May is the month when you begin to truly understand just how much of your summer will be devoted to weddings. Wedding advice is in no short supply in this world, but it is, for some reason, all aimed at women.
Fortunately, Mr. Manners is here to throw the men some pearls.
For the best man:
1) Your boy is having a wedding. That’s bad enough. He doesn’t need anything else to worry about, so set the pace. You are responsible for keeping the groomsmen’s asses in line when it comes to things like tuxedo pickup, rehearsal dinner, and church arrival. This is not the time to make friends, this is the time to kick ass and keep the unit running right. If they have had your role before, they will understand. If they haven’t, they will remember you when they do.
2) You are responsible for the bachelor party. This means, first and foremost, that it is your job to figure out what the groom really wants for the blowout. (Not what he says he wants, because he has to have plausible deniability, bride-wise.) The usual rules don’t apply to bachelor parties. Your pal might be normally afraid to talk to a woman wearing shorts, but still want Cristal and Vixen to walk into the party wearing gift bows and smiles. He might be a guy who runs ten miles a day and eats nothing but granola; don’t assume he’ll be annoyed when you show up with a box of Cohibas and a quart of añejo.
3) On the big day, you are responsible for transporting the groom. Contrary to popular belief, it is not your responsibility to “get him to the church on time” unless he has repeatedly stated that that is where he wants to go. If he turns to you in the limo on the way to the ceremony and says “Get me out of here,” this is your moment, and this is why you’re here. His future is in your hands. Either talk him down or pilot his escape.
You are going to be making a toast. There are three simple rules to doing this right:
1) You may not give a ‘traditional’ toast, except as part of a larger toast you have written yourself.
2) You must have completed a written version of your toast at least two days in advance.
3) You may not have more than one drink per hour at the reception until after you speak.
If I had to reduce all the advice to one bit, it is this: Have a plan. If the groom gets food poisoning at the rehearsal dinner, have a plan. If the reader faints during the Psalm, have a plan. If an asteroid hits the reception hall during dinner, have a plan.
Once he and the bride are away post-reception, the best man is free to settle back with a cold beverage and a hot bridesmaid.
Groomsmen–who need not be male, by the way, but should be chosen on merit–are the grizzled veterans and the green enlistees to the Best Man’s field general.
Enlistees are new to this. They are apt to be eager to please, fired up to participate, and enthusiastic about the rituals involved. They are honored to be handed small duties and their excitement is infectious. That said, they can get overexcited, and some of them are too young to drink legally. They are a critical part of the team, but they require guidance, and someone to buy them beer.
A grizzled veteran has been a best man, and has the scarred wisdom to prove it. He does not view being a groomsman as a demotion, but as an opportunity to teach. It is his obligation to pass on what he knows not only by word, but by example. He buys the first round, reminds the kids that you have to tip if you sit at the rail, and demonstrates the art of greasing a bouncer/hostess/cop. First-time Best Men should lean on these veterans the way a fresh-faced lieutenant leans on his sergeant: One is unquestionably in charge, but a quiet suggestion from the nominal subordinate should not be lightly disregarded.
Enjoy yourselves, guys—after you make sure the groom does.