Wedding Etiquette for the Best Man, Groomsmen, and Ushers
Author: Jean Bachcroft
Article source: http://keywestweddings4u.com/. Used with author's permission.
Undoubtedly, the groom will want to choose a few good men—often his
brothers, college buddies, and best friends—to carry out all of the
responsibilities traditionally assigned to the guys. Once your fiancé has
picked his team, he'll have to give them a few pointers on just what their
roles and responsibilities are, so here's the lowdown.
A Friend in Deed
Let's start with the best man (the head groomsman) since his role is so
crucial. The best man is an all-purpose kind of guy—friend, organizer,
coach, confidant—with a lot of responsibilities.
In general, he must make sure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.
When the groom feels stressed, he is ready with encouragement and a
good sense of humor.
Traditionally, it is the best man who is in charge of organizing the
bachelor party and making all travel arrangements for the bride and
groom. He makes sure the groom and other groomsmen get fitted for
and pick up their formalwear. He is also expected to supervise the other
groomsmen and ushers, serve as an official witness to the vows,
safeguards the ring and marriage license just before the wedding, and
pay the clergyman's fee (which the groom quietly slips to him before the
After the ceremony, he makes sure the wedding party lines up properly
for the "wedding parade" through town, if one is planned. At the
reception, he serves as the master of ceremonies, proposes the first
toast, and remains on hand to ensure that all subsequent speeches are
both short and sweet. His final duty is to return all the rented tuxes.
INCIDENTAL—In case it should happen that several notable
people would like to offer a toast, here is the order of the speakers: best
man, groom's dad, bride's dad, groom, bride, maid of honor, groom's
mom, bride's mom, other friends and relatives.
And a Few Good Men
Of course, the other groomsmen or ushers are also important members
of the wedding party. The are, in effect, the couples hospitality
committee. Although groomsmen often do double-duty—serving as
ushers before and after the ceremony—in may cases, at large weddings,
for example, there are two sets of men: groomsmen and ushers. (The
general rule is one usher for every 50 guests.) In these instances, it is
the ushers who seat the guests, and it is they who make the first
impression on guests as they arrive.
Ushers greet the guests and escort them on the proper side of the
church. As tradition would have it, when a female guest arrives (whether
she is alone or not), one of the ushers should step forward, extend his
right arm, and escort her to her seat, followed by her spouse or date. (I
am in favor of the more modern sentiment which suggests that this
approach is incompatible with the whole concept of marriage and that
the husband should not be relegated to trailing behind this temporary
Before walking toward the pews, the usher should ask which side of the
church she would like to be seated on, the bride's or groom's. Generally,
the right side of the church is reserved for the guests of the groom. Her
relatives and friends are usually escorted to the right.
In a Jewish ceremony, this seating arrangement is reversed. And if one
side appears to be filling up and the other side has noticeably few
occupants, then this rule should be abandoned for the sake of
Incidentally, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, ushers should not
escort guests to their seats in total silence, as if this were a solemn affair.
This is a time for a few casual and friendly, yet dignified and quiet
Pews are filled from front to back, leaving the first several reserved for
family members and close friends of the bride and groom. Just minutes
before the ceremony is scheduled to begin, two of the ushers should
escort the groom's mother and then the bride's mother to their seats.
After the ceremony, they escort these ladies down the aisle.
It is the groomsmen who should be available to assist the bride's mother
with any last minute details. Just before the bride makes her entrance,
they should unroll the aisle runner. Another important duty of these men
of chivalry is to arrange for transportation of the bridesmaids to the
After the ceremony, as everyone heads off to the reception, it is their
responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind. And, because they are
largely responsible for making sure that a good time is had by all, they
are expected to introduce guests to each other.
Modern day armor
What the groomsmen wear is largely determined by the formality or
informality of the ceremony, and to a lesser extent by considerations
such as location and time of day.
These days, most grooms, groomsmen and ushers rent their formalwear.
The groom and his men should order their tuxes at least three months
before the wedding. If possible, they should select a local shop, just in
case last minute alterations are needed.
The groom and his men usually wear the same attire. To set himself
apart, the groom may select a different colored tie, vest, pocket square,
Sometimes the groom will present a memorable gift, such as cufflinks,
studs or, if he can afford to splurge, monogrammed shirts, to be worn by
these men of honor at the wedding. Given all that they are expected to
do, the groom should indeed go out of his way to show his appreciation,
even in advance, for a job well done. About the Author
Jean Bachcroft is a former public relations director, founder of Bachcroft
and Aloha Labels, and the publisher and editor-in-chief of Town and
Country Shopping Bargains Magazine. For designer wedding, holiday,
and year-round mailing and return address
labels, visit Bachcroft
Mailing and Return Address Labels and
Aloha Return Address
bargain shopping articles, visit Town and Country Shopping
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