A reader writes us with a common problem:
“How does free beer and a friend who drinks too much work? I’m confused, I have a friend that is going to be in the wedding party. Is there any way to limit the amount of beer he drinks. He gets drunk and rather stupid. I know that if he screws something up, makes some stupid speech, spills a drink on my new wife. She is going to take it out on me. Please help!!”
We get this a lot. At heart, the issue is one of “worlds colliding.” For years you have your get-stupid-with-the-buddies world, and then you have the wearing-a-suit-and-acting-grown-up world. They rarely intersect. And when they do overlap, it happens at the most public and photographed day of your life. Polite society could meet Frank The Tank, which could embarrass your bride, gall your new parents, and, through guilt-by-association, make you look like an ass-clown.
So here’s the six-step process for handling Frank The Tank:
Don’t Baby Him
Don’t tell him that he can only have two beers and treat him like you’re his parent, insisting that he needs to finish his brussel sprouts before eating dessert. You sort of sound like a shmuck. Yes, this is the end result you want, but there are more tactful ways of going about it.)
Keep Him Away From the Mic
Outside of him sticking his tongue down your new mother-in-law’s throat, the microphone represents the worst-case scenario. Box him out. Use your best man–this is part of his job–to banish Frank from all speeches and toasts.
Focus More on Actions Than Alcohol
It sounds nice in theory, but unless you reeeallly want to be a kill-joy, it’s tough to curb the amount of alcohol a grown man consumes. What you can do, however, is talk to him about his potential behavior. Remind him about the time he vomited all over your father’s sandals, started mowing the lawn at 3 in the morning, and urinated in the hot-tub. How do you do this tactfully? As with most phases of wedding planning, the secret is to…
Blame the Bride’s Family
Or your family. You don’t want to blame your bride–not fair, not cool, not getting this whole “marriage” thing off to a good start–but what you can do is tell a white lie that hurts no one: just throw your new in-laws under the bus. Tell Frank that things are a little tense with them, they’re still not sold on you, they don’t trust you, etc… so you need to be extra extra extra careful that nothing goes wrong. (And, for what it’s worth, this will probably be true.) “So I’m counting on you, Frank, to help me make a good impression.” See? Now it’s not You vs. Frank, now it’s You and Frank vs. Common Enemy. Everyone wins.
Lean on Your Groomsmen
There really are not that many groomsmen responsibilities. So tell the rest of the groomsmen that their first, second, and third missions are to keep Frank from winding up in prison or the hospital. When Frank staggers over on the dance floor to dry-hump the flower girl, your groomsmen need to intercede.
Give Frank a Safety-Valve: the After-Party
You need this post-reception throw-down as a safe, parent-free outlet for Frank’s streaking across the quad. Here he can get sloppy and no one gets hurt. Also, if Frank has this to look forward to, your groomsmen can remind him to pace himself.
So, in summary, your instincts are right–you need to prioritize your bride and new family over giving your buddies another frat party–but do it in a way that doesn’t make you a dick. Good luck.
More on groomsmen: find out what to do if your Best Man sort of sucks.