The best man is an extra pair of legs and an extra head for the groom. His responsibilities are many, varied and important, and he must do whatever he can to cooperate with and assist the groom. If the best man is from out of town, some of these responsibilities can be managed by the head usher. Occasionally, but not customarily, a groom invites his father to serve as best man.
If outfits for the groom and men of the wedding party are rented, it is the best man’s responsibility to pick the suits up and return them after the wedding, being sure to check all pockets for personal belongings. Each man will pay for the rental of his own outfit.
Occasionally the groom will purchase ties and gloves for the men in the bridal party. If this is the case, the best man may assist by determining the men’s glove sizes and buying them for him.
Sometimes the groomsmen host the bachelor dinner. The best man can help organize both the dinner and finances. Other times the groom gives this party. If so, the best man can make the reservations for him, help select the menu and drinks, and see that the ushers know the time and place.
The ushers and best man customarily purchase a gift for the groom. The best man may organize this effort.
He may help the groom with honeymoon reservations if necessary. If the bridal couple plan to stay in a nearby hotel after the wedding, they can be preregistered, then go directly to their room.
The best man can register at the hotel for them and bring the key to the groom, swearing on his honor not to divulge their plans!
Although there is usually a head usher, the best man is in charge of all the ushers. He reminds them where to be, and when, for the parties, rehearsal, the ceremony and the reception.
The bride and groom might wish to hide the honeymoon car, in which case the best man can place their luggage in the car ahead of time. When they leave the reception, he drives them to their car, unless a taxi or limousine has been ordered.
On the wedding day, the best man will help the groom dress. He should check out the groom’s and his own clothes and accessories well before that day. He should put everything—studs, shirt, tie—in one place. This is especially important if he is dressing elsewhere. He also takes the wedding ring to the church in a safe pocket or on his little finger, if it will fit.
The best man makes sure the groom has obtained the wedding license. The best man takes it to the church himself. After the wedding, the license must be signed by the clergyman and witnesses, most likely the best man and maid of honor.
The best man pays the clergyman. The groom will give him an envelope with the honorarium inside. He pays the clergyman quietly in the vestry, either before the ceremony or after while he witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate.
The best man gives the first toast to the bride, usually just before the cake is cut.
Immediately after toasting the bride, he reads some messages that may have arrived from those unable to attend the wedding.
He dances with the bride, the mothers and the bridesmaids.
If the groom’s father serves as best man, a few of the duties listed here can be taken over by the head usher.
As you can see, the best man is of tremendous assistance to the groom, who definitely has other things on his mind.