Choosing Your Attendants
Your bride had to whittle her list of potential bridesmaids down to a manageable number. Now it's your turn. Though you'd like to include your family, your childhood friends from the neighborhood, your high school buddies, your fraternity brothers, and your new best friends from work … some of these men won't make the final cut.Thicker Than Water?
Start with your family. If you have brothers, you're probably going to want to include them. The exception, of course, is if you and your brother(s) despise each other. Another exception may be if there's such a large age gap between you and your brother that he's more of an acquaintance than a sibling. When there's a big family or age issue between you and your brother, he might be more puzzled than honored if you ask him to stand up for your wedding.
If you choose not to include your brother(s) in your wedding party, you may have to contend with other members of your family who feel you're slighting your kin. Listen to any unsolicited advice patiently — then make the decision on your own.
If you're on the fence about including a distant brother in your wedding lineup, consider the potential long-term advantages. This may be just the thing to get the two of you talking. And though a large age gap means a generation gap when you're young, that gap tends to narrow as you both age.The Bride's Bros
Don't forget about your future brothers-in-law. As long as you and the bride's brothers aren't life-long enemies, your list of attendants should include at least one of her male siblings. While you have some discretion where your own brother is concerned, excluding the bride's brothers from your side of the wedding party is going to be an issue with someone in her family — and probably not with the brother himself. More likely, the bride's sisters or her mother (or her grandmother, or her aunts) will be distressed by your decision. By excluding the bride's brothers from the wedding party, you'll be starting off your new marriage with one strike against you as far as the bride's relations are concerned. (At least if you offend a member of your own family, you know how to deal with them afterward.)
If the bride has five brothers, however, you should not feel obligated to ask all of them. Ask for her guidance in choosing who should be fitted for a tux.Friends
Here's where feelings can be hurt. By choosing some friends and not choosing others, you're bound to offend someone. Still, you can't have everyone parading down the aisle, so choose you must.
Your bride will have chosen her attendants by now, so you'll have a number to work with, if you are concerned about having even numbers on both sides (which, of course, is not essential). Excluding family members, you'll only have a few coveted berths open for friends to fill in the Groomsmen category.
Choose your men carefully, keeping in mind that each attendant will be required to shell out some substantial bucks to cover the cost of his tux, any travel expenses, the bachelor party, and a wedding gift. Family and close friends won't consider this an imposition; acquaintances might.
New friends should be the last on your list, especially if they're very new (you've known them a year or less). There's just no telling if this friendship will stand the test of time, and you don't want a wedding album filled with pictures of “that guy.”
Your boss should also be fairly far down on the list, no matter how close you feel to him. Anything can happen in the business world, and on the off chance you're down-sized in the future, you don't want a wedding album filled with pictures of the guy who did the shrinking.
Friends who have been in your life for a good, long time — men you trust, men who respect you — should be tapped to stand beside you at the altar.Sorry, Dude
What kind of friends should be excluded? Unreliable friends (someone who might pack up and leave town the week before your wedding); friends who don't like your bride (your attendants are supposed to bear witness to this union and support it, after all); friends who will be put out by the whole affair (the friend who will complain bitterly about the cost of renting a tux); friends who are potential troublemakers.
Take, for example, the story of Snake, the Groomsman. Snake stood up for Michael at his wedding several years ago. Although he was an obvious partier, Michael did not learn until his reception that Snake was into illegal narcotics (when a man arrived to “do business” with Snake).
If you have reservations about a pal who just might end up being a Snake at your wedding, it's best to leave him out of the loop. Sure, he might be mad — but the friendship just might end anyway if you do include him and he ruins your reception.
By the end of the evening, Snake was so out of control he had to be carried out and thrown into a cab by the groom himself, who shudders when he looks at the wedding pictures now. “All I think about when I see these pictures,” Michael says, “is how badly this guy offended my guests. I never spoke to him afterward, and there he is in our wedding album.”
If you still find yourself with too many pals and not enough spaces at the altar for each of them, consider asking a friend to do a reading instead of being a groomsman. Ask another friend to help bring up the gifts in the church. You can also include some male friends as ushers — they'll dress the part, but they won't stand at the altar.