The ushers are chosen by the bride and groom, traditionally with some input from the best man (but that’s up to you!). They’re usually brothers, close male friends or relatives of the bride and groom. A good rule of thumb is to have one usher for every 50 guests.
Tradition dictates that looking after the ushers is one of the best man’s duties, as he will need to know what they’re doing and when, as well as making sure they do it.
Wedding Planning Duties
Luckily for the ushers, much of their duties involve the wedding day itself, so there isn’t much planning to do. As the usher, you will be expected to come along when the groom and best man go suit shopping and attend suit fittings.
Make sure it’s clear who is paying for any costs involved with the suits – whether they’re hired or bought. Traditionally the bride and groom foot the bill, but they may ask for you to pay or for a contribution towards the cost.
The Stag Do
The majority of the stag do falls to the best man, but as the usher you’re expected to pitch in and help. Research possible locations and help the best man decide who to invite. Each usher might be given a task for the stag do, this could be to set up challenges, plan the route for a pub crawl or source T-shirts or props. Be prepared to assist the best man to help the groom have the time of his life.
Image credit: Samuel L Legge Photography
The Run Up to the Wedding
Unlike the best man and bridesmaids, the ushers don’t have a huge list of wedmin to help out with. Just be available to attend any last minute suit fittings and make sure you know where you need to be and when on the big day.
It might be a nice touch to organise a groom’s party gathering ahead of the big day, particularly if the ushers don’t know each other well.
Make sure you’re clear on your big day tasks – some ushers are asked to make sure everyone knows where to park, or you might be asked to show people where they are to sit for the reception. If the weather is bad, it’s handy to have umbrellas on hand to shelter guests as they arrive.
The Day Before the Wedding
Much of the responsibility the day before the wedding falls to the best man – he will be collecting any hired items and checking last minute details, but if he asks for your assistant make sure you’re available to help out.
It might be a nice touch to get all of the groom’s party together the night before, particularly if the bride and groom are staying separately from each other.
On the Day
It’s likely that the ushers will be asked to get ready with the groom and the best man, so if you’re not staying over the night before make sure you arrive on time in the morning and have everything you need to bring.
Try to keep the groom calm if he’s feeling nervous and if there are any page boys or younger members of the groom’s party, make sure you help them with getting ready if they need it.
Image credit: Melville Castle
It’s important that the ushers arrive at the venue early, as your main job will involve helping guests. Show them where they can park and if the seating is divided for the bride and groom’s sides, find out where the guests should be sitting as they arrive and point them in the right direction.
You might also be asked to hand out orders of service – make sure you’re familiar with what is going on so you can answer any questions. It’s also a good idea to have the phone number of key suppliers stored in your phone, and to make sure someone on the bride’s side has your number so if you do need to communicate with anyone, it’s easy to do.
One of the usher’s duties involves escorting the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom to their seats when they arrive. When seating families with young children, try to point them towards aisle seats or seats near the exit so if the child is noisy it’s not too disruptive for them to step outside.
Once the service gets underway, it’s a good idea to have an usher stood at the back of the ceremony, so if anyone arrives late you can intercept them and seat them without causing a scene. After the wedding ceremony, make sure everyone knows where they need to be. If the reception is in a different location, handing out maps might be a good idea.
At the reception, the usher is expected to help round up the guests for the group wedding photos. Work with the photographer to call for different people to help this go as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
Once the reception is fully underway, you should help to make sure all the guests know where they are sitting. One of the usher’s roles also includes keeping an eye out for overly drunk guests – you don’t want them to spoil the day so watch out for anyone who is too tipsy and be ready with water or strong coffee.
It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the numbers of local taxi firms so you can pass them on to guests at the end of the night who aren’t sure of the area.
Image credit: Thomas Frost Photography
After the Wedding
Make sure you return any hired clothing and offer to help with tidying up at the reception and taking down any decorations etc.
Top Tips to be the Best Usher Ever
Do your research – make sure you’re familiar with the area so you can give guests helpful directions.
Store useful numbers – have the number of the venue, the photographer and other key suppliers on your phone so you can update people with any changes of plan or issues that might crop up.
Have spares – make sure you have extra copies of everything you need to hand out – whether it’s maps, orders of service etc. It’s better to have too many than too few.
Be familiar with the rules – if confetti is not allowed, make sure you know and advise the guests. If flash photography is banned during the ceremony, it’s helpful to give people a reminder as you guide them to their seats.
Keep an eye out – unlike the best man, ushers don’t have to stand up and give a speech but are trusted to make sure everything runs smoothly. Keep your wits about you and watch out for any disruptions.
If your ushers have been fabulous, make sure you read our round up of groomsmen thank you gifts – it’s tradition to reward your groomsmen with a gift for their hard work.