Help me pick my best man.
January 14, 2015 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married for the first time, but I'm almost 40 and haven't had a 'best friend' in at least 10 years. I also don't have any brothers.

I was thinking of asking a fairly good friend that I've known for about 10 years to be my best man, but he's also getting married this year (to an ex-girlfriend of mine for extra awkwardness), so I don't know if he'll have time, and we're not like super close, anyway (basically these days we just go to a trivia night together). I'm also thinking of asking my dad, who almost died a few months ago (he was in the ICU for over a month), and is still recovering, so I'm not sure if he'll be healthy enough for the wedding, and he wouldn't be able to help plan stuff like the bachelor party anyway, and I wouldn't ask him to. Another option is my brother in law (also lives in another state), and my GF's brother --(lives in another state). I'm sure I can't be the first person in a similar position. Has anyone else had a hard time picking a best man, and what did you do? One thing I was thinking of was asking my friend to help sort out the bachelor party and such and have my dad be the best man on the wedding day, but I don't know if that's asking too much of my friend if he's got his own wedding to plan for.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My vote is ask your dad. You can plan your own bachelor party and there are not that many other requirements for a best man. I had two and both really didn't do anything.
posted by Busmick at 2:14 PM on January 14, 2015 [23 favorites]

I'm sure I can't be the first person in a similar position.

They made a movie about this. Go watch I Love You, Man.

(Not that it'll help with your particular decision, but you can at least be confident that yours is not a rare situation.)
posted by aimedwander at 2:14 PM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

Congratulations! I think having your dad be the best man on The Day is a great idea. It will be meaningful without being too taxing on him. If I were without an easy choice for a best man, I would probably just throw an easy get-together party for all of the guys.
posted by harrietthespy at 2:15 PM on January 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

How does your fiancée feel? You don't have to have attendants at all. And, your "best man" doesn't have to be male.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:17 PM on January 14, 2015 [25 favorites]

Don't limit yourself to males. My husband's best man was a woman. (She happened to decide to wear a tux but that's not required.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:20 PM on January 14, 2015 [12 favorites]

Another vote for ask your dad: I'll bet he'll be thrilled to stand up for you like this. And, if that's all he has to do, it won't be too strenuous for him.

And what the heck: there's no requirement you have some sort of fratboy bachelor's party; how about instead, just a dinner out with Dad, your friend, your brother and your soon-to-be brother-in-law, once they've all arrived in town for the wedding anyway?
posted by easily confused at 2:22 PM on January 14, 2015 [14 favorites]

You should ask the person you feel closest to, and you really don't have to do any of that bachelor party stuff unless you want to. But you could also have a wedding without attendants at all; we did that it was perfectly fine.
posted by snickerdoodle at 2:32 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you want your Dad, choose your Dad. You can plan your own bachelor party. How many attendants is your fiance having? They don't have to match.

Asking someone to be in your wedding is a BFD! It's expensive and time consuming and you really only ask family or your very best friends to do it.

Husbunny and I each only had one attendant, my sister stood up for me and his best friend since he was a kid stood up for him. And that's as it should be.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:33 PM on January 14, 2015

My Dad's in ill health too and I had him stand with me. It was a very meaningful moment for both of us and it's going to be my number 1 image memory when he's not around anymore. So I'd vote for that.

I agree with you that directing your friend to plan a party for you is a bit much. You're going to be surprised at how busy and how much of a blur the wedding itself is; I would just head to a bar with your future wife and some friends and relax as it'll be your last chance for a while. Bonus, you probably won't have to pay for any drinks :)
posted by ftm at 2:34 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

To second DarlingBri, feel free to pick a woman if you have a close female friend or if you are close to your sister. That's what I did and it was great because I had someone close to me at my side. Or go with your dad.

As for the party planning, just make it simple. Go out for drinks and dinner at a nice place with people you like.
posted by Area Man at 2:38 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Asking your dad is awesome, and if he can't do it--so what! Tell everyone that your dad's the best man but can't be here because of his health--which is seriously an awwww moment--and relax knowing that you didn't stress longer about finding someone random to perform a very random, essentially useless task.

