The Best Man Diaries – Alex (6/6)
There are few honours in life more highly valued than the chance to be someone’s best man. It is an honour bestowed upon someone after serious thought. It is an honour bestowed upon someone trustworthy, organised, and mature. So imagine my surprise when my best friend asked me.
I’ve known Alex since we were roughly nine or ten years old. We met when I tripped him over in Scouts and bashed his head against the floor. What can I say – I was a troubled child. From this event, however, an unlikely friendship blossomed, and throughout school and adulthood we’ve remained partners in crime.
He accompanied me to Hong Kong for my 21st Birthday and then again to Thailand for my wedding, as my best man, of course. Simply put, Alex is the best man I know. And so, when he asked me to do him the honour of being his best man, I couldn’t have been more flattered.
Then he told me he was getting married at a train station and I realised that he had simply lost the plot.
After the Stag
Once the stag do has been and gone, many a best man would assume his duties are done and that his responsibilities here are finished. The good best man would know otherwise. The great best man would go the extra mile.
Weddings are a complicated affair and take a lot of organising. Being a good best man means that you get yourself involved wherever possible. It means using your various skills to help out where you are needed. In my case, this meant editing music for the ceremony, and for my co-best man, that meant facilitating his background in photography.
Basically whatever you can do to help, offer to do it. The bride and groom have a lot on their plate, anything that they can get ticked off the list will be a step in the right direction. On top of that, you have the usual duties of ushering, ring-bearing, and, of course, writing a speech.
As I mentioned briefly before, my friend Alex decided to have his wedding at a train station. Admittedly, the train line down in Romney, Hythe and Dimchurch is no ordinary train line, but pint-sized steam engines aside, I was moderately unimpressed with the decision at first. Even when we journeyed down a week prior to the wedding to look around and get an idea of what we’d be getting up to on the day, I was surprised by how modest it seemed the wedding would be.
Boy, how wrong was I?
As a best man, you can make a few arguments for how you should approach your friend’s wedding if you don’t like something that they are doing. You can either politely suggest alternatives, point out unashamedly that their wedding is on track for disaster, or sit back and watch as the whole thing unfolds.
Generally speaking I opt for option two. I lack all manner of tact and I’m quite happy to point out how things can be improved, making no apology to anyone whose feelings are decimated in doing so. On this occasion however I saw fit to remain shtum. While I felt unimpressed by what I saw, I trusted in my friend’s vision – if anyone could make this work, they could.
How you decide to deal with these situations depends solely on your own relationship with your friend, how honest you feel you can be with them, and how concerned you are about their ability to produce the goods on the day – for their own sake, of course.
I was right to stay quiet. The wedding was beautiful.
From the ceremony at New Romney to the reception (after an interesting train ride) in Dungeness, everything was not only beautiful, but interesting. It was an excellent twist on the format of a wedding, where the guests were literally transported from one part of the couple’s journey to the next.
What’s a Best Man to do?
If you’ve been given the honour of being someone’s best man, you’ll likely feel, on the day, as though you should be doing something, and you’ll be constantly wondering what that thing is. I certainly felt like I should be doing more than I was. I felt like I did more in the lead up to the day than I actually did in the end. Perhaps I missed out on certain aspects of the role, but for the most part, I stayed nearby and tried to do as requested.
I was the ring-bearer, so obviously I had that part of the day covered – protect the rings with my life and don’t, whatever I do, drop them. There does seem to be rather a lot of tension at this point of the day regarding whether the best man will somehow mess up. Fortunately any anxiousness I might have had was completely overlooked by the guests as the groom’s two-year old niece attempted to rugby tackle the bride at the pivotal moment and thus took all attention off of me.
Once I was done with ring-bearing, it was down to me to help usher people into carriages – usually at this point people would be ushered into chairs for their meals. The newly-weds had opted for a buffet style dinner at their reception down in Dungeness. At which point, it wasn’t too long before I was required to make a toast to the couple alongside the father of the bride, and on this occasion, father of the groom.
If you struggle with writing a best man speech, there are loads of sites that will help you to make digs at your friend. As a writer, I personally find it lazy and impersonal to completely copy an online speech, but if the speeches you find do actually suit your groom, then I can’t see why you shouldn’t use their services.
But for me, I found it best to write my own jokes. That way I could properly measure what was appropriate, and I could allow my heart to dictate a few choice personal moments too – because frankly there is little else more touching than one guy showing another guy some affection – we’re so rarely allowed to do it, if not now, when?
Whatever your job as best man entails, there is one thing that is more important than anything else, one thing that overrules everything else – and that is simply to be there. Your friend might be anxious about the wedding. He might be nervous or unsure. It is your job to be there for him and guide him through safely. It is your job to be by his side as he takes on a new role in his life. It is your job to be a best man. His best man. The best man that you can be.
If you’ve been a best man or seen a best man do a particularly good job, we’d love to hear a shout out for our brothers in arms – those who have stood the test of best man-ship and lived to tell the tale; the comment section is below – you know what to do.
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