As an event planner for The Historic Wakefield Barn, one of the subjects that I’m asked about time and time again is place cards, seating charts, and escort cards – where, what, and when? Today, we are going to break it down for you!
What Is the Difference Between a Seating Chart and Escort Cards?
Seating charts and escort cards are used to achieve the same purpose but are a little different. A seating chart is a board, frame, mirror (the possibilities are endless) that list the guest’s names and table numbers. People set this up either by table number or alphabetically.
Escort cards have guest’s names written on them with their table number. They’re typically set out in alphabetical order for guests to grab before making their way to their seats at the reception.
What’s fun about seating charts and escort cards is you can be super unique with these. In the past, I’ve had clients use gold animal figurines as the escort card with a table number attached. Guests were told to grab their “Party Animals” before taking their seats.
When it comes to the seating chart, you can let your creativity fly with something that you build or you can use a pre-made template from Etsy.
When Do I Use a Seating Chart or Escort Cards?
Unless you’re doing a cocktail style reception with open seating, you’ll need either one or the other to let guests know what table they’ll be sitting at. When you use escort cards or a seating chart, you do not need to place guests at specific seats at the table.
I always recommend to clients to have assigned tables, at the least. It leaves less room for error, drama, and last minute changes.
What Are Place Cards and When Do I Need Those?
Place cards are placed at the table. Guests will find out which seat they’re sitting at (thanks to your seating chart or escort card). Since place cards are already at the table, there is no need for them to have the table number on them. The place cards should have the guests name and the guest’s meal choice if you’ll be doing a plated dinner. If you’re doing place cards, you will be doing them in addition to either the seating chart or the escort cards.
Something to keep in mind when making note of the guest’s meal choice is that you want either the symbol or color choice to be different enough that servers are able to see them in a dimly lit room at dinner. The integrity of those cards allows the catering team to execute your service perfectly!
Some of our favorite vendors to help you with these, local to the Raleigh area, are Cask Design and Filled and Flooded Handlettering. If you’re looking for online vendors, Minted is always a popular choice as well.
If you have any other questions about place cards, escort cards, or anything else weddings and events, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.