In today’s wedding traditions, the responsibilities of the best man are benign – remembering the rings and giving a speech at the reception may be stressful, but they certainly aren’t hazardous to the best man’s health. Things were much different, however, when the concept of the best man originated with the Germanic tribes nearly 2,000 years ago.
During this time, a man in search of a bride often had to kidnap her from a nearby village. This was a dangerous mission, and it would have been foolish for a prospective groom to try it alone. Therefore, he would select the best man in his village to assist him. The best man was chosen for his strength, reliability, and weapons skills.The best man’s job was not over once the raid had been completed. There was still the possibility that the bride’s family would crash the wedding and attempt to steal her back by force. For this reason, the best man would stay next to the groom throughout the ceremony, ready to protect the blissful couple until the marriage could be completed.
This is also the reason why the bride traditionally stands to the left of the groom during the wedding ceremony – so that he and the best man could keep their weapons in their right hands to protect her.Since the likelihood of furious, armed relatives storming a wedding ceremony and dragging the bride away has diminished in recent years, the title of the best man has become a symbol of honor and of friendship rather than of confidence in the ability to use a spear.
If you have been selected to be a best man, however, you can take pride in the importance that your role has carried throughout the millennia.