(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.