The Diary of a Wedding Usher
20 Oct 2011
The Diary of a Wedding Usher
The unsung heroes of the wedding day... the ushers
An usher’s work is never done. That is how the saying goes isn’t it?
Weddings these days are the culmination of months, if not years, of hard work, planning and several painful arguments between bride and groom factions.
But as the big day approaches it is the unsung heroes of the wedding scene that kick into action.
The “usher”, deriving from the Latin word for “slave” or so my sister presumed, has the important task of making sure that everything on the day runs smoothly with no hiccups.
As brother to the bride my day started well before most of the wedding party had awoken.
Sneaking flower arrangements into the back of a church while a mass is in full swing and while I was in Bermuda shorts, is not my proudest moment.
My guide for the day was a laminated piece of pink card filled with times, places and instructions.
Despite a week of studying its contents I was already running late.
Arriving back at the family home to see the bridesmaids having their hair and make-up done in pyjamas should have been a pleasant experience, however I was overdue at the next destination.
Just the smell of the smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast had to suffice as my morning nourishment. And there was no time to stop and taste the Champaign that everyone was sipping at leisure.
The doorbell goes. “Joe can you get that?” With just my over starched shirt and a pair of socks on I answered the door to a shocked photographer.
All in one movement the snapper was directed to the kitchen, and I began to assemble the ever so slightly too big morning suit that had been hired for me.
The final component of which was the cravat. How on earth do you do those things? A quick check on Youtube rendered a few answers but none that I could accurately re-create in the mirror.
Father of the bride was nowhere to be seen and the women were useless, so it was off to the neighbour’s house to find the nearest man to help me figure out the complexities of this over sized tie.
Outfit complete, it was off to the groom’s house in my old Vauxhall Astra with fingers crossed all the way. The old girl didn’t let me down and I arrived to blind panic as the groom’s two brothers, also ushers, fiddled about trying to find various pieces of their own morning suits.
Without pausing for breath, the car packed with ushers was zooming down the dual carriage way to the church for the second time of the day. It was like a scene from some Hugh Grant film as a record five smartly dressed people clambered out of the two door banger.
At the church, everything had been sorted, the flowers were all out and presented nicely, all that was left for me to do was, meet, greet and seat. Or so I thought.
Phone calls of desperate guests began to rain in as it became clear that the church’s postcode was sending Sat Nav systems way off the mark.
This was not too much of a problem until the groom’s grandparents became lost in the middle of a housing estate. A 30 minute conference call using various trees, supermarket landmarks and road descriptions ensued.
It was around this time that the wedding cars arrived. They were huge American style Cadillac’s filled with the bride, the father of the bride and the bridesmaids.
This was my biggest decision of the day and I went with my gut feeling, but I will never forget the look my sister gave me when I told the driver to go round the block again.
It is only now that I realise that I forgot to mention at the time that the delay was not because the groom hadn’t turned up!
It was a good call and the ceremony went ahead as planned. I got in a bit of a breather and relaxed for a while. The “I Dos” were completed in record time and it was once more into the fray for me.
The reception venue and the church were roughly six miles away from each other.
A simple enough task to complete, you would think.
However, the groom’s family were not from the area and would have to navigate their way through windy country roads using a small handout map and a couple of aptly placed wedding signs.
In total I made the trip three times in half an hour with the mighty Astra acting as both a taxi and a shepherd leading and ferrying the flock to the grazing grounds.
On arrival I had time to down a quick Pimms and lemonade, before gathering various groups on the lawn of the rented country house in time for pictures.
The photographer asked me to carry a bench over to the photo area, just in case he wanted to use it for a different type of shot. He didn’t use it, and I had to carry it back.
Just like Steve Martin in the Father of the Bride film, it was time to undo my top button. “Do your button back up!” said Mum. I did it back up.
Finally, the pictures were complete and I put away another Pimms before my final job of the day, getting everybody seated for dinner.
There was not too much hassle involved with this as the table chart did most of the work.
An excellent meal followed where I chit-chatted around various tables to make sure all guests were well fed and well watered having eaten only a bread role myself.
And then it was time to take a seat in the beautifully decorated marquee.
One of my jobs the previous day had been to climb a 30ft ladder and pin a host of brightly coloured lanterns to the canvas ceiling. Risking my life, or at least a couple of broken limbs, I had managed to attach 40 of the said lanterns to my sister’s liking.
The pressure was finally off and so was the jacket as the speeches finally arrived.
With sweaty palms and expectation in my mind, there I am thinking that all the thanks will be for me. Surely at least one of the presents on the top table would be heading my way.
That was until my new brother-in-law uttered that fatal sentence… “And a big thank you to all the Ushers.”
What? That was it? Not even a name check? No gift?
Maybe I was being selfish to think a lowly usher like myself deserved a mention. Maybe I was supposed to be the strong, silent type and just be happy for the bride and groom.
Maybe it was an unwritten rule that I just got on with my jobs without complaint.
Well, either way, the newly married couple paid dearly for their “mistake” as I wandered over towards the free bar.