While it’s fully possible to have a wedding without a wedding party, sharing the moment with friends and family at the altar can make the moment feel all the more significant. For the bride, that group is her bridesmaids; for the groom, it’s his groomsmen.
What Is a Groomsman?
A groomsman is a male assistant or attendant to the groom. A female attendant to the groom is called a groomsmaid or groomswoman. In a military wedding, groomsmen are referred to as swordsmen.
While the original role of a groomsman was sinister—per D.C. event planner Andrew Roby, they served as henchmen who would kidnap a woman against her will and force her into marriage—today, their job is to support a groom throughout the monumental of marriage—and perform certain duties to ensure the wedding goes off without a hitch.
Meet the Expert
A former chemical, biological, and nuclear specialist with the U.S. Army, Andrew Roby is the owner of D.C. event and wedding planning firm Andrew Roby Events. His work and wedding expertise has been featured on Logo TV, CNN, and Forbes, among others.
Read on for a complete guide to groomsmen, including everything that should be on their “to do” list.
Groomsmen Duties Before the Wedding
Plan the bachelor party.
This is a groomsman’s most important pre-wedding duty. “It gets the groom excited about their wedding day, but it also serves as a stress reliever,” Roby explains. “They’ve been inundated with planning, and they need something to break that up.” So don’t drop the ball! While the best man may take point on planning overall, the best way to get the rest of the groomsmen involved is to divide and conquer. Put different groomsmen in charge of different tasks, such as finding a rental house, booking dinner reservations, choosing bars, etc., so it all gets done in a timely fashion.
Attend as many pre-wedding events (engagement parties, co-ed showers, etc.) as possible to show your support for the couple—and, on occasion, give your groom an excuse to gracefully exit a conversation with their fiancé(e)’s blabbermouth third cousin.
Serve as a sounding board.
“Make sure someone in the group is the psychologist,” Roby says. “ That person is going to help with the groom’s stress and mental health during this process because planning a wedding can be stressful. Having a calm voice within the groomsmen is always helpful.”
Pick out attire (if asked).
Modern culture places so much emphasis on a bride picking her wedding dress, but a groom’s attire is also a big deal. If he asks for opinions on what he and/or the rest of the groomsmen should wear, weigh in thoughtfully, respectfully, and with his best interests in mind. And if he asks you to help shop for a look, do so.
Pick up attire (without being asked).
Whether you’ll be renting a tux, getting a custom jacket made, or simply purchasing a tie to go with a suit you already own, it’s nobody’s job but your own to ensure you have the proper attire come wedding day.
Be a command center for other guests.
This is especially important for a destination wedding where there’s a language barrier, says Roby, as older or more trepidatious guests might require more hand-holding in a foreign country. If you can help answer questions about things like hotel check-in, transportation, and the time and location of various activities like the welcome party or rehearsal dinner, that will free up your groom to actually enjoy his wedding weekend.
Groomsmen Duties During the Wedding
Show up on time the morning of.
It’s a groomsman’s duty to know when and where they need to be—and then arrive promptly, with all the necessary components of their attire.
Serve as a liaison before the ceremony.
As guests begin to trickle into the ceremony, they’ll likely have questions. Where do we put gifts? Is there a bathroom? Where do we pick up the shuttle to the reception? Because groomsmen occasionally serve as ushers (more on that in a moment), they can provide answers to those questions as they greet guests.
Usher guests to their seats.
If a wedding doesn’t have formal ushers, the groomsmen may be asked to fill the role until they’re called to the altar. As ushers, groomsmen will greet guests and escort them to available seats, often offering their arm to female guests as they head down the aisle.
This job is especially important if seats up front need to be reserved for family or members of the wedding party, as groomsmen can guide other guests away from those seats.
Stand at the altar with the groom.
As an important member of the wedding party, a groomsman may also be asked to perform a reading during the ceremony.
Help corral the wedding party for photos during cocktail hour.
We know, we know … once the ceremony wraps, it’s tempting to rush straight to the bar. But don’t give in! (At least not right away.) Help keep the wedding party together so you can push through portraits, and, if necessary, (politely) hold other guests at bay so the couple doesn’t become distracted from the task at hand.
Give a speech (if asked).
At the wedding reception, this job is typically reserved for the best man. But if you’re asked to speak, do so! And if you’re not asked, do not grab the mic and give a speech anyways. Weddings run on tight schedules, and the disruption could mess up the flow of the evening.
Be the first on the dance floor.
“Be those courageous people that are out on the dance floor when no one else wants to get out there,” says Roby. “And pull people up to dance with you.”
Tidy up the couples’ suite.
When his couples hold their reception at the hotel where they’ll be spending the night, Roby encourages the groomsmen to steal away for a few minutes during the reception to tidy up the room. “Remove all the trash and food that may be in there, or ask room service to go,” he says.
Take gifts to a safe place.
Bring them to the best man’s room, a parents’ room, or another secure location. That way, they’re taken care of but not taking up space in the couples’ room.
Groomsmen Duties After the Wedding
Knock on doors ahead of brunch the next day.
The morning after a wedding can be rough, but if there’s a breakfast scheduled, it’s a groomsman’s duty to show up—and make sure others do the same. If necessary, head to the rooms of other important attendees who may be tempted to sleep through the event and make sure they get there on time as well.
Help load the car.
Take those gifts you stored in a safe place last night and get them into the proper vehicle. If the couple can’t fit everything in their car and you’re headed somewhere close by, offer to take a few with you.
Return any suit or tuxedo rentals.
If it’s possible to put one or two groomsmen in charge of returning the whole lot, do so. If not, each groomsman is responsible for getting their own attire back to its original source. They’re also responsible for any damage or late fees incurred.
Check on the couples’ home while they head to their honeymoon.
If the couple is heading out for their honeymoon the morning after the wedding, groomsmen that live close by should consider offering to take gifts or any other wedding-only essentials back to the couples’ house, and ensure that it’s securely locked up for the duration of the getaway.