Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wedding Crap: Groomsmen

(See introduction and disclaimer to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

What is the tradition? 

Same as the bride picks out bridesmaids, the groom selects people closest to him to stand next to him during the wedding ceremony. They are usually asked to rent identical tuxes (to each other, and often also to the groom).

One is the "best man", standing closest to the groom, and is generally responsible for planning a bachelor party. Along with the maid/matron of honor, he also usually fulfills the role of legal witness for the marriage license.

What is the origin of the tradition?

Also like bridemaids, groomsmen are likely initially from the Roman requirement for witnesses, and dressed identically to the groom in order to confuse evil spirits. Groomsmen also played a protective role, in times when travel was dangerous due to outlaws and such, they escorted the bride to ensure she arrived safely to the wedding.

But this escort was sometimes unwanted - at other times in history, the groomsmen assisted the groom in kidnapping the bride, and making sure her family didn't rescue her.

Why do people still follow it?

Like on the other side of the altar, this is used as a way to honor one's friends and loved ones. But, it's considered an honor to be included, and an insult to be excluded, because other people used it as a honor or insult, not because there's necessarily anything about the role that honors ones attendants. 

Why is that crap?

Pretty much the same reasons bridesmaids are crap - it easily ends up being away to show off how many friends you have, and you friends really don't have anything more to do with the wedding ceremony than the rest of the guests do. Also, it makes it confusing, if you're from the bride's side, which man in a tux is the groom, if they're all dressed alike (at the reception, that is, when they're all wandering around. Obviously at the ceremony the groom is the one in the center).

Plus, the history that the groomsmen helped kidnap the bride makes it a bit icky.

What am I doing with this tradition?

We just had our sisters come up to be our legal witnesses, but no other attendants or honor roles. 

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.


  1. I had no idea about the history with kidnapping! Adam and I have no plans to ever become traditionally married although we conduct our lives in much the same way that married couples do in that we have lived together for about seven years, we pay our bills together, we have a cat together, etc. We have no plans to have children and neither of us is particularly religious so having a wedding just seems unnecessary. Some people say we should do it for the tax benefits which I personally find ridiculous (although you might be able to shed some light on that part for me). We're as committed to each other as if we were married, but we've never had the headache of having to plan a wedding which is a positive in my book! I even wear a nice wedding set on my finger because... it turns out I have some traditional desires hidden deep down and wanted that bling ;) Although sometimes I wonder if my desire to wear the ring was really just so people would stop asking THE question, "when are you two finally going to get married?" Now they just assume we are and move on to the *other* annoying question, "when are you two finally going to have kids?" Oy.

    1. Side note that the diamonds in my wedding set are lab created and I picked the set out myself.

    2. When it comes to the annoying questions, I've actually been (and expect to be) on the other end of the spectrum - well, I don't think anyone directly asked, but kind of implied/could see the question on their faces - we got married after 18 months and hope to be pregnant after less than 18 months of marriage, so I feel like people must be wondering "why so soon?!" Either way, it's none of their business. :)

    3. If you're not opposed to getting married (which definitely doesn't require a wedding!), I would recommend getting Turbo Tax or using an online program or estimator to calculate your tax for last year as if you were married, and seeing how it compares to the total you two actually paid as singles.

      The more discrepancy there is between your two incomes, the more likely you'd benefit tax-wise from being married. If you both made the exact same amount, under the current bracket structure your tax should be almost exactly the same (with a few things that you lose out on, like 2 x $3,000 capital loss allowances, but otherwise the brackets are exactly double, so you end up with same tax), but in the past, and probably at some point in the future, the married brackets are *less* than double, so that's where the "marriage penalty" comes into play and having the same income go through the brackets faster ends up with more tax. But when one spouse earns significantly less, either way the brackets are structured you end up with way less tax, because higher-earning spouse basically gets to take advantage of the other spouse's share of the lower-rate brackets.

      I also think being married is valuable for other legal benefits, like being automatically next of kin and being able to make medical decisions and such. If you really don't want to get married, I would highly recommend you see a lawyer about basically replicating those benefits via legal documents, such as medical power of attorney. It's the workaround that same sex couples have had to use until their state allow them to get married, and it's really a good thing to have in place even if you don't want the institution of marriage involved.

    4. Thank you for the detailed response, I really appreciate it! We make within $8,000 of each other. I have thought about the medical power of attorney issue before and have been meaning to look into those documents but keep putting it off - thanks for the reminder! I know it's one of those really important things we should get rolling.

      I completely agree it's none of anyone's business, and I think your 18-month plan sounds perfectly normal. I'm excited to see you tackle your pre-baby goals with the half marathon PR, possible marathon, 200-mile bike ride and so on!

  2. I had only siblings in the wedding party, with the exception of the maid of honor (My best friend) and the best man (hubby's friend). If I did it over again it would be Me (in my mom's Wedding dress--which I did wear), husband in a shirt and tie (he wore a tux), and Maid of honor, and best man in whatever they wanted to wear. I had my sister pick out the dresses...I really didn't care. I had a pretty low key wedding. My main goal was to get married, and enjoy having family and friends around. Despite being young, we didn't register or ask for gifts...I just wanted the celebration. It must have's been 22 years!

    1. Aww, that sounds like a nice laid back wedding, overall!


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