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how to sweat through a tuxedo
they didn't call me best man for nothing
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)

I've never been a best man before. I was second-best man once, helping to share the best-man duties, but never before has the full weight of the office been placed so squarely on my shoulders.

And I rose to the challenge. Here, in abbreviated form (and it's still long as hell; sorry), is my schedule for the weekend of my brother's wedding. He's on his honeymoon in Mexico right now, so he won't read this until it's too late. Whew.


7:00 a.m.: Wake up. Finish packing.
7:30 a.m.: Call second groomsman. Leave message.
7:45 a.m.: Call second groomsman. Get voicemail.
8:00 a.m.: Call second groomsman. Get voicemail.
8:15 a.m.: Leave Queens with date. Call second groomsman. Leave message letting him know that we'll be at his place at 9:00, regardless of whether he's answered the phone.
8:17-8:35 a.m.: Repeatedly call second groomsman. Get progressively more stressed.
8:45 a.m.: While taking taxi down to second groomsman's apartment finally reach him. Tell him you'll be there in 10 minutes.
9:00 a.m.: Arrive at second groomsman's apartment. Have date accidentally drop gift bag with butter dish for your brother in it. Ascertain that it is, in fact, broken. Laugh hysterically. Make plans to get another one before the wedding.
10:00 a.m.: Get to rental car place. Discover that second groomsman was right, and that agency is on 76th street, not 84th.
10:15 a.m.: Rent car.
10:30 a.m.: Head towards Lincoln Tunnel.
12 p.m.: Enter Lincoln Tunnel. Express astonishment for umpteenth time about how bad the traffic was.
1:30 p.m.: Arrive at groom's apartment. Drive with groom to get his car washed. Drive to mall, try on tuxedos.
2:30 p.m.: Leave groom to do his thing. Shop for new butter dish. Buy Dr. Scholl's insoles for rental shoes. Buy batteries for vibrating razor. Buy lunch at Master Wok.
3:30 p.m.: Drive to hotel. Check into hotel. Wait while second groomsman and date shower (separate rooms).
4:15 p.m.: Get caught in "wrath of God" thunderstorm.
4:30 p.m.: Arrive at parents' house just in time to miss helping with any of the arrangements for rehearsal dinner/cook out.
4:45 p.m.: Drive to arboretum where wedding will be. Mill around with family in the rain. Appreciate your female cousin's hair. Attempt to identify bridesmaids, bride's family. Forget everyone's name pretty much immediately. Poke fun at groom for washing his car before "wrath of God" thunderstorm.
5:00 p.m.: Do a quick run-through of processional. Appreciate the irony of having your date, who is Catholic and Asian, fill in as the rabbi.
5:30 p.m.: Return to parents' house. Shower. Realize there's a very good chance you just used mother's silver polish instead of her hair spray. Shower again.
6:00 p.m.: Join everyone. Get groomsmen's gift -- engraved flask. Make plans to hide it at work.
10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.: Head to hotel with second groomsman and date. Meet up with brother. Go to local bar. Have fun. Return to hotel. Pass out.


