If you're looking for ways to include family members in your wedding without adding to the groomsman or bridesmaid roster, selecting them as a wedding usher is a great choice. The job will vary depending on the size and formality of the ceremony. The larger the guest count, the more ushers you may want to employ. It's important to have a solid understanding of your ceremony's needs so you can assign usher duties accordingly.
What Is an Usher?
An usher is primarily responsible for directing and seating guests at a wedding ceremony. With less responsibility than a groomsman or bridesmaid, the usher is often (but not always) younger than the rest of the wedding party.
A wedding usher is often the first person to greet guests. A good usher will ease wedding day stress by providing a smooth flow into the ceremony. The most important thing for an usher to do is to pay close attention during the rehearsal and ask questions if there is something that is unclear. We're breaking down the role's responsibilities so you can ensure they're up for the job.
If you have any outgoing socialites in your life, consider having them take on the role of usher. They'll be especially good at it—and they'll love getting to greet and speak to each guest as they arrive.
Luxury wedding and event planner Kristin Banta, owner of Kristin Banta Events says couples should be looking for someone who knows a lot of the wedding VIPs. They should be someone who is "able to greet people in a charming and gregarious fashion," she says.
Meet the Expert
Kristin Banta of Kristin Banta Events is a Los Angeles-based luxury wedding and event planner. She has 17 years of experience and appeared as the weekly wedding expert for Hallmark Channel's Home & Family.
Wedding Usher Etiquette
Do you need an usher?
It short, no, not exactly. While most weddings won't necessarily require an usher (you can always put the bridesmaids or groomsmen to work the morning of the wedding greeting guests if necessary), you may want one if you have a more specific need to designate the two sides of seating arrangements. Or you may need one if there is an issue with reserved seats that isn't made clear. "Usually if there's clarity in terms of how people are placed and signage, you know, reserved signs on seats, there shouldn't be any confusion," says Banta. "But if that's not present then that becomes the role of an usher."
How many ushers should you have?
There's no right number of ushers to have, but generally, at larger weddings, there will be more ushers. A common rule of thumb to use is one usher per every 50 guests. "If you're upholding this tradition, you want to make sure that you have enough where no one slips through without being greeted," says Banta.
How old are ushers?
Ushers can be of any age. "This could be somebody who is late teens and up," Banta says. "It really depends on who and how the roles are picked. If it's family, that could be younger brothers. There's really no age that is appropriate." We do often see young ushers, as the older family members may have bigger roles in the wedding.
What should ushers wear?
As a member of the wedding party, the usher should be dressed according to the ceremony. Whether that's a matching suit or dress, or just correlating with the wedding colors.
At a Formal Wedding
Ushers will have more responsibilities at formal or high guest-count ceremonies. These celebrations often require a larger team of ushers.
At a traditional ceremony, the usher is the one to greet guests upon their arrival. That being said, it's important that the usher is well mannered, cheerful, and hospitable.
Hand Out Programs
If there is a printed wedding program, the usher is generally tasked with ensuring each guest gets a copy. Usually, they will be passing these out while they are greeting the guests.
The main role of an usher is to escort guests to their seats, offering an arm to female guests (especially those arriving alone). This can also include leading male guests or couples to the next available seat.
Guide Guests to Respective Sides
Seat guests according to the couple's respective side or, if seating is open, ask if the guests have a preference of which side they sit on. They'll also have to keep in mind any reserved seating, like the front row for certain family members.
At an Informal Wedding
In a less formal setting, ushers will likely have a little less responsibilities.
Let Guests Know Which Side Is Which
Ushers will inform guests which side of the aisle to sit on if there is a distinction. They'll also be the ones to let guests know of any reserved rows or seats.
Guide Guests in Where They Can Walk
If you have particularly delicate wedding aisle décor (think fragile petals or an easily wrinkled runner) they will be the ones to make sure guests walk around the outside of the rows, rather than straight down the middle.
Walking Guests Needing Extra Assistance
At an informal wedding, not every guest may need guidance all the way to their seat. However, if there are any elderly or disabled attendees, the usher would guide them to their seats.
Depending on an usher's relationship with the couple, they may also escort family members such as grandparents to their seats. This would be done either before the ceremony begins or as part of the processional.
Seat Late Arrivals
Ushers may also be asked to remain at the back of the venue during the ceremony to seat any guests who arrive once the ceremony has begun. This eliminates any potential awkwardness or disturbances.
Serve as Parking Attendants
At bigger weddings or ceremonies with difficult parking situations, the usher might be the one to show guests where they can park. This, of course, wouldn't be a job for particularly young ushers.