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Ushers are common fixtures at weddings, movie theaters, live theater, the opera, and stadiums and sporting events. They are usually responsible for overseeing guest seating and addressing any seating or security issues that arise. For each location, usher duties are generally the same.
Ushers are required to escort guests and patrons to their seats. At weddings, ushers must escort guests of honor, such as parents of the bride and groom, to seats at the front. In the past, ushers were responsible for making sure that the groom's guests sat on the right and the bride's on the left, but in recent years usher seating duties at weddings have focused on making sure the seating is balanced. In other settings, ushers help guests locate their seats in an auditorium, theater, or stadium. They decide whether seats can be changed and arbitrate disputes over tickets and corresponding seats.
Ushers are responsible for enforcing any policies regarding guest behavior, particularly during the ceremony or event. These policies typically refer to any disruptive behavior or activity; for example, ushers remind guests and patrons to turn off cell phones and beepers at weddings and performances. At sporting events or events where it's not necessary to be quiet, ushers escort out unruly or intoxicated patrons. If a situation escalates to the point of danger, it is the usher's duty to notify the head usher and contact the police. At a wedding, an usher typically reports directly to the best man. In some venues, ushers also help coordinate and organize guest parking.
Ushers are expected to dress neatly and present a professional "face" to each guest. They must remain calm under all circumstances and treat guests with respect in all situations. If guests are in the wrong seats, ushers must politely ask them to move. Ushers also frequently pass out programs or information about the event or performance and answer guests' questions about performance/event times, intermission, concessions, restroom locations and venue policies. If there are elderly or disabled guests, ushers are responsible for ensuring their safe passage from the door to their seats and providing assistance if needed. If guests request help looking for lost items, ushers are expected to provide it.
Ushers may be asked to perform virtually any task to help the event or ceremony run more smoothly. Sometimes ushers double as ticket-takers or as security guards, keeping control of unruly patrons until law enforcement officials arrive. In case of emergency, ushers must keep exit doors unlocked and unobstructed.