What is a Groomsman and What Do They Do?

Guest Resources / Monday, May 21st, 2018

Ask anyone today about what groomsmen duties entail, and the first answer you’ll probably get will involve throwing a memorable bachelor party.

And while that’s certainly part of what groomsmen do, the origins of groomsmen point to a much more important role.

In medieval Europe, groomsmen served as bodyguards to protect the bride, groom, and the bestowed dowry. They also served as witnesses to legitimize the marriage. Other historical groomsmen duties even included dressing like the groom to deter and confuse evil spirits!

Luckily, modern day groomsmen don’t need to ward away evil spirits or protect against possible dowry theft. But it is still an important role, especially in the eyes of the groom.

The following are the loose guidelines of what a groomsman is responsible for, and how you can play a role in your friend’s big day with little to no stress involved.

Who typically gets picked to be a groomsmen?

Close friends, relatives including brothers or brother-in-laws, and even cousins. A groomsmen shares a close relationship with the bride or groom and is being trusted to help on one of the most important days of the couple’s lives.

A note about numbers: Generally, an engaged couple will want to have an equal number of groomsman and bridesmaids. This, along with a number of other reasons (like cost, or the desire to keep things as simple as possible), can be a possible explanation for why you might not be asked to be groomsman. If this happens, do not take it personally! Instead, ask how else you can help, and look forward to being a great wedding guest.

groomsman suit

What are some of the first groomsmen duties expected?

Right off the bat, groomsmen will want to start planning for pre-wedding festivities, including the timing and details of the bachelor party. It’s a delicate balance of making sure that you’re doing what the groom wants at the right time, while at the same time keeping any planning pressure off of his mind. You’ll be expected to communicate with other groomsman, and using a centralized messaging board is one of the best ways to do just that.

cheersing groomsmen

What’s the best way to go planning that bachelor party?

First of all, remember: it’s about the groom, not you. That means getting an idea and also understanding what the groom would enjoy, whether that means a wild night out or a tame night with his closest friends. Whatever you do, be sure to start planning early. It’s not easy planning a large event that often requires different people to travel. Waiting until the last minute adds unnecessary stress to the groom, when in reality it should be a fun time with his friends.

people cheers

How much will I be expected to chip in?

Central to many things groomsmen do is the cost. To be sure, groomsmen won’t be held to the same level of responsibility as the best man on many instances. However, expect to contribute for the bachelor party, cover any of your own travel costs, as well as a suit/tuxedo rental.

While it’s possible the groom or bride may help you with some of these costs, you shouldn’t expect it. Something not all groomsmen consider is time commitment: be prepared to book your schedule not only for the fun events, but also essentials– like tailoring, fittings, and the rehearsal.

cocktail hour

What am I expected to do during the ceremony?

Obviously, groomsmen are expected to arrive not only on time, but anywhere from an hour to a few before the wedding, depending on when photos are being taken. (You can keep up to date on any schedule changes through Guestboard‘s timeline panel, so everyone will be on the same page). During the ceremony, you’ll be walking down the aisle, usually with a bridesmaid. And if there are no official ushers, you may be expected to help guests find their seats beforehand.

bride talking to guests

Do I need to prepare a toast?

This is a common question, and is often the first one to come to mind when asked to be a groomsman. In general, while the man of honor and maid or honor are more or less expected to give a toast, groomsmen may or may not. That depends on how big the bridal party is, how close you are to the groom, and how much time the groom and bride want to alot to toasts.

If you do not want to give a toast, simply let the groom know. And if you’re an outgoing person and would love to tell a story about your favorite pal, ask him way ahead of time. He may prefer you make that speech of yours at a different function, like the rehearsal dinner.. or not at all.

traveling groomsman

What if I’m traveling?

If you’re a groomsman from out of town, what you do for transportation will be up to you–and you’ll need to give the groom a heads up if you want be able to make it to an event. The good news: you can exchange information about flight and hotel deals, and even coordinate shared rental cars using Guestboard.

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