I am often asked, “What is the difference between place cards and escort cards?” I understand why! It can be very confusing.
As you enter into the final months of planning, you’ll have several major layout decisions to make. One of them is the table layout for your reception, and how you will display escort cards and/or place cards. Not only can these little cards be beautifully designed to match your decor, but they’re also extremely practical to have. As my couples begin to design their seating charts, they usually ask me whether they should have escort cards or place settings. After all, most people assume that they are the same thing! While the two do have similar functions at a wedding, there are some key differences between them.
So, what are the differences between place cards and escort cards?
These cards are typically placed near the entrance to your reception since they indicate guests’ designated tables (thus, “escorting” them there). The purpose of these cards is simple: they inform guests where they are seated. Alternatively, you could create a seating chart. This is simply an organized list of the table numbers with assigned guests’ names underneath.
To sum up, escort cards have two things listed on them:
The name of your guest
The number of the table they will be sitting at
TIP: Make it easy for your guests to locate their assigned table by placing the escort cards in alphabetical order by last name. Don’t group them by table number! This will make it nearly impossible for people to find their names, which creates a long line.
These cards feature each guest’s name and are placed at the seat you have assigned for that guest. Selecting an exact seat for each guest is an optional approach, and is often reserved for more formal weddings, or sit-down dinners. Certain venues require place cards for sit-down meals so that each card can designate each guest’s meal. Be sure to ask your venue or caterer if they require place cards.
If you are having a more relaxed affair, you can stick to just escort cards without worrying about place cards.
In short, place cards have just one thing listed on them: the name of your guest (and, if required, their meal selection).
Couples often ask me if they should assign seats at their reception and have escort cards, and I always say yes! Having a seating chart with assigned tables indicated can be very helpful for guests. If you do not have any form of seating chart or escort cards, guests will tend to seat themselves unevenly, or may even ask you where they should sit. This also makes the transition from cocktail hour to reception take much longer since guests have to figure out where to sit. It can take over 30 minutes for everyone to find a seat!
Accordingly, it is much better to give your guests guidance. While you do not have to assign specific seats at each table, it is best to at least assign each guest a table number.
TIP: Make sure that your seating chart or escort card table is on display during cocktail hour. This way, guests have time to note where they are sitting before the beginning of the reception. This eliminates long lines and bottlenecking!
At Turnage and Watts, we create gorgeous custom and semi-custom artwork to satisfy your wedding paper needs—including place cards and escort cards! We would love to tell you more about what we do and walk you through the planning process. Just send us a message!