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How to be the Best Groomsmen Ever

[Again, this is a "test" article for that new blog I'm working on. Your comments appreciated.]

I’ve been a groomsman nine times and a Best Man twice (everything but the groom or pastor. . . .I know, right?) . Being a groomsman is a big responsibility and not one to take lightly. You are standing up there to say, “Yes, I stand by my friend and I will help defend this marriage.” And man do not get me started when bride picks both the groomsmen and the bridesmaids. You got to be kidding me. 

And accepting the role of being a groomsman is saying, “I’m willing to work my butt off for this wedding.” If you say yes, be willing to be the greatest groomsman in the history of groomsmen.

Here’s how:

Five Days before the Wedding

If you can, show up way, way early. If the wedding is on a Saturday, you’ll be asked to be there Thursday or Friday (depending on how far away you live.) I’d recommend getting there a couple days BEFORE that. I know, you have to take off work, etc, but having the groomsman there early to help out is a huge help. Offer to help the groom with tasks he might have not have completed;


  • Picking up the tuxedos.
  • Cleaning out the car.
  • Cleaning his house.
  • Packing up his house if he’s moving.
  • Helping with honeymoon arrangements.

The groom has been bogged down by details and just needs a friend to bail him out. When I was groomsman for my buddy Ben, THREE of the bridesmaids quit two days before the wedding. DEFCON PINK. Ben needed to comfort his soon-to-be-wife and come up with a battle plan. He jotted down some tasks and with the help of his GPS I toured Cincinnati picking up tuxes, sunglasses he left at a restaurant, flowers, and his car was spotless when I was done. I also filled up the gas tank and picked up dinner for them.

Rehearsal/ Rehearsal Dinner

Pay attention during the rehearsal for the wedding. Don’t be the clown. Know when you walk out and meet the bridesmaid and walk her up. Then know how to exit. That’s it. Don’t be the guy who makes jokes or heckles the pastor/priest. No one likes that guy.

At the rehearsal dinner usually the parents of the bride and groom make the arrangements on this, but you do want to help with transportation if you can. This is the way of thanking all those who are helping with a dinner. Be grateful and no matter what gift they give you, smile and say “Thank You!” (I’ve always had awesome thank you gifts.)

Wedding Day

Your job is to say, “Yes, sir or ma’am!” the entire day. Show up on time (read: early), make sure you look sharp. Shave that morning, well ahead of time so any cuts heal (remember you are taking pictures). Help the other groomsmen get ready if need be (some of them will never have worn a tuxedo before.) Nail the entry, standing portion and exit. Smile. Smile. Smile.


One of the best ways I found to help with the reception is to keep the parents happy no matter what. The bride and groom are in their own world. But the parents need help with the following: transporting the gifts from the church to the house (can be done after the reception but at least load up the car.) and helping with any “unruly guests.”

Be the groomsman that dances with the little girls and the little old ladies. Make sure the parents of the bride and groom never, ever have empty glasses.

And most of all when the work is done, hit that dance floor and celebrate with your newly married friends. When the smoke has cleared, your friends are going to be very grateful for your effort. Well done!

What if you’re the Best Man?

Appreciate the honor. Men go their whole lives without that privilege—don’t blow it.

Now, you are the coach of the groomsmen. You get to know them, and then task them out (see above) if need be. You still have to pull their weight. One Best Man in a wedding I was in, took us out (we were all local) and bought us a round and gave us a pep talk about how he wanted to honor the groom and have this be the most flawless wedding ever. And let me tell you, after I finished my Appletini I was ready to tear it up!

But there is one thing the Best Man has to do that no one else can—the toast. OH LORD I have heard some bad speeches, references to the impending honeymoon (DUDE, we GET IT.) and other awkward moments.

This is how you TOTALLY CRUSH the Best Man Speech in 4 easy steps:

First though prepare: Can’t say this enough. I’ve been in weddings where the Best Man has turned to me and said, “Should I tell an embarrassing story or tell a joke?” He got pulled into the janitor’s closet, hit with a mop and here’s what I told him.

Step one: Talk about the groom: how you met him, why you love him and your favorite memory of him.

Step two: Talk about the day he met his bride OR when you first met her and how that happened. Make it cute. Tell us what the first great thing you noticed was.

Step three: Talk about her great qualities. Expound! And say how thankful you are that she met him.

Step four: Talk about them! Talk about your hopes for their lives from this day on.

That’s it: Him. Them. Her. Them. Look at them when you’re up there talking.

LET ME TELL YOU: ZERO PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER YOUR SPEECH unless it is horrible or awesome.

Choose awesome. (And remember, you know it’s going to be videotaped and reviewed over and over. .. . ) And if you tell an embarassing story or something they remotely do not like—then I hope you like dying alone in a hospice somewhere.

Other than that Best Man, your duties fall as above.

Be the coach, be the great toast giver and be the best man your groom wants you to be. 

*This can apply to any type of wedding as well as anniversaries and such.


  1. Jess DePew
    2012/11/21 at 20:42

    McRae, we still talk about that “bridesmaid fiasco” and how you were so helpful not only in the tasks but by being an emotionally intelligent friend who defended and loved us the whole way through. You are a true friend and we miss you like whoa :)

  2. Barry Burnett, A-418LOH
    2012/11/21 at 20:53

    Ryan, this is a very insightful and direct instruction manual on a topic seldom properly discussed, let alone eloquently outlined as you have. I suggest you submit it to BRIDES Magazine and various other major publications, like MARTHA STEWART’S LIVING and O!, as it is really excellent mentoring material and very well done! Not kidding. Submit it!

  3. 2012/11/22 at 7:22

    I can attest to you nailing this role. Plus I think you have a shirt to prove it.

  4. Lynn
    2012/11/22 at 7:34

    Ryan, this is fantastic, and I totally agree with the suggestion to submit it for publication! People don’t know this stuff, and you present it in such a positive and attractive way that I would expect it to be snatched right up as a guest column somewhere.