Okay, that Sherlock photograph might be a little misleading, so we'll clear it up straight away - we can't arrange for Benedict Cumberbatch to speak at your wedding. We're good, but we're not that good. However, the business of hiring a Best Man has taken off in the last couple of years - and in this industry, discretion is everything, so we had to improvise. You don't want the man you hired to give that important speech to be popping up all over the internet, so these Best Men ensure they keep their true identity completely under wraps. We caught up with the mysterious EJ from www.hireabestman.co.uk, to find out what it's like really like being a professional Best Man...
How did this all begin for you? A few years ago I was asked to be Best Man for an old school friend who I hadn’t seen for years. Come the big day, I delivered the speech and realised that I was able to give a great speech and make people laugh, even though I wasn’t that close to him. And so the idea for Hire a Best Man was born.
What sort of people hire you and why would they choose your service instead of an old pal? A mixture of people. Often enquiries come from people whose original choice for Best Man is unavailable or they themselves have moved to a new country where they don't know many people. There are also people who don't trust their friends to do a good job or who know that their mate is the sort of guy to bring up that incident from their Magaluf holiday in 2004. Or some people’s best mate would hate public speaking and they don’t want to put that much pressure on them.
How do you nail the speech, having no history with the groom? I’m well-rehearsed by the time it comes to the big day. We’ll start with a chat and I’ll find out about their situation and requirements and I’ll get as much background as possible, but we’ll talk, email or meet in the run up to the wedding. However, a lot of grooms prefer to write an outline of the speech, so it’s just my job to tidy it up. You have to remember that you have a positive crowd of people too. They want you to succeed. No one wants to see the Best Man fall flat on his face.
How does it work on the day? Do you have a fake name and story? Most of the time I will pretend to be an old friend of the groom and people tend not to dig too deep, but there have been a couple of occasions where I have had to create an entire back story! There’s been a handful of jobs where it has been quite open, although I will still use a pseudonym. The bride is almost always in on it, but there have been a couple of jobs where this isn't the case, which can be a bit disconcerting! That said, they’re enjoying the wedding far too much to be that bothered by me!
How many times have you been hired as a Best Man? I’ve assisted on countless Best Man experiences - lots of men don’t want the full package, but want someone to write the speech or help them to rehearse the delivery. For the full Best Man experience, I’ve just done my twentieth job.
Best experience and worst experience? The best - probably being Best Man at a Comic Con themed wedding where I had to dress as Batman. The worst - There was a bad case of food poisoning at one wedding that had half of the wedding party back and forth to the bathroom all day, which made things eventful.
Being a smooth-talking Best Man, the bridesmaids flock, right?! Ha! It has been known, yes. One groom actually asked me to pay ‘special attention’ to a certain bridesmaid, as if I was an escort! Definitely not part of the service, and anyway, I'm a happily taken man, so I politely avoided that one.
How do you deal with the aftermath, when the groom’s family etc. will ask ‘what happened to that guy who was Best Man at your wedding?’ You know, I have always dreaded receiving a christening invite! As the bride and groom are usually in on this, I’ve never been contacted by the wedding party after the event, so I presume the groom does a decent job of blagging that I live ‘far, far away’ if his extended family enquire!
Have you been Best Man for real and how do the two compare? Just that one time for an old school friend. Of course it was a lot more special, being surrounded by family and friends, but it came with a lot more stress. Being hired as a Best Man is much easier – I’m an actor delivering a performance that has long been honed and fine-tuned. I’m confident and relaxed and I know I’m going to do a good job.
Pros and cons of the job? I get to travel all over the place and meet wonderful people. Weddings are such uplifting experiences, so to be involved in these happy occasions and be able to call it work is amazing. As for cons, I suppose the deception part can feel a bit draining, but I just remind myself of why I’m doing it, and seeing how much it helps the groom makes it all worthwhile.
If you'd like to find out more about Best Man services, you can check out www.hireabestman.co.uk.