There are a million things that are undeniably stressful about wedding planning like determining a budget, creating a guest list, and juggling family politics. However, there are certain aspects of the planning process that couples put too much unnecessary stress on, like picking out your wedding party. Asking your closest friends to stand by you on your wedding day is supposed to be one of those special moments where you can really let the people in your life know how much they mean to you.
Unfortunately for too many people, the stress of deciding who should be a groomsman overtakes the touching sentiment of the gesture. The good news is, this doesn’t have to be a stressful decision and there is no set number of groomsmen you should have. “The ‘groomsmen’ you decide to select should be something more than a placeholder. For this reason, I truly do not believe there is a ‘correct’ number of groomsmen. You select those who truly mean something to you and your partnership,” says Lea Stafford, founder and creative director of Lea Stafford Events, LLC.
If you find yourself wanting to involve others in your life but don’t necessarily want them standing up next to you as you say your “I do’s,” there are plenty of other ways for them to get involved in your big day. There are plenty of opportunities to go around to get everyone in your life to participate in your wedding. Wedding party rules of the past have gone out the window and couples should feel more empowered than ever to do what makes the most sense for them. Below we’ve rounded up some tips from wedding planning pros about picking your groomsmen.
What is the Average Size Groomsmen Party?
First off, you might be curious how many groomsmen most people have in their nuptials. In the 2018 Brides American Wedding Study, we polled hundreds of engaged and newly married couples and asked them about everything from budget to, you guessed it, wedding parties. There are usually 5.3 groomsmen in the average wedding, according to the study.
How to Decide Who Your Groomsmen Will Be
When you sit down to think about who your groomsmen will be it can feel like a difficult task. “For members of the groom's party, these should be members that are not only significant to the groom, but can fulfill the duties and responsibilities the groom has for them,” says Andrew Roby, founder of Andrew Roby Events. “The first step is deciding who are the most significant people in your life. The second step is identifying what support you'll need leading up to your wedding day and on your wedding day. From there, match personalities to the duties you know they will want to do.”
Do you have a friend from college who is always the life of the party? If he’s still a significant person in your life, he might be great to have around to keep the energy up on the big day (and on the bachelor party). Are you close friends with someone who is known as a “planner”? He might be helpful to have in your wedding party to help plan an epic bachelor party. While you want to make sure your friends take the role of groomsman seriously, don’t pick these people solely on their skills or planning abilities. “It's key to have each person be significant in their lives,” Roby instructs. “If you struggle to identify these things, simply allow them to be guests.”
Assign Other Jobs to Non-Groomsmen
If you have a few friends who don’t quite make the cut as a groomsman but you want them to be more than just a wedding guest, there are plenty of tasks for them to take on to make them feel important on your wedding day. “Having friends involved on your wedding day and not a member of the wedding party is totally ok,” Roby says. “I've seen friends serve as readers, escorts, do spoken word, make a toast, and even perform during the ceremony and reception. Tap into their creativity and allow them to do something that brings that out. You'd be surprised at what friends are able to do.”
You could ask them to do a reading during the ceremony, serve as an usher seating guests upon arrival, or have them speak at your rehearsal dinner. “Perhaps, they hold a special talent (e.g. plays guitar or strings), consider having them perform,” Stafford suggests. “Nothing too involved, keep it short and sweet.” Do you have a friend that’s an awesome singer? Or, a family member that’s a writer who can craft something original, Carrie Bradshaw style? There are countless ways to make non-groomsmen feel included.
Have Bridesmen and Groomswomen
Traditionally, women are bridesmaids and men are groomsmen; however, what about all the men who have close female friends and vice versa? If you have close female friends, why not ask them to be a groomswoman? “It's rare that we see this and when we do, it's widely accepted and appreciated,” Roby says of this recent trend. “Grooms have women as friends and in many cases best friends.”
If you’re concerned about attire, don’t be. “It's ok to wear a nice suit as a female,” Stafford says (remember how awesome Ariana Madix looked as a groomswoman in Vanderpump Rules?). A guy standing with the bride can easily wear a tie that matches the color of the bridesmaid dresses. The bottom line is, we’ve adhered to the gender norms of wedding parties for so long and there’s never been a better time to shatter these outdated rules.
The Wedding Party Doesn’t Have to Be Even on Both Sides
For some reason, couples have gotten it in their heads that both sides of their wedding party need to be the same size, which they absolutely do not. “Throw the following in the trash folks: even number of members on each side,” Stafford encourages.
If you have 10 groomsmen and your spouse has eight, it will not matter. Removing two wedding party members or adding two to keep things “even” is not a valid reason to have or not have someone who matters to you stand by your side on your special day. Plus, if you were the person that was tapped to be in a wedding party to “make things even,” wouldn’t you be offended? Guests won’t be sitting in their seats counting to see if the wedding party is even, and at the end of the day, you won’t be thinking about wedding party numbers, you’ll just be glad you have your support system standing up with you.
You Don't Have to Return the Invitation
Just because you stood by someone’s side at their wedding, it doesn’t mean they need to stand up in yours. This is especially true if your friendship has changed or grown apart since you stood beside them. If you were closer with someone a few years earlier, it might have made more sense back then to be in their wedding party. However, if you’ve made other friends or lost touch with them, it’s OK not to include them in your wedding party. It might feel like you’re being rude, but we promise you’re not.
When it comes to having groomsmen it’s important to pick people who matter to you most—this isn’t like inviting someone to sit at your lunch table in middle school—it’s your wedding day and you don’t want to feel obligated or burdened by having someone you aren’t close with in your wedding party. “Think of those who have supported you when you needed them most,” Stafford advises. If this person does not meet that qualification, it’s okay to just invite them as a guest, chances are they’ll understand where you’re coming from and will be happy just to be invited.