Okay, we're kinda joking here but kinda not: What are the groomsmen actually doing on the morning of the wedding—while the bride, bridesmaids, and groom are off getting glammed up or making sure every last tablescape detail is in place? Most wedding parties designate one room for the groom's attendants to hang out, get ready, pop open cans of morning beer, and maybe watch YouTube videos on how to tie a bow tie or put on a boutonniere. Again, we kid.
But all jokes aside, we'd like to raise an important question: What should the groomsmen be doing the morning of the wedding? "On the day of a wedding, the role of the groomsmen is to stand and serve," says Michelle Hunter, director of catering at The Garland, a chic Hollywood hotel and popular wedding venue. "What is typically overlooked and unplanned for is the extra time in the day where they are not obligated to those duties."
When jotting down an itinerary for the morning of the wedding, delegating tasks to the wedding party, or just trying to keep your groomsmen out of trouble before it’s time to walk down the aisle (looking at you, day drinking), here are your best bets.
Put Them to Work
Before the wedding starts, couples should think of a to-do list that can incorporate the talents and skills of your trusty groomsmen. Moritz Schmittat, a photographer who shoots 40 weddings a year, says the best groomsmen are those taking as much work off the groom’s shoulders as possible.
“They welcome guests, hand out the order of service, and make sure everybody is seated and comfortable,” says Schmittat. He's also noticed MVP groomsmen pass out confetti, gather folks for group photographs, and go in on any activities or games the couple is hoping their guests will participate in before the ceremony begins. In lieu of an usher, "the groomsmen help guests find their seats and maybe help granny to sit down," he adds.
Throughout the event, "unless the venue has terrible reception or no WiFi, hop on social media and document the day," advises Jerod Walburn, the style and advice editor at the Black Tux and coauthor of The Groom's Guide. "Post stories for the couple to look at over brunch the next morning, and be sure to use their wedding hashtag.”
Keep Them on Deck
Walburn says that most groomsmen assume they’ll have all of this time to kill, as weddings are very much hurry up and wait, but their "most important job is to be on time—at the beginning of the day, on deck and dressed for photos, and for the ceremony lineup. When groomsmen are not where they’re supposed to be, it’s a distraction."
Sometimes, though, the groomsmen may be a necessary and welcome distraction. "If the groom is feeling nervous, make sure you're available to talk," Walburn says. "Generally, just be available—you never know when an emergency is going to pop up. If nothing else, groomsmen can at least be there to spin what appears to be a disaster in a positive light."
Maybe you’re not yet sure what you’re going to need your groomsmen for, but make sure they know to be ready (and sober enough!) to be on-call for any last-minute tasks, challenges, or photos. And if you're a groomsman, ask questions about last-minute decor, luggage transport, fixing the projector—anywhere you might be able to help.
Let Them Have a Good Time
Since there is a lot of sitting around until “call time” for photos or until the ceremony starts, it helps to have some fun, unique activities that your groomsmen can jump into—that don’t involve hanging out at the bar.
Time-permitting, provide suggestions for ways they can explore the city. Schedule an early morning (brief!) round of golf with the groom to get out any wedding jitters. If the ceremony is at a hotel, ask to see a list of solo or engaging group activities, says Hunter. The Garland, for example, offers private yoga or meditation sessions, courtyard games like giant Jenga and foosball, and movie screenings. The more direction and communication of expectations that can be shared with the groomsmen, the more likely they'll be to take care of their business and enjoy it.
Finally, remember to thank them for their help and promise them that one of their most important duties actually is to have the time of their lives. "The best groomsmen are true gentlemen," says Schmittat. "They're also the first ones on the dance floor and the last ones to leave."