Internet | February 10, 2022 7:09 am

Why Are There Only Two Acceptable Groomsmen Gifts?

There are two gift options: A knife or a flask. Let's change that.

A flask, groomsmen proposal card and pocket knife in front of a line of groomsmen.
Take your pick.
Zazzle/Etsy

If all the save-the-dates and invitations cluttering our refrigerator are any indication, we’re only a few months away from the start of wedding season. And if you’re one of the lucky few that have been hand-picked to stand next to the bride or groom and spend boatloads of money for the sake of their betrothal, the wedding process has likely already begun. Financial ruin aside, being a groomsman or bridesmaid has its obvious perks, like getting to attend multiple booze-filled parties and receiving free shit. 

Oftentimes as a “thank you,” the bride and groom will give their respective wedding parties a gift as their big day nears. And in recent years, proposal boxes have become quite trendy — a package full of goodies that includes a card asking if the recipient will assume the duty of bridesmaid or groomsman. Lavish items like champagne flutes, relaxing candles, a bottle of Prosecco or wine, a delicate piece of jewelry or a monogrammed makeup bag typically make up bridesmaid boxes. As for groomsmen, well, they get one of two options: a personalized flask or a personalized pocket knife.

The prevalence of these two specific items as groomsmen gifts is quite evident on e-commerce sites like Etsy and Zazzle, the places to go if you’re in the market for a customizable present. Simply search groomsmen gift ideas on the online marketplaces and you’ll be greeted with stainless steel flasks that instruct you to “drink up and suit up” and many, many engravable pocket knives. Leather Dopp kits, bottle openers, cigars and this throwing axe also appear in search results interspersed between the deluge of blades that say “Steven Groomsmen” on them, supplying you with everything you need to form the manliest, most rugged groomsmen group of all time. 

While it’s clearly been done to death, there’s nothing exactly problematic about gifting your groomsmen a flask or a pocket knife — practical items, both. As Hannah Nowack, an editor at the popular wedding-planning media site The Knot, explains, flasks and pocket knives are popular because they’re simply easy to personalize. 

“Personalization is a big driver when it comes to groomsmen and groomswoman gifts. Since many couples have multiple attendants, to-be-weds will often consider items that can be monogrammed so that each friend gets a gift that feels unique to them.”

Still, it’s hard to ignore the aggressively masculine nature of these traditional gifts, which often draw from hypermasculine behavior and stereotypical male traits like drinking and wielding sharp objects. Again, a pocket knife is a reasonably nice gift to bestow on your bro, it’s simply silly to think how overtly gendered heterosexual weddings by and large still are. And these groomsmen gifts aren’t nearly as terrible as the best-selling groomsmen proposal cards.

One popular note for sale on Etsy reads: “I could’ve just sent you a text but she’s making me do this …,” while another implies picking his groomsman was the only wedding decision this soon-to-be-husband was allowed to make.

Clearly meant to be lighthearted and humorous, these cards, however, still reflect a weird, longstanding belief that men are begrudgingly involved in, or want nothing to do with, planning their own wedding. This sentiment really stems from the “ball and chain” view of marriage and the “I hate my spouse” genre of humor which dominated sitcoms for like half a century and encapsulates 95% of Baby Boomer humor. Luckily, most of that extremely outdated view has dissipated. For instance, people don’t look at bachelor/bachelorette parties as “last hurrahs” anymore (they’re having mixed affairs). Still, you’ll find remnants of it in these groomsmen proposal cards and “funny” cake toppers. All of this is to say, there’s nothing uncool or unmasculine about being involved in an event that celebrates the love you and your partner have for each other. 

“A wedding is the joining of two people who are embarking on a new stage in life together, often with the support of a wedding party at their sides to celebrate,” says Nowack. “That said, the to-be-weds should have a balanced involvement in the wedding planning process.”

And you could start the wedding planning process by purchasing gifts for your groomsmen that aren’t boring and possibly promote obsolete ideas about gender and masculinity. Oh, and a proposal card that doesn’t insult your wife-to-be. Peep the recs below:

Etsy

Groomsmen Proposal Card

Keep your groomsmen proposals classy with this simple, sophisticated card.

Etsy

Groomsmen Socks

A thoughtful, collective gift your groomsmen can wear on your wedding day.

Scentbird

Scentbird Fragrance Subscription

Because you want to stand next to good-smelling people while you say your vows.

YETI

Yeti Rambler 18 oz Bottle with Chug Cap

The one item they are guaranteed to use. (And you can customize it.)

Etsy

Customized Razor

Packaged in a beautiful wooden box, these personalized razors are sure to impress.

Etsy

Groomsmen Woodford Reserve Label

Skip the flask and get them the real stuff. Make it personal with these clever customizable whiskey labels.

Etsy

Blunt Weed Groomsman Proposal Card

Now this is a funny card.