Definition and Nature of the Work
Ushers work in theaters, stadiums, symphony halls, and other places where people gather to watch a performance or sporting event. Patrons hand their tickets to ushers, who lead or direct them to their seats. They tell patrons where to find telephones, restrooms, and the refreshment stand.
Ushers must learn how the seats in a given venue are numbered or alphabetized. In some cases there are no reserved seats and ushers merely help people find seats. In darkened theaters ushers frequently use flashlights to guide them. They also pass out programs, answer questions about performance times, and remind patrons to turn off cell phones and beepers during the event. Ushers make sure that fire exits are clear and unlocked. In the case of an emergency they help the people leave the theater in a safe, calm, and orderly manner.
Ushers have additional responsibilities that fall in the realm of customer service. For instance, they often help patrons search for lost items, keep unruly people under control, and ask people who are sitting in the wrong seats to move. When disorderly people do not heed the warnings of an usher, a head usher or security guard may be called in. In small theaters ushers often have to perform the duties of ticket takers. Ticket takers are responsible for seeing that only people who have paid the admission charge enter the theater.
Ushers greet guests and help on the day of the wedding.
An usher is part of the larger wedding group, but not part of the ceremony. It's typically a job assigned to men who are close friends when the wedding party isn't large enough to accommodate everyone. Ushers seat guests, hand out programs, assist with parking, manage gifts and help with general logistics the day of the wedding, relieving the families of the bride and groom of much of the running around on the wedding day.
Things You'll Need
- To be available
- Formal wear
Find out what you should wear. Some weddings require formal tuxedoes that match the wedding party, others weddings require a good suit. Talk with the bride or groom to ensure you know what you should wear on the day of the ceremony.
Determine which, if any, of the various wedding activities before and after the wedding you are required to attend. Some of these activities include dinners, parties, wedding rehearsals, photography sessions and the reception or after-party, if there is one.
Arrive at the church or wedding venue at least an hour before the wedding. Make sure you are dressed as asked, pick up your boutonniere and head to your designated station. The head usher will tell you where to go and how to get people seated.
Seat guests properly. The bride's family and friends sit to the left and the groom's family and friends sit to the right. When a woman comes in, offer her your right arm and ask her if she is a friend of the bride or groom. Lead her to her seat, with her escort walking behind. If she is friends with both sides of the wedding, seat her as close to the front as possible. If a group of women arrive together, offer the oldest woman your right arm and lead them to their seats. If a man arrives alone, you don't need to offer your arm, unless he needs the assistance.
Help dismiss the guests row by row at the end of the service. Stand at the center aisle, one usher on each side, and gesture to let people know they may leave. This helps manage the crowd once the ceremony concludes.
Don't catch the garter.
Usher Duties at a Wedding
As an usher, you help make the wedding a happy day.
A wedding party comprises the bride and groom, best man, maid or matron of honor, bridesmaids, ushers and any friends and family members directly involved in the marriage ceremony. All of them share a common duty of making the event a day for the bride and groom to remember. The ushers, usually male, have a special role to take care of practical concerns before and on the day. Traditionally, they answer to the groom first and the best man second and have several key responsibilities to fulfill.
o The groom usually expects ushers to accompany him at tuxedo fittings. As well as providing practical help, the usher himself is fitted and pays for rental or purchase of his own suit.
o The usher meets with the groom and other members of the wedding party, such as the best man and other ushers, to plan the wedding ceremony. He should make himself familiar with the venue, the schedule and any practical requirements well before the day itself. This includes attending the wedding rehearsal if asked.
o The ushers arrive at the church or wedding venue first. Their duties are to ensure things like chairs, bouquets and seating cards are in place according to the wishes of the bride and groom.
Before the Ceremony
o Ushers stand by the doors of the church or venue and welcome people as they arrive. They direct guests to their seats, offering any assistance necessary. In a traditional Christian wedding, guests of the bride sit on the left, guests of the groom on the right. A Jewish ceremony observes the reverse. Key family members, such as mothers, fathers and siblings, have places reserved in the first few rows.
During the Ceremony
o The ushers remain standing throughout the service to assist as necessary. Some guests may ask for the restroom, for example, so an usher should know its location in advance and prepare himself to direct or escort anyone who asks. Some guests may arrive late, and the usher has the duty of showing them to their seats, preferably at the back of the venue, quickly and quietly.
