You’ve heard the term ‘usher’ thrown around, while researching and planning your wedding. But what actually is an usher, and what do they do? Is an usher the same thing as a groomsman? Do you really need ushers at your wedding, or can someone else fill their role instead?
In this guide, we’re going to be answering those questions, and many more. You’ll learn how to choose your ushers, whether or not ushers have to be male, and how old they should be. We’ll also discuss how many ushers you’ll need at your wedding, what they should wear, and whether you (as the bride or groom) need to get them a thank-you gift.
What Is the Role of an Usher at a Wedding?
Let’s get right to it: What does an usher actually do? The main duty of an usher is to act as a doorman. In other words, an usher’s job is to greet guests and show them to their seats.
Sometimes, ushers are given a checklist of all the wedding guests and will mark off guests when they arrive, to keep track of attendees and apprehend potential wedding-crashers.
Most ushers will escort guests to their seat personally - taking a lady by the arm, with male guests following behind. But at less formal weddings, the ushers may simply tell guests where to go.
They’ll ask the guest’s name, and whether they are with the bride or groom. Typically, ushers seat guests starting at the front of the church (or ceremony room), and work their way towards the back (with the first few rows reserved for immediate family). The bride’s guests sit on the left of the aisle, and the groom’s guests on the right.
At some weddings, ushers may also carry out additional duties. This may include helping to set up the venue before guests arrive, including laying down the aisle runner (if using). They may also help to clear up the wedding venue at the end of the night.
The ushers may also be involved in choosing their own suits, taking them to be tailored, or returning them to the store if they’re rented suits. They may also help the best man to organise the stag do.
Do I Need Ushers at My Wedding?
Ushers are important members of the wedding party, and carry out a pretty vital role. If there were no ushers, guests wouldn’t know where to go, what to do, or where to sit.
Even if you’re having a very casual wedding and you don’t mind where people sit, ushers still play an important role. Your guests should be greeted when they enter the venue, and made to feel welcome.
So, you must make sure there’s someone on hand at your wedding to wait by the door, and welcome guests. That being said, if you’re having a smaller or less formal wedding, you needn’t necessarily have dedicated ushers to play this role.
You could choose someone else in the wedding party to play a dual role. The mother and father of the bride, for example, could greet guests instead. This is unorthodox, but it does make some sense, as the bride’s parents traditionally host the celebration.
If you’re having an extremely small registry office wedding - with less than 20 guests, for example - you may not need an usher, and instead be able to greet guests yourself. But if tradition and formality is important to you, ushers are still the way to go.
How to Choose Your Ushers
Ushers are also known as ‘groomsmen’ in the United States. As the name suggests, ushers/groomsmen are almost like the groom’s equivalent of bridesmaids. They’re the part of the wedding party that supports and assists the groom before, during and sometimes after the wedding.
Most people choose ushers who are close friends or family members. They may be brothers, male cousins, nephews, sons, stepsons or old school friends. But as it’s your wedding, it’s completely up to you who you choose. Bear in mind that the ushers will be the first members of the wedding party that your guests will see and speak to on the day, so ensure you choose someone who will make a good first impression!
How Many Ushers Should You Have?
No matter how big or formal your wedding is, you should always have at least 2 ushers. This is to ensure there will always be one usher at the door while the other is busy seeing a guest to their seat. Not only that, but they’ll be able to keep each other company!
For up to 50 guests, two ushers should be fine. We’d suggest at least one extra usher for every 50 additional guests. So, if you’re having 150 guests, you should have at least 4 ushers. That way, three ushers will be able to seat guests at a time while one stays on the door. This will prevent a queue building up at the entrance.
Do Wedding Ushers Have to Be Male?
Traditionally, ushers are male. There’s no real reason for this - it’s just how things have always been. While the bride will have female attendants, the groom’s attendants are typically male.
But like many old-fashioned wedding traditions, there’s nothing holding you to this. At your own wedding, feel free to have ushers of whatever gender you like - or a mixture!
Having female ushers would be a nice idea if your groom has an abundance of close female friends and/or sisters. If you’d like female ushers, it might be fun to have them wear coordinated dresses or trouser suits. Just make sure they wear something different from the bridesmaids, so they don’t get mixed up.
What Do Ushers Wear at Weddings?
At formal weddings, ushers traditionally wear the same suit as the groom and the best man. Typically, the groom’s suit will have a feature that makes him stand out from the crowd. For example, his waistcoat or tie might be a brighter colour. But the rest of the wedding party wear matching outfits.
It’s important that all the ushers wear the same thing, so that your guests can immediately recognise them if they need help finding their way around. But if you’re having a more casual wedding, or having female ushers, there’s no need for them to wear formal suits. The choice is yours.
How Old Should an Usher Be?
Usually, the ushers are the groom’s brothers and best friends - and around the same age as the groom himself. However, it’s not unheard of for a groom to ask a younger brother, his father, or even his son to be an usher at his wedding.
The only ‘rule’ is that your ushers should be old enough to understand their role, and carry it out correctly. We’d suggest a lower age limit of around 12 - but it very much depends on the individual’s maturity level. If you have a 10 year old brother that you know would be up to the task, there’s no reason he can’t be an usher.
Do You Have to Get Your Ushers Gifts?
It’s customary for the bride and groom to give wedding gifts to everyone in their wedding party. This is a U.S. tradition that’s begun to make its way over to the U.K in recent years. Wedding-party gifts are typically given during the rehearsal dinner, on the morning of the wedding, or during the wedding toasts and speeches.
You’re not obligated to get gifts for your wedding party - handwritten thank-you cards will do. But if you do go the gift route, don’t forget your ushers! Just as the bride should get gifts for her bridesmaids, it’s the groom’s job to get gifts for his best man and ushers.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money - it’s the thought that counts. Bride and Groom Direct sell a wonderful array of Usher Wedding Gifts to suit every budget.