How to choose groomsmen?

For some grooms, choosing wedding party members might be a breeze—but for others, the task of picking the right groomsmen can be way more delicate than anticipated. Think about it: Your best friends, college roommates, brothers, cousins and even long-lost elementary school friends are all fair game when choosing your crew. Plus, there’s the whole best man decides to think about. Oh, and there might be future brothers-in-law in the picture too. Don’t stress. Here’s how to assemble the perfect group to stand by your side on your wedding day.

Most couples choose to invite loved ones to be more than just guests. Nowadays, no wedding is complete without the presence of the beautiful bridesmaids and maid of honour as well as the handsome groomsmen and best man. These very special guests play important roles in a wedding as an emotional support system, helping hands during the wedding planning process, and of course, trusty companions to the bride and groom.

Many couples get so excited about picking their “entourage”, but not everyone knows exactly what kind of roles should be filled when it comes to forming a bridal party. Read one to learn more about bridal party basics and also creative ways of asking friends and family to be part of your wedding squad.

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What Do Groomsmen Do, Anyway?

You’d think your bros were just there to stand around and look dapper.

But there are actual duties involved for these title-bearers. For starters, these guys (or gals) will be supporting you through all the wedding planning and prep. From organizing and paying for a dope bachelor party (ala The Hangover movie) to ushering the guests on your big day (unless you have picked ushers), to dancing with the bridesmaids and single women at your bash, these men ultimately form your biggest support system. Ah, yes! And partaking of the groom’s cake tradition!

Best Man Tips

Start With Siblings

Including your siblings is the perfect way to start choosing your bridesmaids and groomsmen. If they’re much younger, you may prefer to have them serve as ushers or junior attendants, but if they’re close to your age, definitely give them the full-blown honour. And nothing is stopping a bride from making her brother a bridesman or a groom from making his sister a grooms lady.

Emphasize Reliability

While you may not need your bridesmaids or groomsmen to participate too much in planning your wedding, there will be moments when you’ll need to know you can count on them. If your friend almost never calls you back or constantly shows up late when you have plans, they may not be the right person for the job, especially with bridesmaid dress order deadlines and tight timelines the day of your wedding. Instead, lean toward friends who you know will answer your emails, show up when you need them to (or a few minutes early), and probably be more prepared than you (hello, bride’s brain).

Consider Personalities

Before you send out those “Be My Bridesmaid?” gifts, think about how your wedding party will get along. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be the best of friends, but if one person on your list has a stronger—or even abrasive—personality and tends to rub people the wrong way, that’s a potential drama you’ll want to avoid if you can.

Be Mindful of Budget

We all know being a bridesmaid or groomsman is expensive. Even if you’re paying for their accommodations or chipping in for the suit or dress, between flights, gifts, and the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the bill can add up. If you know a friend is in a tough spot financially, call them up to talk it over before making the official ask. Let them know you’d love to include them, but also have a few alternative ways for them to be involved if joining the wedding party might be too expensive. Close friends make fantastic readers, give great toasts at the rehearsal dinner, and could also hand out programs or serve as ushers at the ceremony.

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Think About Feelings

Sometimes, having fewer bridesmaids or groomsmen is the easiest way to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt. If your choice is between having just your sister and your childhood BFF stand beside you or expanding into two or three friend groups and ten or more ‘maids, the smaller group could save you a lot of stress in deciding who does and doesn’t make the cut. On the other hand, if you’re committed to the idea of a huge wedding party, and there’s one friend on the fringe, you might be better off including one more than leaving them out.

Choose a Ballpark Number

You can choose as many (or as few) groomsmen as you’d like. Seriously—there’s no rule. But if you like to think in terms of rules and formulas (hey, sometimes that makes it easier to make a decision), here are some helpful guidelines. Groomsmen often help out as ushers who seat wedding guests, and generally, you’ll need about one usher for every 50 guests. Or, think of it this way, the groomsmen typically escort the bridesmaids down and/or up the aisle, so you could choose to keep the ratio of wedding party members even. Remember, though, having an uneven wedding party isn’t a bad thing—it’s completely up to you and your partner—so don’t feel like you need to add groomsmen just to fill spots. If you have one brother and two lifelong best friends, keep the wedding party to three. To avoid side-eyes from friends who thought they’d cut, get them involved by having them seat guests or hand out programs at the ceremony. And remember: You can invite whomever you want to your bachelor party, not just groomsmen.

