Muriel MacRae, Guest Author
Here is everything your ushers need to know for your wedding ceremony from what is expected of them at the ceremony to guest–seating etiquette. In fact, you might want to print this article off and simply give it to your ushers.
One of the main jobs of an usher is to welcome the guests at the wedding ceremony and make sure that they are seated correctly. The number of ushers depends upon the number of guests. Usually two ushers are fine for less than sixty guests. The number of ushers increase as the number of guests increases. Traditionally, the ushers are friends of the groom but it is a good idea to choose them from the bride’s family as well. That way there will be someone who recognizes most of the guests.
All the ushers should arrive at the ceremony location about 45 – 60 minutes before the ceremony starts. When they arrive, they should put on their boutonnieres or get someone to help them put it on. (It should be placed on a slight angle on the left of the lapel of a man’s formal jacket or sports coat with the stem facing down.)
Next, the ushers should familiarize themselves with the guest list, the seating arrangements, and seating etiquette. In more traditional ceremonies, the first pews are reserved for the immediate family of the bride and the groom and the parents sit in the first pew. They should also be prepared to answer questions such as:
• Where are the washrooms?
• Are guests allowed to use flash photography in the ceremony location?
• How does one get to the reception location?
• Can one throw confetti in the venue or outside the building?
• What time does the cocktail party or the reception begin?
Once the guests start arriving, the ushers should greet them with a smile, be friendly, hand them an order of service, if there is one, and escort them to their seats. If the guest is not recognized, it is appropriate to ask if they are family or friends of the bride or the groom. Traditionally, the usher offers his right arm to the woman (usually the senior woman in the group is being escorted), but he can also choose to walk the guests to their seats without offering his arm.
Friends and family of the bride are usually seated on the left side of the aisle facing the altar and the groom’s friends and family are seated on the right. Ushers should be alerted about elderly or handicapped guests who may need help in reaching their seat. If one side of the church (or venue) fills up, it is fine to begin seating guests on the other side.
If the parents are divorced, be sure the ushers know ahead of time who should be seated where. One way to handle this is to seat the divorced father in the next pew behind the mother. Mothers with babies should be seated near an aisle towards the back of the church so that they can get up and leave if the baby starts to fuss or cry.
After all of the guests are seated, grandparents are seated next, then the step parents, followed by the parents of the groom . Ushers escort parent s and grandparents to their seats. Even if a mother or grandmother is with her husband, the usher escorts her to her seat and her husband follows behind.
Next, the bride’s mother is escorted into the church or venue indicating that the ceremony is about to begin. There are no fixed rules on who escorts the parents. During the service, one usher should sit towards the back of the church so he can quietly greet late comers and usher them to a seat near the back.
Once the bride and groom are in place at the altar, the ceremony is ready to begin.
After the ceremony is over, and the wedding party has walked back down the aisle, the ushers will escort the mothers back down the aisle. Sometimes the mothers want to walk back with their husbands. In that case, the usher simply leads the couple out. The ushers help the other guests depart by starting with the guests at the front of the church (or venue) and working back from there.
Once the bride and groom have left for the reception, the ushers can relax and enjoy the rest of their day as their job is done!
Larry’s Note: When it comes to dress, traditionally ushers are considered the groom’s attendants and required to dress in the same formality as the groom. If the groom wears a tuxedo, the groomsmen and usher should also wear a tuxedo. Contemporary wedding etiquette has relaxed this tradition for ushers. It is now acceptable for ushers to wear the same degree of formality as the groomsmen, however is is always the bride and grooms final decision.
Copyright © 2011 – Muriel MacRae. Reprinted with permission. Calgary Wedding Planner, and Destination Wedding Specialist with Creative Weddings and Occasions where she plans weddings in Calgary and Banff area for couples who want a wedding that is unique and personal to them. She is also the owner of Del Sol Travel where she creates lifelong memories, one vacation at a time for discerning coupes who want to travel to luxurious romantic getaways.
Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 445 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.
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