Long gone are the days when the bridal party only included female friends. Today, having a close male friend or family member standing by your side at the altar is becoming more and more common. If they’re your support system and close confidant, gender doesn't matter. That's why many brides are choosing to also have bridesmen.
What Is a Bridesman?
A bridesman is the male equivalent of a bridesmaid. He is chosen by the bride to be a member of the bridal party and is often a relative or close friend.
"The beautiful thing about weddings today is that couples add a lot of personal touches that showcase who they are as individuals and as a duo. Choosing the members of their bridal party is no exception," says Maya Holihan, founder of EWedded. "If a bride’s best friend is a man or she has a special kinship with a male family member, then it’s completely acceptable and encouraged that she include him to stand beside her at the altar."
Joey Skladany, who has been a man of honor twice and a bridesman two other times, absolutely loves that more brides are including men in their wedding parties. "My girlfriends are essentially my soulmates. If genetics went a different way and we played on the same team, I'd marry anyone whose wedding I was in," he shares. "But because I can't, supporting them through one of the most important days of their lives is the next best thing. I use it as an opportunity to express my gratitude for the same level of support they provide me on a daily basis."
If you’re adding a bridesman or man of honor to your bridal party, there are a few logistics you’ll need to consider, including his attire and expected duties. Ahead, our experts share all you need to know.
Meet the Expert
- Maya Holihan is the founder and CEO of EWedded and the author and podcast host of Happily Altered After. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the wedding industry, including having owned a planning company and bridal shops.
- Joey Skladany is a writer, TV and radio personality, and cookbook author. He has been both a man of honor and a bridesman twice.
Common Questions About the Bridesman Role
You may have a few questions about how to best integrate your bridesman or man of honor with your bridesmaids and the rest of the wedding party. Here's how to make it as seamless as possible.
What Should a Bridesman wear?
When determining your bridesman's attire, think of something that feels cohesive with the entire wedding party. He can either wear the same suit as the groomsmen with an accessory on palette with the bridesmaids, or you can choose a suit that blends in with the bridal party color scheme.
"I've been a bridesman for brides who want to make me feel like I'm actually part of the bridal party and not just a more fabulous extension of the groomsmen," shares Skladany, who has worn coordinated ties, bow ties, or pocket squares in previous weddings. "I have a few fond memories of shopping for these with the brides and ensuring that they matched the bridesmaids dresses perfectly. They typically end up buying this article of clothing for me, which makes it sentimental since it's now tied to a special moment."
Match the bridesman's boutonniere to the bridesmaids' flowers. Then, have the groom and groomsmen wear boutonnieres of a different variety. You can also give your bridesman their own bouquet if you both like the idea.
What if Your Bridesman Doesn't Know Your bridesmaids?
The pre-wedding activities and the day of the wedding will be far more fun if everyone is already friendly. "If your bridesman doesn’t know the other bridesmaids, set up a casual lunch or happy hour after work for everyone to get to know each other better and break the ice," suggests Holihan. Those early events, like an engagement party or bachelorette party, are also great opportunities to introduce everyone.
The bridesman's biggest job is to be a great friend, a gentleman, and an extension of the host and hostess for your guests. Any guy friend who can do that definitely deserves the honor.
It's important to keep an open line of communication with your bridesman while you both navigate the waters of what his role will entail. "The most important thing the bride can do to make her bridesman feel comfortable is to be upfront and honest about what she expects from her bridal party, including him," notes Holihan.
In his experience, Skladany felt like his duties weren't much different than those of the bridemaids. "Planning bachelorette parties and making the bride feel special played into my skillset as a former publicist turned media person, where attention to detail is critical. But, I do think that as the sole male (and a gay one) among a group of women, they do rely on me to be the ‘fun one’ or the one who breaks the ice with a little bit of humor," he shares. "While my actual bridal party responsibilities didn't stray too far from the norm, I do think that guys can bring a different kind of laid-back, funny energy that is appreciated when nerves are frazzled.
Before the Wedding
- Help with wedding projects. Just like you would with your bridesmaids, make use of any abilities your bridesman might have. If he’s crafty or a whiz in the kitchen, include him while you make and package homemade cookies or bottles of limoncello for your favors. If he’s more of a handyman, he could be just the person you needed to construct your altar or photo booth backdrop.
- Offer emotional support to the bride. Just like your bridesmaids, you’ve chosen your bridesman because of the friendship the two of you share. The fact that you’re getting married doesn’t change that in the slightest. "Like the rest of the bridesmaids, the bridesman should offer as much emotional and hands-on support as expected. He’s part of the sounding board and needs to do his part to make sure the bride gets to the aisle with her sanity intact," says Holihan.
- Attend the bridal shower and bachelorette party. While the bridal shower and bachelorette party are traditionally women-only events, that doesn’t mean your bridesman has to get the boot. Instead, make sure the event is something where he’ll feel welcome.
If there are both bridesmen and groomswomen in the mix, consider skipping the separate parties altogether, instead opting for a co-ed shower and a joint bachelor-bachelorette outing.
- Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal is a great way to work out any potential last-minute kinks so it's important for your bridesman and bridesmaids to be there. Make sure your bridesman knows the processional order and if he is expected to walk down the aisle with anyone. You might also opt to ask your bridesman to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner.
On the Day of the Wedding
- Get ready the morning-of. If you've planned for you and your bridal party to spend the morning of your wedding being pampered and sipping Champagne, your bridesman may not have the patience to sit through hours of hair and makeup styling. "Everyone is different, but I'd say that many dudes are pretty specific when it comes to how their hair looks—sometimes even more than women," shares Skladany. "So, I prefer to do my own hair and makeup and then set everything with the high-end products that these hair and makeup artists bring that day." Of course, you should give your bridesman the option to get styling done if he wants. If not, schedule your morning a little more intentionally, with mimosas and breakfast before the primping begins, so he can join you and then head out for a few hours before it's time for pictures. You could also ask him to pick up lunch on his way over and then spend an hour or so with you all before it's time to put on your wedding dress.
- Run last-minute errands. With the aforementioned extra free time in the morning, ask your bridesman to help run any remaining errands. Need a sewing kit from the local drug store or another bottle of Champagne? If he’s not in hair and makeup, he’s your go-to guy. "Most of my day is spent calming the bride, pouring the mimosas, running last-minute errands, and telling the ladies how gorgeous they all look," Skladany says.
- Be there for photo opportunities. The bridesman should be included in any photo opportunities with the bride and the bridesmaids. Be sure to fill him in on your wedding timeline so he's not running errands and missing during important moments.
- Have fun at the reception. Ask your bridesman to interact with the other guests and get the dancing started at the reception. Now is the time to let loose and let everyone really enjoy the moment.
After the Wedding
- Attend the morning-after brunch. If you've chosen to host a post-wedding brunch, the bridesman should be in attendance. Despite battling a potential hangover, the brunch presents the perfect opportunity to wrap up the celebration and say farewell to guests.
- Check in with the bride. Whether you've jet-setted off to your honeymoon or you're struggling with post-wedding blues, it can be helpful to hear from your friend. Take this opportunity to recap your favorite memories of the wedding and moments with each other.