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Wedding weaponry

Weddings – hardly the most likely topic for the first edition of a magazine devoted to celebrating the single status. But just as every romantic comedy couple has its single supporting players, so too every wedding has its best man and bridesmaid. And since the wedding season is now upon us, Brigid Fitzgerald offers some advice on duties, responsibilities and surviving your role.

“Being asked to be best man is like being asked to make love to the Queen. It’s a great honour, but you dread the moment when you have to rise to perform.”
This is a line frequently quoted in wedding speeches and one which sums up the feelings of many best men and bridesmaids in the run up to a wedding. In researching this piece, I asked one couple what they were looking for in their bridesmaid and best man. They said that, friendship and closeness aside, they wanted laid back people who could be relied on to offer support and calm nerves. A look around the abundant online forums devoted to weddings reveals that this couple may have a difficult search on their hands. Stress and anxiety are not emotions limited to the brides and grooms who post there. While the wedding pressure is greatest on the couple, their supporting acts are also using the forums to express their concerns and vent their stresses in the run up to the big day.

Pre-wedding jitters
Bridesmaid and best man duties start long before the day of the wedding but in this regard the best man often gets off lightly. Since the bride traditionally does the majority of the wedding organisation, the bridesmaid may find herself PA to a party planner for the duration. It is important to clarify at the outset what is expected of the best man and bridesmaid during this period. This will help to ease or eradicate any resentment later on. Generally, you should agree to do what is asked of you, but you should also consider that you might not be the appropriate person for the task and you can decline some duties if you don’t have the time. It is far easier to say no straight away than to disappoint later on.
If you have had the misfortune to see Made of Honour or countless American romantic comedies involving weddings, you might be under the impression that a bridesmaid’s role prior to the big day will be the equivalent of a full time job. Indeed, some bridesmaids are expected to go to amazing lengths, but this isn’t usually the case. Generally bridesmaids will be expected to lend support and be an eager listener during preparations and planning. You might also be asked to help with invitations, seating plans, or other arrangements but most commonly bridesmaids will be expected to help in choosing the all important wedding dress.
When it comes to the wedding dress search, prepare your fake smile and your gushing noises, and prepare them to last because you may be dragged to numerous shops to see countless dresses…several times. The dress is a lot like the groom – you don’t have to like it, but you do have to pretend to, while it’s in the picture. If the bride likes a dress, unless it’s a travesty beyond all reason, agree with her choice. That is not to say that your opinion doesn’t matter and it is important that you point out any serious concerns, but don’t be too scathing as she may ultimately pick that dress. She did, afterall, pick that husband. If a choice has been made, agree with it. You may finally be starting to see a difference between the various shades of white on offer, this is probably exhaustion induced, don’t look back now, grab the chance and escape for a well-deserved drink.

You’ll be glad of that drink because the next stop is the bridesmaids’ dress shop. Bridesmaid attire is a serious concern for many bridesmaids but, put in perspective, how catastrophic could it actually be? Even if you are required to parade about in orange for a day, nobody will assume that you chose to. While you might think you look ridiculous, while you might actually look ridiculous, it’s just for one day –the bride’s day – so don’t put up a fight.. You can get your own back in ridiculous outfits and dildo necklaces on the hen night!

Here come the good times
Stag parties and hen nights are a supporting player’s chance to shine. Limiting your bride or groom’s involvement will make it seem as if you are taking on a huge chunk of responsibility, thereby boosting your kudos considerably. Happily, it also gives you an excuse to plan a night out just the way you want it. There are plenty of options out there and the internet is a great resource to help you choose anything from the standard piss up to a quirky and original night of entertainment. All you have to do is decide what is most appropriate and fun (maybe check that it’s ok with your bride/groom) and let guests know the plans.
When it comes to the event, many organisers worry about the intricacies of information spreading, block booking accommodation, appropriate transport, or other issues. That is very considerate and can mean less financial outlay for attendees, so if you are an organised and motivated person by nature, then look into those issues. Remember though. that level of organisation is not mandatory. Stag and hen nights are generally adult-only events, meaning that the guests are old enough to look after themselves. So if you want to limit your troubles, give people a venue and a time and let them get on with planning the rest.

The big day (and that big speech!)
The wedding day is the best man’s turn to step up and earn his title. The ceremony will be reasonably regimented and everyone will have been briefed on where to be, what to do and when throughout. In addition to ceremonial duties, bridesmaids will be expected to help the bride to get ready, assist guests to their seats, be sociable and always ready to help the bride in any way she can. The best man is expected to get the groom to the church on time, to remember the rings and to help people to their seats. The best man also often acts as host during the day so he will have to gather gifts, let people know the schedule of events and troubleshoot any problems that arise, all while dreading the big speech he is eventually going to have to make.
Few people are comfortable speaking in public so the best man’s speech is a common cause of concern. Luckily there are loads of websites out there to help and, in contrast to many public speaking engagements, everyone at this event wishes the speaker well, they want to be entertained, and they have been drinking. They will clap at the appropriate time. They will laugh at jokes, regardless of their quality. Just as a speech is part of the best man’s duties, guests know that laughing and clapping are both part of their duties.
Think about what you would like to say about the couple or a few funny stories about the groom and string them all together with jokes. Ideally, the jokes will be original and specific to the speech but you can use the internet if you need to. People may recognise the jokes you find there from other weddings but that’s only means other best men have used the same resource. Everybody does, it is acceptable and almost a wedding tradition in itself at this stage. It might help to practice beforehand to become familiar with your delivery and you should run the speech by friends to boost your confidence. Don’t rush but remember to keep it short – people will be anxious to get to the toasting part!
So here’s to the happy couple and here’s to their supporting players who listened to their worries, lived through their stress and offered sage advice all while providing the witty quips and background stories that made the whole thing worthwhile. Cheers!

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