
posted by no bueno to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. I would play it safe and get them something they registered for.
2. The groom usually buys gifts for the groomsmen, not the best man.
3. Unless you are booking a suite or condo where everyone will stay, book a room for yourself and let the others know how to do the same.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:27 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: 1. I would play it safe and get them something they registered for.

It wasn't so much a question of "am I safe getting them something on my own" it was more "is it acceptable for me to get something more tailored to the groom since I'm the best man." He had a hat that was his dad's from college and he wore it all through college but his house burnt down and he lost it. I've found a few but they are quite pricey for an authentic one.
posted by no bueno at 8:31 AM on May 29, 2010


"is it acceptable for me to get something more tailored to the groom since I'm the best man."

Mmmmmm, I don't know. To get a wedding gift that's just for the groom could imply you're not a fan of the bride. Maybe the group of groomsmen could go in on the hat as a pre-wedding gift for the groom, and you could get a smaller wedding gift for the couple?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:35 AM on May 29, 2010


1. Feel free to get your friend something he'd like, but for the wedding you should also get a "couple" gift that's clearly for both of them. Not doing so risks alienating the bride.

2. I never heard of the best man's being obligated to give gifts to the rest of the groomsmen. Seems to me that this should be the responsibility of the groom; after all, everyone's participating as a favor to him, not to you. Perhaps in the earlier weddings you mention, the Best Man merely distributed gifts that the groom himself had purchased?

3. Yeah, if you don't know or trust the rest of the groomsmen, then definitely be firm about their booking their own accommodations. You're under no obligation to host an all-expenses-paid extravaganza for the entire group. Don't be nasty about it; just say you thought it'd be easier if everyone took care of their own hotel arrangements.

4. Lots of good advice out there, but having recently witnessed a couple of epically awful wedding toasts, I'd say: (1) be brief-- no more than 1.5 double-spaced pages (=~4 minutes) worth of content, (2) don't make the toast all about your friend-- spend at least 1/3 of the time speaking about the bride or his relationship with her, and (3) avoid saying anything even slightly disparaging about anyone, even if you think it might be funny.
posted by Bardolph at 8:37 AM on May 29, 2010


1) Get whatever seems most appropriate to your situation. I bought one of the nicer items on their registry that both the bride and groom would enjoy.

2) Unless you're in some unique cultural/social situation, it's usually the groom who picks up gifts for the groomsemen.

3) Man, that's rough. I agree exactly with what Grimes said--if you're booking a suite for everyone then just throw down the cash, but I wouldn't put my credit card on like...three or four rooms. Why wouldn't the other guys arrange for themselves? Come on, man! You're a best man, not a babysitter.
posted by dervish at 8:41 AM on May 29, 2010


1. I'm afraid that you'll need to get something for the both of them. If you want to get him the hat you could give it to him at his bachelor party, but you should really get them something for a wedding present that they can both use.

2. The groom gives the gifts.

3. Call the hotel and see if they have any deals for group rates, then let everyone know that if they make reservations they'll get the discount.

4. Keep it short and don't be at all crude or insulting (even if you think it's funny.) It's a toast, not a roast. Say something nice about the groom, something nice about the bride and then something about your wishes for their wonderful future together.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:46 AM on May 29, 2010


How well do you know the bride? I personally would have been touched had one of my husband's friends gotten him the hat gift (or my husband's equivalent!) ... UNLESS it was his one friend who kept insisting our marriage was doomed and it was a bad idea to enter into it and yada yada yada. Only in that case would I have read it as excluding me rather than doing something awesome for him.

I wonder if there's a cute way you could add something for the bride -- get him the Dad's U classic hat, and get her a Dad's U modern T-shirt and write a note with it like, "Welcome to the family!" Or if you and the groom have some kind of private joke you can invite her into with a little token.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:46 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


4. Advice on the speech? I'm pretty sure I'll do fine here but I'm open for tips to keep me from getting burned.

Practice it.

Practice it again.

Practice it one more time, but actually perform it in front of someone not in your demographic, like your mother. If your mother likes it, everyone at the wedding will like it.

Make fun of the groom. The bride is hands-off.

