You’ve made the list of groomsmen. You’re going to participate in a hallowed, time-honored dude tradition. Unlike some wedding traditions, groomsmen actually have a pretty cool history (mostly). You can feel pretty good about adding yourself to the ranks, though the job description now is a bit different.
For All the Groomsmen Before the Wedding
Be a Second Opinion
Whether the groom needs thoughts on his suit, which men’s wedding ring to pick or really anything that could require input, you’re there. Half the job here is talking the groom down from a spiral when the date approaches.
Whether you’re buying, renting or just already own it, make sure you’ve got it squared away ahead of time. The groom is gonna have enough stress going on, so don’t add to it. Just be an adult, get your stuff done and you’ll be just fine.
Get a Gift
The ethics and norms of wedding gifts from those in the wedding party are always a bit nebulous. If it’s some destination wedding, you don’t have to do a lot for the gift. If it’s a hometown wedding, dial the gift up a little bit. This is your boy, anyway. You want to show him some love before his big day.
Show Up to the Events
Get out there and meet people. The more people you meet at the pre-wedding events, the more fun you’re going to have at the wedding reception. Not only that, but it’ll make introducing other people to each other (a facet of groomsmen duties) that much easier.
On the Day of the Wedding
Help People Find Their Seats
Not every groomsman may need to do this, but at least a couple are probably gonna be on ushering duty. If that’s you, make sure you’ve got a seating chart and you understand the layout of the venue ahead of time to make things go as smoothly as possible.
Get Ready with the Groom
You don’t have to do anything too fancy, you just need to exist in the same room as the groom and keep things together. Pro tip: Most of the duties of the groomsmen are just based around keeping the groom sane. That’s really 75 percent of the stuff you’ve gotta do, so just do that and you’ll be fine.
Plan for the Unexpected
Yes, this sounds like a ridiculous duty, but it’s important. You can’t plan for everything, but you do want to do your best to get ahead of issues. Keep your head on a swivel and keep trying to think of anything that can go wrong and how to fix it. Does that mean stopping Aunt Cheryl from grabbing her fourth Cosmo of the evening? Maybe. Good luck with that.
You want to be on time for the groomsmen photos as well as on duty to take photos as you see good opportunities pop up. This should go without saying, but you want to look your best for the photos. Just do more than you usually do.
Know Your Role
Know your expectations and duties beforehand, and make sure you’ve got it down to a science. Luckily, if there’s a handful of other groomsmen, duties can be spread out evenly and you won’t have to keep a ton of responsibilities in your head.
You don’t have to mop the floors (probably), but you do want to help put chairs back, move any tables you had to shuffle around and anything else like that. Really, just doing polite stuff. Anything that’s going to make the groom’s life a little easier is your duty, and this is one of those things.
Obviously, you want to have fun at a wedding, but it’s more than just that. One of the best things groomsmen can do is set the tone at the wedding.
Get out on the dance floor and make fools of yourselves. If you look stupid, other people are going to be more comfortable getting out there, and everyone is just going to have a better time. Quick clarification: There’s a difference between being stupid on the dance floor and being drunk and stupid. You want to be the first one, but you do not want to be the second one. Don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.
Also, get out and meet people! Even if you aren’t the most extroverted, it’s important for the groomsmen to mingle with friends and family. Keep a lookout for anyone standing around on their own and go introduce yourself. It’s like a networking event but not filled with stupid jargon and people you hate.
For the Best Man
The best man does pretty much all the things the rest of the groomsmen do, but there are a handful of duties specific to the best man.
Before the Wedding
Plan the Bachelor Party
Sometimes this is split among the groomsmen — but, traditionally, the best man plans the bachelor party. If nothing else, you’re going to be taking the lead when it comes to planning the party. You’re the best man, likely because you’ve known him longer and/or better than everyone else who made the cut, so you know what he’s gonna like.
Be the Main Moral Support Point
Your friend is likely gonna lean on you at some point here, so just be prepared for that. Even the most excited groom-to-be is gonna have some nerves ahead of time. You’ve gotta be ready to deal with those. The likelihood is that this is just gonna call for a beer and a deep breath, and it’s rarely talking him off the ledge that is abandoning his own wedding. Keep a hip flask handy just in case.
You’re Basically Running Point for Everything
Now, this more so means you’re the main point of contact and de facto leader of the groomsmen, not that you have to do everything yourself. However, in this scenario, you’re sort of a fixer. Think about yourself as The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, just with fewer crime scenes to clean. The likelihood is that this won’t be that big of a deal and you won’t have many fires to put out, but you’re the go-to for errands and anything that needs to be done.
Make an Emergency Kit
If you don’t want to go DIY, you can buy wedding emergency kits. Either way, make sure you’ve got the essentials like ibuprofen, a tiny sewing kit, extra buttons, all that good stuff. The emergency kit’s point is to anticipate little inconveniences that could come up, like a button falling off or a nastier hangover than expected.
On the Day of the Wedding
More Moral Support
Yep, you guessed it. You’re back on duty as the go-to guy to get your groom good and married. Once the marriage treadmill is moving, you’ve just gotta keep him on it. Likely, this is just a hearty pat on the back and maybe a tiny push to get him started.
You may well be answering the same basic questions over and over for a few hours. You’ll be helping people find their seats, handing out programs, directing guests to the cocktail hour and all manner of menial tasks. It may be a bit annoying, but you’re the go-to guy, so do your job.
Other Duties as Assigned
Think of yourself as the 10th amendment. Civics nerds won’t need to follow that link because they’ll already know. But, basically, if a duty wasn’t assigned directly to a groomsman, bridesmaid or someone in the wedding, it’s your job. You’re a jack of all trades for a couple of days, so strap in.
Maybe you’re a groom reading this, trying to figure out what you should ask your groomsmen for. If so, here are a few helpful FAQs for the road.
How Many Groomsmen Can I Have?
How many groomsmen can you have? There’s not really a perfect answer to that question, but there’s a reasonable upper and lower limit. Most people won’t want to drop below three groomsmen or above 10. Five or six is kind of a sweet spot. Of course, if you have a lot of people you want included, consider making them ushers, readers or any other role specific to your wedding that isn’t exactly a groomsman spot.
Who Should Be a Groomsman?
Think of groomsman spots a bit like inflation. If you’ve got a few spots, they’re valuable and hold meaning. However, if you’ve got 18 groomsmen, the value is, well, deflated.
You can choose to err on the side of more general or more specific if you want to increase or decrease the number of guys in your wedding party. Most grooms just pick guys who are close to them and have been there during meaningful points in life. High school best friends, brothers, long-time coworkers, etc.
Should I Get My Groomsmen a Gift?
You don’t have to, but it’s generally considered polite. It doesn’t have to be anything big, of course, but it’s nice to show a token of your appreciation. These are your closest friends who are taking time to be with you here, so show them some love.
These are all good pieces of guidance, but what your groomsmen duties are going to look like, in practice, may differ. However, as you start to dream up who’s going to do what at your wedding, these rules are a good place to start.