How to Pick Groomsmen (Without Hurting Feelings!)

Make sure you have your best buds by your side.
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
The Knot Contributor
  • Heather contributes wedding, honeymoon, travel and relationship content for The Knot and WeddingWire.
  • Heather also writes for publications including Apartment Therapy, StyleBlueprint, MyDomaine, HelloGiggles and The Everygirl.
  • She holds a degree in Art History and Architectural History from the University of Virginia.
Updated Nov 02, 2023

When you picture yourself on your wedding day, who do you imagine by your side? There's your future spouse, of course, but what about your best buds? Choosing groomsmen for your wedding party is an exercise in thinking about who's been there through thick and thin, navigating the ins and outs of which family you should ask to participate, and trying to decide who will be happy to jump on board with support throughout your wedding planning process.

Ranking friends doesn't come naturally for most people, so making the final cuts for groomsmen can be an intimidating process. Here's how you can choose groomsmen to stand by your side and how and when to make the ask.

And, if you're finding yourself confused by the different terms groomsmen and groomsman, just remember, groomsmen is plural, while groomsman is singular—just like men and man.

In this article:

How to Choose Groomsmen | FAQs | How to Ask

6 Tips on How to Choose Groomsmen

Whether you're staring at a list of friends struggling with how to narrow it down or wondering who the right people are to ask, here are a few tips to help you consider the guys to have by your side.

Consider who's been by your side.

By the time you get married, you've probably been through some ups and downs in life. Who's been there with you? Who supported you through struggles? Those are the people that should have the honor of groomsman.

Only choose the no-brainers.

If you're looking at a list of ten potential groomsmen and having trouble weighing one versus another to get to six, then go smaller instead. Choose only the no-brainers who you can't imagine standing up there without. Let the rest enjoy the celebration as guests.

Include your family members.

If you're lucky to count more friends than you can realistically ask to be groomsmen, pare down your list! Ask just your brothers or closest cousins to stand with you as groomsmen.

Don't feel like you and your partner need a matching number of wedding party members.

"You're not required to match the number of bridesmaids or your partner's wedding party members," says Emily Coyne, Principal Planner and Founder of Emily Coyne Events. Some people wonder about uneven photos if there are more members of the wedding party on one side, but a good photographer will figure out how to make it work.

Choose someone from each chapter.

If your friends have varied from elementary school to college to adult life, then consider choosing someone from each chapter of your life. This represents all facets of your journey to this point, and it's a fun way to bring people together!

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Skip the wedding party if it's not working for you.

When you're choosing groomsmen as an older adult and struggling to narrow it down from all your walks of life, don't feel bad about skipping the wedding party altogether. Even without the official title, you can still invite friends to celebrate your bachelor party or get ready with you.

Choosing Your Groomsmen: Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to ask your best buddies to stand by your side? Here are the frequently asked questions that come up when it comes to who, when, and how.

How many groomsmen can you have?

There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to selecting groomsmen. You can have as few or as many as you'd like to have standing up with you, though the average is four, according to The Knot Real Wedding Study. The most important thing to consider is the type of wedding you want to have. Coyne explains, "Evaluate the type of wedding day experience you'd like to have. The more gentleman you have in the picture, the more lively your day will be — likely full of jokes, jabs, and drinks."

However, she notes that if you're more introverted and would like to spend the early part of your wedding day in a quiet, more introspective setting, then go with either no groomsmen or just two or three.

How many groomsmen is too many?

You can have as many groomsmen as you'd like, though remember that more people means more managing of people. "Keep in mind how much coordination you'd like to do leading up to the wedding. Having more groomsmen comes with more scheduling, communication, and of course, reminding them to purchase their attire," says Coyne.

Who should you pick as groomsmen?

"Select people you have the greatest bond with and feel confident that they'll be a part of your life long term," says Coyne. You don't want to look at your wedding photos in ten years and wonder what those people are up to.

If you're worried about combining friends from different walks of life, don't be! Coyne explains, "Your groomsmen are meant to be there in support of you, and as representatives of your life, which has many faucets." Plus, each one should be a buddy that's eager to show up for you fully on your big day, and that experience will bond them together.

How far in advance should you pick your groomsmen?

Being a groomsman comes with responsibilities, so you shouldn't wait too long in the process to make the ask. Ideally, ask your groomsmen before the save the dates are sent and no later than six months before your wedding. "This gives them adequate time to clear their calendars and purchase their attire." says Coyne.

Do all of my attendants have to be male?

There are no rules dictating who can be by your side on your big day, and your group can be inclusive of everyone who's supported you throughout your life. Coyne explains, "We believe in selecting the individuals who are closest to you to stand by your side, which means it's perfectly fine to have a female in the groom's party." Wondering what someone should wear if they prefer not to don a suit? "We recommend selecting attire in the same color palette as the groomsmen. This could be a dress, or fashionable jumpsuit," says Coyne.

Do you have to ask someone because they asked you?

This is tricky territory, but you shouldn't feel pressured to ask someone to be a groomsman just because they asked you. It doesn't have to be a tit for tat situation. However, Coyne points out that you should be prepared that this could cause a divide if there's a non-reciprocal groomsman situation. Coyne says, "Ask yourself: what are the downsides of not asking this person? If it will cause a divide in a relationship that is important to you, there may be more upside to asking them."

How to Ask Friends and Family to Be Your Groomsmen

It's always nice to ask in person if possible, maybe over dinner or drinks, while telling them how much they mean to you and how important it would be to have them by your side.

"We also love the idea of asking your groomsmen with a small gift," says Coyne. "It can be as simple as a bottle of their favorite booze, or you can explore Etsy for a number of fun ideas."

Limited by proximity to your buddies? A call will do just fine!

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