Best best man speech I ever saw was the best man relating to the crowd the story of how the groom proposed to the bride, and all the inherent, associated shenanigans -- getting the nerve up, getting the ring, asking, accepting, talking to the parents afterward, etc. Light-hearted and sweet and plenty funny.

Worst best man speech I ever saw was the guy that decided he was going to blow the doors off the audience, finally revealing a "deep secret" that turned out to be the groom lying to his parents in high school about a kegger. Yeah, I guess it was funny to him, but it was relatable only to about three people in the 50+ audience. Yawn.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:23 AM on May 29, 2010


"is it acceptable for me to get something more tailored to the groom since I'm the best man."

Given that the wedding is celebrating them as a couple, I think it would be a little odd for that to be your wedding gift.
posted by gaspode at 9:26 AM on May 29, 2010


Best answer: Unless the couple has someone managing wedding-day logistics, it might fall on the best man to deal with a few pre- and post-ceremony details to keep the bride and groom's stress level down.

When I was a friend's best man, he gave me his checkbook for the afternoon to pay off the priest and last-minute catering stuff, which left him free to enjoy the afternoon.

It might also helped to get briefed on who the bride and groom are concerned about, so that you can step in to guide Uncle Al away from the bar, or help keep the two warring Aunts away from each other (by dancing with one of them, if necessary).
posted by dws at 9:37 AM on May 29, 2010


Have you ever heard Malcolm Gladwell's story about standing up at a wedding, but doing it completely wrong?

The gist of it was, think of both of them.
posted by Toekneesan at 10:01 AM on May 29, 2010


Keep the speech short, and try not to use too many inside jokes, or things that only a handful of the audience would appreciate.

A little humour at the expense of the groom (or better still, yourself and the groom) is okay - but keep it light hearted, and non-raunchy.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:08 AM on May 29, 2010


Rule 1. It's not about you. Keep the speech short or maybe don't do one at all. The one time I was Best Man, I didn't give a speech. All the necessary toasts were already covered. I did have a few a notes and jokes. I kept them in my pocket and sort of fit them in where appropriate.

Rule 2. It's not about you. DON'T GET DRUNK. You are the designated driver here. The single worst wedding disaster I've ever witnessed revolved around a drunk Best Man (and a few close personal friends) who failed to comprehend that it wasn't a frat party. The video guy (not even connected to the wedding party; just a pro on the scene) finally walked up and took the microphone away from them. People applauded.
posted by philip-random at 10:26 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


On your toast: be classy. I too have seen the horror of the drunk best man who tells a rambling tale of all the times he and the groom have gotten drunk together - to the point where bride's family starts thinking, maybe we're not so happy about this wedding after all. Don't be that guy. Now, I believe traditionally it's a toast to the bride.

Your outline for the toast is:
1. Bride is wonderful;
2. I've known Groom for a long time and here are some (sweet, silly) things you might not know about him (embarrassing but clean story about his past, not pertaining to other girlfriends; he's clumsy on camping trips, he cries at Whitney Houston songs, etc)
3. I knew Bride was right for him when (she did something great in response to his clumsiness etc) and when I saw how happy he was after their first date (how nervous he was getting ready to propose, etc)
4. So, ladies and gentlemen, a toast to Bride, who's making Groom the luckiest guy in the room today (because he'll never have to go camping alone, or something connected to the story you told)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:40 AM on May 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


Bardolph: (3) avoid saying anything even slightly disparaging about anyone, even if you think it might be funny.

If you're gonna tell a joke or a funny story, make sure that you're the butt of it. Those are usually the best-received jokes. Oh, and no ingroup humor unless everybody there is in that group.

Oh, and yes, be brief. Time yourself beforehand. 4 minutes is good.
posted by Kattullus at 11:17 AM on May 29, 2010


Best answer: Mostly, you're there to be the groom's right hand man. Make sure he doesn't forget anything he's responsible for (rings? wedding license?) or needs (cuff links? mouthwash?). Make sure he's there on time, in a condition to get married. Know what everyone on the grooms side is supposed to do before and during the ceremony, and when (someone's going to forget). Wrangle the ushers to seat people, if needed. Manage the ring bearer, if there is one.

