Top Tips For Groomsmen – What Is The Role Of An Usher?

What do ushers and groomsmen do? –  advice before the wedding day…

You don’t know what you need…until you need it.

When in life have you ever tied a cravat? Chances are, unless you’re either high society or a habitual wedding goer, you haven’t.

ushers fixing buttonholes

Weddings are like this, they will spring multiple new things directly into your face and you either sink or swim. The groom is relying on you to put out fires all day, and, without the bride and groom knowing about it. What, you didn’t know you had a job other than to look fresh? You bet, buster. Getting the groom to the ceremony on time isn’t really a responsibility, he’s a grown man, he could do that on his own. What value are you bringing? How are you going to support your boy on his big day?

Knowing the following tips is going to make the day a breeze. The double win for me is that if you as the groomsmen know who is in the group photographs and who the key players are in the wedding party, then you will make my job, or the job of the wedding photographer that you’re working with, infinitely easier.Your bride and groom will thank you forever.

I’ve photographed over 100 weddings, life as a wedding photographer is fascinating, you get to see all of what goes on behind the scenes. 

Here’s a list of the what I see most often and what you need to know.

Know how to put on a button hole and which side it goes.

Gentlemen, the buttonhole/flower goes on your left side, the same side as the pocket square. Ignore everybody else who thinks they know better, THIS IS THE RIGHT ANSWER.

Pin it to your left lapel.


Anything else is a style choice, but you should definitely know that the left side is where it is supposed to be pinned.

Some jackets have a slit in the lapel. This is a hole for a button. Hence the name, buttonhole. But being a hole for a button, means it isn’t the hole for your flower, so don’t put it in there.

The flowers can be pinned to cover it, but you’ll have to make a judgement on the day based upon the size of the thing.

How do you pin it?

The most stable way to pin a buttonhole flower is from the top down. Insert the pin starting at the back of the lapel, through the front, down the length of the flower and then put the end of the pin back through the lapel so it’s hidden.

How to tie a cravat
If you’ve ever tied a regular neck tie before, then you will find this remarkably easy. The knot is exactly the same, only deliberately tied allowing the material to fold and ruffle as you tie it. Plenty of times i’ve seen gents crowded around a phone watching clips on youtube and ending up with wildly different results.

Top tip – tie the knot the day before, loosen it and pull it over your head so you know it’s done. Next day, put it back over your head, secure, do your hair (or if like me, you have no hair, simply admire your reflection)

Emergency bag
This is considered a standard consideration for bridesmaids to prepare, I also know a lot of photographers who keep an emergency kit in their car just in case. So why not the boys? Even if you consider yourself to be super organised, others in your crew may not be. Put together an emergency kit of useful bits and pieces which I guarantee someone will need..even if it’s just the mints.

  • pain killers
  • water
  • chewing gum/mints
  • sewing kit
  • toothbrush
  • shoe polish
  • iron
  • hair products
  • razor
  • sugary sweets
  • phone charger
  • hip flask for a snifter

Who is in the group photographs
Get a copy of the group photographs and know who is in each picture and at what time the group pictures are happening. If you don’t know who individuals are, find another groomsmen or usher who does. Teamwork is key in making sure this part of the day flows beautifully and that no time is wasted.

The best trick to maximising efficiency when one group is having their picture taken, to round up the next group. Sounds so simple, but is often overlooked.

It often happens that groomsmen will wait until the picture has been taken before trying to gather the next group. This then creates a window of 2-3 minutes of wasted time. The couple are stood waiting unnecessarily.

Of course if everyone is in the same place and paying attention then group pictures becomes easy. However this isn’t always possible. Bad weather for example often means it’s impossible to have group pictures happening in the same location as where the majority of the guests are. Probably because they are at the bar and don’t want to step outside, even if it is undercover. Understandable of course, but the married couple still have requested certain photographs be taken, so it’s our job to deliver.

The timetable for the day
Your job as groomsmen/usher is to take any stress away from the couple. Knowing the agenda will certainly help with this. Guests will appear from nowhere asking what time events are going down, intercept them and make sure that everyone knows where to be and at what time.

Which decorations need moving
It’s not uncommon for flowers to be moved from the church to the reception venue. Make sure you’re in the know of what needs transporting. Make sure your car is clear of junk so delicates can be easily slotted into place.

Are your shirts ironed? Do you need cuff-links?
I’ve included this one because I was guilty of this when an usher for my best friend.

The conversation before the day went something like this: “I have your suit, shirt, tie and shoes all at my house, come over in the morning and we’ll all get ready together”

At no point did it cross my mind to ask if I needed cuff-links – turns out I did.

Secondly, he had opted for cravats which have a different collar to your usual necktie. The shirts which he had hired were folded rather than hung up along with the waistcoat and trousers. Thus, they needed ironing.

We had spent the morning milling about, cooking breakfast and drinking coffee. When it came to get dressed there was a rush as no one had realised we needed to iron the shirts. Cue panic as we all worried that the iron would behave as irons always seem to in these scenarios, and chuck out that horrible brown crap onto a fresh white shirt. Luckily we escaped that fate, don’t take a chance, be in the know.

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