The Term "Best Man" and its Significance

Here’s a little historical insight on how the term “best man” came up and the evolvement of its duties.

Originated from the German Goths, the tradition of a best man was introduced to aid a man in the search of his bride who needed to travel to neighboring countries for long distances and time, to seek out his beloved. The groom was given the right to sought out the best man on hand to accompany and safeguard his search. “Best” at those times of course meant a brave warrior able to undertake beasts and bad weather. The best man would continue to be by the groom’s side and would be the sole protector of the ring. His role then evolved into a deeper nature where he would be standing focused and well-armed during the wedding ceremony in case of any threats. Mostly, the danger would be in the case where the bride’s family would attempt to seize the bride by force and recapture her back into their kingdom.

Today, these old traditions may sound fictitious and amusing. However, if you look closely you will realize that ensuring the groom is perfectly dressed, reaches the ceremony on time, helping in the arrangements of the bachelor party and wedding reception and signing the marriage license; also sounds like you are the groom’s protection shield. Your speech of good luck and love filled wishes for the couple, all the more, links to the old tradition of ensuring the newlyweds are happy and safe. While, keeping of the bride’s ring until the vows are exchanged is a direct connection to the ancient times. The fact that you and the groom dress almost identical also has its share of an interesting olden belief. At those times, the best man and bridesmaid were to dress exactly like the bride and groom in order to mystify the evil spirits from causing the couple harm. It was believed that the negative aura would get confused and not be able to direct their negative energy on the auspicious couple. I’m sure that is not expected out of you today as the phrase “evil spirits” would be enough to make you run on your heels.

So, if you feel less honored and more nervous about being picked as the best man, think again! At least, you were not born centuries ago to help your friend kidnap his bride and stand throughout the ceremony with an immense sword on your waist. You are just the helpful, friendly man in a suit, humbly standing next to the groom. So take up your role seriously, carry out your tasks whole heartedly and perfectly and of course safeguard the ceremony honorably.