“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life,
and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
Welcome Your Groomsmen
Once you’ve assembled your team, following the bride’s formula for welcoming and organizing her attendants, organize an informal and upbeat kick-off meeting. Invite your best man and groomsmen to your home for refreshments, meet for drinks at a favorite bar or restaurant where it’s easy to talk or arrange a Skype meeting for those who might live some distance away. Launch your wedding project in the same manner that you would launch a project in your professional life, and run through your vision for the wedding and what you would like everyone’s role to be.
Your kick-off affair should be relaxing and festive. Introduce everyone if necessary. Explain that your best man will be coordinating certain things on your behalf, and that he’ll be in touch with everyone regarding their responsibilities as well as updates as happenings unfold. Assure your groomsmen that you’ll be available to talk any time, but to keep things organized the best man should be their go-to guy for most questions, ideas, suggestions, etc.
Set up a communications system with your best man to facilitate your both being on the same page at all times, and so that he can keep the groomsmen well informed and organized on all plans, dates and details leading up to and including the big day. That will help to keep you and everyone else calm and relatively sane. Your life is already busy and complicated and wedding issues can quickly get out of hand and become exceedingly stressful if you don’t stay on top of them. Therefore, it’s worth the extra effort up front to organize your attendants and ensure that everything is copacetic from the very start.
Groomsmen versus Ushers
The terms “groomsman” and “usher” are frequently used interchangeably, as both are considered members of the wedding party and essentially have the same set of responsibilities. Groomsmen and ushers are usually in the procession and stand with the groom and best man during the ceremony. The groom may choose to refer to his attendants as groomsmen, ushers or simply attendants or another creative designation entirely his own. The important considerations when deciding how many attendants to ask and who they should be are (1) there should be at least one groomsman or usher for every 50 guests and (2) the ability and availability of those you wish to ask to perform crucial duties that help ensure that the wedding unfolds smoothly and according to plan (as much as possible).
In addition, depending on the size of the wedding, it’s recommended that while some or most of your groomsmen will be in the processional, one or more should remain in the room at large to handle anything that might arise during the ceremony. Such situations include escorting late arrivals to their seats or assisting guests who require assistance during the ceremony (illness, accident, restroom trip, etc.), or any other situation or emergency that might occur.
The Groomsman’s Responsibilities
Following are guidelines to the typical responsibilities of a groomsman or usher:
- Co-Hosts and attends the bachelor party: If all agree, the best man and groom’s attendants will co-host and attend a soirée in honor of the groom. As with the bride’s bachelorette party, this is an optional and not required. However, if not everyone can contribute the necessary time or resources, the best man and other groomsmen may wish to proceed on their own. In that case, if a groomsman cannot attend due to his finances or schedule, he should try to help out in some way, if possible.
- Attends the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner or party: Attends both the rehearsal and, if one is planned, the dinner or party following. The rehearsal dinner is especially anticipated because it is the traditional way to thank the wedding party members in a very festive and upbeat way for their contributions, and to provide an opportunity for them to toast the wedding couple with benevolent abandon! It is also intended to be a joyful lead-in to the wedding itself.
- Assists in preparing ceremony site on wedding day: Rolls out the aisle runner; decorates rows, pews or chairs with bows, ribbons or other festoon; assembles or receives programs for distribution; ropes off or otherwise indicates reserved seating.
- Greets / escorts guests at wedding ceremony: Meets and greets guests and escorts them to their seats, noting any special seating arrangements or requirements and offering his arm to female guests. When there is a group to be seated, he offers his arm to the eldest or most senior woman — in age or authority — or to anyone of either gender who needs special assistance. Maintains a seating chart that indicates reserved, assigned, sensitive and special seating, and learns the layout of the venue and the locations of all handicapped egress as well as lavatories and fire exits.
- Assists in cleaning up after ceremony: Unless other arrangements have been made, removes row or seat decorations, rolls up aisle runner, collects any programs or other personal items left behind (and locates the owners!), and leaves the site the same or better than it was found.
- Helps direct flow of traffic from the ceremony: Without rushing anyone, especially if there is a receiving line immediately following the ceremony, helps to keep the traffic flowing and moving along smoothly out of the church or other ceremony venue. Upon request, provides guests with directions to the reception location.
- Assists at reception: Helps the best man, bride and groom and their parents and other attendants with tasks and problem-solving, and is alert to anything that needs doing.
- Dances with bridesmaids and others at reception: Dances with bridesmaids during the formal second-dance order, followed by dancing with the bride, the mothers of the bride, the maid of honor, and your spouse or date. It’s also expected, and gracious, to dance with single guests. If you wish to learn or brush up on some basic ballroom steps to give yourself more confidence on the dance floor, check with the groom or best man for their suggestions. Many ballroom dance studios offer wedding dance lessons, or you might find some online sites helpful. If you learn or refresh yourself on basic waltz or rumba box steps you should be fine. Group dances such as the Hustle and La Macarena are also popular at wedding receptions, and as mentioned in previous entries it looks great if the wedding party participates in them. If you’re a dancer, feel free to keep on dancing but don’t hog the floor; as a member of the wedding party you want to make sure other guests have a good time as well!
- Assists the best man with any tasks: Assists with miscellaneous tasks throughout the pre-wedding period and the wedding day; these often involve assisting with the return of any rental clothing of the groom and best man, as well as your own groomsman attire. Be prepared for any reasonable requests.
Like other attendants, groomsmen are expected to pay for their ensembles for the wedding day (purchases and rentals) as determined by the groom and their travel expenses to pre-wedding events and the wedding itself. Optional but traditional and generally expected expenses include a wedding gift for the couple, and expenses in connection with a bachelor party. And, if the shower includes both the bride and groom, a shower gift should be added to the optional expenses.
If You’re Asked to Be a Groomsman
Consider it an honor to be asked to participate in the wedding of someone close to you and accept if at all possible. It will entail demands on your time and pocketbook and require some effort, but the investment in your family or friendship — as well as the experience — will make it worthwhile!
Until next time,