wedding party groomsmaid attendant
January 9, 2009 11:43 AM   Subscribe

So I've never been a bridesmaid. But I will be a groomsmaid. What should I expect?

My good guy friend (I'm a female) asked me to be an attendant in his wedding this summer. What one calls this, or what he is choosing to call the position, I do not yet know, but right now I'm calling myself a groomsmaid because I like it.
I have never been in a wedding before, much less in this position, so I'm wondering what the general expectations are. Since this is not the most traditional of roles, I'd like to hear experiences from other women who have been groomsmaids. Some questions that I would like answered:
In what fun ways can I as a woman add to the guy side of the wedding party?
I'm not very close to the bride-to-be, but should I be expected to make an extra effort to play along with the bridal party side of things?

I'm assuming his brother is going to be best man, so I guess I'm not expected to do much in the way of planning events for him. My friend has already stated that he doesn't want a bachelor party, so I don't have to worry about playing along with strippers or doing shooters or playing paintball. His wedding will otherwise be of the traditional sort. So I guess I'm mostly just trying to make the best of my special role to make his wedding as awesome as he deserves, and looking for suggestions in order to do so.

posted by greta simone to Grab Bag (22 answers total)
I've done this!!! it was for the wedding of a very very dear friend. they had a very small, very informal wedding in Golden Gate Park. I wore a brocade tuxedo jacket over my skirt-n-top.

it was my job to hand him the ring during the ceremony and I stood next to him for the photos. also, I made a speech during the reception, which was fun.

also, I went to the bachelor party, and I highly recommend that you do too!!! (and altho I am also good friends with the bride, I did not go to the bridal shower, since I was not part of the bridal party)

really, it depends on the wedding tho. I have been in several (at least 4) and it really depends on what the couple want their ceremony to be like. mostly, I would try to fulfill the duties they want from the groomens, participate in those aspects of planning etc., and maybe throw in a little fun "yes, I am a girl" touch by having a dress that matches or echos their suits for example. have fun!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:50 AM on January 9, 2009

yes, I can read, really. I see that 'no bachelor party' comment now. you can always have a group dinner instead of the usual stripper thing. that's what we did, it was really fun!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:51 AM on January 9, 2009

I was the best "man" for my guy best friend's wedding. I wore a cute black cocktail dress with a black tuxedo-inspired women's jacket over it, and black pumps (that's me on the right). I organized the "bachelor" party, which was a mixed-gender hangout at a bowling alley with bowling and karaoke. I gave the toast to the couple and held the rings (things the best man usually does). My friend gave all of his groomspersons a flask filled with quality scotch for a groomspersons' gift, and I ran around giving a sip of scotch from my flask to everyone in the bridal party to get them through the boring pre-wedding part while the photos were being taken. For the first time ever, I saw my best friend, who I've known and loved for over 10 years, cry. It was a super-wonderful experience and everyone had a great time.
posted by matildaben at 11:53 AM on January 9, 2009

Oooo, fun question!

1. Don't wear the same dress that the bridesmaids will wear. If the groomsmen are wearing tuxes, pick some sort of black dress whose style complements the tuxes well. That says "groomsmaid" very much to me. :)

2. During the first dance, there may be a brief time after the new couple dances where the wedding party dances. If your bridesmaid counterpart is willing, you can turn this into a moment for a cute laugh. Ham up the fact that you're a woman dancing with another woman. Not too much (i.e., don't make out) , but enough to create a cute memory for your friend (i.e. take turns leading).

3. Bring cigars for your fellow groomsmen. You'll be spending a few hours in the company of a group of guys who aren't used to having a lady in what is traditionally male territory.

In the end, it's your being there that matters to your friend. Find a moment in all the hustle and bustle to tell him how great he is and thank him for asking you to stand with him on his special day. That's what he'll remember and appreciate most.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:58 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

1. Don't wear the same dress that the bridesmaids will wear. If the groomsmen are wearing tuxes, pick some sort of black dress whose style complements the tuxes well. That says "groomsmaid" very much to me. :)

Wear whatever you are asked to wear! In my sister's wedding, there were six attendants total, five of whom were women (three on her side, two on the groom's). We all wore the same dress, bridesmaids in red and groomsmaids in black. Don't assume you get to pick what you wear! If you are told to "wear whatever", check with the bride as a courtesy.