(FWIW, I didn't have a best man at my wedding. We had a couple people come to our civil ceremony at the courthouse, then everybody came over for dinner, drinks, cake and dancing at our house. THE BEST, and no sweat about ritual.)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:47 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Seconding don't feel like you have to have attendants. My wife and I didn't and ended up being happy with that decision.
posted by ghharr at 2:49 PM on January 14, 2015

If you're so short on best man candidates, who are all these imaginary bachelors at the bachelor party?

You'll feel more freedom to choose if you're not feeling guilty about dropping a ton of work into your best man's lap. So figure out which parts of best man duties you actually need and want.

-My bachelor party was: skinny-dipping with two friends at dawn, followed by a bacon-intensive breakfast.

-It's handy to have a buddy steer you around on the day, making sure you've got the ring, etc.

-A trusted confidante can also be handy, in case you want to be talked into/out of any last minute qualms. If one of those qualms might be that you're not sure you're over your ex-girlfriend, don't pick the friend who's marrying your ex-girlfriend.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:56 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know where the best "man" or "maid of honor" thing even comes from, much less has to be pretty recent...and like most wedding things, it has become some unassailable taboo not to follow it religiously, hence your question. For example, the Catholic Church only requires two "witnesses" (which I think was itself a Tridentine reform to shore up some fluidity in the requirements for a valid sacramental marriage), so my wife and I had our sisters witness our very small wedding ceremony.

tl;dr: ask pops and skip the bachelor party.
posted by resurrexit at 2:58 PM on January 14, 2015

Another vote for asking your dad.

If you really want a bachelor party, you can arrange it. My husband and I had a co-ed party, and I'm glad we did, since there wasn't much time for chilling out with friends on the day of our wedding.

On preview: late afternoon dreaming hotel has a great idea of naming your dad the best man whether or not he can literally stand by you that day.

posted by whoiam at 2:59 PM on January 14, 2015

Dad's the Man.

This decision will feel way more important and correct to you down the road.
posted by artdrectr at 3:19 PM on January 14, 2015

My brother got married a few years back. He's never had many friends outside of coworkers, but his wife wanted her two sisters and me in the wedding party, so he asked three cousins to stand up for him and kind of randomly chose one of them as his best man. It worked out great -- while I don't think he became besties with any of these cousins as a result, he definitely got to know them better, and the guy who was best man really seemed to be honored to be chosen (he's very socially awkward and considers himself somewhere on the autism spectrum). In your case, I'd say pick your dad if that's what you want to do. And you don't have to have a bachelor party if you don't want to. My brother never did, and he still got successfully hitched!
posted by jabes at 4:10 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband's best man was a woman and my maid of honor was a man (well, my brother). So if it's the "man" part that's the hitch then you could consider ignoring the traditional gender structure.

But really I'm voting for asking your Dad too : )
posted by pennypiper at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

My husband's best man was his dad, and it was great. He was honored and touched and everyone loved it.
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:40 PM on January 14, 2015

Do you only want one groomsman? Dad, friend, brother-in-law and brother-in-law-to-be are all great choices. In fact, it's pretty traditional to ask your BIL and BIL-to-be. Dad is a little more unconventional, but very cool. Ask all four, they can work out the bachelor party stuff among themselves.
posted by amaire at 4:54 PM on January 14, 2015

My dad's best man was his brother.
posted by brujita at 5:01 PM on January 14, 2015

Agreeing with people who mentioned your sister as a possibility if you don't think your dad is up to it. I (a female) stood for my brother while my sister-in-law had her brothers with her. There is even a real gender-neutral word for this: honor attendant.

SIL's brothers wore suits; I wore a dress and held the bouquet during the ring part. I also made the speech. It was a lovely ceremony and very touching.
posted by AMyNameIs at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

In the last few years, I've been to about a half-dozen weddings, only one of which had a traditional bridal/groom party setup (ie, one best man/maid of honor plus a few other friends of the same sex). In one of the other weddings, I was essentially the "best woman" for a good guy friend. In another, both the bride and groom had two friends stand with them but there was no best man or maid of honor. In the others, they had witnesses but that was it.

