A Guide for Groomsmen

When your brother, your college roommate or your childhood friend decides to tie the knot, serving as one of the groomsmen is a tremendous honor. When done right, it can also be a lot of fun. But with that fun comes a certain degree of responsibility; it's your job as a groomsman to assist in making the wedding memorable for all the right reasons.

Create a Game Plan

The first order of business is to find out how you can best help shepherd the groom through the wedding. Whatever the groom is experiencing will affect how you react. If he needs an outlet for venting pre-wedding stress, be that person. If he wants ideas about a good place for a rehearsal dinner, offer to help him look for one.

Next, find out who else is on your team. If you happen to be the best man in the wedding, make sure you call each groomsman; if you are the groomsman and the best man hasn't called you, get in touch and make yourself available for pre-wedding chores.

Clothes Make the Man

Traditionally, you will wear a tuxedo or suit complementing whatever the groom wears. You should ask the groom what's expected so you can budget accordingly. A tuxedo rental will require some planning and measurements, and at least one of the groomsmen, usually the best man, must return everyone's tuxes to the shop.

If you happen to own your own tuxedo, and it matches the rest of the wedding party's attire, it's okay to ask the groom if you can skip the rental. But, if he says no, don't argue.

Party Animals

If there is one perk about the job, it's the bachelor party. A bachelor party is really a function of two things: what each groomsman can afford (since you'll be picking up the tab) and what the groom wants. Chances are, this party was at least one factor in the groom's decision to make you a groomsman, so act accordingly.

If the groom expressly tells you that he doesn't want adult entertainment at his bachelor party, respect his wishes. On the other hand, if the groom thinks this party will be his last chance to take a walk on the wild side, find out just how far you can go.

If the invitation list includes the bride's father and grandfather, but the groom really wants a boys' night out, consider planning a tame version that includes everyone. Once those festivities are over and the relatives have gone home, you can cut loose without putting the groom in the potentially uncomfortable position of having to explain his trip to a strip club to his future father-in-law.

Contrary to what you may have seen on television or in movies, a bachelor party should not occur the night before the wedding. Not only will the groom likely be too busy or nervous to enjoy himself, but you also run the risk of him not making the wedding or being hung over if the party runs late.

The Night Before

Wedding-day responsibilities really begin the night before. Be sure to have your wedding clothes handy. If you are renting a tuxedo, pick it up in plenty of time so you aren't scrambling the day of the wedding.

Rehearsals traditionally happen the day before the wedding. If the ceremony is religious and you're unfamiliar with the customs, pay attention during the rehearsal, and ask the groom or clergy member if there is anything you don't understand so you will be able to show the appropriate levels of respect.

The rehearsal dinner may give you some idea of how the reception will go. Are there people who don't really get along? A relative who drinks a lot? Take mental notes. You never know when the information will come in handy.

If the bride and groom already live together, they likely will not want to see each other the night before the wedding because it's considered bad luck. Offer the future husband a place to crash for the night and plan to keep him entertained.

The Big Day

If the wedding takes place in the morning, see if you can help the groom wake up on time and run any last-minute errands. If your job is to carry the rings or any other item necessary for the ceremony, make sure you have them the night before.

Each groomsman is responsible for seating guests in the wedding venue. Know which side belongs to the bride and which to the groom. If the bride's mother is not part of the actual ceremony, she is typically the last person to be seated, usually by the best man. If you'll be seating someone in a wheelchair, find out in advance what you should do, and, if you are seating a person with a baby or small child, do them (and everyone else) a favor. Put them on the aisle so they can make a quick getaway if necessary without disrupting the service.

Raise a Glass

After the ceremony, some wedding parties form a receiving line to greet guests as they exit the venue; you will usually be part of this line. You may be paired with a bridesmaid for exiting the wedding site and entering the reception. It doesn't matter if you get the ugly duckling, the bride's crazy sister or the girl who ditched you at the prom. Be a gentleman and a good host to your partner.

Once you get to the reception, you may still have some responsibility for your bridesmaid if there is a dance for the wedding party. Likewise, some couples will have the groom throw the bride's garter. Whoever catches it will slip it on the leg of the woman who catches the bride's bouquet. If you're the one who catches the garter, expect to be in the spotlight.

After that, feel free to relax and perhaps enjoy your groomsmen gifts. You may be invited to make a toast or asked to help out with detail assignments such as bringing wedding gifts to the car. Although you're there to have fun, remember that the primary job is to help the wedding day run as smoothly as possible.

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