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Table Seating 101: The Basics of Escort Cards, Place Cards, & Seating Charts

After scrolling through countless wedding Pinterest boards and inspiration sites, you’ve probably come across several images of place cards and escort cards written in lovely script on gorgeous paper or glass bottles or even tied around flower bouquets. Maybe you’ve also seen the countless images of beautiful seating charts, and started to get confused about which options you need and what role they serve. Do you need a seating chart and place cards? What is an escort card anyways? Never fear, we are here to clear up the seating situation for you and answer your questions. Here are the basics: 

Escort Cards:

A traditional escort card table { Via }

A traditional escort card table {Via}

Escort Cards are small cards that will have the guest’s name and table number on them. These will be found at the entrance to the reception, most likely on a table. Recently people have gotten very creative with escort cards, as sometimes they aren’t cards at all – but fruit, succulents, or even drinks with the guest’s name and table number printed or tied on to the object. Escort cards are nice because they allow the guest to find their table while also receiving a fun little trinket or beautiful piece of stationary with their name on it. However, if you have a large guest list at your wedding, escort cards can make things trickier during the table seating process. With every guest swarming the same table, all looking for their name on a small card or object, things can get a bit chaotic. If you have a small guest list, you should consider using escort cards. 

Place Cards:

Place cards indicate exactly where your guests will be sitting at the table { Via }

Place cards indicate exactly where your guests will be sitting at the table {Via}

These are traditionally cards with the guest’s name on them that are placed in the actual spot on the table for where that person is supposed to go. Like escort cards, these aren’t mandatory, and they can be presented in countless ways. If you do have a large wedding and want assigned seating, place cards are definitely a necessity. They keep things moving and organized, as guests don’t have to spend time figuring out where they should sit. If you are having a sit down dinner sans buffet, they will also help the serving staff remember which meal belongs to which guest. 

Seating Chart: 

Seating charts lay out the seating arrangement for everyone to see { Via }

Seating charts lay out the seating arrangement for everyone to see {Via}

The seating chart is basically a map that describes which guests are sitting at which table, all on one large chart or diagram. Like escort and place cards, you can get very creative with how you want to design your seating chart. A windowpane, wooden screen, chalkboard – the options really are endless. Seating charts are great if you have a large wedding, because it is a bigger medium on which guests can locate their name and table. If you have a seating chart, you can definitely forgo the escort card.

Things to keep in mind: 

-Plan for more people: It’s always a good idea to have a few extra chairs and table for backup. People forget to RSVP, show up with a date, bring their children – and you want to be able to seat them!

-Think about your theme: a linen table cloth full of escort cards written in calligraphy might be best for your ballroom reception, while paper tags hanging on a clothespin might be perfect for your rustic outdoor fete.

-Consider your size: this is really key. In general, the more people you have, the more structure you need in seating everyone. Choosing to use both escort cards and place cards can be very smart if you are planning a large wedding

-Ask your wedding planner: So important! They will have tons of creative ideas on how to showcase your seating arrangements cards, and which seating option is the best for your specific wedding


Check back at the blog next Monday to see tons of escort card, place card, and seating chart inspiration!