What are you to your 'best man'?

boozer

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hi friends,

We all know that your 'big brother', i.e. a friend of yours who helps you on your wedding day, is your 'best man'. (I am taking the bridegroom's perspective, of course :D ). But then, what are you to him? Like, for instance, Mr. X is my best man and I am his _____ ?

See, it appears that in my language there is a word for this kind of relationship and I myself learnt it not long ago and since then this knowledge has been haunting me mercilessly, until today matters were brought to a head by an applicant submitting his application form. :D He was supposed to describe his relationship with his host and he had left a blank space. And he asks me. And with all of my divine authority, I remain silent. Well, it was a dignified kind of silence, but silence nonetheless. :D I did check a bilingual dictionary, but found nothing useful. In fact, all google does is transcribe the Bulgarian word into English. :)

Any hint is highly appreciated.
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    As far as I know, there's no specific word to denote this relationship. Unlike some other languages I've encountered (yours, presumably), English is remarkably short on specific terms for relationships that go beyond the immediate family.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    (yours, presumably) ...
    Mine, indeed, most definitely - we have several words for the wife of your mother's brother, a different set of words (all synonyms) for the wife of your father's brother and thousands of words, both heard and unheard of, for various relatives one hardly ever meets these days... I have heard some of them but do not and cannot know them all. Every once in a while I hear a new one and this has been going on for 37 years now. :D

    But, thank you Cyber and Miss Julie. It is a strange thing that English came up with a word for your best man but never bothered to adopt one for the bridegroom. :)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We all know that your 'big brother', i.e. a friend of yours who helps you on your wedding day, is your 'best man'.
    No, we don't know this at all.
    The best man and the bridegroom are roles in a wedding party. It doesn't define any relationship between the two men other than that the groom has picked the other person to have the honor and responsibility of acting as the best man in the wedding. He also picks other groomsmen and ushers. The best man could be the groom's big brother (older brother), his little brother (younger brother), a cousin, a friend, or even his father.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, we don't know this at all.
    The best man and the bridegroom are roles in a wedding party. It doesn't define any relationship between the two men other than that the groom has picked the other person to have the honor and responsibility of acting as the best man in the wedding. He also picks other groomsmen and ushers. The best man could be the groom's big brother (older brother), his little brother (younger brother), a cousin, a friend, or even his father.
    Further to this, if - boozer - you are saying that 'big brother' is a synonym of 'best man' in English and that the terms can be used interchangeably then that is incorrect.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    No, we don't know this at all.
    The best man and the bridegroom are roles in a wedding party. It doesn't define any relationship between the two men other than that the groom has picked the other person to have the honor and responsibility of acting as the best man in the wedding. He also picks other groomsmen and ushers. The best man could be the groom's big brother (older brother), his little brother (younger brother), a cousin, a friend, or even his father.
    In my country you do not pick just anyone to be your best man. Indeed, it could be any of the blood relatives you have listed, but more often than not it is a friend, your senior, whom you hold in respect and after the wedding day he is counted as your relative. He is then supposed to christen your kids and become their godfather, thus strengthening the relationship between the two of you. the same goes for the maid of honour and in my culture (Christian Orthodox context) the best man and the maid of honour are traditionally an older couple who share with the new family their own experience with married life. Of course, these days you just pick your best friend to be your best man and he is not even necessarily your senior but I do think that things are essentially the same in most Christian settings, with some variations, of course...
    In fact, which part are you disagreeing with?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Further to this, if - boozer - you are saying that 'big brother' is a synonym of 'best man' in English and that the terms can be used interchangeably then that is incorrect.
    'Big brother' was just a figure of speech - I never meant anything like that...
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    In my country you do not pick just anyone to be your best man. Indeed, it could be any of the blood relatives you have listed, but more often than not it is a friend, your senior, whom you hold in respect and after the wedding day he is counted as your relative. He is then supposed to christen your kids and become their godfather, thus strengthening the relationship between the two of you. the same goes for the maid of honour and in my culture (Christian Orthodox context) the best man and the maid of honour are traditionally an older couple who share with the new family their own experience with married life. Of course, these days you just pick your best friend to be your best man and he is not even necessarily your senior but I do think that things are essentially the same in most Christian settings, with some variations, of course...
    In fact, which part are you disagreeing with?
    Here, it's just generally one of your closer friends, usually the one who is most likely to be sober enough not to lose the ring before the wedding.:D It doesn't imply any change in the relationship. My best man was not even the same religion as us, so he's certainly not the godfather of either of my children. And neither my best man nor my wife's maid of honor was married (at all, much less to each other!) so they were no help there! In fact, if she were married, you would call her the matron of honor, not maid.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Here, it's just generally one of your closer friends, usually the one who is most likely to be sober enough not to lose the ring before the wedding.:D It doesn't imply any change in the relationship. My best man was not even the same religion as us, so he's certainly not the godfather of either of my children. And neither my best man nor my wife's maid of honor was married (at all, much less to each other!) so they were no help there! In fact, if she were married, you would call her the matron of honor, not maid.
    All of this is also true for my country these days - I was just describing some traditional aspects of the whole game. I have seen some best men who haven't been sober enough not to lose the ring too. :D In fact, I once saw a best man who, at the time he was supposed to hold a speech, could not even utter his own name. :D And the change in the relationship is a perceived one, not a legal one. :)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In my country you do not pick just anyone to be your best man. Indeed, it could be any of the blood relatives you have listed, but more often than not it is a friend, your senior, whom you hold in respect and after the wedding day he is counted as your relative. He is then supposed to christen your kids and become their godfather, thus strengthening the relationship between the two of you. the same goes for the maid of honour and in my culture (Christian Orthodox context) the best man and the maid of honour are traditionally an older couple who share with the new family their own experience with married life. Of course, these days you just pick your best friend to be your best man and he is not even necessarily your senior but I do think that things are essentially the same in most Christian settings, with some variations, of course...
    In fact, which part are you disagreeing with?
    In my country you do not pick just anyone to be your best man. Indeed, it could be any relative but more often than not it is a friend whom you hold in respect.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    One's best man is supposed to be the male relative or friend who the groom would most want to have supporting him at this important moment in his life. Ditto for the maid of honor, except that she is of course female and chosen by the bride. It's really as simple as that. There is no expectation that the best man and maid/matron of honor be married to each other - in fact, while that does of course sometimes happen, I'd say it's far more common that they have no tie to each other except that they both happen to be very close to one member of the bridal couple.

