Groomsmen Etiquette 101: A Beginner's Guide

Everything you need to know to practice proper groomsmen etiquette is up on the blog. Read on to find out more.

By Deanna deBara

groomsmen at wedding
Photo by Tricia McCormack Photography

Being a groomsman is a big deal. The groom considers you such an important part of his life that he wants you to stand by his side while he says his wedding vows—that’s huge. You want to make sure that throughout the entire process—from wedding planning to the ceremony and the reception—you show up for him in the way that the groom needs you to, and that you act in a way that’s in line with the groomsman title.

Or, in other words, you need to practice proper groomsmen etiquette.

But, what exactly does groomsmen etiquette look like? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know on how to be a groomsman.

Show Up for All of the Pre-Wedding Events

In addition to showing up at the wedding, as a groomsman, you should also plan to be at all of the pre-wedding events that the groom and his partner throws (or have thrown for them), such as the engagement party and bachelor party.

If there’s a legitimate reason that you can’t attend one of the pre-wedding events (for example, if the bachelor party required to travel that’s out of your budget, or you’d have to fly in for the engagement party and it just so happens to fall on the same day as a huge presentation at work), talk to the groom. Let him know how much you want to be there, explain the reason(s) why you can’t be there, and see if there’s anything else you can do to support him.

Know Where, When, and What Is Required of You

Not being able to make it to the engagement or bachelor party is a bummer. But, there’s one pre-wedding event that, as a groomsman, you have to attend—and that’s the wedding rehearsal.

The rehearsal is where the couple and the wedding party get the opportunity to run through the entire wedding ceremony before the big day. That way, you can get direction on exactly what you’re supposed to do during the wedding ceremony—and you can practice before you have to do those things at the actual wedding.

The rehearsal dinner is also a great time to get clarity on the timeline of the wedding day—and how that plays into your timeline. For example, are you meeting at the groom’s house at 9 a.m. for breakfast and then heading over to get ready at the wedding venue together—or are you getting ready at home and then meeting at the wedding venue at 2 p.m.? What time are you taking wedding photos? What will you need to bring with you to the venue on the big day?

The wedding rehearsal is your opportunity as a groomsman to find out what you’re supposed to do, where you’re supposed to be, and when you’re supposed to be there—so you must show up and pay attention.

Be the Groom’s Support System

It’s normal for the groom to feel nervous on his big day—and, as a groomsman, one of your most important responsibilities is to be there to support him.

On the day of the wedding, pay attention to how the groom is feeling. If he forgets to eat, go grab him a snack. If he seems nervous, talk to him or ask him to go on a walk to offer a distraction. If he seems stressed out about things coming together for the wedding ceremony or reception, ask what needs to be done—and then take care of it, so that it’s one less thing that he needs to stress about.

The groom’s wedding is one of the biggest days of his life—and as his groomsman, it’s on you to support him throughout that day.

Groomsmen Etiquette 101: A Beginner's Guide -- Zola Photo Credit // Tricia McCormack Photography

Make Sure Your Speech Is Appropriate

If the groom asked you to be in the wedding party, chances are that you’re close. You probably have enough embarrassing, cringe-worthy, or flat-out unbelievable stories about him to fill a book. (“Remember that one night in college when you went crazy and…”)

But, if the groom asks you to make a speech or a wedding toast, it’s best to keep all those embarrassing and cringe-worthy stories to yourself on his wedding day.

Remember, a couple’s wedding is bringing together all of their loved ones, including family members from both sides. As a groomsman, the last thing you want to do is embarrass or humiliate the groom in front of all of his—and his new partner’s—loved ones.

So, while it’s fine to make jokes or share funny memories during your groomsmen speech, make sure that you keep it appropriate—and don’t say anything that might upset the groom, his partner, or any of the wedding guests.

Have Fun at the Reception…

As part of the wedding party, you’re one of the most visible guests at the reception. So, make sure that you’re having a good time (and encouraging others to do the same). Dance, laugh, talk to the other guests, and make sure that the wedding reception is one that the groom (and other guests) will remember.

...But Not Too Much Fun

That being said, you don’t want to have too much fun. While it’s fine to have a few drinks (if that’s your thing), again, you’re one of the most visible guests at the event—so don’t drink too much or act in a way that might upset or embarrass the groom. As a wedding party member, you must act appropriately and responsibly.

Ultimately, being a groomsman is about showing up for someone you care about—the groom—and having a good time on his big day. So, make sure that you’re not only taking your groomsmen responsibilities seriously but that you’re also having fun with the bride and groom in the process!

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