You’ve booked the venue, hired the photographer, and are getting to the smaller details of your big day. As a Denver-based wedding calligrapher, I can’t help but get excited for you – the details can be one of the best parts of wedding planning!
One of the questions couples ask me the most is how to communicate seating arrangements to guests. You might be wondering: “What’s better – a seating chart? Place cards? Escort cards? Do I need to choose more than one?”
To help you decide what’s best for your wedding day, I’m sharing the advice I give my couples. Read on to learn the pros and cons of seating charts, place cards, and escort cards, and get answers to common questions about seating arrangement signage.
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Option 1: Seating Chart
There’s a good reason teachers assigned us seats in grade school! Not having a clearly labeled seating chart can cause a lot of confusion and lost time. A seating chart is eye-catching and easily allows for guests to figure out where they’re sitting.
Pros of Wedding Seating Charts
- Eliminate the need for place cards and escort cards.
- Easily communicate to guests where they should be sitting.
- Create a show-stopping statement piece for your reception (guests LOVE taking mirror selfies if you go that route!)
- Seating charts only list the table number, not the seat at the table. So, if you’re not super picky about who sits next to who at their table, you can simply assign tables through the seating chart and cross “choose individual seats for guests” off your to-do list. It’s a win-win!
Cons of Wedding Seating Charts:
- They only indicate assigned tables, not specific seat assignments – so if Great Aunt Bertie doesn’t get along with cousin Eddie, they may end up sitting right next to each other.
- Last minute cancellations can’t easily be removed from the chart once it’s complete.
- If you have a large guest list, seating charts can become overly cluttered if your layout isn’t on point or your surface is too small – here’s where hiring a wedding calligrapher can be extra helpful! I partner with my clients to recommend a seating chart size and create custom designs and layouts to ensure the chart is beautiful and easy to read.
Option 2: Place Cards
As the name suggests, place cards are “placed” at each individual’s seat. Place cards add an effortless touch of elegance to any tablescape, signal to the waitstaff what each guest’s meal preferences are, and (depending on the material you choose) can also double as amazing wedding favors.
Pros of Place Cards
- Place cards don’t have to be paper. If you’re looking for unique wedding ideas, consider using agate, fruit, shot glasses, or something personalized instead! The sky's the limit!
- If you choose a unique material, you can use place cards as customized wedding favors instead of buying another item.
- They give you the opportunity to silently communicate guests’ meal preferences to waitstaff. Think about using different colors, designs, or materials to indicate beef, chicken, or vegetarian.
- You can assign each person’s actual seat instead of just a table, giving you even more control over the seating arrangements.
Cons of Place Cards
- Place cards should be placed at each seat, meaning you’ll need to plan everyone’s table and specific seat. This means extra planning, which can be stressful depending on the couple.
- Place cards are set at each seat and don’t have table numbers. Without a seating chart, guests will need to visit every table to find their seat, which can be an issue at larger weddings.
Option 3: Escort Cards
Escort cards are usually placed at the entrance to the reception or dinner area. Like placecards, they show the guest’s name, but they also include the guests’ assigned table. Think of escort cards as a blend of place cards and a seating chart!
Pros of Escort Cards
- Escort cards are a budget-friendly way to add personalization without needing to pay for both place cards and a seating chart.
- You won’t need to assign specific seats at each table, which could be a stress-reliever for busy couples!
- Escort cards, like placecards, can be written on multiple surfaces to showcase your unique flair.
- You can create a unique, interactive display, like:
- A drink wall with a complimentary beverage and escort card
- A mini garden with potted plants for each guest
- A hanging installation using ribbons and paper
- A fruit display with tags for each guest
- Last minute cancellations can easily be removed.
Cons of Escort Cards
- Guests are responsible for taking their card to their table. If they don’t make it there, it can be harder to rely on them for indicating meal preferences.
- As with the seating chart option, you won’t have the power to assign specific seats.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Seating Charts & Place Cards
I don’t want to choose seats for every guest. What should I do?
Go with an escort card or seating chart option, since you’ll only have to indicate assigned tables!
Do I need a seating chart and place cards?
Technically, no. But if you’re asking for my real opinion, the answer is, “it depends.”
If your heart is set on place cards (not escort cards), I recommend combining place cards with a seating chart as this ensures guests can easily find their seats. Without a seating chart, guests will need to search for their seat at every table, which can be disruptive if you have a large wedding.
Do you have ideas for a unique escort card display or place cards?
Some of my favorites are listed in the “escort card” section above. If you’re looking for more inspiration, consider using out-of-the-box materials for place cards or escort cards like:
- Agate slices
- Quartz or rock
- Geometric tiles
- Personalized dessert boxes
- Engraved shot glasses or mini glass bottles
When it comes to place cards or escort cards, there are so many options, and I love partnering with my couples to come up with something that fits them. If you’re looking to add a unique touch to your wedding, reach out and let’s brainstorm to create something as charming, elegant, or whimsical as you.
When should I order place cards, escort cards, or seating charts?
Seating signage and cards are usually written within 2 weeks of the wedding to ensure your guest list is as accurate as possible. Just like any wedding vendor, you should book your calligrapher well in advance of the big day. A good rule of thumb is to book your calligrapher at least 3-4 months before the wedding. If signage is important to you, consider researching early in the wedding process.
Seating charts, place cards, and escort cards are a necessary part of wedding planning – but they’re also an amazing opportunity to add those unforgettable details that all your guests will talk about for years to come. Hiring a professional wedding calligrapher ensures every detail is perfect, without the stress of DIY-ing it. Ready to give yourself some peace of mind and make your vision a reality? Contact me to discuss all your wedding day details!