The Perfect Groomsman
So your buddy is getting married. And the other big news is that he wants you to stand up for him as he takes the plunge. Aside from wearing a monkey suit, filing down the aisle like a penguin, and remembering to bring the ring, you have a few other duties to cover. Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here.
In response to your questions, our editors, Amy C. Kaemon and Julie King, share their know-how on everything from juggling busy schedules to bridal party in-fighting, bringing you the tips, ideas, and advice every attendant should know.
As the best man for the wedding, I have planned a killer bachelor party. My problem is, the bride is freaking out. She’s making all these rules. How do I throw the groom the party of his life and placate the bride, too?
Amy says: You want to throw your friend the party of his life without getting him thrown out of his house? Consider sitting down with the bride and groom and establishing parameters to determine what she wants vs. what he wants; what she will tolerate vs. how he is willing to compromise. In a delicate situation such as this, with the emotions of the bride and groom running high, your needs are relatively low on the list of priorities. As such, make sure you respect the wishes (and the decision) of the couple. Let’s not forget, it’s their marriage you’re celebrating. In my experience, a compromise shouldn’t be so hard to reach. What I mean by this is: if the groom wants strippers to dance at the hotel suite; perhaps the bride will settle on his visit to a gentleman’s club, complete with bouncers, wait staff, and witnesses.
If compromise proves unsuccessful, you’ll have to put your thinking cap on and start coming up with alternative ideas. Plan a weekend getaway to Las Vegas, spend the day at a theme park, spend a day or two at a fish-stocked lake, hit the ski slopes, rent a box at a local sports arena, relax at the beach, go camping, or score tons of points with your buddy’s bride by kicking off pre-nuptial festivities with a coed bachelor(ette) soiree. There are plenty of fantastic “getting hitched” party ideas your friend will love that don’t necessarily include the hallmark debauchery that keeps the rest of you guys single.
Julie says: Based on the stereotypical bachelor party, can you blame her? Amy has some great ideas for bachelor parties that the guys will love and the gals can approve. I suggest inviting male members of her family, which will probably allay many of her uneasy feelings. I understand your desire to have one last hurrah before your friend gets married, but consider the fact that he (not you) will have to live with her and any imaginable fallout from the bachelor party. There is even the possibility that your friend doesn’t want a traditional bachelor party. If this is the case, remember the party is in his honor and you should respect his wishes as well as those of the woman he is about to marry. For more on bachelor parties, read Bachelor Party Behavior and A Bachelor Party For The Modern World.
My girlfriend and I have both been asked to be members of our best friends’ wedding party. All the wedding planning has caused my girlfriend to suddenly be fixated on the possibility of us getting married. I’m not sure I’m ready for marriage, but I want her to be happy. What should I do?
Amy says: Attending a wedding of friends or family can be a defining point in a couple’s relationship. When tulle is in the air, people are always wondering who’s next in line to get married. And as we all know, many a match has been made among wedding guests.
It’s no secret that marriage can be a loaded topic for couples discussing their futures together. Sometimes, weddings put undo pressure on people who aren’t ready for such a commitment; sometimes they inspire those who are. Rest assured, some heightened emotions will organically settle as the wedding smoke clears. However, if your girlfriend is ready for marriage and you are not, there is no panacea for you, and there is no way to erase it from her mind. My advice is, stay open and honest about your feelings. Keep the lines of communication open, and don’t make promises you don’t intend to fulfill.
Julie says: Weddings bring out the romantic in all of us and your girlfriend is no exception. It is an emotional time for the couple as well as their family and friends. Although you want your girlfriend to be happy, getting married for that reason is not enough. What’s right for some may not be right for others. The decision to marry is too big to be made under duress or out of obligation.
Admit it: your friends’ wedding has probably stirred your feelings on marriage as well. However, the best time to address the issues that have come up is after the big day. Until then, you will both be busy with pre-wedding parties and other attendant’s duties. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of the event, but remember: when the time is right for you, you’ll know.
I have been asked to be a groomsmen at a wedding next spring. I have been friends with the groom since we were little kids — but from what I know about the bride (I’ve met her a few times over the past two years), I think my friend is making a big mistake. What do I do?
Amy says: That’s a tough one. Assuming you aren’t privy to some secret that compromises the integrity of your friend’s intended marriage, there are lots of relatively innocent reasons why you wouldn’t get along with the bride. Very often, when a friend becomes seriously involved, natural feelings of jealousy, resentment, and fear of loss come into play. If you are unattached, your objections to the upcoming marriage may have more to do with, well, your objections to marriage. Sometimes weddings, particularly those of peers and friends, cause us to shine a high-powered lens on our own lives. Perhaps, at the core of it, you don’t feel ready for the level of commitment marriage requires, and are projecting those feelings onto your friend.
Regardless, this couple has asked you to “stand up” for them at the wedding. Not only do both your friend and his fiancée expect you to help with details of the upcoming wedding, they likely expect your emotional support as well. If you can’t offer this kind of gift to your lifelong friend, the bridal party is not the place for you. You should respectfully decline the honored role of groomsman. My advice, however, would be to stay vague about your reasons. If you decide to get vocal about your objections to his bride, you will almost certainly lose your lifelong friend for good.
Julie says: Focus on why he asked you to be a groomsman. He asked you because you are important to him. So maybe you don’t share the same taste in women, which many would say is a good thing. If your good friend loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her, she can’t be all that bad. Okay, so maybe you still don’t know what he sees in her. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because you aren’t marrying her. He is. Far be it for you to stand in the way of his happiness. Besides, as my mother used to tell me, not everyone is going to like you either and that’s okay. (It is?). The point is, it’s a crowded world and there will always be people you are less than fond of in it. Try to put your feelings for her aside and be happy for him. You would want him to do the same thing for you.
This whole wedding thing is new to me. Is there anything that I can do outside of the usual groomsman’s duties that will help make my buddy’s day more special?
Amy says: First, since the role of groomsman is new to you, let’s make sure you understand the duties you will be expected to take on. Traditionally, the bulk of the duties groomsmen are responsible for take place on the day of the wedding. These include: securing the selected wedding attire, escorting guests and bridesmaids, standing up at the ceremony, posing for photographs, toasting the happy couple and decorating the getaway car. However, most groomsmen typically take on additional “unofficial” duties, mostly to assist the groom get physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the big day.
Julie says: I think it’s wonderful that you want to take the initiative to make the groom’s day as memorable and stress-free as possible. Once you feel confident that you can successfully handle the duties that Amy mentioned above, have a discussion with the groom about any loose ends that need attention. This could be anything from running errands to making sure that any gifts brought to the wedding are delivered to the bride and groom to returning the groomsmen’s attire. Even if the groom feels that all bases are covered, he is sure to appreciate your consideration and forethought. The fact that you even ask him will confirm his decision in choosing you to stand up with him on his special day. For a more in-depth look at attendant responsibilities, read The Best Best Man.
The key to being the perfect groomsman lies in the old Boy Scout adage, “be prepared.” You have been asked to be a member of the bridal party because your friendship means a great deal to the bride and groom, and with that honor comes responsibility. But remember, have fun, smile for the camera, and when your time comes to walk down the aisle, you will have had plenty of practice.
If you have an attendant-related question you would like answered in “The Perfect Bridesmaid,” please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. In each new column, four of your questions will be selected and answered here.