10:30 a.m.: Wake up.
10:45 a.m.: Really wake up. Call second groomsman. Make sure he's starting to rouse himself. Shower. Call groom.
11:45 a.m.: Meet in lobby. Make plans to meet at mall to pick up tuxedos. Exclaim happily about the beautiful weather.
12:00 p.m.: Have second groomsman drive past parents' old house. Get phone call from groom. He tells you to turn on radio, as WYSP is broadcasting all of Live-8. Thank God for umpteenth time that bride and groom did not plan wedding in downtown Philadelphia. Tell groom you're 10 minutes away from the mall.
12:25 p.m.: Arrive at the mall. Meet groom. Have lunch at T.G.I. Fridays with date, second groomsman, groom, bride's father, bride's grandfather. Really enjoy yourself. Later, you will tell yourself you should have appreciated lunch even more, since it's the last time you will sit down for 11 hours.
2:00 p.m.: Have male cousin show up for tuxedo fitting. Be very happy it fits.
2:20 p.m.: Buy new butter dish for bride and groom. Appreciate that this one comes in a box. Revisit CVS. Buy diet soda. On advice of date, buy eyebrow tweezers.
3:00 p.m.: Pick up tuxedos. Drive back to hotel.
3:30 p.m.: Take much needed nap while second groomsman and date swim in hotel pool. Feel no remorse for failing to join them.
4:30 p.m.: Shower, have date tweeze eyebrows, grab tuxedos, drive to groom's apartment to meet with other groomsmen and dress for wedding.
4:40 p.m.: Get phone call from groom. Tell him you're 5 minutes away.
4:55 p.m.: Arrive at groom's apartment. Discover that everyone else has just started getting changed, too.
Brag about the insoles you bought. Point out that rented shoes have no support and everyone's going to have very sore feet but you. Try to avoid gloating.
5:00 p.m.: Notice that there are 8 missed calls on groom's cell phone. Listen to groom placate bride, telling her that groomsmen are leaving now to go to arboretum.
5:20 p.m.: Groomsmen leave for arboretum.
Date stays behind, getting ready for wedding.
5:30-5:35 p.m.: Groomsmen take turns drinking rum out of flasks from rehearsal dinner.
5:40 p.m.: Drive back to groom's apartment to get boutonnieres out of refrigerator.
5:45 p.m.: Arrive at groom's apartment. Walk in to loud answering machine begging you, second groomsman or date to "please, please, please pick up." Discover that bride has had hair disaster, and is on her way back to apartment to fix it. Make hasty exit, taking date, though only half-ready, with you.
5:50-7:00 p.m.: Photos. Lots of photos. Putting on sunglasses. Removing sunglasses. Against a tree. On beautiful stairway. Next to shrubs.
Discover used condom in middle of aisle. Groomsmen quickly remove said condom from premises. Do same for 40 oz bottle of Budweiser found next to beautiful stairway. Pout when photographer will not let groom take photo holding said 40.
Groomsmen start to get rumblings of hunger. Happily realize that they will not be able to eat until approximately 9:00 p.m. Groomsman #6 threatens mutiny. Other groomsmen establish that he's a big baby.
Start to perspire.
Run fathers' boutonnieres to refrigerator in overwarm kitchen. Start to perspire more.
6:35 p.m.: Wonder how date is doing and if women's room had an outlet for her curling iron.
7:00 p.m.: Bride and bridesmaids arrive. The next hour plus will be spent keeping the bride and groom from seeing each other. Easier said than done.
7:03 p.m.: Help groom set up table for wedding - cup of wine, glass for which to smash, table on which to put cup and glass.
7:05 p.m.: Wedding party discovers the drinks being set up. Everyone grabs a beer.
Groomsman #3 admits that he's already quite buzzed. Good for him. All of the rum you drank has already been perspired away.
Bridesmaids start doing their photos with bride. Groom must remain on other side of building.
7:10 p.m.: Drive back to groom's apartment once more, this time to get the photocopied service for rabbi.
7:25 p.m.: Wedding coordinator asks you where caterer is. This can't be good. Groom calls caterer.
7:30 p.m.: Check on bridesmaids' progress. Make sure groom is nowhere in vicinity.
7:35 p.m.: Rabbi arrives. You realize that you haven't filled the cup of wine. Rabbi suggests that you only fill it halfway. Your cousin offers you the wine key he keeps in his car, but is unable to locate it quickly. You have the bartender open wine bottle for you. After filling the cup of wine, you can't help but taking a little sip yourself. It helps.
7:45 p.m.: Guests are arriving, groomsmen are handing out programs, bride is back in bridal room. Parents arrive. Everyone is looking damned good, regardless of how uncomfortable they may be in a tuxedo.
Groom is signing the wedding contract.
7:46 p.m.: Rabbi asks you whether your grandmothers are there to act as witnesses to the signing.
7:47 p.m.: Locate one grandmother; inquire as to the location of the other.
7:47:30 p.m.: Parents realize they have left their house without waiting for grandmother to arrive and carpool with them. Whoops.
7:47:45 p.m.: Father races home to pick up grandmother.
7:50 p.m.: Bride's father asks if you can set aside a copy of the program for bride's mother. You assure him you will. You locate your date, whom you left with a beer nearly an hour ago. She agrees to hold extra program.
Your shirt is soaking wet. You have started to warn guests about hugging you.
8:00 p.m.: Wedding is supposed to start. Luckily, you're Jewish and no one actually expects it to start on time.
8:05 p.m.: Father arrives back at arboretum with grandmother. Groom is removed again, so bride can sign wedding contract. You are encouraged to comment on how beautiful it is. It really is beautiful.
8:10 p.m.: You start to notice that because of the insoles you've put in your shoes, your feet are rubbing against the top of the shoes and are really starting to hurt. You appreciate the irony, but it's starting to be a crippling pain. At least you have to stand still for the next half-hour. You feel less smug, but still revel in the fact that the soles of your feet are quite comfortable.
8:15 p.m.: All family has arrived, and must now get in order established during the practice the day before.
8:25 p.m.: Family is now in correct order.
8:30 p.m.: Escort grandmother down aisle. Immediately run to back of processional, in order to make your own entrance. This run will result in sweat now beginning to soak through your vest.
8:31-9:00 p.m.: Ceremony. You all look damned good, and your brother is getting married right in front of you. It's one of the happiest, proudest moments of your life. Seeing him with that wedding ring on -- wow.
9:00 p.m.: Recessional. Bridesmaids start handing out sparklers to the guests as they exit the receiving line. Groomsmen resist playing with the lighters they're holding. You say hi to many people you know and feel bad that every conversation has to be cut short with a "If you could please move out into this area...thanks."
