Escort Cards, Place Cards and Seating Charts
I recommend reserved seating at any event whether you are...

I recommend reserved seating at any event whether you are having a seated dinner or not. Here’s why. Who your guests sit with and where they sit leaves a lasting impression and can determine whether or not your guests enjoy themselves. You might assume your guests won’t be sitting at their table much and perhaps they won’t but you don’t want your guests feeling left out, stressed out or bummed out because they are sitting next to complete strangers. The only disadvantages to having a seating chart is the necessity to know the status of each and every one of your guests at least two weeks prior to your wedding date and the lack of flexiblity if an unexpected guest does show up. To this I say it is the responsibility of your guests to respond to your invitation. With that said, you should always have an extra table or extra chairs at specific tables to accomodate unexpected guests or dates of guests. That way if a guests does not respond in the appropriate amount of time or shows up unexpectedly s/he will at least have a place to sit.

In order to create a seating chart you must first finalize the layout of your reception. Once this has been determined you can match families and friends together and even request chairs added or taken from specific tables to accomodate your seating arrangements. After you have decided who will be sitting with whom there are several ways you can go about organizing the process so your guests will know where to go when the reception begins. One way to go about doing this is to create two spreadsheets: one with the guests listed alphabetically and the other with the guests listed by table. I then advise that you have a layout of the reception area with all your tables numbered and labeled with the number of chairs at each table. On one of these pages you should make note of any open tables or chairs for your unexpected guests. At the reception, designate at least two people (or more depending on your guest count) to direct guests to their seats using the spreadsheets and layout. This can be your wedding planner, house party or any volunteers who want to help on your wedding day. You can also put a seating chart board on a pedastal at the entrance to the reception where guests can locate their seats themselves. Whoever you place in charge of your guest book can also direct guests to the board. This is a great option if you are trying to save money and don’t want the added costs of escort and place cards.

Speaking of escort and place cards, many of my brides ask me what the difference is between the two. Escort cards are the cards your guests will need to find as soon as they arrive to the reception. It will have your guests’ name and table name or number on the card. Once they find their escort card they will be able to look for their table number at the reception. Escort cards can be written for couples or individuals…whichever you prefer.

Place cards will be at each place setting on the guest tables. When the guests arrive at their tables, the place card will show them exactly which seat to sit in. If you are trying to save money place cards are not necessary and often escort cards can be used as place cards. In this case guests would arrive at their designated table and place their escort card at the seat of their choice.

Escort cards, place cards and table numbers are a great way to incoporate detail into your wedding design. Here are a few examples.

Escort Cards:

Krisit with Luna and Chloe Weddings used pages of a book to represent the table numbers. She says, “”I like the idea of putting the numbers on clothespins as they are easily clipped on to something so your guests can’t lose.” Though not shown, guests names could be written on the other side or bottom of the clothespins.
These antique keys hold the escort cards at this wedding from Ruffled. The bride says “We collected vintage keys and …tied little tags onto each individual key and wrote all our guests’ names and table numbers on them. A friend lent us a gorgeous antique barn board door which we nailed 120 pegs into to hang the keys. Above the door we placed a hand-painted sign that read “You hold the keys to our heart”.

These cards designed by Morgan Gallo Events are a perfect example of escort cards used also as place cards.

These escort cards by Three were created especially for our Fall Photo Shoot last year. This is just one of the many creative ways you can display escort cards.
These apples act as escort cards and could also be used as place cards once guests find their seats. Courtesy of The Knot.

 Place Cards:
I used bundt cakes to hold the place cards for our Fall Photo Shoot.


Here are a few more traditional place card ideas from The Knot.

Martha Stewart always has great inspiration for place card ideas.

Table Numbers:

As you can see from the following ideas from Style Me Pretty, table numbers can easily be incorporated into the theme of your event.

This is a tile turned table number.

Spelling out the number as opposed to using the actual number is just a simple way to make your table numbers unique!

A teacups and a branch were incoporated into creating the stand for this table number.
Table “numbers” don’t necessarily have to be numbers, nor do they have to be a simple card on a stand. You can be as creative as you want when displaying your table numbers in order to add detail and personality to your guest tables.
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