Welcome to our Best Man Duties Checklist. Being Best Man at a wedding entails quite a lot of responsibility. And to do it as well as you possibly can (as I know you want to) requires a degree of effort and planning on your part.
In this article I provide a comprehensive list of all the duties you’re likely to take charge of from the moment you’re asked to be Best Man until the last guest has left the reception. Helping you plan your time and your efforts, making the role a lot less stressful and lot more successful.
Best Man Duties: 6 – 12 Months Out
Engagement Party – Getting to Know the Wedding VIPs
Like all successful projects, laying the foundations with a bit of preparation is key. And there’s no better place to get this under way than at the engagement party (if there is one).
While you’ll likely know a lot of the guests already, making sure you’re onside with the other ‘key players’ in the wedding is always advisable. These include:
- The groomsmen/ ushers – These are going to be like trusted lieutenants on the day and also a valuable source of material for the speech. Get them involved as early as possible.
- The chief bridesmaid – As you’ll be organising the groom’s side, she’ll be doing likewise for the bride. If you don’t know her, then now is the time for introductions. Exchange contact details as she could help with some of your plans, especially around the stag do. And, if you’re both single – who knows where it may lead!
- The parents – Whether you know them or not, get all the parents on board and trusting you. Be your usual charming, respectful self. Because they will want to ensure that you have what it takes to help the day be memorable for all the right reasons.
Best Man Duties: 6 – 9 Months Out
- Find out if the groom is hiring morning suits.
- If so, then it’s possible that arranging these suits for the groom’s side of the wedding may fall upon you. Time to start co-ordinating attire with ushers, parents and others likely to be involved in the main group. Making sure there’s some consistency in the suits can be the difference between that classy wedding and a scene from Spinal Tap!
- Allocate time and co-ordinate plans to choose, try on and select the suits.
- Try to choose suits of similar colours, with matching shoes, belts, ties and such like. Although maybe the Dumb & Dumber look is not the way to go.
- It’s the groom’s day – try not to upstage him. So no joke ties and garish colours – seriously!
The Stag Do
One of the key duties you’ll have as best man will be to ensure you plan a brilliant stag do. And, while you’ll need to allocate a good deal of time, research and planning to the cause, here’s a few crucial pointers to set you in the right direction:
- Is it a stag day, or a stag weekend? Gauge the thoughts of groom and mates about what people can and cannot afford. It’s likely you’ll want to do something that includes all mates.
- Get a list of names together, with contact numbers, email addresses or maybe set up a WhatsApp or Facebook group to get the invites out.
- Now decide where it’s all going to happen. This will take time and research – be diligent in your approach.
- Make sure everyone knows the cost, the dates and the itinerary as far in advance as possible. People need to make plans and know what they’ll be doing before they sign up.
- Costumes for groom (and others)? These are cheap enough to buy but if you going to book something, do so in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Are you going to write it yourself? There are people who can do it for you…
- SpeechMate can blend those witty and personal anecdotes with a selection of perfectly tailored best man jokes and tributes to provide you with a professional standard speech that’s specific to your wedding.
- Gather material for the speech by contacting the bride-to-be, groom’s mates, family members, work colleagues or anyone else who might have some anecdotal gold for you.
- If you’re a joint best man you should arrange at least two rendezvous’, one to plan it and work out roles and responsibilities and the other to run through the material.
- Note: When there are two writers, the process can take longer. Arrange to meet up, share content and ensure you’re both happy and comfortable with the end product.
Best Man Duties: One Month Out
Things you may need to buy
- Cigars – It’s a bit of an old tradition, I know, but it can still be a manly bonding moment to break out the cigars in celebration at the end of the day.
- Gift – Although not tradition it is becoming increasingly common for the best man to buy the groom a gift.
- Plan a Pre-Wedding Drink – While you might head to the pub for one last drink before the time comes, a handy alternative might be to get yourself a hip flask so you and the groom can have a moment prior to the nuptials with a nip of something strong.
- Decorations – Are you going to decorate the wedding car? Plan suitable decorations in advance.
- Confetti – Always a favourite for giving to the kids – and the parents will love you for it – usually!
Best Man Duties: The Final 24 Hours
- Check for possible hold-ups, delays near the venues. Maybe there’s a football match in the vicinity or road works that might increase traffic and travel times – Check the local news, the internet and other outlets to see what you can find.
- Charge your phone
- Maybe a final, reassuring text to the groom – giving him confidence that you’ve got everything under control.
- Remind the groom to bring money for the church fees if there are any and of course the rings!
Best Man Duties: The Day Itself!
- Meet the groom at least a couple of hours beforehand. He’ll almost certainly welcome the moral support.
- Help him make the final checks. Is he going straight on honeymoon? Ensure that tickets, passport, luggage are sorted, in the right vehicle and ready to go.
- Collect the buttonholes for the groom, the ushers and yourself.
- Check in with the families whether there any messages you need to pass on
- Aim to arrive at the venue around 30 minutes before it all begins.
Before You Leave You Need to Ensure:
- You have the rings(s), cigars, hip flask
- Money for the church fees
- You call the bridal party telling them you’re on your way
- Details of any seating arrangements
- You have some confetti if the venue allows it.