9:10 p.m.: As per the groom's instructions, groomsmen start lighting the sparklers as the receiving line is coming to an end. You are surprised at how quickly they burn down, as the assembled masses are all holding smoldering sticks by the time the bride and groom have their sparklers lit. You resist committing seppuku over it.
You get another 5 minutes to talk to your date. She is in pretty good spirits considering she's seen you for a total of 9 minutes since you arrived and the lawn has ruined the heels of her Manolos.
9:15-10:00 p.m.: The wedding party and assembled family members can now pose for pictures with both the bride and the groom. You assume that the rest of the guests are having a good time, as you are unable to leave.
You also feel this is the perfect time to start writing your speech.
Rumblings of mutiny come from the wedding party, as they haven't eaten since lunch, but luckily the caterer is savvy enough to bring some appetizer platters down to them. Shrimp cocktail has never tasted better.
10:00 p.m.: As the bride and groom are finishing up their photo session, you finally make it to the bar. You order a sorely needed glass of water and an even more sorely needed gin and tonic.
You see your date again. It's a good bet she's talked to more people at this wedding than you have. You are almost done writing your speech. The second groomsman brings you a shot you told him you didn't want. You do it anyway. It has no effect on you because liquid is now exiting your body so quickly that you are creating your own weather system.
10:05 p.m.: The bride and groom are done with their photos and are about to get drinks when the band's DJ comes out and tells you that he's about to make introductions. The bride really needs a beer.
Come interestingly close to skipping into the reception with the maid of honor, but at the last moment you both decide that maybe you'll skip together at some later point in time.
As everyone toasts the bride and groom, you tell the DJ that he needs to give the bride and groom a chance to get drinks or they're going to kill someone. He says they'll have a break after you give your speech. Realize that somehow you've managed to finish writing it, so you're all set.
10:10 p.m.: Your speech is perfect. Well, nearly perfect; some little kid starts crying during it, but you figure it's probably nothing personal. You hope not.
10:12-10:30: Relocate your date and even get a chance to dance with her. Your family probably thinks you're engaged. You consider telling people that she's your Asian mail-order bride. She loves the idea, but since she seems to have met everyone while you were TCB, you don't get the opportunity.
10:30 p.m.: You have to get out of your shoes. The pain that you thought was pretty bad earlier has become unbearable. You now hate insoles and any word that begins with "in." Briefly consider putting on your white sneakers, but, as the groom has quipped on a number of occasions, "That spells class." Instead you take out the insoles. You may never get to heaven, but you now know what it might feel like.
10:45 p.m.: Realize at this point that with your feet no longer occupying the forefront of your consciousness, you are really hungry. Manage to locate the serving tables, but notice that the servers have all gone. As have the forks. Find a bag of clean forks under one of the tables. Silently thank God that your family didn't have to watch you eating scallops with your hands.
10:47 p.m.: Halfway through your food, the guests begin to do the hora. Make your way into the middle of the circle so you can help lift the bride and groom on chairs. Drop neither of them.
11:10 p.m.: The bouquet/garter thing. Improbably you catch the garter. The bouquet girl looks like she's about 12. Carefully put the garter about an inch above her knee. Any further and she might have puked with embarrassment. Fun.
11:00-11:30 p.m.: Try to enjoy yourself. Realize that you have now managed to sweat all the way through your tux. Marvel at the wonders of nature.
11:30 p.m.: Groom gets called onto the stage to play three songs with the band. He kicks ass.
11:45 p.m.-12:00 a.m.: Drink water. Lots of it.
12:00 a.m.: Money Dance, a tradition from the bride's part of PA. Something about giving the bride a dollar or a shot to dance with her. Marvel at the number of people from that side of the family who know how to polka. Appreciate the irony that a dollar or a shot is how you tip the bartenders at Club 23. At the end of the dance, everyone presses in against the bride, as the groom tries to fight through the circle for her. Groom eventually makes it through by identifying his family members in the circle as the weak link.
12:10-1:00 a.m.: Do 50 things at once:
a) Go down to where the wedding was and dismantle the table. Note that groom had absolutely powdered the glass he smashed at the end of the ceremony. Delicately clean up all shards of glass you just spilled, not knowing this beforehand.
b) Locate box for sparklers. Bride notes that it was previously used to hold toilet paper, and thanks you for finding it.
c) Load up father's trunk with leftover alcohol. After carrying 4th box of booze to car, comment to groom that the next time he and bride get married, he should invite more alcoholics.
d) Tell one of the bridesmaids that second groomsman is "not a player." Realize that foot comfort might actually be closest you get to Heaven. When you are driving up to the loading dock with the groom a few minutes later, he will comment that he's amazed your nose doesn't hit the windshield.
e) Realize that you have yet to use the men's room since leaving for the wedding. Silently apologize again to everyone who hugged you.
f) Note the thin girl in the slutty dress. Wonder who she is. Realize you met her multiple times when visiting bride and groom in college. Laugh silently. Stop laughing when she asks you directions to the bar everyone's heading to. Laugh again when she leaves.
g) Give multiple directions to bar. Hope everyone eventually locates it.
h) Try to say goodbye to everyone. Fail miserably. Continue apologizing to anyone who hugs you before you can warn them.
1:00 a.m.: Leave to meet everyone at bar. Feel cool that you are wearing a tuxedo at a bar until the bride and groom come in after having changed into jeans. Take off tie.
1:59 a.m.: Bride and groom leave to meet the car to the airport. Try to avoid saying anything goofy to the bride's parents. Groom thanks you for going above and beyond. Act contrite. You both know he owes you big time. You also know it's nothing he wouldn't have done for you.
2:00 a.m.: Back to hotel. Hope second groomsman is okay to drive.
2:02 a.m.: Arrive at hotel.
Silently thank God for portals in space/time.
2:02:30 a.m.: Pass out. Sleep. Dream of nothing.