The bride usually has a flock of people taking care of things on her end, but for the groom, it's mostly you. Make sure everything on your side is locked down.

Tip of the hat here to my best man, who I cribbed most of this from.
posted by fixer at 11:36 AM on May 29, 2010


Response by poster: How well do you know the bride? I personally would have been touched had one of my husband's friends gotten him the hat gift (or my husband's equivalent!) ... UNLESS it was his one friend who kept insisting our marriage was doomed and it was a bad idea to enter into it and yada yada yada. Only in that case would I have read it as excluding me rather than doing something awesome for him.

Thanks for this because this is exactly how I hoped she would feel. I suppose I should have mentioned that I have a long standing relationship with the bride, I've known her as long as the groom has and we've always been close. She's very light-hearted and easy going so I would hope she would appreciate it. I think doing something small for her as well is a great idea. I would feel pretty pathetic if I just got them something off their registry. I'm their best man, I would hope that I know them well enough to get them something more personal than what they typed into a computer at Kohls. Also, I considered going in on the gift with some of the groomsmen for the bachelor party but it loses a lot of it's personal touch. It was something not many of the other guys shared with him or were even really aware of.
posted by no bueno at 12:43 PM on May 29, 2010


If I were the bride, I personally would think you were a damn kick-ass best man if you got the groom that hat, considering the story behind it. But if you don't know the bride well and/or you think she would get mad/hurt, maybe the hat is something you can give at the bachelor's party (if there is one) or give it to him later for a 1st year anniversary present.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 12:47 PM on May 29, 2010


I think you should pay for 1 or 2 hotel rooms - or enough for you and the groom and other groomsmen, and email the other people with the name of the hotel and times etc so if they really feel strongly about having their own room then they can book one or give you money to book one (make sure you get the money before before booking!). Most them will probably be fine sharing or getting one when they check in and most hotels will bring extra cots in on request. You really don't want to get stiffed with the bill for 8 hotels rooms, 2 of which were used. If you are out most of the night then you're probably not using the rooms for sleeping much anyway.
posted by meepmeow at 1:06 PM on May 29, 2010


Get the groom the hat and the bride a gift certificate to a housewares store. She's not going to mind that your gift to him is more personal, unless you're also her brother or something. I love our best man but I wouldn't want him picking out anything for me to wear or furnish my house with.

As for the toasts, the best ones are concise, funny, and heartfelt. Be yourself, and remember it's a toast, not a eulogy. I would start writing it well in advance and just go back to it once a week or so until the wedding, in case something else comes to mind.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:12 PM on May 29, 2010


Best man duties checklist.
posted by conrad53 at 4:04 PM on May 29, 2010


While I think the hat is fine, especially with your plan of getting her something personal as well, please don't think of the registry as generic or not special. They actually picked out every single thing on that list--I doubt they just ran around a department store aiming the scanner gun randomly at items. So you can easily pick something off the registry and know that they will be thrilled with it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:45 PM on May 29, 2010


You're number one job as the Best Man is to be everything the Groom needs: handler, cufflink attacher, driver, schedule minder, mother-deflector, drunk bouncer, mother deflector, blame catcher...

Most of the time, it's an easy ride.

But be prepared. I've been a Best Man several times; done all of the above.

Also, in case I forgot to mention: you may be required to intervene in some way to keep the controlling, obsessive mother of one or both of the couple from trying to make it Her Wedding. Deflect her, as needed. He has to live with her; you don't.

He can always apologize later for how you wouldn't let her ____. You were probably drunk or something.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:04 PM on May 29, 2010


Unless the couple has someone managing wedding-day logistics, it might fall on the best man to deal with a few pre- and post-ceremony details to keep the bride and groom's stress level down.

This (aside from the speech and various other traditions that were observed) was my main task: get things done for both the groom and the bride. For the few days leading up to the wedding they had absolute carte blanche to tell me what to do and to vent and to yell and stress out and the only thing they would hear me say is 'yes'. I did everything from folding napkins to organising transport for family and friends.

Basically, project management and support logistics.

A more traditional best man helps the groom steal the bride from her village and ensures that she is not kidnapped back by her family during the wedding.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:46 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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