Make an effort to be friendly with and better get to know the bride. While she might not expect you to participate in the bridal party side of things, it would be nice for her to know you're willing.

Ask your friend and the bride specifically what they expect of you--they'll know better than we do.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:04 PM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

At my best friend's wedding, where I was the maid of honor, the groom's sister was a groomsmaid. I worked out really well. She wore a long dress that was very similar to the bridesmaids, but was in black and white to match the guys in their tuxes. She was definitely included in all the bridal-ish things, ie the shower, the stagette, etc, but that would have happened anyway because she was the groom's sister and in town specifically for the wedding. Anything involving the wedding party she was also involved with, obviously.

The biggest difference that her being a girl made, to be honest? I hate to stereotype on gender, and it may have had more to do with the fact that she was the groom's sister, but we were able to count on her to make sure the guys got to where they needed to be and were doing what they needed to do -- rehearsals, making sure they were still alive after the bachelor party [which she skipped], making sure they were dressed on time, herding them for the picture taking, etc. In general, she was just easier to rely on than the guys. The best man could have been this person, but, well, it just didn't quite work out that way. She saved the bride (and me) a lot of stress, and just as importantly, she understood why we were stressed.
posted by cgg at 12:12 PM on January 9, 2009

Response by poster: I do intend to ask my buddy what he expects of me, but he's most likely just going to say "ya know, whatever" as is his style. So that's why I'm here! Thanks for the suggestions so far! I'm not so much worried about what to wear than I am what to do and how to make it fun. Keep 'em coming!
posted by greta simone at 12:13 PM on January 9, 2009

I was "Best Woman" in a friend's wedding a couple years ago (otherwise very traditional ceremony and reception--really a beautiful day.) I was somewhat long-distance compared to some of the other party members so I wasn't there for the day-to-day chores leading up to the wedding.

I didn't wear a bridesmaid dres. Instead I wore a simple black dress that blended in with the guys' tuxedos. I handed my friend his bride's ring (and yes, I did drop it right before we "went on," much to everyone's dismay and amusement. But it was recovered!) I did check with the bride to find out what to wear; she'd given her girls a color and had them pick their own dresses and she just asked me to find something appropriate in black. I think it's not uncommon to do like peanut_mcgillicuty said and have the groom's female attendants in the same dress as the bridesmaids but in a different color.

I stood with my friend, the groom, for formal pictures afterward--as well as posing with him and the rest of the "goonsmen." It was a blast. I gave a toast, as did the bride's maid of honor.

Didn't do a bachelor party but a night or two before the wedding all the party members helped set up the reception site and fold programs and stuff...both activities basically turned into parties, heh. The morning of the wedding one of the groomsmen (who knew the area; I didn't) took me out to get last minute things like...balloons? Maybe? Don't remember, but it wasn't whatever the bridesmaids were doing. (Getting their hair and makeup done, I think.)

Anyway it was a ton of fun. Just go with the flow, be helpful, and enjoy yourself.
posted by Neofelis at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2009

My best friend in college was a dude and he was an attendant for me and I was an attendant for him (at each of our respective weddings). Both of us talked about how it was good to have mixed gender attendants because it really made the dynamic feel like 'here we all are to stand by these people and support this marriage' vs a melodrama about tradition and bizarre gender roles. As such, both of us in our respective roles worked to get the entire wedding party focused on making the day comfortable and awesome for everybody. We sort of took on team leader roles and got everyone working together on all kinds of little things from ushering away a grumpy parent to pointing out to the photographer good moments to shoot. It was fun to think about ways to make the day special and how to get everyone's back. Attendants from both of our weddings still (over ten years hence) talk about how fun and goonies-like it was.

Have fun, support you friend in every way possible, and go team!
posted by rumposinc at 12:25 PM on January 9, 2009

I did this many years ago. I wore, as was asked by the bride, the same dress as the bridesmaids. (It was a very traditional ceremony, and I did not stand on the groom's side of the procession, to my dismay.)

My primary role was as cgg mentions above, wrangling the guys. I too hate to stereotype on gender, but I was designated driver for their night out (not a bachelor party, just going to the bar the night before), made sure everyone had the right tux, made sure no one got alcohol poisoning or spent the night on the bathroom floor, etc. I had an emergency bag of things like painkillers and water for the hangover (the usher assigned to escort me almost fainted during the ceremony due to his extreme drinking the night before...).

The important thing for me was for the bride to remember that I wasn't the "best friend's wedding" girl - I was there as his friend, not as a former romantic interest. I was just one of the guys that weekend, albiet one in a green velvet dress who had a really helpful bag of tricks. Since I wasn't hungover I went to the bridesmaid's brunch with the rest of the girls, but otherwise I spent my time with the guys. It still stands out as one of my fondest memories of the groom.
posted by librarianamy at 12:26 PM on January 9, 2009

One of the groomsmen at my wedding was a woman. She wore a tuxedo instead of a dress, and looked quite dapper. Other than that her gender really wasn't an issue at all: we didn't have separate activities for brides side and grooms side; just did everything together. (We had a combined bachelor / bachelorette party at Lucky Chengs, which was awesome.) Presumably if your friend asked you to do this in the first place the wedding isn't going to be strictly traditional and gender-divided, so don't over-think this; just be yourself and ready to help out as needed.
posted by ook at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2009

My wife has done this twice and enjoyed it both times. One note re: dress -- don't wear a black skirt and tuxedo top (as my wife did in her first outing as groomsmaid). You WILL look like a caterer.

That aside, have fun with it. In the second wedding, my wife had a dress that was a similiar style to the bridesmaids, but a different color, I believe. Or maybe the other way around. Can't remember... She didn't go on the bachelor party, but there was a secondary bachelor party for the first wedding that went to a "fun-plex" and raced go-carts and played lazer tag, which she definitely enjoyed.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2009

I did this once, too. The bride and groom both claimed they didn't care what I wore, so I wore a black cocktail dress with accessories that totally accidentally matched the bridesmaids/groom's tie (see here).

I was coming in from out of town, too, so I didn't have to do much. I was involved with the bachelor party as a reveler, I helped out as needed during the rehearsal dinner, and I gave a toast, and I performed wedding functions as requested/necessary (wrestled the DJ mic away from a drunken guest who kept saying "vagina" over the PA, fetched beers, made sure the bride and groom ate something before I fetched them any more beer). I was the only attendant on the groom's side so, thankfully, I didn't have to do any dude wrangling, which is not my strong point and would have made me really grumpy.
posted by jennyb at 2:06 PM on January 9, 2009

Response by poster: I just realized I reversed the tags and the title. Oops. Sorry for you sticklers out there.
posted by greta simone at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2009

Not exactly as per your question but my husband was the "maid" of honor at a friend's wedding. While it was a very low-key wedding, he had all the normal responsibilities of his office (namely helping the bridal party with the service and decorations). He tried to help a dear friend survive the stresses of planning. Aside from happily sharing in their wedding day, that's really all a member of either party can do. The only portion of the entire affair that left him disappointed was that he didn't get to wear a dress. Like the groomsmen, he wore a black tuxedo with the exception of his tie, which was in the same green as the rest of the bridal party. He had a great time and no one batted an eye.
posted by cheap paper at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2009

A little late on this (stupid work!) but ...

I was a groomsmaid in a friend's wedding. All of the wedding party on both sides just wore black (the bridesmaids, also) so that's all I did. Obviously, you're probably going to be told what to wear, but I don't think it would necessarily be bad if you wore the same dress as the bridesmaids (it's a little different, but my sister-in-law had a man of honor and he wore the same suit as the groomsmen).

At my friend's wedding, I got the same gift that the other bridesmaids did and we all hung out (I knew the bride fairly well, too). The day of the wedding, I spent more time with the groom while the girls were doing girly things -- I don't think there was any explicit "you're not invited to these things" just so much as I knew him more than anyone else.

I guess it's really just what you and everyone else is comfortable with. By all means, if you can, get to know the bride and her wedding party, too.

If you have any say in such things, after the rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding, we all went bowling (whoever wanted to come). It was a lot of fun and let people get to know each other more or catch up.

