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How Many Groomsmen Can You Have? Tips From Photographers

As you and your beau start thinking about the lucky people that get to stand next to you during your wedding ceremony and be in your bridal party photos, questions like, “How many groomsmen are in a wedding” may be popping up in your head. 

The short answer is however many you’d like! However, here are seven things that you may want to think about as you make a list of people that you’d like to ask. 

Tip 1: Groomsmen is not a gender specific term 

Ask whomever is special and close to you, regardless of gender! Gone are the days where men can only be friends with men, and women with women. For the purpose of this guide, I’ll be using the term “groomsmen”, “groomswoman”, and “bridal party member” interchangeably!

TIP 2: Don’t worry about the “average number” of groomsmen

We’ve photographed weddings where there are no groomsmen or just one. We’ve also photographed weddings where it seemed like the entire fraternity was part of the bridal party! We recommend basing your decision on the other factors in this article and not worrying too much about “averages” or expectations. However, if you’re curious, the average number of groomsmen is between 4 and 6 based on our experience.

TIP 3: Consider How it affects your budget

Some couples prefer to pay for all expenses for their bridal party members. Everything from the tux rental, a hot shave in the morning, rehearsal dinner meal for them (and their significant other), the limo rides for the entire wedding day, meals on the wedding day, and/or a groomsmen gift. 

Whatever you decide, know that if you do plan to pay for certain things for your bridal party, that the more people you ask, the higher that cost will go up! 

We highly recommend to be transparent and clear in your communication with your closest friends so that they know what to expect. Being a groomsmen is a big honor, but also can be a big financial cost. 

In general, if you’re on a tight budget, consider having fewer groomsmen. If you have a bigger budget, you have more flexibility to have more.

Tip 4: Find other ways of asking special people to be involved in your wedding 

If you have a special person that you want to honor and include in your wedding day, but do not necessarily want them to be part of your groomsmen party, there are options! Here’s a short list of other creative roles your friends and family can play for your wedding:

  • Ask them to be the wedding officiant
  • Have them read something like a poem or a quote during your ceremony
  • Ask them to be an usher
  • As them to make a toast during the rehearsal dinner or even the wedding reception

TIP 5: It is okay if the wedding party number is uneven or not the same!

From a photographer’s perspective, it is easier to pose even numbered wedding parties because many poses can naturally look more symmetrical. However, if you’ve hired an experienced photographer, he or she will have creative ways of achieving a similar look. The photographer can, for example, can blend the bridesmaids and groomsmen. She can also have some members of the party sitting and some standing to maintain a symmetrical balance.

So here are the questions you should ask yourself:

  • Does perfect symmetry in your photos matter to you? If so, consider an even number. But if you’re okay with things being “perfectly imperfect” in term of the balance of a photo, then don’t worry too much.
  • Did you hire an experienced photographer or a new one? An experience one has ways of posing and managing uneven groups that a novice may not have.
uneven-groomsmen-bridesmaids
The image above has 5 groomsmen and 6 bridesmaids but the pose still maintains the balance in the image. © Lin and Jirsa

Tip 6: You don’t need to ask them just because they asked you

You do not need to return the favor. It’s not quid pro quo. Your best friend in high school who got married ten years ago immediately after high school that asked you to be part of his bridal party who you haven’t spoken to for nearly a decade is not someone who you should feel obligated to ask. 

Tip 7: Make It Your Own

We recommend that you make this aspect of your wedding your own. Don’t stress too much about “average” or “perfect” numbers. Don’t worry about “too many” or “not enough.” Focus on finding ways of involving and honoring your closest family and friends, having fun, and enjoying the moment on the wedding day.

Yes, that means that you can have more than one best man. Even though “best” is a superlative, there’s no rule that states that you can’t have more than one! Have two, three, four. Designate them all!

Yes, that means you can have “groomswomen” and “bridesmen.” Yes, that means that you dad can also be a best man. The point is that this is your moment and your day!

As you make your decision on the lucky folks that will be your groomsmen, we hope that this guide has helped you more clearly think through your options of who will be in your bridal party! Best of luck! Congratulations.

Nicole Chan is an international wedding photographer and filmmaker and member of the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP) and World Photojournalist Association. She is constantly trying to keep up with her Siberian Husky, Sledder, and consuming as much chocolate and sushi as she can (but obviously not together). Nicole is a rock climber, a skier, and a board gamer. She also designs escape games for her other company - Trapology Boston.