Ever wondered what the difference is between place cards and escort cards? Do you feel like these cards are silly, or even confusing? In the following post I’ll try to explain the basics of place card and escort card etiquette and why they may be important on your wedding day.

So does a Place card differ from an Escort card? Aren’t they the same thing? Yes and no. Place cards are typically pre-set at each reception table and used in conjunction with table numbers and a seating chart to help guests find their seat. Escort cards on the other hand, sit outside the reception in neat little rows where guests can pick them up to be “escorted” to their tables.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t really understand the point of seating cards when I first began planning my wedding. I wondered why anyone would WANT to tell their guests where they HAD to sit. I definitely did not want to seem like a bridezilla with micromanagement problems!

After reading a bit more about wedding planning however, I gained a healthy respect for these little cards. They have an important job to do!

Floral Calligraphy Style Place Cards

Floral Calligraphy Style Place Cards for Weddings

The real point of paper goods, including seating cards, dawned on me when I read this Project Wedding article about wedding guest complaints.  The #1 complaint of wedding guests? Not knowing where to go. Escort cards can be one small way you can ensure you’ve guided each and every guest to a group of friends with whom they can enjoy the evening. Plus, they won’t have to wander around awkwardly to find a table.

Be welcoming. Even if you had a long receiving line at the end of your ceremony,   chances are you didn’t get to welcome/greet each guest individually. Having place cards lets your guests know your glad they are here, and you were sure to save a place for them.

Help everyone feel comfortable. It may seem like a lot of hassle but its well worth the effort to thoughtfully group guests by table. In particular, guests who don’t know anyone else in attendance will be more at ease if you can seat them with a group of people who are of a common age group or share a common interest. (Pssst… here’s your chance to separate any potential clashes of personality/political opinion too!)

Keep things on track. If your having a plated dinner with several meal choices, place cards can be a simple way to ensure the catering staff gets everyone’s orders perfect. By adding a small symbol or letter on the corner of each place card the catering staff will know right away that your strictly vegan Aunt Martha wants Eggplant Parmesan not Filet Mignon. This can also be a good way to discreetly warn the staff which guests may be allergic to certian ingredients like peanuts or shellfish.

Place cards can help your caterer ensure everyone receives what they ordered.

Place cards can help your caterer ensure everyone receives what they ordered.


Q: I’m on a budget and I’m trying to save a few bucks. Is it ok to group families or couples together on the same card?

A: Its perfectly fine to group couples together. ie: Mr. & Mrs Smith. However, children should always be listed separately. ie: Miss Mary Winslow. Keep in mind that grouping couples who don’t share the same last name, or grouping entire families onto one card might look crammed and less aesthetically pleasing. Also, grouping couples/families onto one card can quickly defeat the convenience for the catering staff if your identifying meal choices on the cards.


Q: Several friends have indicated they’ll be bringing their girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other to the wedding but I don’t know the name of their guest. What do I do?

A: First, whenever possible try to find the names of all guests in attendance. (See above under: Be welcoming.) It can’t hurt to give your friend a quick call/text/Facebook message to inquire the name of their guest. If this is not possible, or your friend hasn’t decided who they’re bringing yet (not too uncommon!) It would be perfectly acceptable to write the place card in this way:  Mr. Wayne Madden & Guest.


Q: Do I HAVE to use place cards?

A: If your having a small/intimate and/or casual wedding where almost everyone knows each-other and the caterer doesn’t need help identifying meal choices then you can skip the whole shebang! Put up one of these cute signs instead: