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Best Man History & Origins

(Last Updated On: 07/10/2018)

When people think of the best man, they think of a man helping out and supporting his friend on the day of his wedding. The duties of the best man are seen as a serious but also fun duty. However the origins of the best man are far from different from today. There is much symbolism in the duties of the modern era. The actual reasons for these duties are quite different than how they are today. Today we delve into the work of best man history and see where it all began.

Best Man History, How Did It All Start?!

Best Man History And Duties
The Best Man Preforming His Wedding Duties On Hot Summer Day On The Beach

Best For Different Reasons

When people hear ‘best man’ they generally think of them as the best friend or close friend of the groom. However many years ago the best man was ‘best’ because he was best with the sword. You see, marriages were different to how they are today. Back then you may have needed to kidnap your bride. While this practice is not used these days back then it was quite common.

There were 2 instances where a person would kidnap their bride. Firstly, if there was not enough women in the local village then you would need to go to the nearest village to steal one. The other reason is that you may have fallen for someone but their family disapproved of the relationship. As a result she would have to be taken by force. The best man would assist in helping capture the grooms intended bride.

Warrior At The Alter

Back in the day of bride kidnapping the best man actually stood next to the bride. This was for a few reasons. Firstly if she was kidnapped then there is a high chance that her respective family would attempted to get her back and prevent the wedding from happening. The best man was in position to fend them off. Secondly there may be other suitors who wished to claim the ladies hand. If this was to happen then he was there to fend them off. Lastly if the bride was going to attempt an escape then the best man was there to prevent this from happening.

Consummate Professional

The best man was literally a consummate professional. Rather a professional to assist in making sure that the wedding was consummated. Just like him being at the alter to be a guard, he also guarded the honeymoon suite. This was similar to the bride potentially being taken back from her family, from another suitor or a her wanting to escape.

Protector Of The Rings

The only duty of the best man that still holds up these days is that he must hold onto the rings. This was because over the years, families would attempt to steal the bride back. The best man also inherited the responsibility of the wedding bands.

There you have it, while the duties have changed some aspects are the same or at least have a link to their history. So when you look at a best man at a wedding at least you know how the best man history that came before him that evolved to today’s traditions. Are you interested in the history of wedding traditions, check out the maid of honour history (coming soon)

What are your thoughts of best man history? Any traditions you think we missed out? Let us know and join the discussion below 🙂

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  • Shafan says:

    Fantastic story very interesting.
    I am a groom mother.

    Thanks very much

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