Think About Family Members, Old and New

Now that you’re getting married, you’re gaining a whole new set of family members. So while your best man and the majority of your party should be yours to choose, don’t forget about your partner’s loved ones too. They may have a favourite brother or best guy friend they’d love you to include. As long as you can stand them, of course, you should consider it. Not into conventional wedding party norms? Forget them. Your sister or best female friend can stand with you, and vice versa—your partner’s male loved ones can stand on her side.

Have a Best Man in Mind

Now, for the question of who should be your best man. It’s typically your closest brother, cousin or friend whom you trust to be responsible and appropriate (when the moment calls for it—aka during his reception toast), energetic and organized. He’ll be the one coordinating your bachelor party, keeping your other groomsmen in line and helping you keep your head on straight during this crazy wedding planning process—so choose your guy (or girl) wisely.

The Group Dynamic Matters

Select your groomsmen based on who’s an active part of your life right now. The night before your wedding isn’t the best time to discover you and your best friend from high school don’t have much in common anymore. You don’t need added tension throughout the planning process—you’ll have enough to think about already. It’s best to have a solid, comfortable support group by your side before, during and after the ceremony.

Culling The Herd

Look, we get you maybe “Big Man on Campus/Top Fry-Cook” in your circle. You may know a lot of guys who, at some point, you’ve thought well of. But just because Dirk from Receiving bought you six birthday shots last year, it doesn’t make him Wedding Party Material. On average, you only get around 4-6 on your side of the party (you did remember to ask your spouse-to-be how many they have selected for their side, right? Because trust us, they already have a number. Make sure you ask it. We can wait… Got it? OK, good.)

Start by asking yourself “Who is the first friend I told when I got engaged?” That is likely your best man. The one you trust in your lowest of times to lend sound advice, the first one to lift a pint with you when it’s time to celebrate; Your best friend.

After that, you need groomsmen. Would Bob show up to help you move? Is Ulysses reliable enough to call at midnight when you blow a tire? Did Trevor return your leaf-blower with as much gas as he borrowed it with?

Many of your buds are better suited for “wedding guest” status. You need to do the tough work of ranking each member of your list by how much they have been there through the tough times, and only ask the top 4-6 (or whatever your future other half’s number is. You remember it, right?… Fine, we’ll wait again.)

Avoiding Temptation

OK, so you have your list. Now, we have to ask: Any of these guys you’ve only known for a few months? Maybe a new friend you met at the bar last month? Or a new coworker, still in their 90-day probation period?

Yes, new friends are shiny and exciting. But that doesn’t mean they’re ready to pop on a tux and stand with you. Just because you’ve had a good time hanging out, or they helped you out of one jam, don’t assume this is the type of long-term friendship deserving of a spot on your wedding roster. Things change, and last week’s drinking buddy can wind up next month’s social media-only connection real quick. Use some discretion here, bro. You have got to know they’ll represent right on your big day. Give it some time before you offer them a spot.

Respect Your Crew’s Wallet

This one’s tough, but important: Can each candidate for groomsmen status handle the cost of renting their tux, taking time off work for all the festivities, or travelling to the wedding if they live any significant distance away?

None of this is cheap, and the further away the wedding is from everyone’s home, or the more involved the costuming is, the harder it may be for your nearest and dearest bros to pull off.

Don’t get us wrong; most of them will figure it out if they want to be there. True bros won’t just show up from two time zones away, they’ll bring the entire family, tux in one hand, a 12-year-old bottle of scotch in the other, with high-end cigars in their pocket.

But only if their budget permits.

If you have the means to help them out, by all means, ask. But be sensitive to their situation, and only make the offer if you can be sure they’ll know you won’t be pissed if they have to say no.

