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Are Seating Assignments Necessary?
Escort Cards, Table Cards, Place Cards - What the difference is and why you should use them at your wedding or event.

Perhaps you think you can skip on place card or table seating cards for your wedding or event. After all, your guests can choose where they would like to sit, and with whom they would like to sit with. However, most guests look for place cards or seating arrangements - they want to know where to sit. Not using place cards, table cards or escort cards can put undue pressure on your guests, especially those guests who may not know other guests. In fact in a February 2006 survey by YouGov, shows that 84% of wedding guests perfer their host to assign them a seat or a table. Seating arrangements cards make your guests feel like you took the time to consider where they would be seated. Far from being pushy, they are downright polite!

Now you may have heard several terms when speaking of seating arrangements. Place cards, table cards and escort cards often are used interchangeably, but in fact, there are differences among the three. If your having designated seating, you'll need all three types.

Escort Cards: Let each guest know which table they are assigned to. These are commonly found on a table near the entrace of your reception room. Often these cards are tucked into a small envelope with your guests' name written on the outside. Tent cards can also be used for this. Another alternative is a seating chart which often is framed and displayed outside the reception area.

Whether you prefer escort cards or a seating chart is a matter of personal preference. Escort cards can be changed up to the last minute, whereas a seating chart may need to be printed days or weeks in advance.

Escort or seating charts usually display the guests' names in alphabetical order. The most formal way to write your escort or seating arrangements is: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. This is the same as how the guests were addressed on the formal invitation envelope. The informal alternative is simply Mary and John Smith. If a husband and wife have different names, the wife's name usually gets listed first. If someone brings a guest, you can list both names on one card, or use two seperate cards. If you choose one card for both names, the woman's name usually gets listed first, though many people will put the invited guest's name first, even if it is a man.

Table Cards: A table card is just that, a card which is prominently displayed on the table and identifies the table, usually with a number. An alternative to numbers is naming tables. You could name them after favorite flowers, places, love songs, or anything that is meaningful to you.

Place Cards: A place card is put at his specific seat; write the guest's name on both sides of the card so everyone knows who their tablemates are. It can be formal such as a white or ecru card, or something festive and informal such as a place card inserted into a decorative holder.

How to write your guests' names on place cards: Formally, the name is written: Mr. Smith, if there are two Mr. Smiths at the table than the first name is used, i.e. Mr. John Smith. In an informal approach you can use either John Smith or simply, John. The last name would be required if there are more than one of that name at the table.

Some popular choices to seat guests at tables are:

* Couples that come together are seated together
* Couples that come together are seated at the same table but not next to each other. In this case guests alternate male / female seating.
* At a round table, the best seat is that which is facing the honored guest(s)

Escort cards, table cards and place cards all serve a necessary function. They help your guests find their seats and they take pressure off of guests who may not know each other. For wedding couples on a budget, these needed wedding accessories are not necessarily expensive, escort cards can range from just a few cents each to several dollars depending on how elaborate you wish them to be. Table cards and stands may be provided by your reception hall, and place cards can be used for the most formal affairs. Additionally, if your looking for multipurpose wedding favors, there are numerous decorative and themed place card holders and place card frames which can serve a duel purpose: displaying escort or place cards, while guests can take them home as a souvineir.

2006 Erica Tevis, Little Things Favors

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