Stand by your best man after a careful selection

You've popped the question, set the wedding date and decided on the honeymoon destination. Now it's time to choose your best man. Easy, right? Yes…and no.

The best man is one of the most important roles in the wedding.

Traditionally, the brother closest in age fills the role of best man to the groom. If the groom has no brothers, a cousin or best friend steps in to fill the role, according to "Weddings for Grownups," by Carroll Stoner. If the groom happens to be close to a sister or female friend, she may serve as a best woman.

But simply choosing according to etiquette may not be the best plan.

"The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Being a Groom," by Jennifer Lata and Mark Rung, asks the groom to consider a best man who is mature and has your best interests in mind. In other words, don't choose someone with a bad temper, who's in love with your bride or who frowns on the institution of marriage.

As your confidant, personal valet and behind-the-scenes man-in-charge, your best man should be tasteful, responsible and fun, according to The Knot, at The Web site also suggests choosing someone who is currently an active part of your life. Old high school or college buddies or the cousin you haven't seen in a few years may not have as much in common with you as you'd like. You want to be comfortable with your best man.

Best friends, brothers, sisters, cousins — whomever you ultimately choose is up to you. Let etiquette guide you in your choice, not dictate it. Wedding etiquette only demands you choose someone reliable, who can take charge in your absence .

Elegant Bride magazine suggests giving your best man six months' notice before the wedding so he will have time to fully assume the role and keep abreast of your plans as they develop. Also, tell him how thankful you are to have him at your side and never demand anything of him; always ask.

When approaching the friend or loved one to be your best man, don't just say, "I want you to be my best man." Instead, say, "I'd be honored if you would be my best man, but I understand if you can't or would rather not have such an involved role."

If he agrees, give him a brief rundown of what will be expected of him.

Essentially, your best man should offer you moral support throughout the wedding planning and actual ceremony, plan the bachelor party with your interests in mind, deliver you to the ceremony on time and looking your best, take care of the wedding rings until they are summoned in the ceremony and deliver the moving first toast at the reception, according to "The Best Man's Handbook: A Guy's Guide to the Big Event," by James Grace. He also should act as a witness on the legal wedding certificate.

Your best man may also give a donation to the rabbi on your behalf, give a speech at the rehearsal dinner, return your rental tux the day after the wedding, serve as a chauffeur the day of the ceremony, safeguard gifts of cash presented at the reception, and oversee the ushers.

Basically, the best man is there to help you out in any way he can, from planning the wedding and running errands to making guests at the ceremony feel comfortable, and easing your wedding jitters.

Choosing attendants, or groomsmen, is a bit easier. Close friends and family should be included — perhaps even family of the bride. For small weddings, include one or two of your guy pals; for a larger ceremony, up to 12 is acceptable.

The groomsmen are responsible for assisting the best man with the bachelor party and helping guests feel comfortable at the wedding and reception. As ushers, they will be expected to greet and seat the guests, distribute programs, lay down the aisle runner before the processional and give directions to the reception site.

The best man and groomsmen, like all members of the wedding party, are expected to pay for their own wedding attire and transportation and lodging if they are coming from out of town, according to Elegant Bride.

As thanks for helping out with your big day, Elegant Bride suggests giving each of the men on your side a gift and making sure they have the time of their lives at the reception.