Essential skills for the modern world

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While being asked to be best man is touching, it is also a daunting prospect. A range of duties traditionally fall under your remit – organising the stag do, keeping hold of the rings, giving a speech at the reception – but exactly what these are depends on the type of wedding the happy couple have plumped for. Sit down with the groom and work out exactly what is expected of you.

Plan a good send-off

Don’t believe the groom if he insists that he doesn’t want a stag night: it’s a rite of passage and you will have failed your friend if you don’t organise at least a token send-off. That is not to say that you must buy into the whole cliché of strippers and weekends spent spraying the cobbled streets of Prague with vomit: a nod to tradition is fine. So if the groom is the kind of man who prefers a good whisky and a game of chess to sticky-floored nightclubs, plump for a classy get-together.

Stay calm

While you might be nervous on the big day, you can guarantee that the groom will be more so. Try to keep your friend calm, and get him to the church on time, looking presentable. This is half of your job done. The best man is also in charge of keeping hold of the bride’s wedding ring until the ceremony – guard it with your life.

Give a good speech

It’s important to understand the rules governing the toasts. Wedding speeches are essentially an antiquated dance, which begins with the father of the bride welcoming the guests and toasting the newlyweds, moves onto the son-in-law responding to that toast and thanking the bridesmaids, and ends with the best man responding on behalf of the bridesmaids, in something resembling a ventriloquist’s act.

While the best man usually has years of history with the groom, remember you are playing to a mixed audience and don’t rely on in-jokes.