by: Michael Kabel
If your friend has asked you to be a groomsman at his wedding, the first thing is to thank him and congratulate yourself. Groomsmen occupy a place of honor in the wedding festivities, and there's a special place for you at each of the wedding events. The groomsmen also get awesome gifts from the bride and groom, as special thank you gestures.
As part of your groomsmen duties, you'll participate in the bachelor party, serve as an usher before the ceremony, and otherwise act as the groom's "special agent" in accomplishing the little tasks and odd jobs that always pop up right when things are about to roll.
Here are some guidelines to follow as the wedding date approaches. You don't have to stick to them like glue, but keep them in mind while making plans. Remember, you're responsible for most of your own expenses, so it pays to plan ahead and make the reservations and advance notice that will save you money in the long run.
Six months before the wedding
The groom should invite you to be a groomsmen and give you the exact time and place of the date. He should also provide the guidelines for the tuxedo and any other special instructions.
Start browsing tuxedo catalogs and showrooms, finding what kind of tuxedo you want that fits within the groom's criteria.
If you plan to get in shape for the wedding, your exercise routine should begin in earnest no later than at this point.
Five months before the wedding
Get your measurements for the tuxedo taken by a tailor. Make final reservations and deposit on the tuxedo.
Four months before the wedding
If the wedding is out of town, begin shopping airfare and hotel rates for the days of the wedding. Request time off from work. Ideally, you should plan on a four-day trip. The first day you fly in, the second day is of the rehearsal dinner, the third is the ceremony and reception, and you fly out on the fourth.
Three months before the wedding
Make final reservations for airfare and hotel reservations. Browse car rental costs for the days you're out of town. Make arrangements for care of pets, apartment, etc while you're away.
Two months before the wedding
Browse for and purchase the wedding gift. Remember, the gift should be a gesture of affection and well-wishing to the new couple and also a gesture of gratitude for your groomsman role. You don't have to spend a fortune on the gift, but be prepared to spend some money for sure.
As another thought, make sure the gift you give will make it through airport security checkpoints without freaking the guards out. This includes lead crystal, which can set off metal detectors and x-ray machines. The last thing you want is your gift-wrapping shredded thanks to over-zealous airport employees.
One month before the ceremony
Finalize all travel arrangements - including a ride to the airport. Touch base with the groom about any final arrangements. Compose toast to give about the new couple during the rehearsal dinner.
The week of the ceremony
Pack all regular clothes and travel kit. You'll need a suit for the rehearsal dinner and semi-formal clothes for the reception. Pick up tuxedo the day before leaving town. Get traveler's checks if necessary.
Day of arrival
Get tuxedo and other luggage into the hotel room and join the wedding party for the all the pre-event festivities.
Upon returning home
Return tuxedo. Send thank you note for the groomsman gift. Rest up before going back to work.