A reader writes:
"A very good friend of mine--who we originally wanted as a groomsman early in the wedding planning--enlisted in the Army in the meantime. We of course had no idea if he would be able to make it, because you never know when he can get leave (it's not like he can just say "I've got a wedding to go to guys, take care of the Taliban for me").
"So I really couldn't make him a groomsman, because we needed to know that the wedding party would all be able to make it.
"That being said, the army gave him 3 weeks of leave that happen to fall on the wedding, and now he's flying all the way from Georgia to Nebraska to be there. I think he should be involved as a groomsman, but I also don't want to suddenly remove anyone from that position at the last minute.
"The easiest thing is to just add him in (even without a tux), but that would mean an unmatched number of bridesmaids to groomsmen (5 bridesmaids and 6 groomsmen). All my groomsmen are traveling a long ways to be there and have already made plans (coming from OR, TX, ND to NE).
"I know my finance wants to have everything matched, and it's a little hard for her to add someone on such short notice. What do you think is the best move?
This one's easy. Theoretically, here's where it would be hard:
If, instead of making a surprising return from the Army, your buddy was making a surprise return from:
- Traveling around Asia smoking pot, Ricky Williams-style.
- Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a mime.
- Locking himself in his apartment to play Final Fantasy XIII.
- Creepily spending weeks in South Carolina on Spring Break, hitting on underage college girls.
These things would be weird. If your buddy suddenly said, "Hey Man, I'm back, can I still be a groomsman?" you'd have a tricky situation on your hands.
As it stands? It's simple. He's serving in the Army. Dude's a hero. And military service trumps every shred of wedding etiquette. It's almost even better to have things unmatched, because people will ask, "Why are there 5 groomsmen and 4 bridesmaids?" and then, when they hear the reason, they'll nod and murmur appreciatively, imbuing your wedding with a bonus dash of patriotism. (He can wear his dress uniform for the ceremony. Trust us. It works.) Everybody wins. Plus? Your buddy's guaranteed to get lucky. Throw him a bone.