Certain roles at a wedding are pretty clear for all to see (Bride or Groom), others may take a bit of prompting but you can see the value in them once it dawns on you (Flower Girl or Page Boy).
Then there are the mystifying positions that can appear important or to hold special value without being clear what their purpose is.
The role of an usher or a groomsman can often fall into this category and puzzle the guests (and even the ushers themselves!) as to what exactly an usher does at a wedding. Let’s explore this traditional role in more depth:
The Primary Role
Ushers are typically the first people a wedding guest will see when they arrive at the ceremony venue. These, usually male, integral attendants watch the doors, waiting for guests to arrive so that they can direct them (“usher them”!) to their seats or escort the Bridesmaids down the aisle in traditional format.
They are considered an important part of the wedding party to take the pressure off the Bride and Groom and looking after wedding party members on behalf of the newlyweds.
They will hand out order of service sheets and answer any questions guests have about the big day or perhaps the unfamiliar wedding venue if they have not been there before.
It is important an Usher knows the itinerary of the day and imperative they have afirm grasp on their surroundings as not to point people in the wrong direction or give wrong information out. Both oddf which could disrupt the flow of the ceremony and the harmony of the occasion.
That’s a lot of pressure right?
Now these can be performed in the build up to the wedding itself, on the day or even after the big occasion. Examples of each are as follows but remember they may niot be relevant to your wedding or the wedding you are attending;
- Before The Wedding Day: Arrange collection day and times of suits once everyone is measured and fitted
- During The Wedding Day: Some sub-contractors like to be paid in cash on the day. For example the DJ for the evening do. An Usher could take the responsibility of
- After The Weddding Day: Ensure guests are safely out of the building and onto any relevant transport laid on by the Bride and Groom to get their guests to a nearby hotel (Bus/mini-cab etc)
Support the Groom
You may automatically assume that this is the best man’s job, and if everything were equal you would be correct. Invariably, things don’t always go according to plan and the Groom needs to rely on his mates to step-up for him.
Simple things like straightening his tie, some gentle banter to relax him or more practical things like making sure the presents and cards are stacked appropriately and will not go missing or collapse a table for example.
Assisting The Best Man
The best man is the unofficial head usher. He gets his orders from the groom and may delegate them out amongst the groomsmen. It may not just be formal matters you will have to deal with, it can be matters of the heart or the bottom of a bottle.
Nerves are a normal part of a best mans day, especially when it comes to delivering a killer speech that lives up to the audiences’ high expectations. It is not easy to speak in public and can be really unnerving if you are not used to it.
Some thrive in front of their peers and shrink in front of strangers, throw some alcohol into the equation and it is anyones guess what will happen. If the best man is overcme with nerves, the ushers wil reassure and calm him. If he is too drunk, an usher may step in and read the speech on his behalf.
Help The Bridesmaids
Despite the old wives tales, this does not mean trying to get off with them (you can but try to focus on business first!)
They may need help with carrying their gifts like flowers etc or perhaps the bride will have a secret gift for the groom which will need to be communicated via the bridesmaids through the ushers to maintain its spontaneity.
Regardless of how you landed the gig as an usher take pride in your role and do not just stand there looking pretty in your fancy suit. Some are genuinely good mates, others are simply in the right place at the right time and more often than not, a brother of the bridge who the groom had no choice over.
Take responsibility for those closest to the happy couple and make their day memorable and as comfortable as you can.
Checking in with the elderley guests like the grandparents or aunties is always a sure way to score brownie points and seem like you are doing a stellar job. Dancing with the children in attendance is a hilarious way of babysitting and boosting your credit in front of prying eyes as well.
If you look after the family ion the big occasion, you will go down in ushering history.
This doesn’t require a high-vis vest over your shiny new suit nor does it mean you making a few quid by charging people parking rates. It simply means that as an usher, your role is to limit the chaos and provide harmony wherever possible amongst a room full of drunken guests.
The car park can be a minefield of controversy so it won’t take much for a few of you to stand outside the venue as people arrive to reduce the mayhem. Take a beer with you and enjoy the limelight while it is still on you (it will soon go!)
The title may be exaggerated but it is generally an extension of the above whereby you need to negate the possibility of things kicking off and spoiling the day. This can be a challenge when you have had a few yourself and want to enjoy yourself but remember that you were trusted and chosen for a reason dn you must see it through.
This unfortunately means keeping your wits about you during the evening do and nipping any conflict or potential fighting in the bud. Spotting any unsavory opportunities for a scuffle and diffusing the situation is really great ushering.
The wedding photographer and/or videographer has an enormous task on their hands trying to capture every special moment. They may require your assistance in gathering certain groups together and providing organisation for specific photos requested by the Bride and Groom. e.g. University friends, followed by work colleagues etc.
Speeches And Key Announcements
An usher may not be making a speech (unless the best man is leathered!) but they can help with master of ceremonies duties by making key announcements throughout the day.
Things like “Ladies and gentlemen, the buffet is now open/please stand for the new Mr and Mrs Jones/Last drinks at the bar” are all forms of really useful information as long as the timing is correct and voices can be heard properly.