Most weddings these days blend tradition with personal preference. As more millennials and Gen-Zers tie the knot, certain traditions, like a church venue and white wedding dress, are falling out of favor.
However, many other wedding traditions, like the bachelor party, are still popular. If you are getting ready to pop the question, learn five wedding traditions every groom should know.
Historically, a handful of planning responsibilities were considered groom duties. While many couples no longer think in these gendered terms, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the aspects of wedding planning that were traditionally the groom’s responsibility and incorporate some or all of them into your wedding plans.
- Asking her father for permission: Though the days of asking the bride’s father for his blessing are mostly behind us, this tradition is an excellent way for the groom to show respect to his future wife’s family by including them in the marriage process. Even though you no longer require the father’s permission to get married, many grooms still meet with their future wife’s parents before the engagement to ask for their blessing.
- Marriage license: Traditionally, the groom was responsible for obtaining and paying for the marriage license.
- Something borrowed: Finding “something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something new” traditionally ensured a bride good luck on her wedding day. This tradition is about honoring your loved ones and helping your future wife gather these objects that can bring your families closer together.
- Honeymoon: In the past, it fell to the groom to organize and pay for the honeymoon. Of course, these days, this responsibility is mostly shared.
- Rehearsal dinner: The bride’s family was historically responsible for financing the wedding, while the groom’s family paid for the rehearsal dinner. This tradition is no longer rigidly followed either, at least in the United States.
Leading up to the wedding ceremony, the groom’s biggest responsibility is selecting, requesting, and coordinating his groomsmen.
- Selecting your groomsmen: While there is not a traditionally required number of groomsmen, it is smart to have an equal number of groomsmen and bridesmaids so your altar is aesthetically balanced and no one has to walk down the aisle alone. The men you select as groomsmen should be trustworthy family and friends and may include male family members of the bride.
- Requesting your groomsmen: It is important to formally ask your family and friends to be your groomsmen well before your wedding, usually no later than six months before the big day. This gives them time to rent tuxes and get them altered if needed. When you ask, make sure to inform your potential groomsmen about the responsibilities and costs that accompany the role.
- Coordinating your groomsmen: Coordinating your groomsmen involves ensuring that they arrive on time, appropriately dressed and that they are on top of any specific tasks they are responsible for.
Another enduring and extremely popular pre-wedding tradition is the bachelor party. While it’s not the groom’s responsibility to plan or coordinate the bachelor party (that role historically falls to the best man), you will likely have some input. Make sure whoever plans your party knows your vibe and budget goals beforehand.
- Timing: Having your bachelor party the day before your wedding is a bad idea. Pick a date weeks or months before the big day when stress levels are lower, and you don’t have to wake up early the next day.
- Budget: While a bachelor’s weekend in Las Vegas may sound like everything you’ve ever wanted, buying plane tickets for you and your groomsmen may not be feasible. There may be options closer to home that scratch the same itch, like a day at the water park, a wreck room, or a backyard party. If you choose to travel, planning as far ahead as possible can save you money on travel and hotel expenses. Whatever you choose, pick and stick to a reasonable budget, particularly if you expect your groomsmen to pay their own way.
- Behavior: Your bachelor party is a fun and time-honored way for you and your groomsmen to celebrate your wedding. However, while your groomsmen may be able to flirt with the stripper or streak through town, you have your bride to consider. But don’t dismay. There are plenty of ways to let loose and celebrate without endangering your relationship.
Though far from mandatory, it is traditional for grooms to give gifts to their future bride and groomsmen.
- Wedding day gift: Historically, the bride and groom exchange a gift on the wedding day. This gift can be anything, but ideally, it should have personal or sentimental meaning. Jewelry or a framed engagement picture are among the more popular choices.
- Groomsmen gifts: Show your groomsmen your appreciation with a small thank you gift like a bottle of liquor, cigar, or pair of cufflinks.
Wedding Day Responsibilities
While a typical wedding day no longer exists, many grooms still find that these traditions make for a smooth and enjoyable wedding day experience.
- Morning activity: Some grooms plan a morning activity or outing for their groomsmen and their bride’s male family members. This activity can be anything from a group breakfast to a round of golf. Many brides love this tradition because it gets the men out of the house, so they get ready without interruption.
- Greetings: This tradition should definitely be respected. Your guests have taken time out of their lives to celebrate with you, some traveling great distances to be present, so make sure to greet and sincerely thank each wedding guest for coming. Carve out some time to spend with both sets of parents during cocktail hour or dinner.
- The First Look: Ellie Walters, CEO of Findpeoplefaster, includes that in old tradition, some couples once held the superstition that the groom should never view the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony. Originally this was to ensure that the groom could not back out on account of the bride’s appearance and the bride’s family would not lose its chance of marrying into a wealthier class. Nowadays this archaic tradition has been repurposed to add some excitement and anticipation to seeing your betrothed for the first time.
- Toast: It is traditional for the groom to give a short toast after the rest of the wedding party gives their speeches. Your toast doesn’t have to be long, but it should be heartfelt. Take the opportunity to thank everyone who attended and contributed to the wedding. Individually thank people of extra importance, like the bride, both sets of parents, your best man, and the maid of honor. Be thankful and concise in your speech – leave the jokes to the best man.
- Dances: Historically, the groom participates in two dances: the mother-son dance followed by the couple’s first dance. While the mother-son dance is less common, the first dance is still extremely popular. If you aren’t confident in your dancing ability, taking lessons or working with a choreographer may be a good idea.
- Thank-you notes: While this will probably not be done on the wedding day itself, it is traditional to send out thank-you notes to each attendee after the wedding. The bride can assist in this, though historically, the responsibility has fallen to the groom.
Visit The Groom Club for More Tips
At the Groom Club, we help grooms up their game at every stage of the wedding process, from the proposal to the honeymoon. Ready to propose? Learn how to make it perfect. Not sure what to wear to your engagement party? We’ve got tips.
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