It's truly an honor to be asked to be best man in a friend or relative's wedding. Clearly, you’re a major VIP to the soon-to-be married couple, and are being entrusted to take on the best man duties and responsibilities during the wedding planning process, as well as on the big day itself.
Wondering what a best man does? Feeling a bit overwhelmed about where to start? We've got you covered. Essentially, a best man is the groom's go-to guy (or girl, if he's having a woman of honor) and confidant throughout the whole engagement and wedding. A best man's duties include planning the bachelor party, making sure the groomsmen attire is ordered, organized and to the couple's preferences, giving a speech at the reception, being a model wedding guest (RSVP-ing on time, reserving travel and hotel with the room block early) and so, so much more. So if you're looking to ace your best man duties, and be the BEST best man ever—let this checklist be your guide.
Here are all the best man duties & responsibilities for before the wedding, and on the big day.
Best Man Duties Before the Wedding Day
1. Provide moral support during the ring selection
Even though you haven’t officially been asked to be best man yet, there’s a good chance your best bud will ask for your help with selecting an engagement ring. Whether you’re a ring novice or a diamond expert, provide your honest opinion as the groom chooses the rock, but as gently as possible. Purchasing an engagement ring can be a stressful process—your job is to be a voice of reason if needed.
2. Lead the groomsmen
Once the couple is officially engaged, a date and venue have been set, and you’ve been officially asked to be best man, it’s time to introduce the groomsmen (a key best man duty). If you all know each other, that’s great, but if not, it’s the best man’s job to introduce everyone. If you all live nearby, set up a time for everyone to grab a drink together and get acquainted. If you’re in different parts of the country or world, start an email chain or group text to start the conversation.
3. Shop for formalwear and coordinate purchase
As the best man and official “leader” of the groomsmen, you’ll not only assist the groom in picking out everyone’s formal wear (Tux or suit? Necktie or bow tie?), but also make sure that each groomsman orders his attire in a timely fashion—or if you’re renting or purchasing as a group, you’ll make sure the order is submitted and collect payment from everyone. And don’t forget about alterations! One of the often underlooked best man duties is to ensure that the groomsmen's suits are all received AND tailored.
4. Serve as counselor and confidant
Planning a wedding can be stressful and the groom will need to rely on his best man to help him make decisions and solve problems. One of the biggest best man duties? Be a supportive friend throughout the process—even if wedding planning isn’t necessarily your thing.
5. Coordinate travel and accommodations
If you and the groomsmen will be traveling to the wedding, make sure that everyone books flights and hotels in a timely fashion. The couple will have likely arranged hotel room blocks and accomodations for out-of-town groomsmen, bridesmaids and wedding guests, so jump on these as soon as they become available. If feasible, you can even help pair up groomsmen to share hotel rooms or rental cars to help everyone save some money.
6. Plan the bachelor party
It’s the best man’s responsibility to organize the bachelor party, with the help of fellow groomsmen. Talk to the groom in advance about the type of bachelor party he envisions. Does he want to travel or stay closer to home? Does he want a wild party or something a bit tamer? Work with the groomsmen to plan a night or weekend that suits the groom’s style—not your own. Also be mindful of everyone’s schedules and budget. A trip to Vegas might sound like fun, but if certain groomsmen won’t attend because they can’t afford it, you might want to come up with a plan that works for everyone.
7. Help the guests
Guests may look to you for assistance if they have questions about the wedding. While you don’t have to completely memorize the entire wedding invitation and schedule, it’s a good idea to know the couple’s wedding website address to provide to guests—most of the answers they seek will likely be listed on the wedding website.
8. Attend pre-wedding events
You probably won’t take part in planning the engagement party, rehearsal, or rehearsal dinner (but maybe you will!), but you should still try to attend all these events. The most important of these to attend are the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, both of which usually take place the day before the wedding and will iron out any last-minute scheduling and details.
Best Man Duties Before, During & After the Wedding Ceremony
1. Create a best man emergency kit
You never know what mishaps may occur on the morning of the wedding, so, as the Boy Scout motto goes: Be prepared! Head to a drugstore the week before the wedding and pick up essential toiletries like spray deodorant, bandages, tissues, and pain relievers. You’ll also want to bring a stain remover, sewing kit, and even an extra pair of socks and tie in case someone forgets their own. Also, don’t forget to bring cash in case of emergency.
2. Get dressed with the other groomsmen and groom
The best man should be a relaxed and upbeat presence the morning of the wedding—especially if the groom is feeling a bit nervous. Play music, break out some beers, a deck of cards, or video games to help pass the time. And be sure to memorize those how-to-tie-a-tie YouTube videos before the wedding in case anyone needs last-minute assistance!
