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Can We Have a Backup Groomsman?

Is that insulting?

Q: My future husband has two younger brothers. One of whom he has asked to be best man, and the other is in the Marines. Though we desperately wish for his Marine brother to be included in our bridal party as a groomsman, he has not been approved and is still unsure as to whether he will be able to get permission to take leave during the time of our wedding. Having an uneven bridal party is not an option, as the number on each side of our bridal party actually works with our theme, and we need to have four on each side.

We have a lot of good friends that we have both been friends with for over eight years, and we have one friend in particular that we would like to ask to be a groomsman, however, if my fiancé’s Marine brother does end up getting his leave approved, my fiancé would without a doubt prefer his brother standing next to him on the big day.

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My fiancé and I both don’t want to rely on just our hopes and wishes that his brother will be able to get his leave approved. We also don’t know how to go about telling our friend that we want him in it, while letting him know family feels more important and he would be out of the brother does get to come. Our friend would be involved in all other aspects of the wedding (bachelor party, rehearsal dinner, etc.) regardless of whether or not he becomes a groomsman, but we just don’t know how to go about our situation.

Do we ask our friend and explain to him the situation, letting him know that he would be out if his brother can make it, or do we just put all our eggs in his Marine brother’s basket?

One of our biggest concern is not giving our friend enough time to save money, rent a tux, etc., if it does turn out that my fiancé’s brother cannot make it.


A:Dear Anonymous,

If you’re going to do this, wait until you know for sure, for sure that his Marine brother can’t come. I know that feels last minute, but it’s less insulting than, “Wait in the wings, understudy, we’ll let you know.” And if you’re doing this, you’re not honoring your second-string groomsman with the title. He’s instead doing you a favor of filling in. Which means you should pay for his tux and any other related expenses.

—Liz Moorhead


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