Rules for Groom and Groomsmen

Rules for Groom and Groomsmen—This deceptively simple title implies that the men in a wedding merely have to follow some rules and everything will be fine. For the average guy in a traditional relationship, this is probably true. For you involved grooms who want to be part of everything, please don’t be put off by what I am about to say, although these rules pertain to you too. This is for most guys. These are my observations after having interviewed and married several hundred couples before their marriage, and some afterwards.

A wedding day is 95% the bride’s day and 5% the groom’s day. I used to say the split was 90% – 10%, but several grooms corrected me on this. It’s about feelings, so I will go with the consensus, which by the way, includes the opinions of many brides. I always have these kinds of discussions out in the open with both bride and groom participating. Yes, roles can be reversed, with brides playing the “wish we could elope” role while the groom insists on a grand wedding event, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

In the interview with the couple, when the time seems right, I say to the groom, “Remember, this is going to be 95% her day and 5% yours. Your 5% means showing up on time, sober, and saying what you are supposed to say, when you are supposed to say it.” Savvy grooms say, “I understand” while their brides nod their heads in agreement and smile that all-knowing smile when they know that one of their trump cards was just played successfully for them. Most couples laugh and some even comment about a parent or friend who implied something similar, or merely smile.

For Groomsmen – A handful of rules are all the groomsmen need to agree on for their part in making the ceremony orderly, neat and photogenic. Something can always come up in a ceremony anyway, e.g., a ring bearer dropping the rings, a child amusingly distracted wandering down the aisle, a guest oddly adding to the spectacle. My favorite was one flower girl dropping petals and the other picking them up. There is no end to the number of things we humans can do to make a wedding interesting and memorable. Nevertheless, four “don’ts” make up the ceremonial rules for the groomsmen: No chewing gum; no sun glasses; no hands in pockets; no cell phones (turn off, not set to vibrate). Even at a beach wedding in the hot bright sun, sunglasses spoil photographs, although in some wedding parties, when all the groomsmen sport the same ‘cool’ sunglasses, they can look very cool, hip and happy. That’s a good thing.

I often ask the bride and groom if anyone in the wedding party does not handle alcohol well. All I’m asking for is 16-18 minutes of sober fun before the party begins because a wedding ceremony is the serious beginning to a lifelong celebration of love. When I sense the wedding is more of a party from the get-go, I ask that they drink responsibly in the hour before the wedding. Some groomsmen bring beers or a flask to share in the camaraderie in the men’s dressing room, which is fine. Drunks, however, always spoil wedding ceremonies.

For the Groom – One additional suggestion for the groom, which I usually make while we are standing in front of the guests waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle for her grand entrance, is to “tell your bride how beautiful she is today, right now, in front of everyone. If you do, she’ll remember it forever. If you don’t, she’ll remember it forever too.”

Enough rules. Go and have fun. Live like there’s no tomorrow; love like you’ll never be hurt; and dance like there’s nobody watching. – Chinese Wisdom

Your day, your way!