Guest Seating 101 - Everything you need to know
The Difference Between Escort and Place Cards

Are Seating Assignments Even Necessary?

Perhaps you think you can skip on seating assignments 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 escort cards, table numbers and/or place cards - 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 survey by YouGov, 84% of wedding guests prefer their host to assign them a seat or a table. Escort and place 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 of place cards, table cards and escort cards and sometimes are used interchangeably - but in fact, there are differences among the three. If your having designated seating, you'll need at least 2 of the 3 types.

What Are Escort Cards?

  • Let each guest know which table they are seated at.
  • Commonly found on a table near the entrance to the reception.
  • Can be tucked into envelopes or use folded tent cards.
  • An alternative is a seating chart
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.

How To Address Escort Cards

  • Display your guests' names in alphabetical order so it makes them easier to find.
  • Write them the same way as the formal invitation envelope. (Mr. and Mrs. Smith)
  • 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 separate cards.

What Are Table Cards?

  • A card which is prominently displayed on the table and identifies the table, usually with a number.
  • Should be large enough so guests can easily locate their table
  • An alternative to numbers is naming tables. You could name them after favorite flowers, places, love songs, or anything that is meaningful to you.
  • You can display numbers in frames, use holders, attach them to wine bottles, or use self standing numbers.

What Are Place Cards?

  • A place card is put at their specific seat to show them where to sit at the table
  • If you are only assigning tables and not seats, this item is not necessary
  • Write the guest's name on both sides of the card so everyone knows who their tablemates are.
  • It can plain such as a white or ecru card, or something festive inserted into a decorative holder or frame.

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.
  • Informally, 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.

How to Seat Guests At Reception Tables

  • Couples that come together are seated together
  • Guests alternate male / female seating.
  • At a round table, the best seat is that which is facing the honored guest(s) - so face your most important guests forward
Escort cards, table cards and place cards all serve a necessary function. They help your guests find their seats! For wedding couples on a budget, they are not 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 or may not 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 souvenir.
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