best man problems
December 4, 2010 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Best man for my wedding is causing some problems. What's the best way to deal with the situation?

My wedding is in two weeks. Right now I'm having some problems with my best man. He's going through some difficult times in his life. He ran into financial woes and was forced to move out of town and go live back home with his family. He's had a rough time and I understand that he needs some support. That being said, so far he has never made any initiative to make any contribution to my wedding. He hasn't come up with any ideas for the bachelor party, he hasn't helped plan anything, suggest anything, and in general he has shown no interest in my wedding. Recently I've tried contacting him just to see how things are working out back home and he really hasn't responded to me. I've been there for him over the last several years dealing with break ups, money troubles, job troubles...I always support him. Another thing, since he moved back home he will be flying back in to town for the wedding. He has asked if he can stay with my fiance and I while he's in town until after the wedding. It would be the 5 days leading up to our wedding. And he'd be leaving the next day. On the one hand I know he can't afford a hotel, but on the other hand there are a lot of people flying in for the wedding and staying at hotels and they can't afford it either. I've already told him it's ok if he crashes here, but it's really not. It feels intruisive and it feels unfair to my other guests who are all staying other places. It also seems unfair to my fiance. What should I do here? Should I just let it slide because he's going through tough times and he's my best man? Should I let him stay at our place? Should I even keep him as the best man? My fiance seems fine with him staying here for the week before the wedding. But she's too nice to say otherwise. Any advice here is very much appreciated.
posted by ljs30 to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Did you ask him to be your best man because he's your best friend, and has always been there for you as you've been there for him, or did you ask him to be your best man to help you plan your wedding, provide emotional support, and lighten the load?

If you want him to be your best man because he means a great deal to you, then understand that he's going through a rough patch and be understanding. Tell him to camp on your lawn if you need the quiet space before the wedding, every wedding I go to seems to have people camped on the lawn before hand!

And the other guests will understand why he is staying with you and they're not. After all, he is your best man.
posted by arnicae at 7:23 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

On the one hand I know he can't afford a hotel, but on the other hand there are a lot of people flying in for the wedding and staying at hotels and they can't afford it either.

For real, man? You're making people pay money they can't afford to see you get married?

This issue hinges a lot on perspective that we can't see, but given that sentence I'm not inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe your best man could write a question stating that his life is falling apart and all his best friend can think about is his flippin' bachelor party.

For someone who "always supports him" it sure sounds funny that you're trying to get him to plan stuff and pay for stuff in the middle of him becoming homeless.

If it's really that important to you that your best man take on these duties, get a new best man. It's not fair to your friend to make him assume these duties if he doesn't want to or can't afford them at this time.
posted by unannihilated at 7:25 PM on December 4, 2010 [57 favorites]

Sorry, but you are not coming off well here. It sounds like your friend has too much going on in his own life right now to worry about your wedding. And since when does the best man help plan the wedding anyway?

Being in a wedding is an expensive obligation. Chances are he's renting a tux for it, and of course he's obligated to get you a gift. And he's got no money. Let him stay with you if you want him to come.

there are a lot of people flying in for the wedding and staying at hotels and they can't afford it either.

And you think that's an intelligent thing for them to do?

You're really going to feel like a jerk when you show up at your surprise bachelor party, if that's what he's planning.
posted by amro at 7:30 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have a feeling that it is possible that, along with all of the other stuff hanging over his head right now, your wedding is one of them. He likely knows that he isn't doing all (or anything) he should, and it very well may be that the most merciful (and expeditious) thing you could do for him would be to say, "I love you man, but I know that you've got a lot going on, and I have a feeling that my wedding is just one more thing on your list of major stuff to deal with. Why don't you let me take over (read: delegate to someone else) this best man planning stuff."

It may be a huge, gracious relief for him.


As someone preparing to be married, you need to get used to putting your wife first in situations like these. If it really isn't OK for him to crash at your place, and it seems like both you and your fiancee agree that it isn't, you need to tell him that. You are better off putting him in a hotel room yourself than having him basically intruding on your space as you and the fiancee are trying to prepare for this very special day. Don't get in the habit of making her feel second to your friends now.

I think you know what you need to do, and I for one don't believe for a second that you are a bad person for doing it.

Good luck.
posted by 4ster at 7:31 PM on December 4, 2010 [18 favorites]

If he really is your best friend then follow through with telling him he could stay with you before the wedding.

You could ask him he would want to be relieved of the duties so he would not have the expense of the trip and other things. You could tell him that you understand how things are for him right now.

Or you could pay for his ticket just because he is your best friend and he is financially strapped.

You just have to decide if his friendship has a future with you.