Have A Backup Plan, Or Two

You could have a falling-out between Groomsmen Draft Day and the actual wedding. “New work friend” could get fired, and hold you responsible. Your old BFF from high school might have a major home repair pop up that throws his budget down the toilet, and he can’t drive cross-country anymore.

One of your chosen groomsmen (or even your best man) may not be able to fulfil their duties on the wedding day, and a spot may suddenly open up. If it is your best man, make sure your #2 is ready to step up and fill the role, not only for the bachelor party/night before shenanigans, but for the ceremony (holding your manly band like a boss), and any reception-based speech that may be needed.

For an open groomsmen spot, current (i.e. your sister’s husband) or future (i.e. your spouse-to-be’s sister’s husband) brother-in-law’s are great fill-ins. Or, one of the guys from the initial list who barely missed the cut. Make sure they can handle the task and only ask in case of an emergency.

To learn more, check out our post on How much does a suit for a wedding cost?

Here are a couple of tips to help you decide how to choose groomsmen and grooms women:

  • Your mind may go to your friends first, but if you follow tradition when choosing groomsmen, consider including at least a family member. Be it a brother, sister, cousin or even a cool uncle. Some grooms might even rope in their brother-in-law and you can too if you want.
  • Reliability is a MUST when it comes down to how to choose groomsmen for your wedding. This is not the time for flaky friends who may forget the rings (keep 4 Weddings and a Funeral in mind), are not able to handle their booze or show up late at the ceremony. So, choose groomsmen or groomswomen that you can count on.
  • (You don’t want to put yourself in such a tight spot!)
  • You and your bae might not be some fantasy couple, but there is always a friend or some friends who’ve been shipping (rooting) for you to be endgame ever since you met. Maybe they even introduced you. Get those people on your team. They’re the soundboards that made this happen as you went on and on about how amazing your partner is.
  • Avoid personality clashes like hell. Unless you thrive on drama. Click those people that you believe will click and get along with your best man. That’s how to choose groomsmen for the ages!

Knowing how to choose your groomsmen sounds pretty straightforward, right? And it should be. However, planning a wedding is no small endeavour, and you’ll probably feel pressure from many sides on which of your friends should and should not be granted the privilege of becoming groomsmen.

But let’s back up for a moment

Think of a heist movie. Any will do because there’s always that scene when somebody somewhere says those three awesome words that resonate with every guy: Assemble your team. If you’re recently engaged, that’s exactly what you get to do with your wedding. You’re now tasked with choosing a handful of guys that have always had your back and will now be there for you on your big day. There’s no denying the fact that your groomsmen will be a big part of your wedding. So, it’s important to know how to choose the right groomsmen.

You’re going to pick your best friends. The ones that you trust and that you always have a great time with. Enough said, right?

But the challenge that often arises is when the groom is asked to pick a specific number of groomsmen — and that number happens to be above and beyond his inner circle of best friends. This usually happens when the bridesmaids are many, and there’s pressure to match the number of groomsmen with the bridesmaids. Here’s the thing: There’s no firm rule that says you need to match the numbers. It’s perfectly OK for you to have four groomsmen when your bride has six bridesmaids. Or 10! I think it’s completely natural for you and your bride to have an unequal number of best friends. So, throw the visual symmetry aside and just make sure that your band of pirates look sharp in whatever they’re wearing.

If you’re having a traditional wedding and pairs of the wedding party are walking down the aisle at its conclusion, no worries, bridesmaids can do double duty and do a second lap. But when you invite more guys into the ranks of your groomsmen outfit than you need or want, you can get yourself into trouble.

Remember, these are the guys that will help to make the day special for you and your bride. Choose unwisely, and you may be stuck with groomsmen who don’t respect the photos you’re taking, maybe don’t take their job as a groomsman seriously, or worse.

Now, there’s one exception — if your bride has a brother (or two), be sure to include him. You may not be as close to him as you are to your other groomsmen, but he’s about to become family. Now is the time to start to get to know him better!

To wrap up, go with your gut. Knowing how to choose your groomsmen need not be overly complicated. Pick your closest friends and rest assured that they will support you every step of the way and help to make your wedding day special.

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