    When you ask someone to be your best man or your maid of honor, you are conferring on that person a great honor and great responsibility. But you aren't changing the relationship - you're just affirming a relationship that already exists. So if the groom was the best man's best friend or brother before the wedding, he's still the best friend or brother after the wedding.
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I think I am beginning to see the picture. It would appear that in your culture the relationship between groom and best man is that of friendship/brotherhood/paternity, etc. If you chose a friend of yours to be your best man, he is not meant to play a more important role in your life than any of your other friends - this is how it is and how it ever was - just a role play that is supposed to be honourable, no deeper meaning.

    I find it a bit strange but the absence in the English language of a word to describe the (supposedly) life-long relationship (in our culture) seems to prove your point. :eek:

    So then, point taken. Legally speaking, in my country I could take my girlfriend to the nearest municipal office at any time during office hours, dressed anyhow, carrying no more than my ID and some medical tests proving I am fairly healthy and in sound mind, as well as proof that we are both single, and sign the papers before the concerned official. Of course, I would also need two witnesses to sign the marriage protocol - for witnessing my marriage is the one and only legal duty of the best man and maid of honour in my country. Everything else is was a tradition. Is witnessing the marriage also the best man's duty in your culture? Just out of curiosity really, my language question has already been answered. :)

    Oh, and thank you all for answering. :)
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I think I am beginning to see the picture. It would appear that in your culture the relationship between groom and best man is that of friendship/brotherhood/paternity, etc. If you chose a friend of yours to be your best man, he is not meant to play a more important role in your life than any of your other friends - this is how it is and how it ever was - just a role play that is supposed to be honourable, no deeper meaning.
    Boozer, in our culture, your best man already has a "more important role in your life than any of your other friends." Otherwise, you wouldn't ask him to be your best man. Do you see what I mean? You ask him to be your best man because he already has a special place in your life. The point is, he doesn't become special because you ask him to be your best man. He's already special - that's why you ask him to fulfill this particular role. We don't need a special word for it because what's special is the relationship - "best friend" or "oldest friend" or "the guy I talk to when I have problems" or "brother" - and that relationship isn't based on the role that person has in your wedding.

    Of course, I would also need two witnesses to sign the marriage protocol - for witnessing my marriage is the one and only legal duty of the best man and maid of honour in my country. Everything else is was a tradition. Is witnessing the marriage also the best man's duty in your culture? Just out of curiosity really, my language question has already been answered. :)
    It is true that the best man and maid/matron of honor usually act as witnesses as well. (They served this role at my own wedding, I think.) I don't think they have to though.
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It is true that the best man and maid/matron of honor usually act as witnesses as well. (They served this role at my own wedding, I think.) I don't think they have to though.
    The witness (or witnesses) have to be over 18 (for the purposes of having valid signatures). I don't think the witnesses even have to know you.
     
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