The Best Man's Guide to Being the Best: The Bachelor Party is Just the Beginning!
by Susan Hawkins

Think of it as being first officer to Captain Kirk on Star Trek, although you'll be boldly going where many men have gone before. Important responsibilities come with the honor of being best man, some you might never have even imagined-until now. Here are all the things you should be prepared to handle.

Your first day on the job!

Bachelor Party-This isn't the time for surprise parties. Check with the groom to see what kind of soiree he wants. Instead of strippers, he may want to go camping, whitewater rafting, shoot pool at a bar or spend the day fishing with a bunch of buddies. It's his call. And it's your tab, but you don't necessarily have to foot the bill. Just make sure the other guests know what expense will be required on their part. And here's an important tip: Don't have the bachelor party the night before the wedding. If he picks an evening at the bar, you may have to drag your hung-over groom to the altar.

Tuxedos-You're the "attire" team leader for all the groomsmen, ushers and ring bearers. It’s your job to make sure your team is fitted for tuxedos and has all the necessary accoutrements: shoes, cummerbunds, cufflinks, etc. You'll also pick up the tuxes when they're ready and get them into the right hands.

Emergency numbers-Make and keep a list of pertinent phone numbers with you on the big day for any unexpected problem that may arise. The list should include both sets of parents, the caterer, the wedding planner, the officiant (priest, minister, rabbi, etc.), limo driver, florist, the band, and anyone else contributing to the wedding. You might want to have some back-up numbers, in case the limo driver or florist can't make it.

Airport-The groom will be busy with family-related activities and stress, so make yourself available to pick up out-of-town guests from the airport, train station or wherever they may land.

Stash Some Cash-Expect nothing. Be ready for anything. Carry lots of cash and a credit card for any last-minute emergencies.

Cell Phone-Keep it charged. Carry it with you. Turn it off during the ceremony.

Rehearsal-Pay close attention so you can give the proper instructions those groomsmen who didn't.

Rest-Get a good night's sleep the night before the wedding. You're not done yet, and you need to be awake and alert.

The Wedding Day
You've followed the game plan. Now it's "Go" time!

Timekeeper-It's your job to get the groom to his ceremony on time, and not just the groom, but all the groomsmen, too. Though it may take some tough love, you've got to make sure the guys keep to the schedule and look like they're supposed to look.

Photograph Hound-Remember how you liked to play cowboy when you were a kid? Well, here's your chance to do it again. You're responsible for rounding up the groom and groomsmen and getting them to the designated locations for those once-in-a-lifetime photos. Knowing who needs to be where at what time ahead of time will save you time. It's all about appearing confident and in control-just like Captain Kirk.

Zero Hour
-About an hour before the ceremony, your place is by the groom's side, to be there for him. Calm his nerves if needed, and make sure his cummerbund isn't upside down and he remembered to put in his cufflinks. In other words, make sure he feels good and looks good.

Ring-a-ding-ding-Keep your eye on the bling! Your rented tux just may be the one with the hole in the pocket. To be safe, keep the ring in its box, in your pocket, and check on it often.

Toastmaster General-When it's time for your toast to the happy couple, enlist the help of the band or the emcee to get the guests' attention. (Too much expensive crystal has been broken by clinking a glass.) First and foremost, DO NOT WING IT. Prepare your toast ahead of time, practice it, and keep it brief. Say something heartfelt about the bride and groom, acknowledge and thank all the parents, grandparents and guests, and end your toast by wishing the bride and groom the best of luck. Then raise your glass, say "a toast to John and Jane," shake hands with the groom, kiss the bride, and go party.

You're doing great! Don't stop now!

Getaway Car-Here's another opportunity for fun! You get to organize the decoration of the getaway car. Don't go overboard, and don't use shoe polish, shaving cream or anything else that might damage the car's paint (especially if it's a rented limo!) Instead of tin cans, tie some helium balloons on the back bumper, place an unopened bottle of champagne in the front seat, and you're good to go. In the event there's no arranged driver, offer to drive them to the airport, hotel or wherever.

Tux Returns-No, not tax returns. You're still in charge of the tuxedos. Pick them all up, make sure all the pieces are there, and take them back where they belong. Then breathe a big sigh of relief—you're done, and you’ve been an amazing best man.

Nothing But the Best
Being the best best man means staying cool, no matter what, and taking care of problems that arise behind the scenes so the bride and groom can enjoy their moment. Now that you've got your prime directive, shoot for the stars!