best man

Weddings are incredibly personal and chock-full of emotion — which can make the added family pressure feel like it’s too much to handle. A common questions grooms might be asking is: Are you obligated to include your brother as your best man just because he’s your brother? We asked the pros to weigh in, and they’ve shared a few alternatives that will help keep everyone happy.

The short answer is no, your brother does not have to be your best man. So whether you’re eyeing someone else for the job, have multiple brothers to choose from, don’t want to play favorites, or want to skip the wedding party all together, you don’t have to say “yes” just because he’s your brother. But it’s not quite that simple (is anything?). “Remember that your brother has feelings, and you should keep those in mind,” says Tionna Van Gundy of Wedicity in Chicago. “After all, he has known you his (or your) entire life!” Adds Camille McLamb of Camille Victoria Weddings LLC, also in Chicago, “If your brother expects the role but you don’t want to give it to him, it’s important to find another way to include him in your celebration.”

But how can you include your brother if he’s not best man? Here are a few ideas.

Include them all.

“If you have multiple brothers, it can be hard to choose which one gets the title of best man,” says McLamb. “There are no rules, though, so you can absolutely have both brothers take on the role.” The same goes for a pairing of a brother and a best friend.

Make him a groomsman.

“You can absolutely still include your brother, though not best man, in the wedding party,” says Van Gundy. “You can have him serve as a groomsman and join in the festivities that way, even if you’d like to ask another friend to serve as best man.” Adds McLamb, “If you do have him serve as a groomsman and ask someone else to be the best man, give your brother the prime spot immediately next to the best man you’ve chosen.”

Make him an usher.

Van Gundy knows having an usher on hand is key for a ceremony, and brothers serve in this role quite well. “He can greet guests and help them find their seats - especially useful for grandparents or older relatives who will be so happy to see him!”

Have him escort grandparents down the aisle. 

“If you are including your grandparents in the processional, ask your brother to walk them down the aisle,” Van Gundy suggests. Your brother can hold your grandmother’s arm, with your grandfather following closely behind.

Ask him to give a reading.

“Whether it’s a Bible verse, a poem, or lines from your favorite song, this is a great way to include him in the ceremony,” says Van Gundy. If your brother has a knack for the sentimental, ask him to choose a reading that he feels best represents your relationship.

Make him the ring bearer.

“While this role often goes to younger children, it’s a big and honorable job,” Van Gundy says. Make it fun by asking your brother to serve as an adult version of ring security, or having him escort a younger ring bearer who might not be so confident on his own. How cute would a ring bearer piggy-back ride be?

Include him in any surprises.

Do you have a surprise gift for your spouse-to-be or a trick up your sleeve for the reception? Van Gundy says brothers are some of the best confidants, and can help you make it happen - whether it’s planning from the beginning or helping keep your secret until it’s time for it to be revealed.