Wedding Etiquette for the Best Man, Groomsmen, and UshersWritten by Jean Bachcroft
Undoubtedly, groom will want to choose a few good men—often his brothers, college buddies, and best friends—to carry out all of responsibilities traditionally assigned to 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 lowdown.
A Friend in Deed
Let’s start with 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 wedding goes off without a hitch. When groom feels stressed, he is ready with encouragement and a good sense of humor.
Traditionally, it is best man who is in charge of organizing bachelor party and making all travel arrangements for bride and groom. He makes sure groom and other groomsmen get fitted for and pick up their formalwear. He is also expected to supervise other groomsmen and ushers, serve as an official witness to vows, safeguards ring and marriage license just before wedding, and pay clergyman’s fee (which groom quietly slips to him before ceremony).
After ceremony, he makes sure wedding party lines up properly for "wedding parade" through town, if one is planned. At reception, he serves as master of ceremonies, proposes first toast, and remains on hand to ensure that all subsequent speeches are both short and sweet. His final duty is to return all rented tuxes.
INCIDENTAL—In case it should happen that several notable people would like to offer a toast, here is order of 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, other groomsmen or ushers are also important members of wedding party. The are, in effect, couples hospitality committee. Although groomsmen often do double-duty—serving as ushers before and after 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 ushers who seat guests, and it is they who make first impression on guests as they arrive.
Ushers greet guests and escort them on proper side of church. As tradition would have it, when a female guest arrives (whether she is alone or not), one of 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 more modern sentiment which suggests that this approach is incompatible with whole concept of marriage and that husband should not be relegated to trailing behind this temporary pair.)
Wedding Receiving Line Etiquette—Greeting Your Guests with StyleWritten by Jean Bachcroft
Even though it’s a great tradition with a long history, some couples choose not to greet their guests in a receiving line fearing that this might take too long. Frank Gregoli, a top New York party planner says realistically, one should allow 30 minutes for every 100 people in line. If this time allotment fits within your plans and you’d like to be certain that you personally welcome and thank each of your guests, read on.
Being familiar with basics of what a receiving line is all about will immediately help you to feel comfortable with this elegant formality.
Exactly when and where receiving line is formed is really based upon your particular situation. In general, people like to form their line either in vestibule right after ceremony or at entrance to reception area.
With exception of groom, this is really a lady’s affair. Here’s lineup: first in line is bride’s mother, followed by bride, groom and, next to him, his mother.
Dads, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and children in wedding party generally are not a part of receiving line. If for some reason you choose to include any of these people, keep in mind that every person you add will cause line to proceed slower.
Short and Sweet
Once everyone is in position, rule should be to keep greetings brief yet warm and sincere. This will avoid a bottleneck. If there is time before your wedding day, review your list of guests with groom and parents. A little homework never hurts.
Since your mother and you are first in line, it’s expected that relatives and friends of his side of family will introduce themselves to each of you. As your relatives and friends proceed, you should introduce them to groom and his mother.