The Best Man Had to do What?!

Compared to the maid of honor, it seems like the best man has it pretty easy. As the maid of honor, you are responsible for attending several events, showers, etc, going with the bride to all of her fittings, planning the bachelorette party, go to the rehearsals, holding the bouquet during the ceremony, adjusting the dress as needed throughout the ceremony, giving a speech at the reception, and basically helping the bride wherever necessary. Whew! Whereas the best man is mainly accountable for planning the bachelor party, going the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, holding the rings, and giving a speech. Pretty simple right? Well, the best man used to have a very different, and interesting set of responsibilities centuries ago.

The earliest accounts of the best man goes back as far as the sixteenth century when his sole duty was to help the groom kidnap a woman who he wanted to marry. This tradition of kidnapping brides is believed to have originated from the Germanic Goths. Usually, a man would marry a woman from his own town or village, but sometimes if there were not enough women in his own town, he would have to go to neighboring towns and villages to select a suitable bride. Once he found one that he liked and wanted to marry, he would invade the town and kidnap her, asking only one of his most intimate man who he thinks is the “best man” for the job.

During the ceremony, the best man would also try to protect the couple from the bride’s family (who would probably try to get her back) unless they were accepting of the groom. Not only did he have to keep an eye out for the bride’s family, but it was also his responsibility to thwart any other men from hijacking the bride. Pretty serious job, huh?

The best man used to stand to the right of the groom, so that he could have his hand on his sword and at the ready throughout the ceremony in case his services were needed to protect the bride and groom.

So best men today should consider themselves lucky that all they have to deal with is a bachelor party and speech at the reception as opposed to a knock-down, drag-out over who gets to keep the bride!

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