Best Man Bootcamp Part 1 – What to say when you’re asked to be the Best Man
In the first installment of our new Best Man Bootcamp series, we’re starting from the very beginning – what should you actually do when you’re asked to be a best man?
Whether to say yes or no?
For most people, they wouldn’t think twice about saying yes. After all, it’s a great honour to be given such a big responsibility for a friend’s big day. But for some people, it’s not always that simple. In fact, while the majority of people would be happy to be asked, we often get approached for advice on what you should do if you simply can’t or don’t want to do it.
Why wouldn’t you say yes?
Many things go through your head when asked to be a best man, so it’s understandable that some people have reservations. For many, the idea of public speaking fills them with dread, so much so that it’s enough to put them off the whole thing, while others have such dire organisational skills that the idea of taking on such a big duty is not the most appealing (you’ll find more help at hand on the subject of speeches here, or organisational tips here). For some, being asked can be something of a surprise and you may not feel you even know the groom well enough to do the job justice, or don’t consider yourself as close as you once were. And what about those most awkward of situations, where you simply dislike the bride or disagree with the entire wedding? It’s a rare situation but it does happen.
Of course, nobody likes to let down one of their best friends or a close relative and it’s an honour to be asked to be a best man, so in an ideal world it’s something nobody would refuse. But that doesn’t mean you should say a reluctant yes, just for the sake of it. It’s better to go through the difficulty of turning down the role than it is to say yes and then let everybody down on the day by not doing a good job. After all, the families involved have spent a lot of money and this is such a major occasion for your friends that will be talked about for years to come, so it’s better to iron out any potential difficulties early on or even politely decline the post if you’re heart really isn’t in it or other reasons make it an impossible task for you to take on.
How to say no without burning any bridges
Deciding to say yes or no is only one step of the way, but how to you broach that tricky subject if you do decide to turn it down? Or, in other words, how do you say no without sounding like an asshole?
Explain your reservations
Be clear, first with yourself, and then with the groom-to-be about what it is that you have reservations about. It may even be something that can be sorted out without you relinquishing the role altogether. For example, if the prospect of public speaking is really making you panic, it’s not unheard of for you and the groom to choose another friend who loves the sound of his own voice to deliver the speech. Unorthodox maybe, but it can be successful.
Coming up with a lame excuse is the worst option. If you have a deep dislike of the person your friend is marrying, so much so that you feel you can’t give your full support to the wedding, then be honest. Your friend will no doubt be hurt, but he will (eventually) appreciate your honesty and it’s a better scenario then you accepting the role and letting your own personal gripes get in the way of doing it properly. That said, pretending you have too much work on or are being sent abroad for a period of time has got many men out of an awkward situation in the past.
Accept that it’s the best solution
You’re not saying no lightly, your friend may not recognise that instantly but if you explain your reasons clearly then he should come round to your way of thinking. You’ve already wrestled with the decision and decided that saying no is more favourable than saying yes and letting the happy couple down by not delivering what they need. Have the courage of your convictions and remember this when you have to broach the awkward subject.
Do it as soon as possible
Think of it like ripping off a plaster, quickly and cleanly is the best way. Some grooms place a lot of faith in their best man and he is often expected to play a very hands-on role in the organisation of the wedding, so if you’re not going to do it, it’s only fair that you let the would-be groom know as soon as possible so that your decision doesn’t start to affect their wedding planning.
Ok, so men displaying emotions to other men isn’t always the easiest thing and darn old ‘sensitivity’ doesn’t necessarily come naturally, especially when many male relationships consist almost exclusively of taking the piss out of each other. But this is one occasion when you have to accept the fact that you’re going to hurt your friend’s feelings, so man up, do it in person and do it in the most sensitive way possible. And don’t forget to tell him it was an honour to even be asked, even if you don’t agree that you are the best man for the job.
Be sure of your decision
All in all, if you’re considering saying no, think about all the eventualities and the potential fall-out of saying no. If your main reason is ‘work is busy at the moment’, think about whether you should really just be learning to prioritise your time better. If your friend is an emotional chap who will possibly never forgive you if you turn it down, think about whether you can actually stomach the role after all. It’s your decision to make, as long as you’ve thought it through and are clear and upfront about it, that’s the main thing anyone can ask.