Is the Best Man Required to Pay for the Champagne?

A reader who wished to remain anonymous – but is nonetheless gorgeous – wrote to ask:

My friend is best man in a wedding and the groom informed him that it’s “tradition” for the best man to pay for the champagne for the wedding reception toasts. I have never heard of this, but apparently it’s the second wedding he’s been best man in, and the second time he’s been told this. Have you heard of this, or are they just trying to offload wedding costs onto the wedding party?

That is truly the oddest “wedding tradition” I have ever heard of!

While these things sometimes differ by region – cash bars are okay in some places, tacky in others, for example – I have never encountered any wedding planning guide or etiquette manual that suggests that the best man is on the hook for the champagne… or anything else consumed at the reception. Groomsmen and bridesmaids of all stripes should never be asked to pay for anything more than travel and accommodation costs, their clothing, and any pre-wedding parties they choose to plan or help plan alongside a relative.

Think bridal showers or groomsmen dinners, not the rehearsal dinner. Asking wedding attendants to pay for part of the wedding itself is just beyond rude.

However, I’m not going to sully anyone’s reputation by suggesting that the planners of the two weddings you mentioned in your question were trying to cut their wedding budget by foisting costs onto the attendants, though one has to wonder what the bridesmaids and MOH were asked to pay for. No, I’ll just be kind and assume that those brides and grooms and their families must have been in error, having heard about this non-tradition from a clueless relative or friend.

3 Responses to “Is the Best Man Required to Pay for the Champagne?”

  1. Victor says:

    The best man pays for the champagne? Qu’est-ce que puck? I concur; asking others to pay for your wedding is beyond rude.

    However, how does one say no? That’s the “beauty” (if you will) of this proposal–I doubt a best man in the world would say no to this. This rudeness is becoming a trend, up there with some people throwing their own birthday dinner and not paying their part of the check, as if it were understood their guests would be happy to pay for it.

  2. Twistie says:

    You know, I’ve long had a fondness for reading antique etiquette manuals, and I have never once seen this ‘tradition’ listed in one, no matter where or when it was from. Every version I have seen of who pays for what considers any and all food and libations the unique territory of the bride’s family… except for a few very up-to-date guides that suggest grown-ups can and should pay for their own parties unless someone else generously offers.

    As far back as I can think of, the best man is financially responsible for: his own clothes, any pre-nuptial party he chooses (note, CHOOSES) to give the groom, his own transportation, and his gift to the happy couple. That’s it. Even the guides that burden him with everything from waking the groom up in the morning and shoving his legs into his trousers to hauling him bodily to the altar don’t ask him to pony up for the liquor.

  3. One reason why a guy would contemplate whether to be the best man… It doesn’t sound a bad idea though.