So you’ve just come down from the massive high of your recent engagement. It’s time to look at your friends and family. But we mean seriously look at them! and ask yourself, how many groomsmen can you really have?
Not everyone is going to make the cut, let’s get real. You might be friends with everyone on the soccer team but surely 11-15 people are too many? What about those buds you’ve grown up with your whole life? What if you’re a bride and have already chosen 7 bridesmaids, will it look odd if the groom rocks up with just 1 or 2 groomsmen?
These questions and more are what we hope to answer in this article. We’ll take you through the roles of the groomsmen and the type of people you should be choosing. This should help you identify how many you need.
We’ve photographed and videoed over 1000s weddings so we’ll also let you know about our evidence for the average number of groomsmen.
We’re well informed to let you know about the trends and what typically dictates how many groomsmen you’ll have.
So let’s get into it!
What is a groomsman?
A groomsman is someone, male or female, that the groom has chosen to play a special role in their day.
They’ll take on extra duties to your average guest and form part of the wedding party. Two of the key roles that groomsmen take on are being ushers and best men.
The roles of groomsmen can vary from culture to culture but their ultimate job is to support the groom before, during, and after the wedding.
What does our unique data from over 1000 weddings say?
So, as we’ve already said we’ve photographed and videoed over 1000 weddings. And yeah, believe it or not, we’ve looked through them all to see how many groomsmen they all had.
This took less time than you’d think. Let’s just say we’re freaks in the sheets (spreadsheets of course)
What we found was that the most consistent amount of groomsmen was 5. This seems to check out with what brides.com found as well. Their average was 5.3 from their American wedding study 
Our figure includes weddings from America, The U.K. and Hong Kong but it still seems pretty consistent across the board.
What are some of the roles of a groomsman? And how do these impact how many you choose?
It’s important to understand the roles of a groomsman as it might help you to decide how many to choose.
You’ll get a feeling for whether or not you can entrust these duties to the people you’re thinking about asking.
Let’s look at some of those roles and how they can impact how many groomsmen you can have.
Stag party organization
One of the best parties of a groom’s life. That is, until the wedding day of course…
Groomsmen will typically organize a night of debauchery for the groom and his buds. The more groomsmen you have the more likely it is that this party could get out of hand.
As the old saying goes ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’
You want to make sure that you either enlist this job to a set number of your groomsmen or control the number of groomsmen you choose in the first place.
Groomsmen and best men will typically deliver speeches during the wedding reception.
The more groomsmen you have the more chance there is for revelry and the revealing of highly embarrassing stories in front of your nearest and dearest… just something to consider.
Standing with the groom during the ceremony
As you stand at the altar it can be great to have your network of groomsmen there for moral support.
They’ll be able to assist you with making you look sharp for your partner and the more eyes the better. One of your groomsmen will also likely be in charge of looking after the rings.
It was great for us to photograph weddings when a groom had chosen plenty of groomsmen. There was always the chance that one would catch a tear in their eye that would set the others off. This made for great photos!
Greeting and helping guests
The more groomsmen you have the more jobs you can dish out. The role of the usher  is often given to groomsmen who will help with the greeting of guests at your ceremony.
It will depend on the size of your wedding but having more groomsmen can help the organization of your day flow more and have a relaxed vibe.
Related Reading: What Does An Usher Do in a Wedding?
Help organize the photos
A wedding photographer will sometimes ask for help from the groomsmen in organizing the group photos.
Having lots of groomsmen can make this process a whole lot more efficient.
We’re speaking from experience. If a groom’s only got 1 or 2 groomsmen at a wedding of 150 guests it can be a nightmare.
Does the size of your wedding affect how many groomsmen you can have?
We do believe there are arguments for the amount you choose based on both small and large weddings.
Whether that is simply an aesthetic choice or one of practicality we definitely think it can have an impact.
How many groomsmen for a small wedding?
For small weddings such as elopements or those with less than 50 guests, it might be appropriate to have just 1 or 2 groomsmen.
At the same time though you might have a group of 6 friends that you simply can’t choose from.
The beauty is that because there are no rules you can’t get this decision wrong. You need to think about why you are choosing these people rather than how many you’re picking.
Once you overcome this barrier you’ll see that you can have as many or as few groomsmen as you like, irrespective of the size of the wedding.
Groomsmen numbers for large weddings
If you’re thinking your wedding will be one with lots of guests it might be more suitable to have more groomsmen, say between 5 and 10.
We think the lower end of this number works for weddings with around 100-150 guests whilst the higher end is best for those with guest numbers over 200.
That being said, it’s your wedding and you can do exactly as you please.
Equally, you don’t have to give each one of them a specific role, instead, they can just be there for moral support. This will help all your best pals feel included and special.
You can also think about not having them all stand with you at the altar as things might get a little crowded.
Instead, seat them in the front row so that the attention can stay firmly focused on you and your partner.
Can a wedding budget determine how many groomsmen you can have?
Budget will play a major role when deciding how many guests you can have but it can also help determine the number of groomsmen you choose.
The more you choose to have the greater the costs will be. Here are some financial questions to ask yourself when picking your groomsmen:
- Do you plan to foot the bill for the stag do?
- Are you paying for all your groomsmen’s suits?
- Will you be buying wedding gifts for your groomsmen? Such as cufflinks, personalized hip flasks, or liquor.
All these costs can soon add up so budget should definitely play a role when you’re deciding how many groomsmen you can have. These are costs you wouldn’t need to factor in if they were regular guests.
Do weddings of different cultures allow more or fewer groomsmen?
In America and other western cultures groomsmen are typically chosen from the groom’s closest friends and family.
In other parts of the world, the role of the groomsman can be slightly different. If you’re embracing other cultures at your wedding this may affect how many groomsmen you end up having.
We did notice from our own research that the weddings we photographed in Hong Kong tended to have a few more groomsmen than those in the west.
We found the average Hong Kong weddings have around 6 groomsmen.
This could be because Chinese weddings tend to be much larger in scale.
6 groomsmen definitely didn’t look out of place in this scenario. At the same time, the number always tends to be equaled by the number of bridesmaids.
If you were having a traditional Chinese wedding with a Sedan chair  you might want more groomsmen to help with the heavy lifting. Particularly if it’s a long way to the groom’s house.
A Hindu wedding will usually involve a Baraat  which is a celebratory wedding procession usually involving dancing and music.
The number of groomsmen chosen will depend a lot on the dancing skills and singing abilities of close friends and family. You don’t want someone who can’t move and shake.
These roles are typically in addition to those expected of groomsmen in western cultures.
This might result in more or fewer groomsmen depending on how many people you have that are comfortable with this role.
What do we think regarding culture?
Our opinion is that the number of groomsmen you can have will still come down to personal preference.
Yes, other cultures have different rituals but we don’t think it will affect how many groomsmen you pick.
African and Asian weddings tend to have a much larger guest list which could therefore boost your groomsmen count.
However, we still think you should be choosing your groomsmen based on quality and not quantity.
Pick people that you trust and know will help you achieve the best day possible for you and your partner.
How to choose who will be a groomsman and things to consider
If you’re still undecided about how many groomsmen you can have, maybe this will help.
Here are some qualities to look for in your close friends and relatives which should assist you in deciding who does and doesn’t make the cut.
Make sure to choose groomsmen who you trust with your life. Don’t pick someone who often flakes on group outings and is always letting the side down with their drunken antics.
You want people that are offering their help towards your wedding at the first sign of trouble.
Think about those people that will go above and beyond. If you can’t rely on someone 100% then we don’t think they should be in the running to be one of your groomsmen.
How far away your potential groomsmen live is something to consider before you pop the question to them.
If they’re a great distance away they might not be able to help you in the lead up to the wedding.
They might miss important pre wedding planning events like the wedding rehearsal.
Just think about whether this will impact how many people you choose.
It probably sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But choose people who have been a part of your life for a long time. Whether that’s childhood friends, people you met at university, or family members.
There may be exceptions to this rule however if, for example, the bride has brothers that she wants to be groomsmen.
Just bear that in mind as that can drastically increase the number of groomsmen you end up with.
