To be asked to be one of the wedding ushers is a great honour. Not only does it show that you are highly valued and trusted by your mate, but it also means that you get all the benefits that the Best Man receives without any of the pitfalls that come his way!
First, there's the fancy outfit and increased sex appeal to single ladies at wedding, then there's the comfort that you don't need to stay sober on the Stag Night or make sure the Groom gets home OK, and finally the knowledge that you won't have to get heckled during the speeches - in fact you can even do the heckling! Like we said, it’s great!
However, you have been chosen to fulfil a role at the biggest day in your mate’s/relation’s life and as such you will be expected to carry out some key duties. Your role itslef will largely depend upon the preference of the Bride and Groom. Sure, there'll be some traditional duties you won't be able to avoid, but don't be surprised if you get roped in to help out at other stages along the way.
Whilst you may not be one of the key advisors in the build up to the day, nor one of the major players in it, but you are one of a select few who has been chosen to play a part in the biggest day of two people’s lives – so stay focussed and be willing to help out whenever asked, and just as importantly, remember to enjoy yourself.
Traditional Duties of the Wedding Ushers
When it comes down to the duties of wedding ushers, there are a number of key tasks that you simply must undertake. Let’s take a glance at those that there's no getting away from:
Wedding ushers are expected to arrive first at the wedding ceremony venue – before any guests or other members of the bridal party to help to co-ordinate things from the front.
Ushers should stand at either the entrance to the venue (essential for at least one Usher) or mid-way up the aisle (not essential, but preferable) prior to the start of the ceremony.
The Usher(s) at the entrance need to hand out the important stuff (Orders of Service, directions to the reception venue etc) and inform guests of any essential things they need to know. This could include the fact that the throwing of confetti is not allowed, photography during the service is forbidden, mobile phones should be turned to silent etc.
Wedding ushers are in charge of seating the guests at the ceremony based on either a pre-prepared seating plan (check with the Groom to see if there is one) or their own knowledge and common sense. The guests can either be pointed in the right direction or shown to their seats using the ‘Please follow me’ routine. The most crucial thing to remember is, when looking from back to front, to seat the Groom’s friends and family on the right and the Bride’s on the left. For more help and tips on finding the perfect seating arrangement, be sure to check out our seating the guests article.
It is essential that wedding ushers are familiar with who the VIP guests are (grandparents, brothers, sisters, close relatives and friends of the Bride and Groom may all be part of this clique) and it is critical that they get star treatment and the best seats in the house.
Once the ceremony begins, wedding ushers are responsible for guiding any latecomers quiety and discretely to an empty seat.
Finally, wedding ushers need to be totally clued up with all things practical - where guests can park, directions, exits and entrance, where the toilets are etc. - this last one may be of particular interest to the Groom before the ceremony begins!
Optional Wedding Usher Duties
As well as the traditional wedding usher duties, there are a few optional ones that you may be coerced into helping with, or volunteer to do, as well:
Arranging a get-together for all the wedding ushers, the Best Man and the Groom prior to the day so you can bond, really get to know each other and discuss plans for the day (a fantastic idea if you don’t know any of these guys very well or an opportunity for a good night out if you do)
Escorting guests to their seats in the 'traditional manner'. This involves offering an arm to the eldest lady of the group and walking them to their designated spot – not too bad a chore if she’s young, single and good looking!
Escorting a designated Bridesmaid down the aisle following the Bride & Groom out of the ceremony (although in many weddings the Bridesmaids will walk two-abreast - the Ushers having waited at the venue entrance throughout the ceremony to welcome any latecomers).
Ensuring that all guests get to the wedding reception venue OK and protecting any guests from getting wet via the use of a cunningly placed umbrella.
Accompanying various ladies to the dance floor during the evening’s festivities (it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it!)
Helping to gather specific guests together for a photo-call.
Looking after (or helping to look after) any Page Boys or Flower Girls throughout the course of the day’s proceedings.
Acting as personal helper to the Best Man during the day and assisting him in any way you can.
Helping the Best Man to decorate the car that the Bride & Groom will leave the reception venue in (you will be so popular with the Bride & Groom for this one!)
As we're sure you've gathered, being one of the wedding ushers isn’t a particularly difficult role, but it is an important one nontheless - get it right and no-one will bat an eye-lid, get it wrong and you’ll never be allowed to forget about it!
Related: There are hundreds of wedding articles on the site, each filled with superb ideas, advice and inspiration. Check out the links in the left hand column to read more. Alternatively, to search for a local wedding venue, product or service provider, try our Wedding Directory. With over 13,000 companies already listed, you're sure to find what you're looking for.