Here's the Official Guide to Best Man Responsibilities
The best man is more than just the lead groomsman. There are numerous best man duties that are unique to the role, namely to be the groom's go-to confidante, personal valet and logistics guru for pre-wedding events and day-of details. If you've never been a best man before, this may all seem a bit daunting, but it's really all about supporting the groom during the wedding-planning process and on the big day, and serving as point person for the groomsmen. Ready to get started? Here's your official, comprehensive guide to all the typical expectations and responsibilities that come with the job of best man (or best woman or person).
In this article:
What Is a Best Man?
The best man is the groom's right-hand man at the wedding. Usually a close friend or relative, this person is asked to stand by the groom's side to support and assist in any way possible before and during the wedding. The best man is also in charge of the groomsmen, meaning he leads all communication and spearheads most of their activities and duties.
How Many Best Men Are in the Wedding Party?
Traditionally, there is one best man in the wedding party—but nowadays, there really are no rules. It's certainly okay to have two (or more!) best men (if the groom has two brothers or a brother and a best friend, for example), or no best man at all. There can also be a best woman, or a best man and best woman—or really any combination. And, yes the groom's father can serve as the best man if desired.
The number of best men really depends on the groom's personal relationships and how his loved ones will handle the responsibilities. If the groom's brother just welcomed a new baby or his best friend has a new, demanding job, the groom might want to enlist two best men to ensure that everything gets done. Or, if the groom is only having two people on his side of the wedding party, why not make them both best men or women so they'll feel equally special?
Best Man Duties
Think of this as a checklist of your responsibilities before, during and after the big day.
1. Lead the Rest of the Pack
As best man, you're the head groomsman, the one the rest of the group can go to with any and all questions so as not to bother the groom (think: How much do I owe for the bachelor party Airbnb? And, What time are we supposed to be at the ceremony site for the rehearsal?). Your job is to be the point person and mediator between the groom and the rest of the crew when the groom's far too busy to worry about nitty-gritty groomsmen details. Ultimately, it's up to you to make sure the others are showing up and performing their groomsmen duties.
2. Head Up the Formalwear Process
You're in charge of helping the groom choose and rent or buy wedding formalwear, as well as coordinating the other groomsmen ensembles—this might include gathering everyone's measurements, giving the group an order-by deadline or placing the actual order yourself. Talk to the groom about what he wants everyone to wear and whether everyone's expected to match or coordinate (the answer is likely yes). If so, look into ordering as a group in order to save a little.
3. Plan an Awesome Bachelor Party
Whether you hit up a local whiskey distillery or fly somewhere epic for a long-weekend celebration, you're tasked with organizing a bachelor party the groom will never forget. Definitely enlist the other groomsmen to help you out with logistics and offer recommendations. And don't worry, you're not expected to pay for the entire thing—the cost should be split evenly among everyone who attends the bash, barring the groom, of course.
4. Attend, Enjoy and Lend a Hand at Prewedding Events
Other than coming to the engagement party and shower (if applicable) and being Mr. Bachelor Party, you're expected to be at the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner with the couple, their families and the rest of the wedding party. If you haven't had a chance to bond with the other half of the wedding party and say your heartfelt hellos to the couple's relatives, the rehearsal dinner is the perfect opportunity.
5. Buy a Wedding Gift
Yes, we know you're spending a pretty hefty chunk of change on the whole best man thing (attire, bachelor party, travel expenses, etc.), but you still need to purchase a wedding gift. You might organize a group gift with the rest of the groomsmen, which can help you save some cash.
6. Take Charge of Transportation
This won't apply to everyone, since lots of couples and their wedding parties hire transportation services to get from A to B—but you could be in charge of driving the couple to the reception, wedding-night hotel or airport after the reception. If that's the case, you'll obviously need to stay sober throughout the wedding reception. But again, you're more than allowed to pass this responsibility to the pros. Step up and hire transportation for the newlyweds so you can actually enjoy the open bar.
7. Be His Right Hand on the Wedding Day
When the day finally comes, you'll be the groom's personal aide and adviser both before and during the wedding. This includes helping the groom get ready (make sure you're up to speed on how to tie a tie) on the morning of the wedding, delivering a letter to his future spouse, serving as point person for vendors, and making sure that the groom eats and drinks (we mean hydrating, not going overboard with the booze). The best man may also be responsible for holding onto the groom's phone so he's not distracted, and helping to calm any pre-wedding jitters.
