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What Does an Usher Do? 17 Jobs for the Ushers & Groomsmen

From planning your toast to helping with the stag, the usher's job stretches far wider than just showing wedding guests to their seats. Here's what you need to know

Usher and groom

No matter how relaxed a couple might seem, in the lead up to the wedding and on the day itself, they're going to need their friends around them. But what does an usher do? Whilst the best man role is always considered the main one in the wedding party – they don’t have to give a best man speech, for example – however the usher duties mean 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, but the amount you have is entirely up to you.

What Does an Usher Do? Usher Jobs and Duties Explained

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 from what an usher does at a wedding, to the difference between ushers and groomsmen just in case you find yourself doing both jobs!

What is an Usher?

The term 'usher' originally derives from ushers who worked at old movie theatres, showing guests to their seats before the show. The role transcended into weddings and refers to the members of the couple's wedding party who show the guests to their seats. 

What Does an Usher Do at a Wedding?

a group of ushers walking across the road recreating the beatles image on abbey road

Ushers are traditionally the groom's closest friends or family members. Typically male, the ushers are part of the couple's wedding party alongside the best man and their groomsmen. Their most traditional job is to guide guests to their seats at the wedding ceremony, but ushers are required to do much more than that in this day and age. 

Along with discussing the difference between groomsmen and an usher, we have a full checklist of usher jobs below to guide you through your role. 

What Does a Groomsman Do at a Wedding?

Groomsmen are typically known as the people who stand with the groom at the altar when he gets married. The reason people often get usher and groomsmen jobs confused is because they are very often roles taken on by the same people. You can be a best man and also a groomsman, just like you can be an usher and also a groomsman.

Usher Jobs and Duties 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 - although you may find the couple calling on you for extra jobs if they have a particularly small wedding party of the best man is unavailable. 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. This is something you want to be aware of beforehand as it may impact what you choose. 

2. Go on the Stag Do

The majority of the stag do planning falls to the best man, but as the usher you are likely to be expected to pitch in and help. This could involve collecting payments from the other stags or doing some research on what to do or where to stay. Rome wasn't built in a day - if you want a killer stag do, you all need to club together.

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.

3. Organise a Groom’s Party Gathering

It might be a nice touch to organise a wedding 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. If people's schedules are tight, why not arrange this for the same day as suit shopping or your final fittings when you know everyone will be in the same place at the same time. 

4. Plan Your Toast

It's unlikely you'll be required to make a speech as this usually falls with the best man, if anyone, on the groom's side. But you may be asked to make a toast to the happy couple. If that's the case, you may want to plan what you want to say. 

5. Be Available for Last Minute Favours

Unlike the best man and bridesmaids, the ushers don’t have a huge list of pre-wedding jobs to help out with but you should make yourself 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.

6. Know Your Jobs for the Big Day

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 Jobs and Duties On the Wedding Day

7. 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 couples party, make sure you help them with getting ready if they need it.

8. Welcome Guests to the Venue

some ushers making finishing touches to a wedding venue reception room before guests arrive

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 if necessary and ensure everyone knows where they need to be. Some wedding venues have multiple rooms and some may even have multiple weddings taking place on the same day so it's really important guests know where they should be.

9. Show Guests to Their Seats

As the guests enter the wedding ceremony space, 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. This is the main and most traditional job for the ushers so it's key you are on hand to get everyone seated.

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.

One of the usher’s duties traditionally involves escorting the parents of the couple 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.

10. Address Latecomers

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.

11. Show Guests Out of the Ceremony

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. However, be aware that the next usher's job is to exit the ceremony officially with the rest of the wedding party, so once the main guests are out, don't go wandering off. 

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Ceremonies

12. Escort the Bridesmaids Out of the Ceremony

a bride and groom exiting their wedding ceremony where the ushers are covering them with confetti

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 and if this is what the couple want. It's often a good photo opportunity as you will come out together, followed by the wedding couple who are then showered in some form of confetti or petals. 

13. Round Up Guests for Photographs

At the reception, one of the ushers jobs is that they are expected to help round up particular 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. The couple should have provided the photographer with a list of the key pictures they want captured, so it's up to you to familiarise yourself with this ahead of the day. 

14. 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 more informal usher’s roles also includes keeping an eye out for tipsy 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.

15. 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

16. Return Hired Clothing and Visit the Dry Cleaners

If you hired any clothing like your wedding suit, shirt, tails or other accessories, you need to ensure you return them in time. If you own your outfit, you'll want to have it dry cleaned as soon as possible as it's likely expensive and delicate.

17. Help Tidy Up

While the couple may not need it, it's always nice to offer to help with tidying up at the reception and taking down any decorations.

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!