Origins of the Best Man


Many years ago, pre medieval times, the grooms best man stood beside the bride at the altar. He assumed his position at the side of the bride as protection throughout the wedding ceremony. What was the meaning behind the protection? Is it not the best mans’ job just to throw a huge bachelors party, and say a few kind words at the reception?

The best man was traditionally a friend of the groom, and asked by the groom to be the chief guardian of the bride during the time preceding the wedding. He in turn would appoint mutual friends to help with the duty of protecting the bride and seeing to it that she got to the wedding on time and unscathed. This is the origin of the best man and groomsmen, or traditionally called “The brides knights”.

Of course, scandal wasn’t uncommon in the Anglo-Saxon days of Great Britain. And on occasion it has been told that the Best Man with the assistance of his groomsmen would kidnap the bride. Some could interpret this as being an act of selfishness or unkind, others might detail a different story. Most marriages in the dark ages were still arranged and courtship was granted by the father of the bride to better the family status. Thus, potential suitors would be pitted against each other; similar to applying for a job. Your letter to the father would outline your traits, qualities and suitability to wed his daughter.

Of course, the daughters were still given a lot of freedom and allowed to marry in most instances where they too consented. But in the cases where the parents did not approve, they would see their daughter kidnapped by the groomsmen and guarded until married.
Of course the family would take action and try to dispel the marriage, even whilst the two delinquents were at the altar! Hence you will find that the Groom would stand to the right of the bride at the altar so his sword could be drawn quickly to defend his position in marriage. And the best man would guard the bride by standing on the brides other side until the vows had been completed.


And what about the bridesmaids? Where did they come from?
It is the maid of honor’s responsibility to attend to the bride in the days leading up to the wedding. The usual duties of grooming, making sure the bride looks her best and helping with this process. (as we all know the phenomenon that is females always doing things in pairs).

But jesting aside, other duties or responsibilities of the bridesmaids might be to assist with decorating, and making sure the wedding is carried out in accordance with the brides wishes.

But it wasn’t always the case. They were always dressed in similar attire to the bride too, but this had a more sinister legend behind it. It was believed that evil spirits might try to curse the marriage. And so it was the bridesmaids role to confuse these evil spirits by looking and acting as the bride did on the wedding day.

This tradition continued through the dark ages, and became particularly cunning around the time of Edward Longshank’s reign, where a lord taking the bride into his bedroom on the first night of her marriage was also good reason to confuse the lords with bridesmaids.

In modern times, the roles are equally important. Support, love and caring are all the qualities required of good Groomsmen and Bridesmaids. Support for those in which you love and care about enough to assist them on their day of marriage.