You know the 12th man on an NBA team? He’s the scrub, the bench warmer, and he’s always seen goofing off on the sidelines, swapping jokes with the ball-boys, more a fan than player.
This guy is you, the groom. For most of the game you’re out of action--lazy, bored, checking out the cheerleaders. When the coach (bridezilla) does point at you and gets you in the game, it’s critical that you earn your playing time.
You don’t have that many responsibilities. Play good defense. Drain your free-throws. But don’t turn the ball over and don’t botch the job. So while, in general, we advocate blowing off the silly stuff, it's critical that you don't flub your basic assignments. In addition to all of your “soft” responsibilities like supporting your fiancée, navigating the treacherous waters of family politics, and collaborating on the big decisions like the budget, date, and venue, you will also have some very specific, concrete “groom duties.”
They’re not hard. They’re easier than whatever it is you do for a living (and if not, then we want your job.) Each groom duty has its own article, but skim the following to get oriented:
When to start: Comically early. Like, 10+ months before your wedding, if possible.
When it comes to formalwear, it doesn't matter how clueless you are. You could think a "cummerbund" is a sex toy that requires a generous amount of lube. Irrelevant. Even if your fiancée selects every color and every fabric, you'll still be responsible for executing the tactics. You can't dodge this.
When to start: 4 months before.
Consequence of failure: An unflattering outfit that makes you look silly in front of everyone you know on the biggest, most heavily photographed day of your life.
When to start: 4ish months before. (Not iron-clad. But the earlier you plan, the cheaper the flights, which makes your budget easier to swallow.)
Consequence of failure: No hotel rooms, over-booked airlines, ugly arguments over how to salvage this fu#ked up vacation.
When to start: 3 months before.
Consequence of failure: A boring reception, inappropriate music (In a recent wedding attended by The Plunge, the DJ dropped Dr. Dre's "Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks!"), or an excess of corniness (Whitney Houston: "And Iaaayyyyyyee will always LOOOVVVVEEEE YOOOOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!").
You don't have to be a slick orator. But your wedding speech probably shouldn't go all Luke Wilson in Old School with, "True love is hard to find. Sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend."
When to start: 1 month before.
Consequence of failure: The only real consequence is your own embarrassment. It's your party, so unless you say something truly heinous ("I love this woman more than any girl in my entire life, except my ex-girlfriend Jessica."), only you will feel the pain. The reward for success, however, is considerable. Toasting your new bride in front of everyone in the world who's important to you--friends, family, new in-laws--can be one of the finest, most enduring moments in your life. Certainly people will always remember how thoughtful you were...and that can buy you a lot of goodwill.
True, she's getting the greatest gift that anyone's ever received in the history of Western Civilization: you. Does she really needs another gift on top of all that? Yes. She does. Not the complete series of Sex and the City. Not some extra RAM for her laptop. The gift should be personal and, well, okay fine, we'll say the damn word...romantic.
When to start: Ideally not the day-of. Give yourself a couple of months.
Consequence of failure: Disappointment on the biggest day of her life, disillusionment, the classic "his and her" combination of guilt (for him!) and tears (for her!).
Sign the Paperwork.
Get it done. If a piss-drunk Pamela Anderson can figure out how to get the marriage license in Vegas, then you can, too.
When to start: 1 month before.
Consequence of failure: You just blew $20,000+ bucks on a party without getting married. Nice work.
Is that it? Sadly, no. You’ll also be looped into joint-activities like buying rings, writing vows, and haggling with vendors—don’t worry, we’ll walk you through each and every painful step of wedding planning—but these are the duties where you’re expected to take charge and run the show. Don’t blow it.
Onto your first task: picking the groomsmen.