Deciding how many groomsmen you’ll ask to be in your wedding is more about the strength of your relationships than choosing the “correct” number.
Truth is, you don’t actually need any groomsmen. However, weddings are (at least partially) about sharing one of life’s most important moments with the people you love, and that obviously includes the groom’s VIPs—the groomsmen. If tradition isn’t enough, friendship alone makes filling out your wedding party worthwhile.
On the other hand, if you have a large friend group, being aware of the typical number of groomsmen can help you reign in your impulse to include everyone you know. That’s why we’re less concerned with an exact number than the process of choosing your crew. If you need help narrowing the field, read on.
Note: While “groomsmen” is the common term for the groom’s wedding attendants, no groom should feel limited to those with a Y chromosome. We’re talking about all groomspeople.
The Average Number of Groomsmen (According to Data)
Getting a headcount for your groomsmen isn’t an exact science, but for context, we dipped into our own formal wear data to get a better idea of the average number of groomsmen. In the weddings we have outfitted, the average number of groomsmen tends to be around 6 handsome humans.
If knowing the typical number of groomsmen helps you justify your lineup, that’s great, but every wedding is different. Instead of focusing on how many groomsmen is “normal” or typical, we advocate for picking groomspeople based on your relationships.
Table of Contents
Who Makes the Cut?
How do you narrow down your friends into a select group without making anyone feel left out? Honestly, it’s not possible. Even if you manage this perfectly, and no matter how many groomsmen you ultimately end up with, somebody is going to wonder why they didn’t make the cut. They’ll be okay.
All that you can really control is how carefully you evaluate your options, so that you feel nothing but good vibes (and zero regrets) about the people standing up with you at your wedding. This is how to do it.
FAMILY & CLOSE RELATIVES
You know the saying about the thickness of blood, which is a pretty gross way to say “your family should come first” (probably written by a vampire). Dracula is right—if you have siblings, and your relationship isn’t rocky, you should consider them for your wedding party before you turn to your friends.
In fact, depending on your target number of groomsmen, you might find it easiest to make your wedding party a family affair, including only the sibs and close relatives. If you aren’t close with your siblings or cousins, or there’s friction in your relationship, there are certainly different roles they can play in your wedding.
Who do you actually hang out with today? Who are the people you share memes with via Instagram DM’s? Or, if you’re the type of person who still makes phone calls, who are you torturing on the regular? (Follow up question: What did they do to deserve a phone call?) Your most active friendships should take priority in populating your wedding party, no matter what your mom says. We don’t even talk to them anymore, Mom! Give it up!
We’re assuming you have put a few years’ distance between the dorms and your wedding day. If that’s not the case, see the “Current Friends” section above. Otherwise, if you have a friend from college that you still keep in touch with (and ideally see once in a while), they’ll probably be flattered to join your wedding party. It’s best to limit this pool to those who have met your partner.
The longevity of your friendship isn’t the best way to make the groomsmen decision. If the only way you can contact these old pals is via the out-of-nowhere social media message, you’re digging too deep into the past. It might be better to keep your wedding party small than climb in the time machine.
CAST OF F·R·I·E·N·D·S (CELEBRITIES)
I don’t care if you do know David Schwimmer, or any celeb, really. Do not ask them to be in your wedding. Famous people draw focus away from where it belongs: on you and your partner.
The only exception is when your friend is a famous musician who has agreed to play your reception. Even then, prepare for your spouse to reminisce about the time they got married “near Dave Grohl.”
This unusual move works best when the parent is your only groomsperson. Plenty of us consider our parents to be our best friends, and we’re lucky to have that bond. Still, they’ll probably be just as happy watching you say “I do” from the front row, so don’t feel obligated.
DO DOGS COUNT?
If you don’t consider your dog a part of your family (a category we already covered), you are truly a monster.
Considerations for Choosing Groomsmen
Being a groomsmen isn’t that difficult, but you’ll need to be realistic about the likelihood that everyone you ask can fulfill their duties. Considering the following criteria could push you to adjust how many groomsmen you decide to invite into your wedding party, rather than set anyone up for failure.
If they live halfway across the country (or worse, the world), you’ll need to be okay with them missing some of your important moments. Depending on their family and work situation, they could miss your bachelor party or rehearsal dinner, so manage your expectations.
If you can’t handle that reality, maybe they’re not the best choice for your wedding party. In this case, send an invite to your wedding, and extend a personal invitation to join you at the rehearsal dinner as a special guest.
Looking for unnecessary stress? Ask a flake to be one of your groomsmen. It’s so much easier to tolerate that quirky friend who doesn’t really have it together when you don’t have the pressure (and expense) of your wedding on the line. Unless you’re willing to have a real talk, this is a hard pass. Invite them to the wedding, but don’t be upset when they roll in during your vows.
TOTAL WEDDING PARTY SIZE
Though it’s not the most important factor in deciding how many groomsmen you’ll include in your wedding, symmetry is not overrated. Your groomsmen are only half the equation. How many attendants does your partner have in mind? Balancing groomsmen and bridesmaids isn’t a bad idea—just ask every wedding photographer.
Wedding Roles & Groomsmen Alternatives
Groomsmen are important, but there are other honorary positions to fill in your wedding. Keep these alternatives in mind as you try to decide how many groomsmen you’ll have, and who you want to include in your day.
The king of the groomsmen, though hopefully less with the taxation and “ball of the burning men,” and more generally a reliable, strong leader. The best man has the most responsibilities—rings, marriage license, and giving a toast to name a few—and you should be able to count on them to be your ace in the hole if (when) shit goes wrong.
GROOMSMEN & GROOMSPEOPLE
Their most important jobs are being on time for every mini-event on the wedding day, getting their wedding outfits squared away, and making the groom feel calm and confident. Plus actually dancing at your reception (come on, people).
Optional, but if you’re having a larger wedding (inviting 200+), this is a great way to get friends involved who didn’t make your groomsmen cut. If you have a wedding planner, they’ll handle the how’s and when’s. If not, have the king of the groomsmen fill them in.
Cousins, aunts and uncles, and in-laws are all technically family, but some are closer than others. If you can’t find room for them in your wedding party, consider making them (and their partner) your host couple. They’ll answer questions for guests and handle the transport of gifts and cards. (Yes, people still bring gifts to weddings, and you’re right, that is what Zola is for.)
Outfitting Your Groomsmen
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider in choosing your groomspeople—one relatively simple aspect of planning your wedding. Once you figure out your crew, you still need to make ~500 other decisions, including what they’ll wear for your wedding. At that point, it’s not how many groomsmen you have, but how many groomsmen look their best.
Whether you’re outfitting two or twelve groomsmen, we can help. We design better suits and tuxedos and deliver them to you, so that you and your groomsmen have your fit just right when it matters the most. Need groomsmen suit inspiration? Check out our suggestions here. Ready to find your own look? Get started below.