8. Be the Time Enforcer
As best man, you'll ensure the groomsmen arrive on time for the rehearsal, pre-wedding activities and prep, the portrait session, ceremony and more. Typically, you'll receive a timeline of events from the wedding planner or the groom himself (if you don't, ask!) and are responsible for communicating important times to the groom's crew to make sure everything stays on track.
9. Keep the Wedding Rings Safe
One of the most important best man duties? Keeping the wedding rings until it's time to exchange vows. Find a safe place for the wedding rings (and triple-check your pockets don't have holes!)—you don't want to fumble around when it's time to bring them out. If the ring bearer will be carrying the rings down the aisle on a pillow, you'll fasten the rings to the pillow as you're lining up for the processional. When he reaches the end of the aisle, the ring bearer will pass the rings to you for safe keeping until they're requested by the officiant.
10. Stand Beside the Groom at the Altar
During the processional, the best man traditionally walks down the aisle after the groom (at a Jewish wedding, the best man will enter right before the groom). Then, the best man will take his place standing closest to the groom at the altar, with the rest of the groomsmen lining up alongside. When the ceremony is over, the best man and maid of honor typically pair up and exit side by side.
11. Sign the Marriage License
Directly after the wedding ceremony, you will sign the marriage license as a witness, along with the maid of honor, and hand the officiant a sealed envelope with their fee. The officiant will then send the marriage license to the county clerk's office, and the couple will then receive their official marriage certificate.
12. Act as Unofficial Reception Host
Does the bride's grandmother need help finding her seat? Is one of the flower girls dancing alone? Does it look like one of the groomsmen has had one too many signature cocktails before dinner? Keep your eyes and ears open at the reception to make sure the newlyweds and guests are having a blast, and that the rest of the wedding party knows where they need to be and when. Other than that, don't think you need to stay stiff and sober all night because you're "on duty." Yes, you should behave yourself and be as helpful as possible, but being a beaming ball of joy and energy (aka getting out on the dance floor and keeping people's glasses full) throughout the party is one of the best things you can do.
13. Help Collect Gifts
Even if there is a designated gift table, wedding guests may still want to hand off their cards or presents to an actual person—and that's where you come in. If a guest gives you a gift, make sure it ends up in the right place, whether it's a card box, gift table or locked room. You may be asked to deposit checks in the couple's bank account or at least keep them safe until the couple returns from their honeymoon.
14. Give the Best Man Speech
Perhaps the role's biggest responsibility: delivering the best man speech during the reception. If you're following a traditional wedding speech timeline, the father of the bride and/or father the groom will give their toast or toasts, followed by the maid of honor, and then it's your turn. Alternatively, the best man may be asked to give his speech during the rehearsal dinner.
15. Decorate the Getaway Car
If the couple's planning a noteworthy reception exit, you and the rest of the wedding party should help decorate the getaway vehicle. Of course, make sure you have permission from the vehicle's owner beforehand!
16. Tie Up Loose Ends After the Reception
You may be asked to help with certain tasks at the end of the night and the days following the wedding, including making sure vendors are tipped and paid, transporting gifts to the couple's home or another safe location, and returning any rented attire.
Best Man vs. Groomsman Responsibilities
The roles of the best man (or woman) and the groomsmen are pretty similar, except the best man is the leader/point person and the groomsmen are participants. Of course, everyone has important jobs but the best man has certain added responsibilities. Here's how the two roles differ:
The best man heads up the bachelor party planning process, with the groomsmen providing support and assistance.
If the groomsmen are renting or buying their attire from the same retailer, the best man will make sure the order is placed, alterations are made, and everyone receives their attire in a timely fashion.
One of the most important best man responsibilities is ensuring the groomsmen know where to be and when. As "keeper of the schedule," the best man will send reminders to the rest of the crew and potentially coordinate transportation.
The best man and maid of honor typically sign the marriage license, while the groomsmen and bridesmaids do not.
At the ceremony, the best man gets the prime spot next to the groom at the altar, with the groomsmen lining up next to him.
The best man is responsible for keeping the wedding rings safe before and during the ceremony, while the groomsmen don't usually have any ring-related responsibilities.
When it comes to speeches, the best man usually represents the groom's crew by giving a solo toast at the wedding reception. The groomsmen may give a group toast at the rehearsal dinner or reception, but that isn't as common.