Escort Cards vs. Place Cards: Do You Need Both for Your Event?

Place card on wedding table

Escort Cards vs. Place Cards: Do You Need Both for Your Event?

You can sit with us! Avoid any seating drama and make your party totally fetch with escort cards or place cards.

But seriously … Who you’re seated next to at a meal is a big deal, and it can make or break your experience at an event. As the host, it’s your job to thoughtfully curate the seating arrangements and direct people where to go when it’s time to sit down and eat. I’m breaking down all the terminology and everything you need to know about escort cards vs. place cards.

What are escort cards?

Escort cards point guests to their assigned table. These cards will usually be displayed at the event’s entrance or somewhere visible in the cocktail hour space. Typically, each couple will share a card, and they will be listed with full first and last names as well as the number of their table. If it’s a formal event, you can even use titles such as Mr. and Mrs. Escort cards should be organized alphabetically by last name — not grouped by table number! It’s much quicker and easier for guests to find their name when it’s alphabetical.

Keep in mind that an escort card doesn’t always need to be a card! It’s fun to get creative and calligraph the names on shells, book spines, keychains or any other trinket that matches your wedding or event theme. Many people choose to go with seating charts that list out all the names and table numbers. You’ve probably seen all the gorgeous mirrors and acrylic charts on Pinterest! These are another great option for conveying the info to guests.

Do I need them for my event?

For a large event, you absolutely need escort cards. If you allow guests to choose their own tables, it won’t work out evenly. You will be left with empty seats and people who don’t know where to go, which can cause confusion and awkwardness. Plus, you don’t want grandma to end up at a table with your crazy college friends.

You can, however, skip escort cards for an intimate dinner party or wedding with only one or two tables. When it’s easy for guests to walk around and find their place card (keep reading for more on that), there’s no need for a seating chart or escort display.

What are place cards?

Place cards are put at each place setting to let guests know exactly which seat is reserved for them. Once they’ve found their designated table from the escort card, the place card will show everyone their position at that table. Typically, place cards for social events are kept more informal with just a first name.

Do I need them for my event?

Maybe! This one is not as straightforward. If you have assigned tables, it’s perfectly fine to let people arrange themselves however they’d like around that table. It gives people a little more freedom and flexibility to seat themselves next to their close friend or family member that they want to chat with.

On the other hand, some people like to put thought into the exact seating arrangements so they can place people next to each other that have something in common or get along well. It can also be another chance to infuse personality into your table setting by putting the names on something decorative like a coaster, leaf or pretty agate stone. Some venues or caterers may also require place cards to indicate entrée choice. For instance, you may see a tiny chicken or vegetable icon next to your name so the server knows which meal you ordered.

For small events or micro weddings where escort cards weren’t necessary, I would still recommend having place cards. Having a total free for all with the seating never ends well in my experience, even when it’s only a handful of guests.

In summary, all events benefit from organized seating so you should choose either place cards or escort cards depending on the guest count and your vision for the event. In many cases, you’ll want to incorporate both!

What questions do you have about event seating arrangements? Ask away in the comments!

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