When it comes to wedding advice, nearly everything you read or hear will be centered around the bride and groom. That’s certainly understandable. After all, this is their big day and they are rightly the center of attention. But there are other members of the wedding party who have important responsibilities on the big day, and they could probably use a bit of helpful advice as well.
Take wedding ushers as an example. Often they’re are seen as just a simple way for the groom to include his best friends in the wedding party. But wedding ushers have a pivotal role to play, both before and during the ceremony.
So, for the moment let’s set aside any advice for the bride and groom, and concentrate on what wedding ushers need to know to make their friend’s wedding all that it can be.
The Honorable Usher
First things first. While ushers may not have the highest profile when it comes to members of the wedding party, it is still definitely an honor to be asked. So it is important that you take the position seriously. Now, your responsibilities as an usher will largely be determined by the bride and groom, and by the style they have set for their wedding.
In some weddings the ushers have a great many responsibilities, in others their role is more ceremonial than functional. Discuss the role of the usher with the bride and groom, and let their direction be your guide. While we will try to cover most of the common responsibilities of a wedding usher, remember that you may be asked to do more or less according to the couple’s wishes.
Manners and Appearance
Our first point or order, is your appearance. On the day of the wedding, you should arrive dressed according to instructions. Your suit should be pressed, and your appearance should be neat and tidy.
Ushers are typically the first wedding representative to greet the guests, so in addition to a well-groomed appearance you should be on your best behavior. Manners cost nothing, and as you will be one of the first members of the wedding party to meet and greet the guests, your department will set the tone for the ceremony. Greet the guests warmly and with a smile, and escort them to their seats with style and elegance.
Seating the Guests
This is the main role of the usher, although the bride and groom may assign other responsibilities. As guests arrive, it will be your responsibility to hand them a program and escort them to their seats.
Typically, the bride’s friends and family will be seated on the left, and the groom’s friends and relatives on the right. As the guests arrive, ask them if they are a friend of the bride or groom, and escort them to the appropriate section.
Prior to the ceremony, you should escort the guests down the center aisle, but guests arriving late should be conducted down a side to avoid distractions.
Some tips to keep in mind when escorting a wedding guest to their seat:
- When escorting a single woman, you will offer her your right arm and escort her to her seat.
- When escorting a couple, you will offer the lady your right arm and let the gentleman follow behind.
- When escorting a group of women, offer your right arm to the eldest member of the group and ask the others to follow behind.
- When escorting a single gentleman or group of gentlemen, simply ask them to follow you to their seats.
- When offering your arm to a lady, it should be poised at 90 degrees, don’t extend your arm out straight. Escort your guests at a steady, but natural pace. Do not rush.
During the Ceremony
Depending on the wishes of the bride and groom, you may be asked to be part of the processional or you may be given a seat in one of the front two rows reserved for close friends and family. However, you may also be given other tasks to perform. For example, you may be placed at the back of the hall, near the doors, to escort late arrivals, and to open and close the doors during the processional and recessional.
When the ceremony has concluded, and the bride and groom have left the room, you will be responsible for dismissing the guests. You should do this by row, beginning at the front with close family and friends. You should also be prepared to answer any questions the guests may have, such as directing them to the reception location. Your job after the ceremony is to ensure that everyone leaves the venue in an orderly fashion, and that exiting progresses smoothly.
After the Ceremony
Again, following the ceremony, your role as an usher will be defined by the bride and groom. Don’t just assume that you can head off to the reception. The happy couple may still be in need of your services. Simply smile, and do what’s needed.
Once you get to the reception, your responsibilities as an usher will be mostly at an end. There will be no speeches to give and no further guests to escort., so simply relax, undo your tie, and join in the celebrations.
However, as you have been singled out as a part of the wedding party, it is always good form to mind your manners, remain pleasant and helpful, and try not to drink too much. Good advice for any member of the wedding party.