Ben Thompson was having trouble thinking of a way to thank the groomsmen in his wedding.
"I didn't want to buy something tacky or cliché," said Thompson, of Charleston, West Virginia.
Then he discovered that his local barbershop offered a package geared to grooms and their attendants, and he decided to treat his friends to a hot shave on the day of the wedding, earlier this year. The morning at Topps Off was a great success, he said, giving the men an opportunity to hang out, eating, drinking and playing pool.
"It was a good chance for them to bond," said Thompson.
Grooms and their wedding parties have created a niche business for many barbershops, said Connie Skaggs, who owns a barbershop in Columbus, Ohio, and is first vice president of the National Association of Barber Boards of America. In addition to a shave with a straight razor and hot towels, the groomsmen packages may include a neck massage, facial and haircut. Some barbershops serve food, drinks and cigars.
Costs range from $30 to more than $150 per person.
Going to the barbershop together adds to the festive mood, said John Anderson, who organized groomsmen outings for both of his sons-in-law. "It relaxed everybody before the wedding," Anderson said. "It really contributed a lot to the celebration."
His son-in-law Garrett Schafer particularly appreciated the opportunity; he had the barber shave off his beard. "It felt better to be clean-shaven for the wedding," said Schaffer, who got married in November.
Most of his groomsmen had never had a hot shave, and they enjoyed the experience, he said.
"It was awesome," he said. "It also ensures all the groomsmen look good."