Details Debate: Place Cards vs. Escort Cards

As we start to talk details with our design clients, we always get excited at the endless possibilities of ways to escort your guests to their seats. Will you use custom place cards, a signature cocktail escort “card” or an escort board backdrop or installation?

While these possibilities make our brains do the happy dance as wedding planners and designers, it never fails to be a point of confusion and a teensy bit of stress for our couples. Don’t throw in the towel and opt for open seating just yet! We’re here to offer our advice  to make this process as smooth as possible. Our job is to help you further avoid the overwhelm in the months leading up to your wedding. With this simple quiz you will know whether you need place cards, escort cards or escort boards! Think throwback to the Cosmo magazine quiz days, but faster and a lot less sexy 😉 Let’s get started:

  1. My guests will take their seats:
    A.) At an assigned table, but any seat they choose
    B.) At an assigned table AND an assigned seat at that table
  2. My guests will be eating:
    A.) The same meal (plated, buffet, food truck or family style)
    B.) Separate meal choices (chicken, steak, fish, vegetarian, etc.)
  3. If you answered “B” to the last question, please answer this (note: you may need to inquire with your caterer or venue before answering):
    A.) My caterer or venue requires me to indicate meal choices on each guest’s place card in front of them and let them know of any special dietary restrictions
    B.) My caterer or venue requires me to provide an excel sheet with meal choices and dietary restrictions of each guest at each table (not just total meal choices)

Place Cards vs. Escort Cards Results:

If you answered all A’s to questions 1 & 2:

You want guests to have the freedom to choose their own seats, while keeping it simple with the same meal for everyone. Your options include a simple Escort Board at cocktail hour like a large sign or frame listing out the names at each table. Get creative here, the options are fun and endless!
Provide your caterer with: The total number of guests and vendor meals
*Note: if you have any dietary restrictions (gluten, dairy, vegetarian etc.) you will let your caterer know in advance where those guests will be seated.

If you answered A then B to questions 1 & 2:

You want guests to have the freedom to choose their seats, but also have a thoughtful memento with their name to help each guest claim their seat. You will need to have an escort “card” that each guest will take from cocktail hour to their seat at the reception. The escort card will have their name and table number. This is another opportunity to get super creative and think beyond a traditional card or frame – one of our favorite parts as designers is coming up with awesome ideas that reflect you as a couple! Read the results for question number 3 to find out how to indicate guest meal choices.

If you answered B then A to questions 1 & 2:

You want guests to feel special with a custom name card at a specific seat. You will need an Escort Board telling guests which table to go to and then they will find their place “card” names at their intended seat. Since each guest is having the same meal, you will keep it simple and not need to worry about indicating meal options at each place setting.
Provide your caterer with: The total number of guests and vendor meals
*Note: if you have any dietary restrictions (gluten, dairy, vegetarian etc.) you will let your caterer know in advance where those guests will be seated.

If you answered all B’s to questions 1 & 2:

You want guests to feel supremely thought about. Each guest has a carefully placed name card at a specific seat at a specific table with their own chosen meal. You will need to have some sort of Escort Board telling guests which table to go to and then they will find their place “card” names at their intended seat. Read the results for question number 3 to find out how to indicate guest meal choices.

If you answered question number 3:
  • By answering ‘A’, this means your caterer will need you to indicate meal choices on each guest’s place card through a color system, icon system or something that differentiates each meal type clearly. Make sure to provide a “Key” for the caterer so that their staff will know each guest’s meal. You will need to provide them with the total count or number of each meal choice and each meal choice total counts by table.
  • By answering ‘B’, this means your caterer does not require you to indicate any meal choice on the guests’ place cards, but rather through an excel sheet. Also, be sure to include the total count or number of each meal choice. Organize your seating options on an Excel into two sheets by Table Number and by Alphabetical Order by last name and make column for meal choices.

Extra Advice!

If you’re providing escort cards to be displayed at cocktail hour, be sure to organize them alphabetically by last name. It saves a lot of time and is the easiest way for guests to find their “card.”

Think beyond cards! Implement design! Incorporate your interests as a couple, your jobs, the way you met and make your wedding uniquely personal.

If you are looking for custom calligraphy make sure you secure your calligrapher at least three months in advance. They will need the final information at least two weeks prior to the wedding. Be prepared to provide the calligrapher with guest names, table numbers, meal choices (if applicable) and any materials if you are providing them.

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