Skip to main content

Picking Your Groomsmen: Best Advice for Awkward Situations

Here are a few common groomsmen etiquette queries, and our editor’s tips on how best to handle these potentially sticky situations.

groom and groomsmen wearing tuxedos

groom and groomsmen wearing tuxedos

Photo: The Grays Photography

Your groomsmen should be your nearest and dearest – family members and friends who will stand by your side on one of the biggest days of your life. Being named a groomsman is a big honor, and one that comes with a decent amount of responsibility, so it’s important to choose your crew wisely.

Do we have to have the same number of bridesmaids as groomsmen?
In a word, no. While it may look a little odd to have eight people on one side, and two on the other, the bridesmaid-groomsman ratio does not have to be absolutely even. What’s most important is that you pick people that you want by your side, not to hit a certain number.

Do I have to include my future brother-in-law among my groomsmen?
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything. However, it’s important for you to start things off on the right foot with your spouse’s family. We think that if not asking your future brother-in-law is going to cause hurt feelings and drama, you should just suck it up and ask him, especially if your future spouse feels strongly on the matter.

My best friend is a female. Can she stand on my side rather than be a bridesmaid?
Absolutely. There’s no law that states that all “groomsmen” must be male. You can have “groomsladies” or a “best woman” if you want. We do think it’s a nice idea to dress the females on your side a bit differently than the bridesmaids – the same dress in a different color or adding a sash or boutonniere as an accessory – to help them stand out.

I have two brothers I’m equally close with. Can I have two “best men”? Do I have to have a best man at all?
You can certainly have two “best men”. Two best men can be even better than one. The two guys can give a speech at the reception together for a fun, Abbott & Costello-style twist. Or you can just nix the best man idea all together, and treat all of the guys as equals.

I was a groomsman for a college friend many years ago, but we’ve lost touch and haven’t spoken in a long time. Do I have to ask him to be a groomsman?
Your groomsmen should be the people you care about most in the world right now. If there’s someone who is no longer among those select few, you do not have to ask him to be your groomsman.

One of my friends is angry I didn’t ask him to be a groomsman. How should I handle?
No matter how hard you try to make everyone happy, there’s a possibility that someone will feel insulted that you didn’t ask him to be a groomsman. In that case, simply say: “It was a difficult decision and I’m sorry you feel hurt. I hope that you’ll still be able to attend the wedding and celebrate with us.” If you want, you can make this guy an usher or give him another special role.