We all know that five guys in suits look better than two guys in suits – enter the groomsmen! Far from being just extra guys to stand alongside the groom and the best man, the ushers actually play an important role at a wedding – thanks to them everything runs much more smoothly. Being asked to be an usher is an honour and a responsibility. So what do ushers do exactly? Here are the ushers’ duties – explained.
Usher’s role before the wedding
Chances are the groom has asked some of his closest friends to stand by him on the road to the altar, so they’ll definitely help plan and attend the stag do. At some point before the wedding the ushers should meet both families and the bridesmaids, ideally before the rehearsal dinner, so they know who the guests of honour will be – those same guests will also occupy the front row at the ceremony.
The ushers should all attend the ceremony rehearsal to familiarise themselves with the location and the venue itself – things like restrooms, parking, wheelchair access etc. so they can help any guests who require assistance on the day.
It is also a good idea to make one of the ushers a designated carrier of a working mobile phone and important phone numbers, for example to suppliers, emergency services, taxi services and others, so in case something doesn’t go to plan the bride and groom don’t have to scramble looking for numbers to call – they can ask the designated usher instead. The same list of numbers should also be given to one of the bridesmaids as a backup.
Usher ceremony duties
The ushers should arrive fully attired no later than 45 minutes before the ceremony to attend to the arriving guests. The seating of the guests would have been arranged at the ceremony rehearsal, however it is customary for the bride’s family to sit on the left and the groom’s on the right. If an usher doesn’t know which side a particular guest belongs to, it is perfectly acceptable to ask if they are here for the bride or the groom.
While seating the guests the ushers may be asked to give out order of service booklets and answer general questions the guests may have about the facilities and the reception timings etc. The photographer may also ask ushers for assistance, or he may make arrangements with them for taking group shots later.
Once the groom and best man arrive, the ushers may be asked to pose for some pre-ceremony photos.
Once the ceremony starts, one or two of the ushers should remain at the back of the venue to attend to any latecomers, while the others sit at the front.
Sometimes the ushers may have to step in to cover any unexpected hiccups, for example if someone can’t do a reading then an usher may be asked to read at short notice.
After the ceremony the ushers may be in charge of distributing confetti cones and directing the guests to the group photos and helping the photographer find the right family members. The guests will likely have questions so the ushers should know the directions from the ceremony to the wedding breakfast and/or reception venue and an approximate schedule for the day, such as when the meal starts etc.
Usher duties at the reception
As at the ceremony, the ushers should be familiar with the reception venue to be able to point the guests to the cloak room, the restrooms, parking etc. and to direct the guests to the tables according to the seating plan.
One of the ushers may be asked to be in charge of the cards box and the wedding gifts, until they are all collected and safely stored.
There is a delicate matter of handling the guests who may have had a bit too much to drink. While the ushers would obviously enjoy the wedding reception themselves, they may be needed to tactfully handle any issues at the bar.
If all this sounds a bit like hard work, don’t worry – the ushers may now escort the bridesmaids to the dance floor to join the newlyweds once the first dance is over!
Image by Peter Rowen Photography
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.