Wedding planning can be confusing. With lots of different roles and responsibilities to consider, it is no real surprise that terms like groomsmen and usher can be unclear! But how do they differ? Or, are groomsmen and ushers essentially the same? Baffled, I spent some time researching in preparation for my own special day. I’d like to share with you what I managed to find here today.
So, what is the difference between groomsmen vs ushers? The main difference between a groomsman and an usher is their level of involvement – their respective roles and responsibilities. This includes both before, and during, the wedding itself. For instance, groomsmen will help plan and participate in pre-wedding events, stand beside the groom at the alter and will escort the bridesmaids down the aisle. Whereas an usher is primarily responsible for showing guests to their seats during both the ceremony and the reception. They also answer any questions that guests may have throughout the day.
A wedding ceremony naturally involves several participants, each one being there for a reason and having their own unique role.
From the main figures of the bride and groom, to the flower girl and the ring bearer, everyone has to be carefully selected and perfectly familiar with what they need to do. And when.
While the participants associated with the bride usually get most of the attention, its easy to forget about those who are there for the groom. But they play an equally important role.
Let us now take a closer look into the roles and responsibilities of the groomsmen and the ushers; what they do and how they differ.
We’ll also be looking at whether groomsmen can in fact be ushers, and if they need to wear the same attire.
So, be sure to keep on reading if you are in the process of planning – this information will be sure to serve you well!
What Is A Groomsman?
A groomsman is a male attendant to the groom on his wedding day. The groom usually chooses his closest friends and relatives to be his groomsmen and it is considered an honor to be selected.
The groom will also choose one of them to be the Best man; which is usually his closest friend, or family member, from the entire group.
In other words, the groomsmen are therefore the equivalent to the bridesmaids for the bride.
Being a groomsman is usually more fun and partying than anything else but they may have other duties such as helping to plan the wedding and the bachelor’s party.
Let’s take a closer look at what being a groomsman involves:
The duties of a groomsman can be divided into pre-wedding duties and wedding day duties.
Pre-wedding Day Groomsmen Duties
- Gets his formal wedding wear
- Shows up at pre-wedding events
- Co-plans the bachelor party
- Gives an original and thoughtful gift
- Gets rest!
A groomsman is usually responsible for purchasing their attire for the wedding. They typically attend a suit fitting together with the groom, although they may be required to purchase it on their own accord. If in doubt, he can ask the groom what attire is expected (a tux for instance). If there are any special requirements placed by the groom, the groomsman may have to go get their measurements taken.
A groomsman is expected to attend all pre-wedding events such as engagement party, couples shower, bachelor party, and rehearsal dinner. If in town, a groomsman is expected to attend all the events and sometimes participate in the planning of the activities.
The main pre-wedding event for the grooms is his bachelor party. A groomsman is expected to actively participate in the planning and organization of the party and to pay his own bill or split it fairly with the others. Very often, the groomsmen also pay for the groom.
A groomsman is supposed to give the couple a thoughtful and original gift to the soon-to-be-married happy couple. It is best to consult directly with the groom on what to give.
Being a groomsman involves lots of partying and going out in the end of the day. He should remember to get a good night’s sleep before the big day to be able to wake up on time and be ready to attend to any needs the groom may have.
Wedding Day Duties
A groomsman’s duties on the big day involve:
- Being on time for the wedding ceremony
- Be present for support
- Get ready to smile and pose
- Be at the reception
A groomsman must in time for the ceremony, being willing and able to attend and support anything that’s need to be done during this time and upon the groom’s request. Being on time for the ceremony itself is an absolute must! Sometimes the groomsmen decorate the couple’s honeymoon car. During the ceremony a groomsman may be asked to walk down the aisle a bridesmaid.
The groomsmen are there to support the groom in whatever he needs. It is a big day for the groom, where they are going to be full of nerves and excitement. A groomsman has to be there for him for both emotional and logistical support.
A groomsman stands by the alter, right next to the groom, in front of all ceremony attendees. He has to be ready to smile and maintain a good posture all the time.
Finally, a groomsman’s presence at the wedding reception is absolutely mandatory! He can be a contact point for the guests for questions or he may be asked to dance with the groom’s grandmother or the bridesmaids.
