From providing on-hand support to the groom at all times and planning the stag do to making sure everything runs smoothly on the day, the role of best man is not a simple job. To make your life as best man that bit easier, we’ve enlisted three recent best men, Craig Jones, Howie Birch and Paddy Baxter, to offer their top tips and tricks to help you nail your duties.
Our three Glasgow lads have been at a groom’s beck and call seven times between them, so there’s no better trio to keep you on track to being the ultimate best man.
Be their right-hand man
HB: Make life as easy as possible for the groom, whether that’s regular check-ins leading up to the wedding, making sure that everyone knows where they need to be on the day or even just making sure that Aunt Debbie isn’t complaining about the choice of flower. Try your best to minimise the stress levels where possible; the husband-to-be has enough on his plate.
CJ: Most couples attempt to do a lot on their own, but try to offer any support, even the slightest thing goes a long way. If he wants to get in shape for his big day, make him go running with you (I’ve been a groom too, this really helps).
As the wedding approaches try to get an idea of what is happening on the day and who is in charge of what. When the big day comes, you’re his right-hand man. If anything goes wrong or guests have questions, it’s better to be in the know.
PB: Thankfully I was one half of a best man duo, so we could split responsibilities. I didn’t have to look after the rings but did have to tie the groom’s kilt shoes. The role can vary from best man to best man – I was the piper too – so be willing to go the extra mile.
The stag do
HB: The groom will probably be saving his pennies for the wedding and the number of social events he attends may be limited, so you have to make sure this one counts! Organise the stag well in advance, get all the boys in a WhatsApp group to kick-start the chat and ideas for activities and, of course, get him some rancid attire to wear.
CJ: You’re the babysitter and the tormentor. Give him the best memories, but always make sure he’s safe. It’s your job to make sure he’s home in one piece.
PB: Activities are good, but ultimately, you’re there for a good time, so if the stag and the guests would rather go to the pub than paintballing, don’t feel like you have to do the latter. Also, it’s best to avoid activities that could land you, the stag or any of the party in jail, hospital or the news.
Nailing the speech
HB: It’s your role to deliver a good speech. Naturally, you need to make a little fun of the groom, but you also need to strongly represent the happy couple. As you’re representing the groom, you should try to do him and yourself justice by delivering a funny, heartfelt and engaging (no pun intended) speech. To make sure everyone’s entertained, I’d also say try and keep it to a max of 10 minutes.
CJ: Do not leave writing your speech until the last minute. You’ll undoubtedly regret being under prepared or rushing it. In my first speech as best man I got the bride’s name wrong in the toast! And, of course, most weddings are filmed so keep this in mind - I will never forget. So, in the next two weddings I was best man, I played it safe and wrote “To the Bride and Groom.”
PB: Remember that although you know the groom arguably better than the bride, you don’t want to tell the grannies and aunties at the dinner about an embarrassing sexual encounter he had five years ago. It’s also the bride and groom’s special day, so while your stories should be fun and mildly embarrassing, you don’t want to ruin the day by being crass or offensive.
As an extra pre-speech tip, your motto should be “spacers not chasers”. There’s plenty of time to catch up afterwards, and if your speech is good enough, drinks are free.
Ensuring the day runs smoothly
HB: On the morning of the wedding, you’ll probably find that you’re the mediator between the groom and the bridal party, so ensuring you’re on top of everything (the schedule for the day, who needs to be where and when, making sure he doesn’t do a runner (!) etc.) will make life easier for the bride and allow her to focus more on enjoying her day. Also, you may want to consider going relatively easy on the beers early on… but I’ll leave that one for you to decide!
CJ: Goes without saying, remember the rings and your speech along with anything else you’ve been asked to bring. Throughout the day, try and mingle with whoever you can, particularly people who look like they don’t know anyone else. The bride and groom will have very little face-time with most, so it helps them to know you’ve been talking to people.
PB: When it comes to the big day,act cool - even if you’re stressed about getting your speech right, remembering rings, etc. The bride and groom are worried about their military-standard planning operation going smoothly, so you should be an oasis of calm for them.