The tradition of having groomsmen is varied by culture and is a tradition almost as old as marriage itself. In the western world, groomsmen were called bride-knights and would assist in kidnapping the bride for the wedding ceremony, and protecting her from would-be kidnappers before the marriage pact was sealed.
From leading the ceremonial procession, to guiding the couple in the ways of marriage, to acting as the ceremonial host and guardians of the newlyweds, groomsmen have been called on to fill every task imaginable at a wedding. In the western world, fortunately, most of the tasks groomsmen are called on to do involve having a good time.
To make it easy for you, I’ve broken down the the groomsmanly duties into my own personal top ten list:
1. Help People to Their Seats
Let’s be honest, this is one of those traditions of the ceremony that has gone right out the window. Get out there and help the old broads to their seats and be charming while you do it to, because you have to-
2. Leave a Good Impression
The bride’s family and friends are going to be there. Judging. Judging the groom, specifically, and a lot of those judgments will be based on how the people he surrounds himself with act. And he chose you to be a groomsman, so don’t fuck it up. Be polite endearing and-
3. Have a Good Time
You’re wearing all hats tonight. You have to have a good time to encourage other people to have a good time. If the dance floor is empty, find a nice lady with legs that go on for days and get out there with her, and enjoy yourself. Have a drink with the men at the bar in your tuxedos because that is what men do. I don’t care if weddings aren’t your thing, today is not about you and you know that, it’s about making sure that your buddy and his new partner for life have the best day of their life on the best day of their life, so to that end-
4. Make Life Easier
Facilitate. Take care of shit. Ladies carrying stuff? Take it from them! Folks need help getting out of the car, unloading wedding presents, tying bow ties, getting drinks, finding lost children, getting taxis home, finding their way to the shuttle bus? That’s what you’re there for. This day is supposed to be easy for the people that have spent the last however many months planning it and paying for it, you should be working hard to make sure they enjoy themselves. Be aware of the peripherals- those little things that make all the difference between a good wedding and a great one. So-
I can’t be more clear about this. A good party involves dancing where the groom’s crazy Aunt Judy can let her hair down and you can spin beautiful women around the dance floor and the little kids are running around having the time of their life and the roof is shaking during Shout! and during the quiet ones there is electricity in the air and you’re out there after the solo dances (bride & groom, bride & dad) not so fast that you ruin the moment but just fast enough that you’re bailing them out of what is ultimately a pretty awkward thing that not everyone can pull of casually. But with all that dancing-
6. Keep Everyone Hydrated
Not just, with water. I mean, definitely with water, as dancing takes more out of you than you maybe realize, but also with booze. You have to keep the party well lubed. Everyone should be just drunk enough that they want to be dancing but not drunk enough to be vomiting in the centerpieces. Keep an eye on folks. Are they bombed? Get ’em out of there, because-
7. No One Makes a Scene but the Bride & Groom
Oh, the Groom has an eccentric cousin in his short sleeved work shirt decided that this $100,000 wedding is the perfect place to propose to his pregnant teenage girlfriend of two months? TAKE THAT MOTHER FUCKER OUT.
I’m not kidding. No drama today, please, no stealing thunder, no showing anyone up. Anyone pregnant and nobody knows yet? Keep them away from any and all microphones/podiums/balconies overlooking the dancefloor and otherwise. Seriously, let this day be for your friend and his new wife. And by don’t make a scene I mean-
8. Don’t Be the Drunkest
Be the second drunkest. Don’t be the drunkest. Put the drunkest guy at the place to bed early. Take him off other people’s hands so they don’t have to deal with him. Keep him the hell away from the newlyweds, and don’t be him. Because if you’re him, you can’t
9. Spend a Little Time With the Bride & the Groom
They’re gonna have a whirlwind day. There are gonna be a hundred + people who all want a piece of these two. Caterers are gonna be updating them and wedding planners are gonna be all over them and every single person there wants a picture with them and suddenly, the day is over and the only person they spent any quality time with was their new spouse. Bring them a drink, share a funny anecdote about something inconsequential that happened while they were elsewhere, give ’em a big kiss and a hung and tell ’em you love ’em and make sure they don’t need anything, and get back to partying. If they need you they’ll find you and you had their moment with them without being a drain on their time. But you make SURE they don’t need anything because you have to-
10. Be Prepared to Step Up
Of all the legendary stories one family can have, one from my family that stands out as among the most impressive of feats was my when my cousin Jamie, lined up second behind the Best Man, was forced to give an impromptu Best Man speech when the best man, a little too drunk, and terrified of public speaking, bowed out while the Maid of Honor was giving her speech. All accounts from said wedding say that Jamie’s speech was above average, and polling results show that almost no one not intimately involved in the last minute pitching change even knew the speech was off the cuff. To that end, I’m not saying write anything, but it’s not not worth having a few nice thoughts in mind in case disaster strikes.
And this last rule is all-encompassing of all the other rules. If you don’t get a few minutes quietly with the bride and groom, how will you know that he’s concerned that people aren’t dancing enough? If people aren’t dancing enough you’re gonna have to be the one that gets it going? (Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot! combined with belt limbo is a great antidote for this conundrum) If you’re the drunkest, no one trusts you to take Aunt Edna to the hospital when she goes down on the line to get more crabcakes and breaks a hip, so someone else’s night (someone who likely isn’t there to make life easier) has taken a sobering turn for the worse. And when I say have a good time, if your idea of a good time is to sulk in the corner and get wrecked, you’re not really stepping up. Your good time better be exactly what the bride and groom’s idea of you having a good time is. Offer to let things be delegated to you so that they don’t have to worry about getting cousin Ginny’s 8 kids back to their hotel room without burning the place down and having to yell at the catering hall manager to keep the bar open an extra hour. Don’t leave the Bride or the Groom or the Bride’s Dad to handle that b.s. That is what you’re there for. The Groom put his trust in you to have his back, so you better step up.
Enjoy yourself. Don’t fuck it up.