I don't think there's really any reason to overthink this. Have fun!
posted by darksong at 3:59 PM on January 9, 2009

There are a lot of things that you can/may be responsible for as a member of the wedding party. Traditionally, if you want to stay in the groom's realm of attendant's responsibilities, you would be looking at the following non-exhaustive list of things to do:

* Help the groom with pre-wedding nervousness (ie bring a flask on the day)
* Assist the groom in deciding on groomsmen attire, including your own outfit
* Attend all engagement parties, any coed showers, and rehearsal dinner. (Give an engagement gift and a wedding gift, yes, both.)
* Show guests to their seats at the ceremony (unless there are ushers).
* Dances with wedding party members and guests.
* Decorate the getaway car with the rest of the wedding party.
* Help with gifts and cards after the wedding.

Of course, check with the groom about all of these suggestions and perhaps the rest of the groom's attendants. If the groom is rather blasé or noncommittal about what he wants you to do or be responsible for, perhaps it would be a good idea to run it by the bride. You may not be close to her, but she probably has an idea as to what needs doing by the groomsmen.

As a side note, you'd be called an honor attendant.
posted by kirstk at 4:19 PM on January 9, 2009

Just in case, before you go out and buy yourself a dress that will go well with the groomsmen's tuxedos or something like that:

Are you sure that he wants you to be a groomsmaid?

I've been in and/or attended plenty of weddings in which a female friend/relative of the groom was a bridesmaid, or a male friend/relative of the bride was a groomsman. Is it possible that that's what he meant?

Because (as far as I can see) all you directly said that he said was that he wants you to be in the wedding party. I just want to make sure that you're not merely assuming that he means "in the wedding party on the groom's side".
posted by Flunkie at 5:01 PM on January 9, 2009

Oh, and I've been a groomsman in a lot of wedding parties. As far as I can tell, here are the duties that will be expected of you or any other groomsperson:

(1) (In some cases) escort people to seats before the ceremony;

(2) Stand there and try not to call attention to yourself during the ceremony;

(3) Get introduced to the crowd and be part of the "second dance" or whatever you call it after the ceremony.
posted by Flunkie at 5:07 PM on January 9, 2009

I was a regular groomsmen in a wedding that included a "groomsmaid". She was a hoot. Wore a tux with her hair up initially. Then, let it down right after the ceremony and wow. But I digress. She participated in all the groomsmen activities including the trip to Scores. She also participated with the bridesmaids too as she had become close with the bride as well. I think she had the unique experience of Scores one night and Chippendales the next. She served as an escort to seats, she took a shot before the walk down the aisle and walked with one of the bridesmaids.

I say just go for it. Do whatever they ask that you feel comfortable. Do not feel bad about declining to participate in an event that makes you uncomfortable, but remember this is likely a one off event in your life.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:42 PM on January 9, 2009

We had a best woman and a bachelor of honor at our wedding. It was a small wedding party (three other attendants total, who were a married couple and a male high school friend of my husband's) and just to compound the gender-bending, most of the men wore kilts. The ladies wore long skirts in colors that complemented the family tartan and the gentleman of honor wore a tartan vest with his tux, since he wasn't up to kilting himself.

Dutieswise, everybody did escort-to-seat work. The groomsmaid organized the gentlemen's outing and my bachelor organized a brunch for me, which was my preference over the usual Chippendale's type thing. Both the bachelor of honor and the best woman did toasting duties and I think she was in charge of our luggage. There was no dancing, so no duties there. Generally she did the kinds of attendant duties kirstk described, plus helped run interference with the families, which is a key duty of all wedding party members.

You've got a lot of good advice on making it fun. Just go with the flow of the wedding and have a good time. Congratulations on being asked to stand up with your friend on his big day, and enjoy the wedding!
posted by immlass at 9:03 PM on January 9, 2009

I was a groomsmaid last year for a friend's wedding. I wore the exact same dress as the bridesmaids but in black (as requested by the bride), and stood with the guys. The bride and groom invited me ALL the pre-wedding events, but let me know that I wasn't expected to attend all of them and could pick and choose. At the ceremony, I was an usher and then walked in to the dinner next to a bridesmaid, but when it was time to dance we all just danced with whoever we wanted.

Your friend sounds pretty relaxed, so other than recommending that you also check in with the bride to see if there's something she expects that he has neglected to tell you I'd just say to relax and enjoy the party. Oh, and if the bride does care what you wear then order it as early as possible. I almost didn't get a dress because I hadn't allowed enough time but was lucky to find the dress I needed in my size in a window display. Phew!
posted by cali at 9:48 PM on January 9, 2009

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