Good Lord, I'm glad I only have one brother.


A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

more about adam kraemer


you can go home again
well, for a visit anyway
by adam kraemer
topic: general
published: 11.14.03

twenty-eight candles
a little cake, a little drink, maybe a little inspiration...
by adam kraemer
topic: general
published: 10.9.02


sandra thompson
7.8.05 @ 10:28a

Strangely reminiscent of a few scenes in "Four Weddings and a Funeral," one of everybody's alltime favourite films. Well, almost everybody.

Very funny, very enjoyable. Why is another person's discomfort so funny? Do we regconize ourselves and laugh because we're glad it's not us this time?

david damsker
7.8.05 @ 11:07a

I can't believe your brother is married. Jeez. We are old.

adam kraemer
7.8.05 @ 11:51a

It's weird to wrap my mind around the thought that my brother is someone's husband. Seeing that ring on his hand was kind of surreal, but in a good way.

tracey kelley
7.8.05 @ 1:33p

You gave your brother a butter dish?

Sounds like a marvelous time, man.

jael mchenry
7.8.05 @ 1:46p

You think it's weird when siblings get married? Wait til they have kids.

dathan wood
7.8.05 @ 2:41p

Yeah, and then wait until you have an argument about how to raise them!

adam kraemer
7.8.05 @ 3:09p

Yeah. I can't decide if I want to be the cool uncle who buys them video games or the scary uncle who has them sit on his lap.

lucy lediaev
7.8.05 @ 4:26p

I'm exhausted. First, from the vicarious experience gained from reading this piece. Second, from laughing.

dr. jay gross
7.13.05 @ 4:44p

.....maybe your tedious effort could have been - "It was THE wedding day and night....a tuxedoed and steamy gathering of relatives I might have seen (and forgotten) were gathered. They swayed in their flock mingling perfume, smiles, hugs, and amazement. My Tux was sticking to places I so wanted to scratch. The chaotic preparations had quickly taught me that the role of 'best man' was a weary indenture. Then....from the center of Bridal activity....I noticed a slim, sexy young woman who didn't fit the musty, mold of long lost relatives. My best-man-tenure might be close to an end....."

Now, please scrap the rest of your outline and use the balance of the summer to give use something more prurient.

adam kraemer
7.19.05 @ 11:31a

Yes, that would have been much better, thanks.

I wasn't going for narrative prose, Uncle.

It was nice seeing you there, though.

andrea augustine
3.20.08 @ 11:40p

Isn't it nice to know that when you get married, your brother will have to do all that for you? I thought so.

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