Sometimes, especially at big weddings with hundreds of guests, groomsmen (or at least some of them) are asked to act as ushers. Let’s find out what exactly an usher is:
What Is An Usher?
There is also one position that is more unfamiliar and generally overlooked – an usher.
An usher guides guests to their seats and helps the ceremony to run smoothly, in general. Being an usher is an honor and can be a big responsibility, especially at big weddings held at large venues.
The main role of the usher is to escort guests to their seats and offering an arm to the female guests, especially those arriving alone.
Actually, if there is a family member that you are unsure what to do with making him an usher is a great option.
Here is a summary of what the responsibilities of an usher are:
- Greet guests at the ceremony.
- Hand out ceremony programs.
- Guide guests to respective sides.
- Seat late arrivals.
- Serve as parking attendants.
The usher is the one who greets guests at the door of the ceremony upon the guests arrival. He must have a friendly manner, be cheerful and hospitable.
If there is a printed wedding program, the usher is the one to supply each guest with a ceremony agenda.
He shows and escorts guests to their seat and offers an arm to the female ones, especially those arriving alone.
An usher also takes care of guests that arrive late and shows them to their seats.
Sometimes he can also be responsible for the parking arrangements and the smooth organization of the guests’ cars.
Groomsman Vs Ushers Main Differences
At large weddings with many guests and a big venue, groomsmen can be asked to take the role of ushers aswell to help ensure smooth arrival of guests. These cases are more of an exception, though.
This is where it can get confusing and why the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Put differently a groomsman can be an usher, if asked to take on the extra roles, but an usher is not a groomsmen.
Let us consider some of the other main differences:
- A groomsman is usually a very close friend to the groom, which is not necessarily the case with an usher.
- A groomsman is directly involved in planning and participating in all pre-wedding activities while an usher is not.
- An usher is not expected to give presents to the couple.
- A groomsman stands by the alter with the groom while an usher does not.
- A groomsman supports the groom emotionally and logistically while an usher greets guests and takes them to their seats. He is at venue itself all the time.
- Ushers are usually much younger than the groomsmen.
Can Groomsmen Be Ushers?
Groomsmen can also be ushers, if there is a need for them.
In fact, it is not untypical for the groom to ask some groomsmen to be ushers, especially at weddings with hundreds of guests and large venue.
This prevents the need for having both roles, or if a groom is unsure of whom to elect for the role of an usher.
Typically however, groomsmen will be clos friends and older family relatives, whereas ushers are commonly younger family members.
Do Ushers And Groomsmen Wear The Same Thing?
Ushers and groomsmen can wear the same thing, although it is not mandatory for them to do so.
However, it comes recommended that the outfits are coordinated in terms of:
They also need to suit and match with the general theme of the wedding. Its also advised that they are coordinated with the females of the bridal party too; such as the bridesmaids.
The tux is the most preferred option for traditional formal weddings.
If the wedding is more casual or there is a theme, the outfits matching should be discussed by the groom together with the groomsmen and usher(s).
Groomsmen are in fact quite different to ushers. They generally have greater responsibility in the planning of the wedding and on the big day itself.
From the selection of wedding attire, planning the bachelor party to standing next to the groom; they a groomsmen has quite the part to play.
For an usher, its all about the supporting of guests at the ceremony reception. Helping them find car park spaces, their seats and answering any questions is pretty much as far as their responsibility goes.
Nevertheless an usher plays an important role – you cannot do without them; especially for big weddings with lots of guests!
So, when it comes to choosing your groomsmen and ushers, consider what they need to do and the kind of people they need to be.
Moreover, consider that groomsmen can double up as ushers too, if there is a need for them.
Have other questions about groomsmen? My following guides may be of interest:
- Do Groomsmen Have To Wear Matching Shoes? [This Is Why…]
- Can Groomsmen Be Married? [All That You Need To Know]
- Does The Groom Pay For The Groomsmens Suits? [Should They?]
- How Many Groomsmen Can You Have? [How Many Is Too Much?]
Hey, I’m Allison – a bride-to-be and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I have accumulated since researching for my wedding over two years ago. I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding.