Picking bridesmaids was the easiest part of my wedding planning process. I'm an introvert, and at the time of my wedding, I had exactly three close friends plus a soon-to-be sister-in-law (there really should be a shorter term for that relation). Boom. Done. My husband, on the other hand, will someday write a book called, “Why Aren't There More People At This Party: How to survive in a world where you can only invite a thousand people to everything.”
Picking groomsmen was a hard task for him, but here's how he narrowed down the field of contenders (without ruffling any cumberbunds) and how you can do it too:
Know what you want from your groomsmen. Like anything, it’s helpful to first look inside yourself and understand why you want a flock of well-dressed folks up there with you at all. For my husband (and likely for you), it was a mix of emotional and practical considerations. He wanted people beside him who he loved and who were going to support him through this major life decision, and he also wanted those people to make sure he got everywhere he needed to be on time and to remind him to eat breakfast the morning of the wedding.
Consider all the options. My husband has a close group of 12 friends. And one of the many options he considered was asking all 12 of them. But logistically, that many people got messy. His family was bringing over outfits for the groomsmen from India, and wrangling measurements from a dozen people just wound up being NOT what he wanted to do. What he really knew was that he wanted his brother up there, and his best friend since high school. Since I’d already stolen one of his siblings for my own wedding party, he decided to just return the favor and stole both of mine. That way, we had all siblings represented, and we each still had our bestie up there.
There’s room for everyone at the party. Just because all 12 of his best friends weren’t groomsmen didn’t mean all 12 of them weren’t important. Ultimately, my husband felt he could have picked anyone from the friend group without causing a lot of hurt feelings because he planned other activities that included all of them. They all had a bachelor party together, they all talked about wedding plans together, and they all came to the wedding and stayed with us until the venue turned the lights back on and kicked us out. Friends for life, guys.
Don’t worry too much about the “men” part of “groomsmen.” Or the “maids” part of “bridesmaids,” really. If I hadn’t asked his sister to be a bridesmaid, he would have asked her to be a groomslady. If he had decided to go big or go home and asked his 12 friends to be groomsmen, I would have asked my brothers to be bridesmen. We really wanted our siblings up there. And if you have siblings or friends you know you want standing by your side that day, don’t let gender be the hang-up.
As many rules as it feels like there are around who you do and don’t ask to be in your wedding party, the truth is this: you get to do what you want. Can’t imagine being up there without your 12 friends? Go for it. Would rather just be up there with your partner and an officiant? Do it. As you decide who to ask (or not ask, as the case may be), consider how you want to feel on your wedding day. Is the person you’re thinking of having stand up there with you going to help you feel that way? Your answer will probably tell you everything you need to know.
How did you pick a wedding party? Any tips for the engaged folks out there?
Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.