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A Complete Guide to Traditional Groom Responsibilities

by Staff

In order to build a solid foundation for your marriage, treat your engagement as a practice round for lifelong partnership, and make everything involving your wedding a joint effort. Although the process will ultimately be a collaboration, there are certain tasks that traditionally fall to the groom. We spoke with industry experts Katy Eriks and Jerod Walburn to dive deeper into these groom duties.

Meet the Expert

  • Katy Eriks is a founding team member and blogger for The Groomsman Suit, a Chicago-based tuxedo and suit company.
  • Jerod Walburn is the editor of content at Los Angeles-based formal wear brand The Black Tux and a co-author of The Groom’s Guide.

Read on for our complete guide to groom responsibilities before, during, and after the wedding.

During Wedding Planning

Congrats! You’re engaged. No matter your level of interest in wedding planning, these early stages are when you should be the most involved. The most important aspects of the wedding should be joint decisions that accommodate both of your needs and desires. The four major things you’ll want to settle together are:

  1. Budget: How much do you have to spend, and where are the funds coming from? 
  2. Guest List: Who are your must-haves on both sides, and who makes second-tier? Knowing your starting number determines your venue, which determines so many other aspects of your wedding, so it’s crucial to start a solid figure in mind.
  3. Venue: Your venue impacts so many other aspects of your wedding (your date, maximum guest count, catering, ambiance, etc.) so it’s crucial to pick the one you both like.
  4. Overall Vibes: Out in the country, or smack dab in the city? Casual and relaxed, or formal and fancy? Selecting a wedding style that reflects aspects of both of your personalities will ensure you’ll both be excited to plan it. 

From there, have an honest conversation about what details matter most to each of you. If you won’t be working with a wedding planner, divide and conquer along those lines. Tradition typically has the groom take point on the bar and the music, but you are by no means confined to those categories. More spiritual than your significant other? Take charge of finding your officiant. Really into food? Offer to schedule tastings with caterers.

When it comes to aspects of the wedding you don’t care about as much, let your partner’s opinion take precedence—especially if it’s something important to them. The same is true if they’re taking the lead on wedding planning overall. “Go to the appointments, do a lot of listening, and give your feedback when necessary,” says Eriks. “Be a very present support system.”

When it comes to who pays for what, the bride’s family has traditionally covered the wedding, while the groom’s family has covered the rehearsal dinner. However, anything goes in modern times. As couples marry later, they may opt to take on a bulk of the costs themselves, or they may receive contributions from their parents that can be spent however they choose: on the wedding, or, perhaps, on the down payment on a house. Regardless of if you’re a bride or groom, it’s your job to handle communications regarding any contributions received from your side of the family.

Even if your partner is managing the budget overall, they should never be tasked with asking your relatives for more money or justifying how it’s spent.

It is always a groom’s responsibility to work with his groomsmen. The first step, of course, is selecting them. “Pick people you’re still in close contact with,” says Eriks. “If you haven’t seen each other in a while, there’s no rule they have to be in your wedding just because you were in theirs.” Your final group should also include people you’ll be close with in the future, like your spouse’s siblings.

No matter who you ask, you’ll want to do the asking thoughtfully. “This is a big commitment,” says Eriks. “And there are costs involved. Do something nice to kick things off.” A card and bottle of whiskey are great, but, at the bare minimum, a phone call will do. When you ask is also important, especially if they’re going to need to travel, adds Walburn. “Asking six to eight months before your wedding is the sweet spot.”

The Morning of the Wedding

Finally, the big day has arrived! If you’re planning a morning-of activity like golf or brunch, it’s a nice gesture to include your spouse’s father or close family members. The groom can also use this time to pass out tips to vendors. Your biggest responsibility that morning, though, is making sure your guys are ready on time.

Good news: This task can definitely be delegated to your best man. Make sure he’s got the timeline in his phone, any important numbers, and knows what side of the jacket the boutonniere goes on.

If you’ll be doling out groomsmen gifts, that can be done the morning of or the night before—whichever makes it easiest for them to get the gifts back to their rooms. “Gifts don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be thoughtful,” says Walburn. “Think of your relationship and the moments that have really made it unique. If you and your best man grew up watching Boy Meets World every afternoon, find an autographed headshot of Ben Savage.”

The morning of your wedding is also the time to send over a thoughtful card and a gift for your partner. Jewelry is always a great choice, and another classic idea is something for your home, like a vase or a framed picture from your proposal or engagement session.

The Wedding Night

The vows have been said—now it’s time to play host! Your only responsibility for the rest of the night is to let your guests know how grateful you are they’ve come to celebrate. That’s traditionally handled in two ways:

  1. Going from table-to-table during dinner to personally greet attendees. 
  2. Giving a short toast at the end of the speeches. Thank guests for coming, and also those who contributed to the wedding—especially your spouse.

If you’d rather spend dinner actually, you know, eating, and the thought of public speaking fills you with dread, Eriks has a solution: “Split up with your partner, and try to say hello to as many people as possible during cocktail hour.”

Don’t forget your role on the dance floor! The mother-son dance will be when you take center stage but make sure to dance with the bridesmaids, maid or matron of honor, and your new mother-in-law, too.

After the Wedding

Though some traditionalists might say it’s the groom’s responsibility to handle the honeymoon, that’s definitely no longer the case. Tackle the trip like you tackled wedding planning: decide the big things (destination, budget, time of year) together, then divide the rest of the to-dos according to what you’re each passionate about. If your partner handled most of the wedding planning, it’s a nice gesture to coordinate the travel.

Writing thank-you notes is yet another part of the wedding process you’ll divide and conquer. “Split them between your guest list—you do your half, your spouse can do theirs—and work on them together at the coffee table over a bottle of wine,” suggests Eriks. Plan something fun for when you finish (hello, date night!) to keep you motivated and to help ward off post-wedding blues. “There can be a letdown after the big day is done, so it’s nice to have something to shift your focus to,” says Walburn.  

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