Best Man vs Groomsmen: Difference Between the Roles

groomsman and best man

Choosing your Crew: Best Man vs. Groomsmen

When it’s done right, a wedding is the best party of your life. Surrounded by loved ones honoring your relationship and commitment, it’s one of the few societally agreed-upon occasions to really celebrate life to the max. 

But what they don’t tell you is, the whole process of planning a wedding has a huge impact on how much you enjoy that final big day. From the showers to the bachelor/bachelorette parties, from the cake-tasting to the groom’s dinner, the most important decision you make – after choosing the right person to marry – is choosing the right people to stand by you in your wedding party. Your wedding party shares the months-long experience with you and adds to the joy, the humor, the thoughtfulness, and the memory-making of it all. So choose wisely! 

Before you get roped into asking your 15 year old cousin to be your best man because his mom is your favorite auntie and she’d really love it, let’s break down what the differences, responsibilities and opportunities are for your groomsmen

You may have someone who can handle it all for a best man, but there’s a reason to assemble a full crew when you get married. So we’ve put together a little guide for all of you new grooms and brides to help you define your wedding tasks and convene the best crew you can for the best party of your life. 


Who’s the best guy to be your Best Man?

This role is arguably the biggest influence on your “groom experience.” You want someone who has your back, believes in your impending marriage, is consistently on time, has planning skills, can let loose, and, let’s face it – someone who looks good in a tuxedo. Those pictures last forever. 

Oftentimes the groom and best man have been in a relationship far longer than the engaged couple. They have inside jokes, inappropriate stories, heart-warming memories and the greatest sense of what the groom would like for the planned events (like the bachelor party). Brothers or best friends, the best man is more than the lead groomsman. He’s the groom’s right hand man and the leader of the pack for the groomsmen. He must be able to communicate the plan to the rest of the group and be able to wrangle them to meet the expectations of the couple. 

We recommend choosing someone who’s been reliable in your life. Is your little brother reliably late and flaky? Maybe not him. Additionally, a positive attitude and ability to communicate will go a long way. Do you have a best buddy who’s studied with you, partied with you and had deep talks with you? That’s your guy. Most of all, don’t let someone else make this choice for you. It’s your call. 

best man vs groomsmen

Best Man Duties: What to Expect

The best way to sort the duties of the best man vs the groomsmen is to think of it as a checklist. 

  • Lead the rest of the groomsmen. As the best man, you’re the one the rest of the group can go to with questions and concerns. The groom shouldn’t be bothered with the nitty-gritty and the best man should take that seriously. Some examples of questions the best man should be capable of handling are: How much do I owe for the bachelor party Airbnb? What time are pictures on the wedding day? When do we pick up our suits? Ultimately the best man is going to make the day better for the groom by anticipating needs and keeping the crew doing their duties.


  • Plan a once-in-a-lifetime bachelor party. Whether it’s a destination for a long-weekend, a local whisky distillery that the groom loves or the most epic game night ever, the best man owns the task of planning and executing the bachelor party. The groomsmen will definitely attend and chip in, but the semantics and decision-making start with the best man. It’s important to note everyone should pay their own way on the bachelor party. That part is not the best man’s responsibility.


  • Handle the Formalwear Process. The groom and best man work in tandem to ensure that the full aesthetic of the wedding is fully carried out. If it’s renting or buying the suits or tuxes for the wedding party, the best man should lead by example in attending fittings and timely payments. The groom should be able to trust the best man to see that the job is done with all of the other groomsmen so that the full wedding party is styling and profiling.


  • Be the groom’s right-hand man on the big day. Some people have emotional-support animals, grooms have a best man. On the day itself, the best man will make sure that the right vibes are created while getting ready with the groom and groomsmen. This can mean, making sure that the groom eats or calming down the mother of the groom. It can even mean delivering messages from the bride and coordinating moments with the maid of honor for the happy couple.


  • Keep the rings safe until the right moment. How many movies have we seen where the best man spends the day trying to find the wedding rings he was supposed to keep safe? (Usually with a cute maid of honor who he initially hated but now is falling for hard.) Well, it shouldn’t actually go like that. Find a safe place for the rings and triple check the safety of that place. If the ring bearer is going to walk the rings down the aisle, the best man will coordinate that hand-off with the processional for a clean transition.


  • Sign the marriage license. This is the most official job the best man has. Directly after the ceremony, the best man and the maid of honor will go back and sign the marriage license as witnesses with the officiant. This makes the marriage legal.


  • Give the best man speech. This is probably the most famous task for best men everywhere. The speech is the THING. You can imagine it now: the clinking of the glasses, the happy couple kissing, the meals being served to all the guests, and then it’s time. Will it be funny? Will it be raunchy? Will it be sentimental? Will it be awkward? Will it be a little bit of everything? The best man speech is a key point of the reception and typically done right after the maid of honor speech. 


There are plenty of other wedding touchpoints that the best man will be accountable for but they really fall under the category of: be the groom’s right hand. The best man needs to have the heart for it and genuinely want to participate in the wedding fully. 

So what’s a groomsman then? 

While a best man is part of the groomsmen, the groomsmen are not the best men. Wait, did we lose you there? The role of a groomsman is similar to a best man except that the larger responsibilities don’t reach them. Their number one job is to participate! 

Some view the groomsmen squad as assistants to the best man so he can more seamlessly support the groom on his big day. The hierarchy is pretty clear. Groom to best man to groomsmen to ushers – this is the front line of guaranteeing the wedding of your dreams. 

Groomsmen should plan on attending the bachelor party as well as any rehearsal and subsequent rehearsal dinner following up to the event. The groomsmen need to be up for the various requests of them during wedding pictures, flash mobs during the dance, befriending bridesmaids and new in-laws, and any other moment that really makes a wedding process feel like the joining of two lives. 

Choosing your groomsmen 

If a wedding is about celebrating a new couple becoming a new family unit, everything leading up to it should be about making more memories and bonds across the two sides. Groomsmen can really impact that part of the event. So let’s give you some clear cut standards to use when choosing your groomsmen

  • The number. There’s a lot of opinions over how many is too many and how important it is to match with the bride’s choices for bridesmaids. Here’s a potentially hot take: the number doesn’t matter. The people do. If your new wife truly has 6 best friends and 3 sisters she can’t possibly exclude from the wedding party, and you don’t have an immediate group of 9 people to match that, so be it. Stick with your brother and two best friends. They are your people and now you can get creative while walking down the aisle. 


  • The casting. It is unavoidable that the bridesmaids and groomsmen will spend a lot of time together. As the couple chooses their team, they cannot disregard any obvious animosity that exists between potential wedding party members. Before committing to those people, transparent conversations should be had. The beef between two members of the wedding party does not have a place at your wedding table. 


  • The quality. Listen, we all have that buddy who brings the party every time. You’ve never spent time with him where there weren’t hilarious stories the next day. He’s probably a candidate for your groomsmen too, right? Well, take our advice: the quality of your crew matters. Sure, choose Mr. Party but balance it out with your other incredibly responsible friend who never let you sleep through a final back in college. The people in your life who come to mind when making this choice are all there for a reason – now put them in the right place for your wedding.


Dum Dum Da Dum

Congratulations–you’re getting married! Congratulations another time–you’ve got guys in your life who want to help you celebrate this huge step into the next part of your life! As far as we can tell, this is a win/win situation. So take a breath, think it through, don’t let Auntie push you into anything – and choose your crew. It’s your life and your wedding should feel like you belong there.

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