A wedding usher can be a great addition to your wedding party. Read on to learn more about what wedding ushers do on the big day.
By Janina Villanueva
Photo by Darien Chui Photo
If you’re looking to involve more family or friends on your big day, wedding ushers would be a great addition to your wedding party. But if you've never been to a large wedding, you might not even know what a wedding usher is, what they do, or whether you need (or want!) ushers at your wedding.
In this complete guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about wedding ushers so you have the information you need to decide whether wedding ushers are the right fit for your bridal party—and, if so, exactly what your ushers need to do on your big day:
What is an usher?
First things first. Before we answer the question "what do ushers do at weddings?", let's cover the more basic question—"what is an usher in a wedding?"
The dictionary defines usher as "a person who shows people to their seats, especially in a theater or at a wedding." Essentially, an usher is part of the wedding party and acts as the first point of contact for your guests, welcoming them to the wedding and helping to seat guests prior to the ceremony.
Photo Credit // Chris Duggan Photo
Do you need an usher?
Next question—do you need an usher? The answer depends on your wedding size and formality. If you’re planning to have a high guest count, having a wedding usher will help keep things moving fast as their primary task is to direct guests to their respective seats. Über formal weddings (for example, a black tie wedding) also require a wedding usher to ease the day’s stress by guaranteeing a smooth flow of the wedding. Whether you have open seating or respective sides for your guests, it’s a nice touch to have someone who can answer any last-minute wedding guest questions before the ceremony starts.
What makes a good wedding usher?
Because ushers are the first people many guests will encounter at your wedding, you want to choose your wedding ushers wisely. But what, exactly, should you be looking for? Or, in other words, what makes a good wedding usher?
Friendly. Ushers will be smiling and greeting your guests as they arrive at your wedding—so make sure you choose people who have a friendly disposition.
Organized. Ushers will have to keep track of your seating chart and which guests you want in which seats—so you'll also want to choose someone that's organized.
Responsible. If you decide to have ushers, you want to know that they'll show up on time and follow through on their duties—and that means choosing responsible people you know you can trust to get the job done.
Now that you know what a wedding usher is (and what makes a good one), let's jump into a rundown of duties that a wedding usher is responsible for—before, during, and after your wedding ceremony:
Before the Wedding Day
Get an outfit for the wedding. Because a wedding usher is a wedding party member, he would wear something similar to what the groomsmen are wearing—so, a nice tux and formal black pants are an excellent way to go. He should also be given a boutonniere to wear on the wedding day so that he isn’t mistaken for a wedding guest.
Attend the wedding ceremony rehearsal. This is the perfect way to get acquainted with the rest of the wedding party, as well as the venue. The wedding usher should also be familiar with where the couple's parent's will be positioned, where the restrooms are located, and any specific requests that the couple has during their ceremony.
Find out from the wedding couple if there is any family tension. This is a tricky task, and is not just to gossip; however, since the main task of a wedding usher is to ensure a smooth flow of the wedding, he should at least have a background of who doesn’t sit with whom, such as estranged family members or divorced parents. During the wedding planning process, the couple should sit down with the usher and walk them through any potential tension or issues that might arise at the wedding—and give the wedding usher instructions for these awkward situations so that they don’t offend or upset any of the wedding guests.
Likewise, ask the couple if there are guests who are elderly or disabled that may need more assistance. The same thing goes if there are guests who are pregnant or new mothers. It’s best to know this beforehand so that the wedding usher can plan to save an aisle seat or end seat for easier access for these guests.
Photo Credit // Darien Chui Photo
On the Wedding Day
Man the doors and welcome guests with a smile as they enter the ceremony venue. Good manners and cleaning up nicely for the day is key.
Answer the guests’ questions—where the restroom is, where the coat check is located, where the guest book is placed, and where they can drop the cards. Since the couple (and the rest of the wedding party) are most likely taking preparation photos, the wedding usher serves as a host during pre-ceremony.
Direct guests to their seats. Usually, the ceremony venue is filled from front to back, so the user directs them to the first open row. But, if the guest requests to be seated elsewhere, the usher should comply. He should also let guests know if there are any reserved seats, especially in the front, so that they can avoid them.
Be polite and offer their arm to escort guests, especially the elderly, down the aisle.
Hand out the wedding ceremony programs, or put them on every seat before the guests’ arrival.
In some cases, the wedding ushers also help open the door to reveal the bride, right before she walks down the aisle.
Seat the guests who arrive late. He should guide them where to walk, which is around the side, and not through the middle of the aisle, especially once the ceremony has started.
After the ceremony
If the wedding reception includes a sit-down meal, ushers may also escort guests to their seats at the reception.
In some cases, wedding ushers may escort guests to their cars as they're leaving the wedding.
Unlike the bridesmaids or best man, at the reception, the wedding usher usually sits with their family or friends—and not at the head table, as they also won’t be doing any speeches or dances.
FAQs about wedding ushers
How many ushers in a wedding?
The general rule is to have one wedding usher for every 50 guests. But even if you're having a smaller wedding, you may still want to have at least two ushers; that way, they can keep each other company—and guests won't have to wait to sit down if they arrive at the same time as other guests.
Who is typically asked to be a wedding usher?
Wedding ushers are often male, and because they have fewer tasks than the groomsmen, they are usually younger than the rest of the wedding party. Wedding ushers can be the couple’s younger siblings or close relatives. But, of course, this is entirely up to the wedding couple—you can choose both male and female ushers, and if you would rather leave these duties to someone older, than that works, too. Your wedding, your rules!
What should an usher wear?
Wedding ushers are a part of the wedding party—and, as such, should be dressed accordingly. You can either dress the wedding ushers in the same attire as the bridesmaids and/or groomsmen—or, if that feels too formal, dress them in a more casual manner that still clearly indicates they're part of the wedding party (for example, if your groomsmen are wearing tuxes, you may have your ushers wear a suit—but have them wear the same tie and pocket square as the groomsmen).
Similar to a flower girl or ring bearer, the wedding usher is one of the very important (yet sometimes overlooked) wedding roles. Wedding usher duties primarily consist of managing seating and ceremony logistics. Not only is including a wedding usher a great way to honor a close friend or family member on your special day, but having an usher is very beneficial for the flow of your wedding.