After a guy pops the question and that girlfriend becomes a fiancé in the flick of a moment, it doesn’t take long until the couple begins digging into wedding prep. For guys, bachelor party dreams aren’t too far behind. And from there, the mind begins drafting groomsmen.
Initially, the process can feel like a blast. So many great friends to consider. But on the flip side of that, lots of great friends means there’s ample opportunity to disappoint, and you don’t want to let any of your bros down.
When it comes time to pick the members of your wedding party, the guys you want standing up there at your flank on that special day, you might find yourself wishing you didn’t have quite soooo many ace dudes in your life. Because the more great friends you have, the likelier it is that someone’s gonna feel alienated when they don’t make the groomsman cut.
So we are going to talk about how many groomsmen you can actually have — because you simply have to cut the number off somewhere. And while we’re at it, we’ll walk you through the slew of issues that emerge around the topic.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for selecting who and how many dudes should be in your wedding party. You’ll probably have to make some difficult decisions. Unlike knowing where to hook it up for the best men’s wedding bands, the groomsman draft probably won’t be a breeze.Shop All Our Wedding Rings
But you know we are here to do what we can to guide you through the process.
A Little Groomsman History to Get You Going
The history of marriage can be more than a little horrifying. For centuries, women had exceedingly little say over who they would marry. When men set their sights on the spouse of their choosing, they’d dispatch their fellows to forcibly retrieve the woman in question. Not exactly anyone’s idea of romance.
And those guys sent to do the rounding up? Those guys are thought to be your OG groomsmen. And the “best man” — he was thought to be the most skillful abductor, the man most likely to lead a charge that would return with the prize.
Again, not exactly a romantic notion. But yeah, for hundreds and hundreds of years, groomsmen basically served as muscle.
Thankfully, those days are in the rearview. Today’s groomsmen generally serve one main role: to help the groom have the very best experience on his wedding day.
No abductions required. With that little history lesson out of the way, let’s move on to the task at hand — helping you determine the make-up of your side of the wedding party.
Some Standard Groomsman Guidelines to Keep in Mind
Larger weddings generally call for larger wedding parties. So if you’re talking about a big wedding with a few hundred people or more, you might be able to get away with up to 10 groomsmen. But if you and your bride are kicking it with a smaller, more informal affair (a backyard wedding or a little bit of casual, shoeless action on the beach), a big wedding party won’t look quite right.
What’s the average number of groomsmen per wedding? Well, we’re glad you asked because we have a little bit of data for you. According to this 2018 report from Brides.com, there are 5.3 groomsmen per wedding.
Time and again in this article, we will remind you that there is no firm dictate that you simply must adhere to. Your wedding. Your rules.
But you probably do want to pay extra special attention to the next section…
Maintain that Bridesmaid Balance
A natural way to cap your groomsmen total is to match what’s cooking on the other side of the aisle. Because you simply should not have more groomsmen than your bride has bridesmaids. You need to get that balance right. Don’t muck it up because maybe you think your side of things is some kind of damn burden. Your bride-to-be has an even more difficult task. Putting a bridal party together can bring mad drama. Yeah, no walk in the park — not like locking down the best of the best women’s wedding rings.
This also gives you a pretty solid excuse if you have some hangdog bros hinting that they’d sure love to be in your wedding party. I’d simply love to add you, Charlie, but we’re maxed out.
But if you do want to add on without mucking up the balance…
Creative Ways to Expand Your Roster
We know, we know — you have tons of great friends. You can’t stop going on and on about it. (Can you tell we’re a little bit jealous?) No matter what, some feelings are gonna get hurt because like it or not, some great dudes are gonna have to ride the pine while you and your groomsmen take the field.
But if you really want to add fellas to the party, you can simply beef up the roster while assigning some of those groomsmen to usher duty. Now we should note that this ushering move really only works well with large weddings. The standard rule is to have one usher per 50 wedding attendees.
Also, let us reiterate that there are absolutely no firm rules for any bit of this. You can have one usher per person if you don’t mind if everyone there thinks you’re a bunch of weirdos. But you can also throw a groomsman behind the bar, another on DJ duty, one serving as the master of ceremonies. It’s true that reception duties will keep those guys from getting in the mix, but peripheral duties can be fun, too.
The point here is to open your eyes to the fact that you can find all sorts of ways to involve your fellas. And as we noted previously, groomsmen have historically been — without too much exaggeration — employees of the groom on the day of the wedding and the run up to it. So asking a little extra of your groomsmen is basically keeping with tradition — and at least you’re not asking them to kidnap anybody for you.
So Who Should Make the Cut?
You were inseparable from your best high school buddy, but you haven’t seen him in five years. You’ve become fast friends with your cubicle neighbor at work, but you haven’t even known the dude a full year. You have three brothers, and maybe you don’t stay in regular contact with them, but for crying out loud, they are your brothers after all.
Questions of this nature are pretty much unavoidable as you consider which of your boys to bring aboard.
Think about who you’d lean on during a tough time, who you’d be calling for advice if you were suddenly confronted with a huge decision. You probably want that person alongside you as you exchange rings and set off on that sacred journey. These are the fellas you’ll certainly maintain important relationships with over the coming decades. And are there guys on your potential groomsman list who are pretty much just party friends? You have loads of fun with them but maybe don’t share a deep connection? Well, those guys will probably be perfectly content partying at the wedding and tearing up the dance floor. They don’t need to be a part of the wedding party to get down.
These are things to ponder as you whittle the list.
And as you make these tough calls, don’t let the decisions take on more weight than they should. We aren’t talking about life and death here. All these people you’re considering — you’re sure to invite them to your wedding. So it’s not as though they’ll be on the outside looking in while you and all the wedding attendees party it up. You’ll still be sharing the moment with them, just in a slightly different way.
But if there are people you’re not going to be able to include, reach out to them and have a convo, especially if it’ll help you and them feel better. Weddings are all about good feelings. Sometimes, pressure interferes with that. Don’t let it. Or at least try your best not to.
Remember the Obligation to Give Your Groomsmen Gifts
When you’re crafting your dream team roster of groomsmen, it’s easy to keep that number growing and growing (and growing). Of course, you want all your closest dudes to be involved with your big day. But if you need some cold water dumped on your desire for a truly all-encompassing all-star cast, let it be this: You need to lock down a gift for each and every groomsman.
The gift-giving aspect is tradition. And some traditions are made to be broken, but this one is pretty close to inviolable. It shouldn’t be anything rinky-dink either. Keep in mind all the sacrifice you’re asking of these guys. We’re talking about a significant time commitment on top of what’s almost certainly a fairly decent outlay of cash, especially if your guys are traveling for the wedding and taking time off work.
Gotta honor those dudes with a gift. So we don’t want to sound cheap, but it doesn’t cost quite as much when you have fewer dudes to honor.
Okay, Gentlemen, Let’s Review
Ultimately, the number of groomsmen you choose is up to you (and your bride since you need to maintain that critical bridesmaid balance). For a big ol’ wedding, you can probably get away with up to 10 groomsmen. For smaller, more informal weddings, you should pare that number down to three or four, maybe even five.
Do your best to assemble a roster of fellas you are almost certain to share deep bonds with for the rest of your days. And don’t let the tough question about who to choose sap all the joy from the process. After all, you’ll still be celebrating with everyone on your list.
Choose wisely. And party on down.