3. Make sure the groomsmen are wearing their boutonnieres
If the groomsmen are supposed to wear boutonnieres, ensure that everyone’s is pinned on properly before walking down the aisle.
4. Try to keep things on schedule
Ask the couple to provide you with a timeline of the wedding day’s events before the big day so you’re aware of what needs to happen when. The best man may have to play camp counselor a few times during the day—if you notice that people are goofing off instead of lining up for photos, or not where they should be at the appropriate time, try to get things on track. You should also introduce yourself to the venue coordinator and/or wedding planner, and volunteer your assistance.
5. Hold the wedding rings until the couple’s ring exchange
If there is no ring bearer, the best man may be responsible for holding the wedding bands until the ring exchange portion of the ceremony. Be aware of where the rings are at all times and keep them in a safe place, like a your inner jacket pocket (check in advance that your pocket doesn’t have a hole in it!).
6. Stand next to the groom
The best man usually stands next to the groom during the ceremony. This is a clear display of your love and support for your pal, so—we’re totally going to sound like your grandma here—stand up straight, look interested, and smile during the ceremony! While the best man typically walks down the aisle solo during the processional, he will likely be paired with the maid of honor during the recessional.
7. Deliver officiant’s payment after the ceremony
The newlyweds will typically be a bit busy immediately after the ceremony, so the best man is usually tasked with ensuring that the wedding officiant receives his or her payment. Talk with the couple before the wedding to see if this is a task they’d like you to assist with.
8. Sign the marriage license as witness
The marriage license is super-important—without it, the couple isn’t actually married! The couple will usually sign the license after the ceremony, but sometimes it’s signed before. The best man is usually present for the signing—and as two witnesses are typically required, the best man and maid of honor typically fill those roles.
9. Pose for pictures
Whether the couple takes wedding party portraits before or after the ceremony, you'll need to be game to smile for the camera—many, many times over. Being in front of the camera might not be your favorite thing in the world, but the couple will be grateful for your cooperation.
Best Man Duties at the Wedding Reception
1. Stand next to bride in the receiving line
A receiving line is a formal way to greet guests as they enter during cocktail hour. They aren’t super-common these days, but if the couple decides to host one, the best man typically stands next to the bride and groom while saying hello to arriving guests.
2. Be announced with maid of honor for reception entrance
Once the reception begins, the wedding party will typically make its “grand entrance,” with the DJ or bandleader announcing everyone by name as they enter the party. The best man usually enters the reception alongside the maid of honor.
3. Play host
During the wedding reception, guests may look to the best man for random tidbits of information—from knowing where the restroom is to when the cake cutting will occur. Since you should have the timeline of wedding-day events handy, you hopefully should be able to answer their questions. If not, direct them to the venue coordinator or wedding planner.
4. Dance with the maid of honor during first guest dance
It’s tradition for the best man to dance with the maid of honor when guests are welcomed onto the dance floor. If you and the MOH would prefer not to go this route, that's totally fine, just make sure that you’re one of the first people on the dance floor and encourage the other guests to join you. If you look like you’re having an amazing time, the rest of the couple’s family and friends will follow suit. Another good move on the part of the best man? Make sure you dance with the bride, too.
5. Make sure groom eats and drinks
The groom will be pretty busy during the ceremony, but try to help him out by making sure he has a bite to eat and stays hydrated (and not just with shots).
6. Give a best man speech
The best man typically gives the second toast after the father-of-the-bride. Our advice: Don’t procrastinate when it comes to writing your best man speech, speak from the heart, and keep it short.
7. Decorate the getaway car
If the couple is not hiring wedding transportation and using their own car, the best man and groomsmen traditionally have a little fun by decorating the getaway car with cans, streamers, etc. Make sure the couple is cool with this before going to town on their car.
Best Man Duties After the Wedding
1. Help organize and safe-keep gifts
Even though the party is over, there are still a few more things for you to accomplish. The couple probably received many gifts during the wedding. Make sure that the gifts are collected and kept in a safe location until the couple returns from their honeymoon.
2. Hand out tips
The couple may ask the best man to hand out tips to vendors after the reception—just make sure that the cash is organized into labeled envelopes, and you’re aware of the exact person you should hand the tip to.
3. Make sure groomsmen return rented attire
If you’re coordinated a group tuxedo rental, you’ll need to make sure that all of the tuxes are returned in a timely fashion. This may require a few texts to certain groomsmen, but you don’t want to be charged for late returns.