He is likely depressed about the way things are for him.
posted by JayRwv at 7:32 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Or better, after preview, what 4ster said.
posted by JayRwv at 7:33 PM on December 4, 2010

He has asked if he can stay with my fiance and I while he's in town until after the wedding. It would be the 5 days leading up to our wedding. And he'd be leaving the next day. On the one hand I know he can't afford a hotel, but on the other hand there are a lot of people flying in for the wedding and staying at hotels and they can't afford it either. I've already told him it's ok if he crashes here, but it's really not

How about this: You get a hotel room for him. Or for you and let him crash at your place.

Forget the other stuff. You asked him to be your best man, not the other way around. Be a friend.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:36 PM on December 4, 2010 [14 favorites]

If he's having money troubles and you aren't, and you've already told him you'd take care of his living arrangements for the period of time he'd be in town, and he's your best man, and you really don't want him to stay with you, at very least you should pay for him to stay in a hotel for that time. Or see if you have any friends or relatives he could stay with.

Other than that, if he's not even living in town at this time, and has had an unstable living situation before this, it doesn't make any sense for you to expect him to be planning things that would of necessity take place in town. The whole concept of a bachelor party is a pretty artificial construct, anyway, and not really something that's necessary. And it sounds like he's definitely in a pretty stripped-down, do-only-what's-necessary mode. It sounds like you have unrealistic expectations for him.

Part of choosing someone to be part of your wedding party is to honor them and your friendship, not just to shove off parts of the planning process on them. At this point, that ship has sailed anyway—your shit should be planned.

So really, he's "causing some problems"? He's probably trying to figure out right now how to deal with all of the "problems" you're causing him.
posted by limeonaire at 7:41 PM on December 4, 2010 [13 favorites]

What's more important, your wedding or your friend...?

There's your answer.
posted by HuronBob at 7:42 PM on December 4, 2010

The night before our wedding, we had three (or was it four? I forget) out-of-town friends sleeping in our living room. The night of our wedding, the two of us stayed at a hotel so we'd have some privacy, since our friends were still crashing on our floor. And none of them were in the process of becoming homeless due to what must have been significant "financial woes", we just knew that none of them were any flusher than we were, so why on earth wouldn't we have them stay with us?

Trying to carry out the responsibilities of a best man from a distance is challenging enough even if one isn't facing financial ruin, the loss of one's home, and the humiliation of having to move back in with one's parents. Cut the guy some slack. If he really is a valued friend and you can afford it, offer to buy his plane ticket and either let him stay with you or pay for his hotel/motel. If he's a valued friend and you can't afford it, explicitly — and without judgment — give him the option of backing out with a clear conscience and no hurt feelings on either side.

When you're getting married, there's so much attention on you that it's easy to slide into a headspace of "it's all about me! me, me me! How are this person's actions affecting me? What will this mean for my special day?" Pay attention and don't let yourself go there. Nobody likes Bridezilla or Groomzilla. But at the same time, almost nobody will tell you to your face, "Dude, you're being a self-centered jerk about this." It's up to you, and your partner, to self-monitor your behavior and give each other a (figurative) corrective smack upside the head when it's appropriate.

And a tip in advance, since you might need it: don't pay attention or put any importance on who does or doesn't give you a wedding present. Twelve and a half years later, I don't remember who gave us gifts. I do remember how happy I was when I looked up and saw my uncle walking up the drive when I thought he was 3000 miles away at home.
posted by Lexica at 8:02 PM on December 4, 2010 [16 favorites]

The best man is supposed to plan the bachelor party... but I've never heard of the best man taking part in planning the wedding or wedding logistics. So, if he can't, ask whoever else would have been your best man to do that. Make them co-best men if you need to.

But if your fiancee said she's fine with him staying with you, take her at her word. Be honest-- you're not worried that she's secretly not okay with it or that other wedding guests will have a problem. You just don't want him to stay with you.

Unless you're comfortable having a "if this is too much for you, I understand if you need to bow out" conversation with him-- and that seems doubtful-- then you need to suck it up and be a friend, at least if this friendship actually means something to you. Honestly, it seems like you're being a groomzilla here and my knee-jerk reaction is "WTF is your problem."
posted by J. Wilson at 8:06 PM on December 4, 2010

You might be able to let two or three of the strapped hotel dwellers stay at your place. Then you could get a hotel room yourself.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 8:14 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

I was an out of town maid of honor for an awesome bride - she realized I had no ability to plan any of the the bridal party events lib/c I lived half way across the country so she asked someone else to be a co-maid of honor. She only made me MOH because she wanted me to know how important I was to her. My friend also made sure that I wouldn't be asked to contribute to events I couldn't attend (which is sometimes expected in the bridal party) because wedding-related costs for me were probably 5 times that of the other girls due to travel... plus my family income is a fraction of the others.