- Make sure all Orders of Service are in place at the venue
- Check in with the ushers. Ensure they’re wearing button holes and go through their roles with them. Have an usher in each side of the entrance to meet, greet and seat guests and hand out Orders of Service.
- Bride’s guests to the left-hand side, groom’s to the right (traditionally).
- Remind the ushers of any special seating arrangements at the ceremony and pass it on to the ushers
If it’s a Church Service:
- Turn your phone off!
- Pay the church fees
- Take your seat with the groom on the front right-hand pew while waiting for the bride.
- Hand over the ring(s) when asked to do so — THIS IS YOUR TIME!
- You may also be asked by the groom to sign the register as a witness.
- Join the procession down the aisle following in line after the bride and groom, the bride’s father and groom’s mother and the groom’s father and bride’s mother. Traditionally, you escort the chief bridesmaid from the church on your left arm.
If the Ceremony is at a Register Office or Licensed Venue:
- Turn your phone off!
- Take your seat with the groom on the front right-hand seats while waiting for the bride to arrive. Shortly before the bride enters, you will be prompted to stand in position before the registrar, to the groom’s right.
- Hand over the ring(s) at the required moment as prompted by the registrar – THIS IS ALSO YOUR TIME!
- Sign the register as a witness, if asked to by the groom.
- Join the procession out of the room, following in line after the bride and groom, the father of the bride with the groom’s mother and the groom’s father with the bride’s mother. Traditionally, you escort the chief bridesmaid on your left arm.
When the Ceremony Ends
- The photographer will need help organising guests. Lend a hand and maybe get the ushers to assist.
- Ensure everyone knows where the reception is and has a means of transport to get there.
- Some spare maps to the venue might be handy.
At the Reception
- Familiarise yourself with the seating plan and who’s on what table so you can help people find their places
- Collect any messages from the bride’s father
- Check to see if any messages have been delivered directly to the reception venue.
- You may be needed in the receiving line – find out and take your place if required.
- Once the guests are all seated, and ahead of the food, if there is no MC, call for silence, ask people to stand and welcome the couple into the reception room as newlyweds.
- After the meal, again, if there is no MC, call for silence and introduce the speeches. Invite the bride’s father to speak first. After the bride’s father has delivered his speech and toasted the bride and groom, introduce the groom to say his few words.
- The groom’s speech ends with a toast to the bridesmaids.
- Now it’s over to you. Reply to the groom’s toast on behalf of the bridesmaids and deliver your speech, read congratulations from absent family and friends, and close by toasting the bride and groom. SpeechMate can help you produce the entire speech from scratch if this seems a little daunting.
- Sit down and breathe a big sigh of relief.
- Announce the cutting of the cake.
The Evening Bash
- Hit the dancefloor.
- Traditionally you would dance with the maid of honour first, joining the bride and groom mid-way through their first dance.
- Decorate the groom’s car — or whatever transport is taking them away from the venue that evening.
- Bear in mind though, that the car needs to remain in working order, especially if the happy couple are going straight off on their honeymoon and need to catch trains or flights later.
It’s All Over
- Finally, assist the hosts in bringing the celebrations to a close
- Check taxis
- Check the bill and ensure any outstanding payments are settled at the end of the night.
- Take a last look round for any stray presents or lost property.
- Collect them together and keep them safe until you can return them to their rightful owners.
- As soon as possible after the wedding, arrange to collect any hired outfits so that they can be returned and deposits refunded.
- Make sure any items left at the venue find their way back to their owners.
It might seem like a lot to think about, but with the application of a little common sense and a dose of enthusiasm to the cause, it’s a lot of fun. In fact, when you’re Best Man, you’re effectively being appointed Minister of Fun.
So, Just Follow These Key Points:
- Get to know (if you don’t already): bridesmaids, ushers, parents and family.
- Co-ordinate clothes fittings (And no comedy ties!)
- Research options for the stag do
- Organise, arrange and book stag do
- Buy stag costume
- Decide if writing speech yourself, or other assistance e.g. SpeechMate
- Gather suitable material from bride, friends, family, work colleagues etc
- Buy pre-wedding items: groom’s gift, cigars, confetti etc
- Keep the groom re-assured you’ve got it all under control & make sure he’s okay
- On the big day ensure you have: hip flask, cigars, fees for the church and the rings!!
- Stand at shoulder of groom – hand over those rings!!
- Assist photographer in getting groups together
- Welcome the newlyweds into reception room
- Introduce speeches from groom, father of bride and then
- It’s your big speech – toast the bridesmaids
- Seek out maid of honour, hit dancefloor, bust some moves.
- Enjoy the party.
Just remember, it’s an honour to be asked and it is a responsibility – but it’s also a great experience. And everybody wants you to succeed.
Get Your Best Man Speech Guide
If you’d like advice on any other parts of your speech then download our comprehensive 28-page guide to Best Man speeches including:
- How to structure your speech
- How to write a speech that’s memorable for all the right reasons
- How to actually deliver the speech (very important this part, don’t skip)
- And lastly… how to know if it’s actually any good