Here's When Groomsmen Can (And Should!) Be Ushers

If your guest list is short, groomsmen can wear multiple hats.
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
The Knot Contributor
  • Heather contributes wedding, honeymoon, travel and relationship content for The Knot and WeddingWire.
  • Heather also writes for publications including Apartment Therapy, StyleBlueprint, MyDomaine, HelloGiggles and The Everygirl.
  • She holds a degree in Art History and Architectural History from the University of Virginia.
Updated Oct 19, 2023

The role of usher is often extended when there isn't room for every close friend to take a lead role in the wedding party. But, if it's a small wedding and your invite list is short, can groomsmen be ushers? Or do you need to rally just a few more friends?

Luckily, the answer is up to you. There's no hard and fast rule on whether a groomsman should be an usher or even whether you need ushers at all. Emily Coyne, principal planner and founder of Emily Coyne Events, explains ushers are a traditional element that is becoming less common. "Today, couples often have guests 'choose a seat, not a side,' thus the concept of an escort has steadily declined in recent years."

But, if you choose to have ushers and you have the room on your guest list to include additional friends or family, the role provides an opportunity to honor those who are close to you, but who may not be groomsmen.

Here's everything you need to know about ushers vs. groomsmen and how you should treat them both, from usher vs. groomsmen attire to whether you should get the same gifts for ushers vs. groomsmen.

In this article:

Are Groomsmen the Same as Ushers?

While groomsmen can be ushers, they are not the same role. A groomsman is someone who is close to the groom and is asked to be present as an attendant on the wedding day and throughout the wedding planning season. They are there to support the groom, whether that's making sure their bowtie is straight or grabbing them a sandwich to make sure they eat when pre-wedding jitters are setting in.

An usher is present at the wedding ceremony to take guests to their seats, answer questions, and make people feel welcome as they arrive.

Can Groomsmen Be Ushers?

Yes! Groomsmen can absolutely be ushers. Having groomsmen wear multiple hats helps cut down on the size of the wedding party, and it's especially common at smaller weddings. If you have junior groomsmen, it's also a great idea to have them step in as ushers and feel like they have an important role in the big day.

Are Ushers Part of the Wedding Party?

Ushers are part of the larger wedding house party, which could include greeters, readers and other friends and family who have duties but aren't bridesmaids or groomsmen, but they are not a part of the official wedding party. They should, however, be invited to the rehearsal dinner, as well as any pre-wedding events (including the bachelor party!).

Do Ushers Wear the Same Thing as the Groomsmen?

"If your ushers are not groomsmen, they should not be dressed identical to them. However, they should be dressed in the same level of formality," says Coyne. But she suggests dressing them in the same color palette as the rest of the wedding party. Adding a boutonniere can be a good way to distinguish who the ushers are in a sea of suits.

Ushers vs. Groomsmen: The Differences

"Ushers are individuals that the couple would like to honor, and their responsibilities are for the ceremony only," says Coyne. Most of the differences between ushers and groomsmen pertain to what ushers do not have to do.

Ushers don't traditionally get ready with the groom.

While groomsmen are there for the moments struggling with the bowtie or fastening the cufflinks, ushers don't have to be with the groom all day. Their duties start with showing up early to the ceremony.

Ushers don't stand at the ceremony.

Once an usher's role leading guests to their seats is done, they'll take a seat, too. They may get up again at the end to help crowd control as guests make their way out of the ceremony.

Ushers don't sit at the head table.

Ushers are not technically part of the main wedding party, and they do not sit in the same place of honor as the groomsmen.

Ushers aren't usually in wedding party portraits.

While some couples may take some extended group photos with the ushers included, the ushers typically get to head straight to cocktail hour shortly after the ceremony.

Do You Give Ushers and Groomsmen the Same Gifts?

Most grooms will give their groomsmen a token of their appreciation following the wedding, which could be cufflinks, a travel kit or an engraved flask. While not necessary, it's nice to also give ushers a small gift to acknowledge their friendship and support. "For anyone playing a role in the wedding, it's nice to extend your appreciation to them, either through a heartfelt card or a gift," says Coyne.

Is Being an Usher at a Wedding an Honor?

"This role can also be an excellent opportunity to honor individuals who are close to the couple, such as family members or close friends of the family. Ushers can also be a lovely way to include younger members of the family in the wedding," says Coyne.

Additionally, if you're having a small wedding without groomsmen, then ushers are also a way to honor friends without having a wedding party stand up with you.

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