Think about the group dynamic
You want your group of groomsmen to create a fun and supportive atmosphere for your wedding day. So don’t ask anyone to be your groomsmen who is likely to stir up trouble.
You need to think about how everyone in the group gets along and whether there are any tensions that might surface.
The people you choose may not be friends with each other yet but events, like the stag do, are a great way to start those bonds.
Have your groomsmen got good people skills?
Think about your group of friends or family members and then think, are these people good with people? This can be essential to choosing the right person for the job.
A groomsman will need to be chatting with guests all day. They might even be greeting them all as they arrive at the ceremony. Good people skills are essential and can really set the tone for your whole day.
If the people you initially thought of aren’t good with people it might be best to cull them from your initial selection.
Are they good at public speaking?
A trait to look for in a potential groomsman is whether they’re cable of delivering a speech.
Tony might think he’s the next Chris Rock but is his humor right for the wedding?
Groomsmen and best men are usually the ones giving speeches recounting tales from the stag do and the grooms further back catalog.
Choose someone who’ll have the guests in stitches but isn’t going to be too offensive that Granny Edna ends up leaving early.
Equally, if you have friends who lack a bit of confidence they can still be groomsmen. Just make sure to give them a role that’s less out of the limelight such as being an usher or in charge of the music.
Don’t be swayed by pressure
So you were one of Tyler’s groomsmen, you’re not as close as you were 5 years ago, do you need to make him be one of your groomsmen?
The short answer is no.
You shouldn’t feel pressured to return the favor. Things change over time. If you’d got married 5 years ago sure but maybe you’ve grown apart since then.
You’re probably asking yourself whether it’s rude or whether Tyler will be happy with just being a guest. We don’t think you should.
It’s your wedding and you should only surround yourself with the people you’re happy with.
You can always find ways to involve people with aspects of your day. Maybe you get them to give a reading during your ceremony, officiate the wedding, or even DJ at the party.
What are some FAQs about the number of groomsmen you can have?
Is there a limit to the number of groomsmen?
We think it’s generally accepted that anything above 10 groomsmen would be considered abnormal.
That being said, some people have large families and lots of friends who they can’t differentiate from. For that reason, there isn’t really a limit on the number of groomsmen you can have.
At the same time perhaps you and your partner have decided on a limit of 5 groomsmen and 5 bridesmaids so that your photos look banging and symmetrical.
Your wedding photographer will be grateful for this but it’s never a requirement.
Does a groomsman have to be male?
It’s 2023 of course your groomsmen or should we say grooms people don’t have to be male.
Traditionally they’ve always been male but there is no rule on this.
If you want your Niece, sister, or close female friend to be involved with your side of the wedding party then that’s fine by us.
Should you have the same number of groomsmen as bridesmaids?
This can be a nice way to balance the wedding party. Even numbers mean no one is left out when walking down the aisle.
At the same time, it will add symmetry to your photos and generally make the aesthetic of your day look all the more pleasing.
As we’ve already said it can also be a good way to limit the numbers if you set a limit.
Will too many groomsmen ruin my wedding?
It’s a possibility that choosing too many groomsmen could overshadow the happy couple.
At the same time, more hands on deck could mean that your day runs much smoother as you can distribute the roles.
We think that you need to find the perfect balance for you and your big day. This is only something that you can decide as you think about the type of vibe you want to achieve.
A big wedding party could be fun but at the same time, you don’t want it to get too rowdy that it takes the shine away from the real reason for the day.
The truth is the number of groomsmen people have at weddings varies from wedding to wedding.
Whilst we’ve given you the average number of 5 from our evidence based research it obviously means some people are having 0 groomsmen whilst some are having 10. There really is no exact answer on how many you can have.
There are no rules so it really is up to the couple getting married and their particular circumstances.
Hopefully, our guide has helped you to consider who to ask and who to demote to the role of guests.
Our top advice is to think about what’s important to you and who you really want by your side when you say “I do”. So long as you get that decision right we’re sure you’ll have a great wedding with zero regrets.
Well, now that’s out of the way you best consult your guest list and decide how many groomsmen you’re having.