DEALING WITH DIFFERENT STAG BUDGETS

Organizing a stag for one of your best mates is one of the greatest honours you will ever have. Let that glow wash over you for a few days because as soon as you get down to the nitty gritty of trying to assemble thirty odd blokes with varying tastes, personalities and budgets to agree on a place, things are going to get a lot harder.

My first tip for anyone in this position would be to decide on a location and stick with it. If you are keeping it a surprise from the groom and you are the only best man then at least make sure you get together with a couple of his closest mates and run the idea past them. As soon as you unleash the idea to the group of stags you need to be nailed on that you have the destination sorted, otherwise you run the risk of receiving fifteen well meaning but annoying emails suggesting loads of other places. I know someone who opened the idea of destination out to the group and ended up trying to reply to about forty five different suggestions whilst running his own business and expecting a baby. Sounds like a laugh to you? Exactly. Being the best man is like being a teacher or a coach. You need to have a quiet authority that seems to say " I'm your buddy, I'm your pal and I will be the first on the jaeger bombs on a Friday night, however question my choice of destination again and the closest you'll get to the stag is watching the flipogram of us at Manchester dog track."

I know, I know no one likes a dictator. That's why you're going to thoroughly do your homework before you even think about sending the first email out. It can be as simple as sitting down for a pint with the groom and finding out what he actually wants from a stag. Not everyone wants to wake up in Vegas with a tattoo of a Dolphin riding a segway on their inner thigh, some people would be happier with a night in the local beer garden as long as everybody they knew could come. The main thing you need to find out is who are the A list people that the groom can't imagine not being there. If everyone on this list is making more cash than they know what to do with then the world is your oyster, if not then it's time to start narrowing the options.

I've been to stags in Valencia, Barcelona and an amazing cottage in the Cotswolds with a hot tub, I've also been to hostels in Newquay, Weymouth and Newport. I enjoyed every single one of them and so did the stags. The most important thing with any social gathering is the people, get that right and you can't go wrong.

It's also worth reminding yourself that the bleaker the place you go to, the less the damage deposit will be. Boys will be boys!

FLYING SOLO AT A WEDDING

 

There’s nothing like an invitation to a wedding when you’re unattached to turn the happiest singleton from George Clooney into David Brent. We’ve all strutted into a wedding full of hopes and dreams of leaving with a beautiful bridesmaid and ended up weeping into a jaeger bomb whilst everyone else is slow dancing.

When I first started attending weddings in my mid twenties the singles out numbered the couples considerably.Ten years on and quite a lot has changed. Being a single person at a wedding over the age of thirty can be quite depressing and can lead you being faced with the following three scenarios:

1: The Forced Set Up

You are both friends of the bride. You’ve met once at a party and had a laugh and added each other on Facebook at some point. Now you have been purposely sat next to each other at a table that is in clear vision of everyone else at the wedding. The bride thinks you’ll be married by next year, the brides auntie has started knitting a bonnet for your first born and Uncle Jim has got a tenner on you snogging before the speeches are finished. A bit awkward yeah?

2: The Embarrassing Mix Up

You chatted to a lovely lady at the church and now you’re sharing a sly fag outside whilst the DJ is hammering through Steps’s greatest hits. She’s laughing at all your jokes, she’s playing with her hair when she’s talking to you and she’s here all on her own. Then as you are nervously building up to asking her to go for a dance her phone starts chirruping in her pocket. Turns out it’s her fiancee who’s in Africa doing something really interesting and selfless. “You’d get on really well with him” she says.  The worst thing is you probably would.

3: Convincing Yourself You Want To Be Married

Getting married is SO much more than being all smiles on a sunny afternoon in May whilst your mates and friends drink away your minimal savings. It’s about compromising on things that you would never have considered before, it’s supporting someone else through all the highs and lows that life is capable of throwing at you and it’s going to your in laws house for Christmas at least every other year for the rest of your existence. Despite all that, when you’re watching the speeches through tear stained eyes the only thing you are thinking about is how you will be watching 80’s films in bed by yourself every Saturday night forever.

The truth is though, if you’ve got a load of mates, all your limbs and a job that pays you enough to have the odd weekend away then you are already luckier than most of the people in the world. Get that suit dry cleaned, brush your teeth and put your dancing shoes on. Oh yeah, maybe ask that beautiful stranger in the church if her boyfriend is coming to the evening doo. Best laid plans and all that.

SHARING A SPEECH

It's fair to say that years ago weddings were much quicker. A speedy “I do” and a few nervous words from the bride's father and the groom before the best man took the stage and made a few risqué remarks. Job done.

These days weddings can almost resemble mini festivals with Friday evening drinks, a full day of entertainment on the Saturday and then an extremely hungover gathering on the Sunday as everyone contemplates the long drive home and return to sobriety. Bigger weddings mean longer speeches and often two or three people sharing the role whether as best men or maids of honour. 

When working on a speech with other people it can be tempting to write it together and simply tag each other in and out like a troupe of WWE wrestlers or an unrehearsed version of the Beastie Boys. If you manage to carry this off it will quite rightly bring the house down, unfortunately though, you probably wont. Unless the three of you were raised by wolves and did not come into contact with any other forms of society, it is likely that you will all have very different memories and anecdotes about the bride and groom.  You will end up arguing long into the night about who is going to get the best lines and inevitably at least two of you will feel like The Supremes to Diana Ross.

The last wedding I attended there was a perfect example of how to do a great shared speech. The three best men had met up several times and shared their speeches with each other so that nobody was stepping on the others toes. They also split the speeches up into different eras of the groom’s life which made for a nice transition between each speaker.

Sharing a speech is not perfect but there are ways and means of ensuring it doesn't turn into a car crash. Plan in advance, agree on anecdotes that give everyone a fair share of the limelight and you will go down like The Three Tenors instead of The Three Stooges.

Oh yeah, don't do a funny 'rap' in the hope it will go viral unless Salt-N-Pepa are writing it for you.

DEALING WITH BESTMAN ENVY

Times have changed since your parents generation. Choosing a best man was once a very cut and dried decision, usually the groom would have a straight choice between his oldest friend from childhood and his closest or only brother. Nowadays people tend to move around a lot more, lose touch with old friends and strike up intense relationships with people in university or in the workplace. This can make choosing the best man very difficult as it often pits two people in direct competition. These days it is not uncommon for a groom to choose two or more best man as he does not want to alienate any of his closest friends by making them feel second best.

If you find yourself as one of two best men it can make things a little difficult if you dont really know each other. It is not uncommon for some really competitive guys to try and out do the other best man with a speech, completely take over the organisation of the stag or (even worse) ignore their duties altogether and mope around feeling slighted that they weren’t chosen as a clear favourite.

Sometimes in this situation it can be tempting to leave the other bloke to it and make sure that you are doing what you needed to do. However it’s important to remember whose day it is and ensure that everything is done in the best interests of the groom. If you feel there is a bit of a divide with yourself and the other best man, or perhaps with an usher, then it’s best to nip it in the bud early. Go out for a pint and get it sorted out, bond over how annoying the brides Mum is if you have to. Whatever you do, dont leave it to fester until you end up squared up to each other in a Bavarian Beer House in Norwich dressed as sailors.

Spare a thought for the groom and how difficult it would be if you had to decide your best man tomorrow. That clear image of who you thought would be passing you the rings has probably shifted over the years. It means nothing has changed in your friendships but it may well cause a lot of unwelcome friction in a time of your life that is already stressful enough. If you really dont like each other you just have to grin and bare it and deliver the goods for a man who you both really love. If things have gone this bad however, make sure you are wearing a helmet for the tossing of the bouquet!