The Role of Ushers

What are Wedding Ushers? How Many Do You Need?

Groomsman pinning corsage
(Julia Wheeler and Veronika Laws/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When it comes to the wedding day, there are so many important roles and participants in the festivities that it may seem hard to keep track. One particular role of note is that of wedding usher. For some reason, there seems to be a fair amount of confusion about what an usher's role and responsibilities include, so we figured we'd set the record straight for all of those inquiring minds. Below we'll discuss what an usher is, what they do, if you need them and how to choose them.

 

An Usher?

No, not the R&B singer Usher – but wedding ushers! Ushers should be the first smiling face your guests will see upon arrival at your wedding. The usher is typically a close friend or family member of the couple who is given a role and responsibilities to perform at the wedding.

The Responsibilities of an Usher 

The job of an usher at a wedding is to greet guests, distribute programs, and escort people to their seats. They may also help with ceremony preparation, including handling tasks such as arranging chairs or testing the sound system, or any of those other essential last minute tasks that would be of help to the couple on the big day.

The Difference Between Groomsmen and Ushers

While both roles signify a close bond with the happy couple, the groomsmen are typically the people who have a closer relationship to the couple than the ushers. The ushers are sometimes not included in pre-wedding events (such as the bachelor party) and may be dressed slightly differently than the groomsmen.

Both ushers and groomsmen should be given boutonnieres to help guests identify them. At some weddings, there might not be any difference between the two. They are still performing a role that they should be thanked for, and may also be included in photos with the couple and bridal party depending on the timeline of the day.

 

Do You Need Ushers?

While the duties of ushers are important enough to require specific gentlemen to serve in that role, some couples ask the groomsmen to perform the duties of the usher in addition to their groomsmen role. At very casual weddings, some couples choose to skip the ushers and allow their guests to find their seats by themselves. If your groomsmen and other members of the wedding party will be occupied with getting dressed and/or taking photographs before the ceremony, it’s helpful to have some ushers who can direct people to restrooms, assist any handicapped persons, and answer questions. I especially recommend ushers if you need to keep divorced guests separate from each other, or anticipate any other seating conflicts. Ultimately, the choice is completely up to you and what you feel is necessary for your wedding day.

How Many Ushers You Should Have

The general rule is one usher for every 50 guests. I suggest that even for small weddings, you still have at least two ushers so that they can keep each other company. It is also helpful to have at least two ushers at your wedding so that no one is left standing and waiting to be escorted to their seat for too long.

Who You Should  Ask to Be an Usher at Your Wedding

Traditionally ushers are men, but if you’re having a modern wedding there’s no reason to let the boys hog the limelight at the ceremony doors!

Choose family friends, cousins and other relatives, or other people you are close to who didn't quite fit within the bridal party. Make sure they are people persons who feel at ease talking to strangers and will be glad to be helpful.

Updated by Jessica Bishop in April 2016