That said, I was still embarrassed I couldn't even offer to help with the party costs. I avoided talking to her about wedding stuff until right before the big day. Then I told her I knew I was an awful MOH but that I loved her so much that my hubby and I spent almost all of our discretionary funds on her wedding - and we'd do it all again - but I just couldn't do anything else and I felt so crappy... and then she started crying and there was lots of hugging and blah blah blah Hallmark movie moment.

In your case:
1) Tell him if you want him to do something specific - like picking a place for a dinner for all the groomsmen. Or ask a different groomsman to do whatever it is and be explicit: "Hey Groomsman, Best Man is out of town and it'll be hard for him to plan XYZ. Would you mind doing that? By the way, let's stay in ___ price range."

2) 5 days before the wedding is a lot of time. Is he coming in for events you've planned? If so, you find a way to accommodate him or tell him straight up that 5 days is too much and offer to pay the fee to change his flight to two or three days later. If not, he may have picked that day to arrive because it was the cheapest flight and had no other option. Tell him the times that your bride would like to have some alone time to stay sane or I love the idea of you staying in a hotel for a night or two. If my husband had suggested that, I'd have been jumping at the chance.
posted by adorap0621 at 9:26 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

Your life is awesome right now, his... not so much. He's a really good friend if he's able to still be happy for you.
posted by amtho at 9:43 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've been there for him over the last several years dealing with break ups, money troubles, job troubles...I always support him.

I'm going to be blunt: this whole reeks of passive-aggressive, pent-up resentment. Which is harsh, because honestly, I've been where you seem to be right now (minus the upcoming wedding, obviously), and so upon preview I was inclined to be sympathetic because it sucks to have a friendship sort of fall apart right when you sort of need it to be full and flush.

But if your story is as complete as you've presented it (ie, you're not withholding any pertinent info like his contributions to your friendship and why he's a cool dude), you're as much to blame as he is for letting the friendship get to a point where you've been an enabler for so damn long. You have, in essence, trained him to believe and behave according to the doctrine of, "I am your buddy, I always support you, it's okay that our relationship is imbalanced." It is subsequently unfair of you to suddenly cash in all the good karma you have supposedly reaped by being a perpetually supportive friend because you have never called him out for his lack of reciprocity before. That kind of behavior, that kind of enabling, does not make you a supportive friend. It makes you a doormat, and a martyr. And, in this scenario, also kind of a dick.

Clearly this guy is of some value to you because you asked him to be your best man, so I'm going to assume that all those years of friendship have been worth the effort, and ask you some questions so that the folks answering your inquiry can provide you with better input.

1. Has your friendship historically been mutually beneficial (one of roughly equal give and take when it comes to support and overall enjoyment)?
2. If yes, what is preventing you from cutting this guy some slack and offering him:
  • a) the opportunity to bow out of his best man duties and still be a member of your wedding party and/or primary guest list
  • b) and/or a hotel room to stay in so that he can attend your wedding regardless of the outcome of point 2a
3. If not, what is preventing you from realizing that this is as much as this guy is going to be able to give you and offering him the same two options from question 2?

If it were me, I'd give him a call and say, "Hey dude, I know that the last couple of weeks have been really rough, and I wanted to check in with you to see how everything is going. It occurred to me today that since my wedding is coming up so soon, you might be feeling overwhelmed with all that's been going on, and I don't want you to feel obligated to carry out the different projects associated with being my best man if it's just one more thing stressing you out. How are you feeling?" Then listen. Maybe he's got it covered. Maybe he's just gathering resources. Ask him if it's okay if you touch base to figure out logistics for the bachelor party.

If you are still feeling like he's just not going to be able to deliver, tell him exactly what 4ster suggested and let the dude go. Do not guilt him for not having delivered.

Then enjoy your wedding, and plan your own bachelor party if you have to. Don't be that person who expects everyone to wait on you hand and foot just because you're getting married. You have just as much ability to have a fun, casual night out with your friends and make that an incredibly memorable experience.

TLDR: Cut the guy some slack, stop being a primadonna, own your involvement in this situation, and ask someone else to be your best man.
posted by patronuscharms at 9:44 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Being in a wedding is expensive--gift(s), bachelor party, tux rental, travel, hotel. You knew about your friend's ongoing financial troubles. I wonder if maybe you didn't do a great job of setting expectations with him. Perhaps you each assumed he'd have his financial situation worked out by the time of the wedding. Yes, he should have planned ahead and said no if he couldn't afford it, but you should have taken his financial situation into account given that you have such a clear idea of what his role should entail.