After the Ceremony
o Having arrived first, ushers leave last. They help guests exit the ceremony, giving directions to the reception or wedding meal, if necessary. They may have to instruct guests to stand back to make way for the bridal recession and may need to remind people of venue rules or restrictions concerning matters such as confetti and photography. When the bridal party and the last guests have left, the ushers take care of practical concerns, ensuring no items are left behind, for example.
At the Reception
o A reception duty varies for ushers vary, and they may not have any responsibilities. The groom may ask them to take care of wedding gifts, however, or usher people to tables, announce the arrival of the bride and groom, or deal with other practicalities, such as car parking.
The Duties of an Usher
Ushers are commonly found at weddings.
Ushers are common fixtures at weddings, movie theaters, live theater, the opera, and stadiums and sporting events. They are usually responsible for overseeing guest seating and addressing any seating or security issues that arise. For each location, usher duties are generally the same.
Ushers are required to escort guests and patrons to their seats. At weddings, ushers must escort guests of honor, such as parents of the bride and groom, to seats at the front. In the past, ushers were responsible for making sure that the groom's guests sat on the right and the bride's on the left, but in recent years usher seating duties at weddings have focused on making sure the seating is balanced. In other settings, ushers help guests locate their seats in an auditorium, theater, or stadium. They decide whether seats can be changed and arbitrate disputes over tickets and corresponding seats.
2. Rule enforcement
Ushers are responsible for enforcing any policies regarding guest behavior, particularly during the ceremony or event. These policies typically refer to any disruptive behavior or activity; for example, ushers remind guests and patrons to turn off cell phones and beepers at weddings and performances. At sporting events or events where it's not necessary to be quiet, ushers escort out unruly or intoxicated patrons. If a situation escalates to the point of danger, it is the usher's duty to notify the head usher and contact the police. At a wedding, an usher typically reports directly to the best man. In some venues, ushers also help coordinate and organize guest parking.
3. Guest relations
o Ushers are expected to dress neatly and present a professional "face" to each guest. They must remain calm under all circumstances and treat guests with respect in all situations. If guests are in the wrong seats, ushers must politely ask them to move. Ushers also frequently pass out programs or information about the event or performance and answer guests' questions about performance/event times, intermission, concessions, restroom locations and venue policies. If there are elderly or disabled guests, ushers are responsible for ensuring their safe passage from the door to their seats and providing assistance if needed. If guests request help looking for lost items, ushers are expected to provide it.
o Ushers may be asked to perform virtually any task to help the event or ceremony run more smoothly. Sometimes ushers double as ticket-takers or as security guards, keeping control of unruly patrons until law enforcement officials arrive. In case of emergency, ushers must keep exit doors unlocked and unobstructed.
Be there as soon as the doors open. Once they open, there may be a crowd of people all swarming to get into the doors. Be ready for them.
Be prepared with items for handing out. As soon as you see people coming, put that number of bulletins in your hand. They will then hand them out among themselves.
Make it easy to distribute materials you have on hand. When there is a large group of people coming, pull out the corners of the programs/bulletins so you can whip them out to them.
Always be available to greet and show visitors in. If there is no one coming, it is okay to go to a nearby water fountain, but be sure to check with the producer on this one.
Share the tasks. If you are ushering with someone else at your side, some friends or relatives may come. They will probably want to give them the programs themselves. Graciously stand back and smile at the people.
Be professionally cheerful. Be sure to greet each person with a smile and a welcoming comment such as, "We're going to have the best concert tonight".
Make contact even without materials to hand out. If you're simply greeting people with no programs, then simply shake their hand firmly.
Ensure you arrive early to prepare for the service.
- Put a large amount of programs in your hand in case of large groups suddenly swarming into the entrance.
- People who walked past you will probably come back to ask for a program(s). Don't get mad at them for inconveniencing you. Simply smile, nod, and give them the programs.
- Ensure that you are aware of your role in each service.
- Good hygiene is essential for obvious reasons.
- Don't give yourself a paper cut.
- Do not lose your temper and yell at someone who walked past you and came back in the middle of a swarm, or simply someone who got mad at you.
- Don't be just standing there and spacing out, pay attention!