You have been asked to be an usher but what does this mean? What do you do and when do you do it? Read on to find the answer to these and other questions about being an usher.
Although ushers are traditionally the best man’s helpers, their appointment and organisation is usually undertaken by the bride and groom in consultation with their respective parents. Their responsibilities are not demanding but they are important in ensuring the smooth running of certain parts of the day, particularly directing guests to the right seats at the ceremony venue.
Ushers are most often brothers or good friends of the bride and groom. There is no limit to the number of ushers but it is usual to have at least two. It is also normal to appoint one usher as a chief usher who will keep the others advised of their duties.
The Usher’s Duties
Before The Wedding
If suits are to be hired you should make yourself available for fittings (hired suits are the financial responsibility of the groom if his finances permit), or in the case of weddings that require the wearing of lounge suits, you must provide your own suit. Do remember that you are regarded as ‘leading men’ so be sure that what you choose to wear is appropriate and you do not overshadow the groom.
The chief usher should liaise with the bride and groom, and the parents of the bride and groom to establish any preferred seating positions at the ceremony venue, especially for close family and friends or disabled guests. It is also advisable to ask about any inter-family tensions that exist in case certain guests need to be seated apart.
On The Day
- The chief usher is responsible for ensuring that the order of service sheets are taken to the ceremony venue together with the buttonholes for the groom, best man, other ushers and guests.
- The chief usher should ensure that all ushers are at the church at least 45 minutes before the service is due to start to look after and assist any early arrivals (it would be helpful if you know where to direct guests for toilets or refreshments).
- The ushers’ main duties are literally to usher the guests to their seats. Traditionally family and friends of the groom are seated on the right hand side of the aisle (or marriage room) with the bride’s on the left. Also, the closer the relationship with the bride and groom’s family, the closer they are seated to the front. If one of the families is greater in number than the other, consider seating the friends of the bride and groom so that each side looks balanced.
- Consider asking guests with babies or young children to be seated close to the entrance doors. Therefore, if any child cries or becomes disruptive during the service, the parent can take them out swiftly thus minimising the disturbance.
- It is the chief usher’s duty to escort the groom’s parents to their seats and the bride’s mother, especially if she has no other male escort.
- Be aware of any obstructions such as columns or pillars so that guests are not seated where they will have their view blocked.
- During the service, at least one usher should remain close to the entrance doors to seat any latecomers and to be on hand to assist with any problems such as crying babies.
- After the service the ushers traditionally escort the bridesmaids in the recessional.
- Outside the ceremony venue, you will required to assist the best man in organising guests for photographs if required and ensure everyone has transport to the reception, arranging lifts where necessary.
At the reception venue, there are just two further duties to perform:
Upon arrival of the guests at the reception venue, direct them to the room where the hosts would like them to assemble (usually for refreshments prior to passing along the receiving line into the reception room).
Finally, each usher should dance with a bridesmaid, joining the bride and groom mid way through the first dance (immediately after the best man and chief bridesmaid make their way to the dance floor).