So, I read somewhere a long time ago that the Best Man at a wedding was there to protect the groom. That part I had right. I seem to recall a second part to it though, that it was his duty to take the Groom's place should he be killed on the way to or during the wedding ceremony. Err, no, not really, at least not anywhere I can find it again.
So, what is the Best Man really there for and how did this come about?
Well, the Huns and Goths used to resort to kidnapping to get their brides at times. No kidding, they really did. Here's the thing, you want to mate with someone not related to you or... bad things happen, we all know this, and today our society is so huge that diversification of the genes is easy.
Let's go back before planes, trains and automobiles, when horseback was the fastest way from Point A to Point B. Back before cell phones, and electricity, when the world was much larger and the population of humanity was much smaller.
A man lived in a village, probably made up of a dozen or so large family groups, and numbering somewhere in the hundreds for population, at best. If there were no women in his village that he wasn't related to, he might have to look to neighboring villages for a wife. Well, sounds great in theory, but what if the neighboring village and the woman's family didn't agree?
Then, you call in the "Best Man for the Job", or "Best Man with a Sword", to help in procuring your bride to be. I'm not advocating kidnapping, nor marriage against a woman's will, I'm simply recounting historical events that really did happen.
Think about it this way... he's the Best Man because, would you really want "The Just Alright" or "Moderately Okay" man to help you kidnap your wife? Of course not.
Oh! another thing.... the Best Man's job didn't end with kidnapping, he also stood guard, armed (sword or axe likely) next to the BRIDE during the ceremony! Yup, they did it a little different back then, and that tradition was likely changed due to jealous grooms.
So, there you have it, the tradition of the Best Man, and why he's called that. So, think hard, can your Best Man wield a sword?