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The Role of Groomsmen and Best Man in a Wedding

Three groomsmen stand to the left of the groom and three bridesmaids stand to the right of the bride in this wedding in Kep, Cambodia. A wedding ceremony is a beautiful and joyous occasion, where...

Groomsman Three groomsmen stand to the left of the groom and three bridesmaids stand to the right of the bride in this wedding in Kep, Cambodia.

A wedding ceremony is a beautiful and joyous occasion, where family and friends gather to celebrate the union of two individuals. One of the essential elements of a wedding is the presence of groomsmen and a best man. In this article, we will delve into the significance of these roles and the responsibilities they entail.

The Importance of Groomsmen and Ushers

A groomsman or usher is a male attendant chosen by the groom to be a part of his wedding ceremony. Typically, the groom selects close friends and relatives as groomsmen, considering it an honor to be chosen. From the groomsmen, the groom usually designates one as his best man. However, for weddings with many guests, additional male friends and relatives may be asked to act as ushers, whose primary task is to guide guests to their seats before the ceremony. In some cases, ushers may also be hired for large weddings.

In military officer weddings, the groomsmen's roles are fulfilled by swordsmen of the sword honor guard. These swordsmen are usually chosen from the groom's close personal friends, who have served with him. Their duties include forming the traditional saber arch for the married couple and guests to walk through. It is fascinating to note that the word "groomsmen" was first recorded in 1698, even though the terms "bride" and "groom" have existed since Old English times.

Duties of Groomsmen and Best Man

The most visible duty of groomsmen is to assist guests in finding their seats before the ceremony and to stand alongside the groom during the wedding proceedings. Moreover, the groom may request additional assistance from his groomsmen, such as planning celebratory events like bachelor parties or ensuring the wedding is enjoyable for guests. This may involve engaging in conversations with unaccompanied guests or bridesmaids, or providing practical aid with gifts, luggage, or unforeseen circumstances. Groomsmen may also partake in local customs or traditions, like decorating the couple's car.

Groom, Best Man, and Ushers The groom, his best man, and two ushers.

The best man is the groom's chief assistant throughout the wedding. The term "best man" dates back to 1782, where it was observed that the Scottish equivalent of "best man and best maid" in England were "bride-man and bride-maid." In most modern Anglophone countries, the best man is typically a close friend or relative of the groom. During the wedding ceremony, the best man stands next to the groom, slightly behind him, alongside the officiant, bride, and groom. While different regions may have varying customs, the best man's core responsibilities generally include:

  • Assisting the groom on the wedding day
  • Organizing the bachelor party
  • Managing the ushers
  • Safeguarding the wedding rings until needed during the ceremony
  • Standing beside the groom during the exchange of vows
  • Acting as a legal witness by signing the marriage certificate
  • Delivering a heartfelt "best man's speech" during the reception

Roles and Traditions Across Different Cultures

The role of the best man is not universal and varies across different countries and cultures. In the Anglosphere, it is customary for the best man to give a short speech. In Zambia, the best man is expected to lead processions and perform an outstanding dance routine during the wedding. In Uganda, a best man is seen as a guide to the newlyweds, offering sage advice based on his own marital experience. Bhutanese best men assume the role of ceremonial guardians, entertaining guests for hours after the wedding. In Greece, the best man is often the "koumbaros" or religious sponsor, participating in significant rituals during an Eastern Orthodox wedding. Ukrainian best men are responsible for safeguarding the bride during the festivities, partaking in an age-old tradition of ransom and redemption.

The Bachelor Party Tradition

Traditionally, the bachelor party was a farewell dinner hosted and financed entirely by the groom. It was an opportunity for the groom to entertain his friends as a single man before his marriage. However, this practice has evolved, and in many cultures, the best man now organizes the event. Often referred to as a bachelor party, stag do, or bucks' night, this gathering allows the groom to celebrate with his closest friends before tying the knot. The expenses are typically borne by the groom, emphasizing his role as the host of this final celebration.

In conclusion, groomsmen and the best man play integral roles in a wedding ceremony. Their support, assistance, and presence bring joy to the couple and ensure that the celebration is memorable for everyone involved. So, the next time you attend a wedding, take a moment to appreciate the value of these honored positions and the friendships they represent.


  1. Wikipedia. (n.d.). Groomsman. Retrieved from [link]+groomsman&dq=Groomsman&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiw5rWa3fH0AhUExjgGHZ6oDHQQ6AEwA3oECAEQAg#v=onepage&q=Groomsman&f=false