No matter how relaxed a groom might seem, when the big day rolls around he needs his groomsmen around him. Although the ushers aren’t as central to the big day as the best man is – they don’t have to give a best man speech, for example – they do play a large part in a wedding.
The ushers are traditionally chosen by the couple with some input from the best man, and are usually brothers, close male friends or relatives of either half of the couple. Couples will often base their decision making on the rule of one usher per every 50 guests.
If you’ve been chosen to be an usher and you’re feeling a bit baffled about what that entails, keep reading to find out about all of the roles of an usher.
- Groomsmen Gift Ideas for Every Budget
- 27 Vital Things to do the Week of Your Wedding
- The Complete Guide of Best Man Duties
Usher Responsibilities: Before The Wedding
1. Attend a Suit Fitting
Luckily for the ushers, most of their duties fall on the wedding day itself, so there isn’t much planning to do. As the usher, you will be expected to go suit shopping with the groom and best man, 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 couple foot the bill, but they may ask for you to pay or for a contribution towards the cost.
2. Go on the Stag Do
The majority of the stag do planning 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.
READ MORE: How to Plan a Stag Do
3. Organise a Groom’s Party Gathering
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. This is much more intimate than the stag do and can be as relaxed or as formal as you'd like! Think about the groom - what he loves doing, what you all enjoy doing together. Whether that's a few low-key pints down the local or a fancy dinner out, he's sure to appreciate the effort!
4. Prep for the Big Day
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.
Help the best man out if he asks for your assistance, and be on hand to help set up the wedding venue or collect suits if you’re needed.
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.
Usher Responsibilities: On the Wedding Day
5. Get Ready With the Groom
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.
6. Help Guests at the Ceremony
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 two families, find out where the guests should be sitting as they arrive and point them in the right direction.
Stand at the door and hand out orders of service, and make sure you’re familiar with what is going on so you can answer any questions. If there are any rules in the venue like no flash photography or no confetti allowed, make sure you let the guests know on their arrival.
It’s also a good idea to have the phone number of key suppliers stored in your phone, and to make sure someone on their partner'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 traditionally involves escorting the mother of the bride and/or 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.
7. Escort the Bridesmaids Out of the Ceremony
Traditionally, ushers escort the bridesmaids out of the venue at the end of the ceremony, so it's best to find out if this is the case!
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Ceremonies
8. Round Up Guests for Photographs
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.
9. Help to Seat Guests at the Wedding Breakfast
Once the reception is fully underway, you should help to make sure all the guests know where they are sitting for the wedding breakfast.
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.
10. Get the Party Started
All in all, being an usher at a wedding is one of the most fun jobs in the wedding party, so this should totally be reflected at the reception.
Be the first on the dance floor and mingle with guests who might not know each other. Basically – make sure everyone has fun.
Usher Responsibilities: After the Wedding
11. Return Hired Clothing and Help Tidy Up
Make sure you return any hired clothing and offer to help with tidying up at the reception and taking down any decorations etc.
5 Tops Tips for the Usher
1. Do your research. Make sure you’re familiar with the area so you can give guests helpful directions.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Now you’ve got all clued up on the most important usher roles, take a look at our round-up of the best stag do games. The best man will appreciate your help!