I also wonder if there's something going on here because he's a guy. Women tend to know what is expected of them if they're asked to be a bridesmaid. I don't know if men are as universally brought up knowing wedding etiquette. If he hasn't been in a wedding party before, he may not realize what is expected of him as best man. He may think his main job is to attend (not plan) the bachelor party, and show up on time in the right tux on the day of the ceremony.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:47 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, it would be cool if you were to say, "I just want you to be at my wedding. What can I do to help make that happen?"
posted by patronuscharms at 9:47 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

In ten years, when you and Mrs. ljs30 are reminiscing about your beautiful wedding, what decision are you going to be most proud of?
posted by space_cookie at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2010 [10 favorites]

He has asked if he can stay with my fiance and I while he's in town until after the wedding. It would be the 5 days leading up to our wedding. And he'd be leaving the next day. On the one hand I know he can't afford a hotel, but on the other hand there are a lot of people flying in for the wedding and staying at hotels and they can't afford it either.

Could you diplomatically facilitate hotel room-shares for some of your cash-strapped guests? It would be rude and unfair to push such an arrangement on anyone who's unwilling, but perhaps you could put out some feelers to see if anyone would be interested in having you pay for half or a third of their hotel costs if they let your best man stay in their room. And yes, if his financial situation is that dire and you really want him in your wedding, I think you should pay for his airfare, lodging, and tux, or deeply subsidize those expenses at the very least. If neither you nor he can afford those things, then gently let him off the hook.
posted by Orinda at 10:31 PM on December 4, 2010

I'm trying to think of a word to best describe this situation, the female version uses Bridezilla, but what would be the male version...You know where the groom thinks that his 'best man' has to lick his feet and do the dirty work of planning a party, getting a limo, not fuc=ing up the toast, arrange for the honeymoon suite, and keep it a secret from the rest of the bridal party...stay sober...? Groomzilla may work, but selfish bastard is also useful.

If he is your best man, then be grateful that he will stand there with you at the ceremony. If you cannot accommodate him with a place to stay, then you need to let him off the hook for what you consider his duties.
posted by Gungho at 5:36 AM on December 5, 2010

I see from your previous AskMe questions that you knew this guy was $60,000 in debt. Can't imagine how you though he'd a.) be a responsible best man, and b.) be able to afford travel and a hotel. If you don't want him to stay with you (and I wouldn't), ask around to see if anyone else can put him up. He very clearly can't afford anything else, which you knew well before you selected him as best man. You need to accept some responsibility for making the decision to include him when you knew that he was both poor and deeply irresponsible. It's now your job to find him a place to stay. That's the bed you made. Good luck.
posted by pineappleheart at 6:41 AM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

Don't you have other guys in the wedding party? Ushers or groomsmen? Could any of them take on some of this guy's duties? Assign one of those guys to be his buddy and take on the bachelor party planning. You said he could stay at your place, so don't blame him for staying there. Also, your fiance has a brain and a mouth. If she doesn't want him to stay with you, she should either say so, or also not resent him or you for his staying. Geez, you guys need to learn to say what you really think. Your lives would all be so much simpler.

And also, the guests who are flying in who can't afford it? They also have brains of their own. Don't blame your best man on behalf of those other guests. He has enough problems already. Sheesh!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:36 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Larger signs indicate the divorce rate will remain high. Yes, that's plenty rude. Honestly, there doesn't sound like a lot of maturity being demonstrated here. But I'd be glad to be proven wrong decades from now.

Meanwhile, if you want your friend around and he needs your help, then get him a hotel room. Do it because you're friends, because you need to have him participate in an important part of your life. Whatever money you spend on it now won't really matter much in the years to come. If that's not realistic then just how important is all this?
posted by wkearney99 at 10:46 AM on December 5, 2010

Is this about the money or about him being supportive during this time? I'm not sympathetic toward someone being mad at him for not having money. But I could understand feeling let down that he didn't share in any of this. He's going through a really shitty time right now, but you'd still be justifiably bummed that your best friend didn't care about this big event in your life. If you wanted to talk to him about that, I'd start by being extremely understanding but then bringing up what you wish things had been like, and keep the money out of it.

Looking at your past questions, though, it sound like this wedding is coming at a bad time in his life, and in your friendship. He might be feeling angry (as you said), and you might be feeling guilty for not helping and feeling resentful for the guilt you feel. I get the sense that a conversation could bring the conflict to a head, so it'd probably be best to save it for after the wedding and in the meantime, give him space he needs and keep expectations low.
posted by salvia at 1:40 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was maid of honor at my cousin's wedding. She (the bride) stayed at her parents' house (near me) and I had one of the out-of-town bridesmaids staying at my house. Can't any of your nearby groomsmen take him in for a night? If not, he should stay at your place.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2010

When I was young and got married, my maid of honor, who I had hoped would handle quite a few duties, started to flake out on me. I started feeling really angry. Finally, I confronted her, and asked her point-blank what could be more important to her than my wedding. That's when she told me she was unexpectedly pregnant, with no baby daddy in sight. That was one of my first object lessons in humility. Even as self-absorbed as I was in those years, I knew her situation trumped mine. In a few more weeks, my wedding had come and gone. She spent the next two decades raising a child.
posted by Ellemeno at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2010

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