Including Your Brothers and Best Mates in Your Wedding Ceremony

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (04/04/2021)
Categories: | Inclusive Weddings | Wedding Ceremony |
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Feet and socks of
                        groom and other malesWhat do you do when you have more brothers and/or best mates than the ideal number for your wedding party? This can be particularly difficult if you come from a large family.

It is not uncommon for brothers to tell you (particularly if you are the groom) "Pick all of us or none of us". When you add close friends to the mix, it becomes even more difficult. Emotional blackmail aside, these people are important to you, so it is a challenge to find a solution that doesn't scream favouritism or damage your relationship with any of them.

One of the issues is that most people don't think beyond being a groomsman when they have expectations of playing a significant, but non-speaking, role in your wedding. But there are so many more possibilities, so let's have a look at those before we talk about the logistics of who to choose and how to do that in a way that feels fair to everyone.

Groom's processional


While not a common part of Australian weddings, borrowing the custom of the groom making a formal entry down the aisle, accompanied by his best man and groomsmen, is gaining popularity. Expand it to include his whole group of brothers and besties and it becomes a jubilant way to include all of them. Those do not all have to stand up with him. Reserved seating near the front works very well.

Official witness

To marry legally in Australia requires that each of you has an adult witness present. This is a role of the utmost importance because without their presence, there would be no marriage.

Flower Dude(s)

Traditionally, the bride has been preceded by one or two small girls who scatter rose petals in her path. Recently, couples have been thinking very much outside the box, including substituting Flower Dudes, adult males who ham up the whole thing. A Flower Dude or two can not only start your wedding on a fun note, it gives your special male person(s) a starring role, and an opportunity to be as out there as only he can be.

Ring Bearer / Presenter of the Rings

I've always preferred to have the rings presented to the couple by an adult. It works so much better. So, even if you do have a child ring bearer carry the rings down the aisle, an adult can formally take the rings from the child and formally present the rings to the couple. Makes great photos!

Official Pourer

An age-old custom is for the marrying couple to share some sort of drink during the ceremony. In modern wedding ceremonies we see it in several forms
  • Loving cup - sharing of wine, water or some other drink
  • Quaich - the Scottish traditional two-handled cup
  • Wine blending ceremony, usually a mixing of white and red wines
  • Water and wine blending ceremony

In all of these rituals, the vessel and the drink can be formally presented, rather than just placed on a table for the celebrant to pick up and present at the appropriate time, or for the couple to pour. The person doing the presentation can also, where appropriate to the ritual, carry both the vessel from which the couple will drink and the drink itself (eg the empty quaich and bottle of whisky) and pour the drink into the vessel before presenting. It can be very theatrical.


Men can and do tie knots! And if you're having a handfasting the celebrant does not have to do the physical tying. Let your celebrant do the narration and choose one or more besties to do the placement and the tying.

Adapt the Sand Ceremony

Being a relatively recent "invented" tradition, a sand ceremony can be adapted to include anyone you want to include and mean anything you want it to mean. Have two central vessels, one for each of you, instead of one representing the two of what. Involve all of your besties, give each a different colour, decide what these colours will represent (what they bring to your friendship, is one possibility, another is the qualities they have that will support your marriage), and at the appropriate time, have them come forward to pour their sand.

Readings and Speeches

When couples are looking for a role for male friends or brothers, one of the first suggestions anyone makes is usually a reading in the ceremony or a speech. Both are very worthy roles, however, if you are dealing with trying to give numerous people equal roles, it might be better to choose people outside that group.

Allocating roles without causing friction

There is only one way to completely avoid hurt feelings when allocating roles - step completely aside and let luck do it.

Pulling names out of the hat is something everyone in Australia understands. And it works brilliantly when you have to choose one or two people from a larger group.

When you need to allocate differing roles among a defined number of people, a slightly different take is required. Put the roles in the hat and let your people each pick one. Simple! You are hands-off, and no-one can manipulate it, or imagine that the process has been manipulated.
Fun variations on the roles in the hat method are some that work really well with a group of blokes
  • Beer-bottle lottery
  • Shots lottery

Get all of your blokes together and set out the exact number of bottles/glasses as there are people vying for a role in your wedding. Under each stick a label on which you have written a role. Let everyone choose their own bottle/glass, and that's their role. If there is any possibility that anyone will take a sneak peak, just put a letter of the alphabet or a number on the label, and have a prepared list of what role each letter/number represents. To further make sure that, even if someone has a sneaky peak, nobody can use that knowledge to their advantage, don't pick the obvious consecutive numbers/letters starting at 1 or A, pick random ones.

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