While being a best man is undoubtedly a remarkable privilege; the culmination of years of a friendship that has presumably veered with startling velocity from misdemeanour to mishap, it is also, undeniably, a bit of a faff.
I say this with confidence, though I should also pay tribute to my friends who, perhaps regrettably, bestowed the honour on me, even when the chances of them choosing a disorganised, perennially-late chap with what can be at times a rather niche sense of humour appeared regrettably slim.
Moreover, I know several men who have similarly undertaken the solemn task of best man-hood, and so, with giddy reckless abandon, have decided that such affiliation gives me license to write a bespoke “how-to” best man guide, climbing to, if all goes better than all of us are expecting at this point in proceedings, hitherto unexplored heights of estimable best man-hood.
Indulge me, as I debunk some myths and extend some entirely unwarranted advice surrounding the best man process, it is with certainty that I can assure you: you will thank me later.
The Bachelor Party
As the best man, the happy (in reality excruciating and dizzyingly time consuming) task of arranging the stag do might well fall upon your trembling shoulders.
Immediately, you are faced with a quandary. Of course, the overwhelming temptation is to organise a bachelor party of such dizzying complexity and hitherto unprecedented originality that your contemporaries can’t help but watch on with a nod of admiration, thinking – you imagine – “Yep. That’s why he’s the best man. Genius. Brilliant. What a great, great guy”.
The only problem with this approach – for imagination’s sake in this example, a paint-balling tour of South America – is that, inevitably, it is incredibly expensive. While the rest of your merry band of stag do misfits might appreciate your creativity, they will almost certainly resent your blissful abandon for their wallets. According to YouGov UK, men spend roughly £400 on average for their bachelor party attendance, which is frankly ridiculous, particularly considering that they may be attending several such weekends throughout the year. Do everyone a favour and don’t break everyone’s banks with a round-the-world-in-80-strip-clubs tour.
You will need to attend the wedding rehearsal. I’m sorry if you think it is an utter, utter waste of time, you really don’t have a say in the matter. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s some advice on how best to proceed.
Try to remember stuff. If you’re anything like me, this won’t be easy; indeed, as Stacey’s Mom plays in your head on a distracting loop, most of the rehearsal will probably pass you by without so much of a flicker of recognition. With that being said, try to pay attention, as there is a strong chance you could end up saving the day during the actual event. Do not, under any circumstances, start mucking about. However tempting it might be to conduct an impromptu stand-up comedy routine to your unwitting audience, I can guarantee you that the bride-to-be will not be laughing. Hands balled up into fists with white-knuckle ferocity, she will smile fixedly at you, while imagining ever more elaborate ways to bring about your untimely demise. Just don’t do it.
And so it comes down to this. Your moment in the coruscating heat that is notoriety’s Sun. Advice from my best friend – who has best manned at another friend’s wedding – includes a steely resolve to stay off the booze until you have completed the task, and a conviction to shower with praise those financial benefactors who are funding the big day (replete with free bar and all). Possibly the most salient piece of advice he imparted, though, was to steer clear of bringing up exes; as he reminds us all: “You want to embarrass the groom, not the bride”. Ne’r a truer word said.
Of course, the temptation, particularly if the speech isn’t going quite as stormingly as you had planned, is to descend into crass material, the like of which should never be heard outside the own shady parasol of your mind’s eye. Don’t do this. Sure, Uncle Roger will laugh his wheezy laugh in appreciation, but the vast majority of your audience – children among them, lest we forget – are unlikely to be particularly enamored by your smut, thus seriously limiting the number of drinks you will be bought when you’re finished.
You’ve done it. Months of tedious planning culminating in a caviar tasting journey through the south of France, hours of monotony as you feign interest in the merits of various differently shaped fold-able napkins, the bride-to-be’s murderous stare as you make some regrettable jokes about tripping over the train of her dress during rehearsal, the winces of the crowd – far more conservative than you imagined – as you reel of gag after gag on the groom’s past sexual frissons. It’s all over. So when you wave the newlyweds off as they depart the reception, I have one final nugget of wisdom for you. It’s okay to shed a tear; let’s face it, your friendship with them will never be quite the same again.