In all of those cases, they asked friends to help with different aspects based on what made sense. So maybe your dad could be the official witness while your buddy plans the bachelor party.

This is all just to echo that you don't HAVE to have a best man if it doesn't make sense for you.
posted by lunasol at 5:10 PM on January 14, 2015

I'm going to defect from the growing consensus here. I think that parents play a different role. The brides/groomspeople's role is non-specific but very much that of a peer -- the guy who sneaks in the flask, the woman who holds up the bride's dress while she pees, the guy who distracts the really drunk uncle from hitting on random guests, the person who sneakily gets your keys from your coat pocket and decorates the room or ties cans to your car bumper.

My vote is with your Brother In Law and future Brother In Law and/or your sisters.
posted by salvia at 5:11 PM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

On the other hand, if it's that you really WANT it to be your dad, ignore my comment above and do what you want!
posted by salvia at 5:15 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ugh I feel you. I have to figure out this whole marriage thing soon and I don't know who would be my MOH.

If you don't want to pick your dad or just one person, you could have several attendants and not pick one to be the Best Man. I've been to several weddings like this and it was very nice and normal-seeming.
posted by radioamy at 5:22 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are you having difficulty picking among your friends? Or are you open to your sister/dad/female friend? Because I would not say that I have a bff as such, but I do have a very short list of friends I know I can call for help at any time of day, and the person at the top of that list stood up with me. Whether that's a friend or family member, that is the person to ask to stand up with you.
posted by mchorn at 5:34 PM on January 14, 2015

I was just the best man in my brother-in-law's wedding. We're not particularly close and he was definitely closer to some of his other groomsmen. Do you have a sister with a spouse that you could ask? I can tell you first hand that it's hard to say, "No" when you're being asked, no matter how much you hate public speaking. I'm not mad at him for making me do it or anything though.
posted by VTX at 7:31 PM on January 14, 2015

I'd say go for Dad, and don't ask or expect him to do too much. He almost died recently, and I suspect you'll look back someday and be very glad you picked him.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:23 PM on January 14, 2015

One thing I was thinking of was asking my friend to help sort out the bachelor party and such and have my dad be the best man on the wedding day, but I don't know if that's asking too much of my friend if he's got his own wedding to plan for.

As far as the bachelor party planning, I think it depends on what you're expecting out of a bachelor party. They run the gamut from "elaborate get-away weekend with multiple planned events" to "low-key gathering for dinner and/or a few drinks." If you're tending more towards the latter, there's not really a whole lot of planning to be done and it's not that onerous (whether for your friend or for you).

I agree with everyone else who said a) it's OK to separate the formal, during-the-ceremony best man duties from the bachelor party planning duties, and b) it's OK to plan your own bachelor party if you want to.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:13 AM on January 15, 2015

When we got married, we didn't do bachelor/ette parties. Instead, after the rehearsal dinner, we packed everyone up and went to the local late-night bowling alley and all chilled out with snacks and ugly shoes and pitchers of beer. It was fun, inexpensive, and a nice chance to hang out low-key with friends in the wedding party before all the hubbub started.

Also my brother was one of my attendants, so nthing the consensus that you don't have to stick to only men if there's a woman that you would otherwise pick.
posted by oblique red at 3:01 PM on January 15, 2015

Conversely, when my dad got remarried, I was his best man, despite the fact that we didn't talk all that much at the time, and I lived on the other side of the country, and I was not a fan of his fiancee. It actually went quite well and was a very good time that I and he still remember. If there was a bachelor party, I didn't know about it and wouldn't have been able to make it anyway. My duties largely consisted of getting him to the ceremony, which was harder than one might think, because, with an hour to go, I couldn't find him anywhere. That's because he slipped away without telling anyone in order to go fly a kite. That's not a euphemism. There he was, in his bathing suit, on the beach, flying a kite. "Oh, hi [Errant], you look nice. You want to try?" Um, no, I'm good, and we should probably get you dressed for this little thing you're doing. He wasn't wearing a watch and didn't know what time it was. Anyway, they weren't, he reasoned quite reasonably, going to start without him. My dad's pretty great. If your dad is pretty great, he will be a perfectly fine choice.
posted by Errant at 4:26 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

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