Behind every confident groom are his groomsmen, a supportive brotherhood that stands by his side, hits the dance floor and makes sure the man of the hour looks good at all times. But there's only room for the finest of friends. Here's how to find them.
Determine the size
Before you get to the details of the wedding party, discuss the size and scope of the wedding with your fiancée. A small wedding may only call for one attendant on each side, while a larger entourage may be in order for a big, formal bash. The number of groomsmen does not need to exactly match the number of bridesmaids, but if you have 12 buddies in mind and she has a shorter list of three, you may need to compromise (estimate about one groomsman or usher for every 50 guests). Also think about your overall wedding budget: A bigger wedding party means more boutonnieres and bouquets, thank-you gifts and other expenses.
Go for a few good men
Before you ask every coworker and college friend to be involved, think about the people with whom you most want to share in the celebration. Trustworthy, responsible and involved friends and family take precedence over the guys who are only good to share a few beers -- talk to your fiancée about who she thinks should be included in the wedding party, which is a special honor. Relatives such as a brother and a favorite cousin, or a lifelong family friend, are always top picks for groomsmen. Incorporating important men in your fiancée's life, whether it's a brother or her best male friend, is a good way to bond with her nearest and dearest. Consider friends wisely: Just because you were a groomsman for a fraternity brother whom you never speak to anymore does not mean that you need to reciprocate. Of course, keep in mind who will potentially give a great toast, charm your parents and throw an unforgettable bachelor party (though it is wise to avoid the guy who gets drunk at every event or waxes poetic about your assorted ex-girlfriends). The guys who keep you in good spirits are the groomsmen you'll want by your side.
See what he has going on
Take a careful look at what else your potential groomsmen have going on in their lives at the time. A friend who works long hours overseas, is starting a family of his own or has just been downsized may not have the time to commit to your wedding. If you don't want him to feel obligated to say yes to your invitation, have a casual chat with him first to gauge his interest and availability. Even if he's not in the wedding party, you can involve a special guest by having him read a passage during the ceremony, escort your grandmother down the aisle before the processional or give a meaningful toast at the rehearsal dinner. Knowing that your buddy is behind you in spirit is more important than having him wear a matching tuxedo.