Groom Duties

When the Best Man Isn’t

Photo by Nathan Welton

Back when you chose your best man, you offered the gig to your best friend Chucky, your pothead roommate from college.

Flash forward seven months.

Pothead Chucky has mistakenly ordered the lemon-colored tuxedos, cleverly planned the bachelor party on the weekend after your wedding, and dropped your rings down the toilet. So you’re forced to fire Pothead Chucky, right? Demote him?


An unequivocal no. There’s only one acceptable reason for demoting your best man: he had sex with your fiancée. That’s it.

See also: Train Wreck Toasts – Wedding Toasts Reviewed

Brides will tell you otherwise. Wedding-porn will tell you otherwise. When Maid-of-Honors aren’t pulling their weight, many girls will bust out the pink-slips and seek new leadership. For us men? One tenet of Guy Code clearly states, without exception, that you prioritize lifelong friendships over cummerbunds. Even if there’s gross incompetence, firing Pothead Chucky will create a rift, crush his pride, and ultimately kill your bro-mance. Don’t do it.

Then again…you can’t just keep Pothead Chucky in charge long enough to ruin your wedding, the way the Knicks inexplicably kept Isiah Thomas as coach for two disastrous seasons. You need to find a middle ground.

Here’s how you play it.

If He Drops the Ball On: Coordinating the Tuxes

Unlike most of the best man’s duties, this is one that can actually impact the ceremony. It’s important. So the first thing you should do is explain to Pothead Chucky what needs to be done, when it needs to happen, and whether he has any questions. Check in frequently. If you think there’s any risk whatsoever that Chucky will botch the job, then start the whole damn process a month earlier than the schedule indicates, and give Chucky a BS deadline that affords you a month “buffer zone.” That way, if and when Chucky screws the pooch, you still have time to make things right.

If He Drops the Ball On: Planning Your Bachelor Party

Easy. Tell Chucky that if there’s any kind of bachelor party, your fiancée’s family (always a good scapegoat) says that you need to know by April 1st. (Or whatever—pick a date that’s three months before your wedding, so that you have plenty of time for error.) If April rolls around and nothing’s happened? Delegate to someone else. Tell Chucky that Evan, one of the groomsmen, has some thoughts for the bachelor party and ask him, tactfully, if it’s cool that Evan helps him do the planning. Chucky will be grateful and even thrilled—more time for Cheetos and Pineapple Express.

If He Drops the Ball On: Guarding Your Wedding Rings

By the day of the ceremony itself, you’ll know if Pothead Chucky can be trusted to carry around your wedding rings. Don’t risk it. Just keep them on your person until the ceremony is literally minutes from starting. At that point, there’s no way that he can lose the rings unless he swallows them or shoves them up his ass. And if that happens, forget what we said earlier. Fire Chucky.

If He Drops the Ball On: Delivering a Toast

This might be less of “dropping the ball” and more about shyness or insecurity. Just give him a pep talk and refer him to our guide. Let him know that you’re not expecting an Obama-esque oratory; all he has to do is say a few very quick words. And if he’s paranoid about speaking, stutters like Buster from Arrested Development, and emphatically refuses to speak? No problem. Have one of the groomsmen step up—no harm, no foul.

If He Drops the F-Bomb in Your Toast

Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe Chucky’s a loose cannon—confident and boozy—who has a 30% chance of telling the crowd about your “accidental” experimentation with a golden shower? Take preventive measures. Let him know in advance that while you think the story’s funny as shit, any jokes about sex or urination—particularly when combined—are strictly forbidden. Print out and hand him The Plunge guidelines for making best man toasts. For extra measures you can have another groomsmen standing by with a second mic, ready to give him the hook.

If he literally talks like Gilbert Gottfried from The Aristocrats and drops an F-bomb in every f#$king thing he motherf#cking says even when the co#ksucker doesn’t have a fu@king reason? Have one of the groomsmen monitor his alcohol intake, remind him again and again about keeping it clean, or, if this is truly a ticking bomb, consider slashing the toast from the agenda.

One final note on this: you’re probably just being paranoid. Your friends aren’t stupid. Okay, maybe your friends are stupid. But even your stupid friends realize that a wedding has a certain decorum and protocol. They’ll surprise you with their class.

If He Drops the Ball On: Anything Else

Keep them on as a figurehead, but delegate the real work to another groomsman. Does he get a free ride? Is it a little unfair? Yes and yes, but it’s a small price to pay for not demolishing your lifelong friendship. This strategy also works for brothers. You might get squeezed into picking your brother as a best man even if he’s estranged, incompetent, or dumber than a sack of rocks. Family’s family, what can you do, right?

In this case, think of your best man as the Queen of England—all ceremony, no substance. Everyone wins.

The next complication: what if your bride wants to use a wedding planner?

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