With the seemingly unending stationary options available for weddings, what each item is intended to be used for is sometimes confusing. One of the most frequent questions we here at HJ receive concerns the difference between escort cards and place cards.
Escort cards tell your guests which table is theirs.
Place cards tell your guests what seat is theirs at the table.
Since you are busy on your wedding day, escort and place cards act as a paper-form of a hostess:
Escort cards “escort” your guests to the table; place cards hold out the chair for them.
Although almost all seated receptions use escort cards, today’s trend is to forgo place cards. Most couples feel it unnecessary to dictate each guest’s specific seat, finding it enough to merely direct guests to their table. Not only does this cut down on immense amounts of organization (and, therefore, stress), but it is also an easy and unnoticeable way to keep the stationary budget in check.
Escort cards are often displayed on a table outside the reception room, usually in the cocktail hour space. This allows guests to pick up their card before entering the dining area, making the transition from cocktail hour to dinner faster and smoother because guests know where they are headed.
Another idea is to create an escort card “map”. This map is an alphabetical list telling each guest of their assigned table.
When seated, most guests instinctively place their escort card above their plate – turning their escort card into a place card. This not only helps each guest identify each other, but also helps servers know which meal each guest receives. By using different color ink, decoration or otherwise marking the front of an escort card, you silently inform the wait staff of who receives chicken, fish or beef.
Escort card tables should be obvious, meaning that they should be something your guests see when they first enter the cocktail hour – a hidden table counteracts the cards’ purpose – but it should also be eye-appealing. The table is a great way to tie in your wedding’s theme or color scheme, and any décor you use on it can be later appropriated to the favor table.
Here are a few escort card tables we love: