Selecting Groomsmen - How to Choose Your Groomsmen

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Photo Credits: (from top left) Atlas Wedding Photography, Caroline Ghetes Photography, Picture This Photography, (second row), Jennifer Skog, Laurie Bailey Photography, Carlos Andres Varela Photography, (third row), Nicole Hill Gerulat, Kristin Kasperek Photography, Jeff Greenough, (fourth row) Anika London, VUE Photography, Miguel Pola Photographers.



Selecting Groomsmen 101

Picking your groomsmen is a piece of cake if your groom has it covered, but when he doesn't it's up to you to decide. Here's a handy guide.

Photo: Sandi Foraci Photography

Although it is not necessary to have an equal number of groomsmen and bridesmaids, some brides will insist upon it. You may find yourself having to choose whom to eliminate or conversely, scouring your address book for another friend to include. We’ll give you all the advice and information we can come up with about groomsmen to help you with your choice. But remember, it’s your wedding to plan as you see fit, and the rules are flexible. If you want a great female friend or sister on your side of the aisle, speak up. It’s allowed.


Any way you look at it, selecting the group of guys who will stand up with you is not the simplest task.

Best Man. This will probably be the clearest of your selections. There is sure to be one man you’re closest to and on whom you can rely no matter what. He’s your best choice. Often grooms choose a brother as their best man. In addition to the fact that you’ll be affirming your family bond, you know you can count on him. Though not widely seen in the rest of the country, it’s common for a Southern groom to ask his father to stand up for him. If you feel your wedding wouldn’t be complete without a certain best man, but he’s not all that reliable, consider having two best men -- the reliable one can hold on to the ring. The two best men option might also be the way to go if you find yourself unable to choose between two of your brothers or best friends for the job.

Groomsmen. The men you’ve shared your past with are the best choices for your groomsmen.

Family. Again, brothers are a good place to start. It is also a smart idea to include your bride’s brothers if you can. If there’s groomsmen culling to be done, draw the line at the teenage brothers. You can include them in the proceedings by asking them to handle other roles such as passing out programs, seating guests or any of several roles mentioned below.

Friends. Your friends will probably understand your choosing family members over them. But the trickiest part for any groom is deciding between his closest friends. The decision maker may come down to which of the guys you’ve know the longest. Emily Post suggests flipping a coin in the presence of both men so they can see how you chose.

Bucks. If you feel that a certain good friend might be burdened financially for some reason by taking on the role of groomsman, you might consider asking him to be an usher instead. This is usually more of an issue for bridesmaids who have to shell out for everything from shower presents to dyed shoes. Still, it’s something to think about, not to mention a good way to cut back the numbers if you need to.

Numbers. Formal or extravagant weddings tend to have more attendants on both sides, but as touched upon earlier, there is no correct number. Have as many or as few as you wish, but try not to go overboard on the "many" category. Wedding photos, receiving lines, the number of limos all get a little unwieldy as the ranks of attendants increase. Think back to the other weddings you’ve attended, and remember the wedding party size you thought worked best. It is also completely acceptable to have only a best man. All you really need are two witnesses. You’ll know the number range that’s right for you.


His assignment, should he choose to accept it, (as they said in Mission Impossible), is far from impossible. The role of a groomsman is very simple. All the glory, none of the fight. Here are the typical groomsman responsibilities, and some of these are even taken care of by the ushers.

  • Show up for the rehearsal at an appointed time.
  • Arrive at the wedding before the other guests.
  • Wear the requested attire.
  • Escort guests to their seats if required.
  • Perhaps escort a bridesmaid down the aisle before and after the ceremony.
  • Dance with a bridesmaid at the reception.
  • Have fun and stay reasonably sober.

Tough job, huh. The groomsmen have nowhere near the number of responsibilities given to the best man who essentially acts as their foreman. The men should be aware that their leader might ask them to share some of his duties, especially concerning last minute errands and shuttling of family hither and yon.


The most likely scenario is that you’ll have fewer positions for groomsmen than you have friends and family members to fill them. There are plenty of ways to include your friends who could not be chosen as groomsmen.

Ushers. Ask friends who you wish to include in the celebration to be ushers. These men won’t be dressed as the wedding party, but in suits of their own choosing. It is a nice gesture, however, to give them each a boutonniere similar to those worn by you and the groomsmen.
Readers. Another way to include people is to ask if they would do a reading at your wedding. Be careful about this one though. Many people are very uncomfortable about public speaking and while you may think you’re honoring your friend, he may feel like you’re asking him to slay a dragon for you.
Performance. If one of the friends happens to be a musician or singer, you may consider asking them to perform at the wedding.
Participation. Other tasks you might think of for your friends include:

  • Lighting the candles
  • Escorting parents or relatives to their seats
  • Carrying the huppah
  • Rolling out the aisle runner


It is always good form for the groom to acknowledge the men who stand up for him at the wedding. This acknowledgement can be as simple as a thank you letter, but most grooms choose to offer a small groomsmen gift. Our Wedding Shop offers several gifts grooms have found ideal.

Although it can seem difficult to select the people who will be forever remembered as part of your wedding party, odds are that you'll make the right choices. Don't worry, those you cannot choose will understand -- after all, they're your friends.

See More: Bridal Party , Groomsman