We gave you some tips on table assignments and how to do floor plans for your wedding. Now we need to help your guests find their tables. But before we dive into escort cards, let’s clear up some misinformation.
What is the difference between escort cards and place cards? I see this topic discussed everywhere but it bears repeating because I continue to see the two terms used interchangeably even though they have different definitions. Escort cards, in any form, are usually located in an area preceding the dining area. The cards usually look like the Photo #1 below. The card directs, hence escorts, the guests to their assigned table. Instead of escort cards, the other alternative is a seating chart (Photo #2). Once at their designated table, guests can sit in any seat they like, unless they see a place card. A place card (See Photo #3) would indicate a specifically assigned seat for each guest at each table.
Photo #1 – Escort Cards arranged alphabetically by last name. Photo Credit: Rodney Bailey.
Photo #2 – A Seating Chart displaying table assignments. Photo Credit: Documentary Associates.
Photo #3: A menu card doing double duty as a place card with the guest name on top. Photo Credit: Mary Kate McKenna Photography.
When do you need an escort card? You need to use escort cards whenever you are pre-assigning guests to specific tables.
Tips for Designing Escort Cards
- ALPHABETIZE. ALPHABETIZE. ALPHABETIZE. The proper etiquette is to arrange your guests names alphabetically by last name. Do not organize by table numbers. Imagine trying to quickly locate your own name among a guest list of 200 if it is not listed alphabetically. The only exception I can see is if you have fewer than 50 guests, then you can sort by table when using a seating chart like in Photo #4.
- Locate your escort card or seating chart display in a central location where everyone will see it. Have the escort cards or seating chart available during a time when guests can take their time finding themselves and not create a congested situation.
You do not have to use actual cards. Sometimes your escort card can do double duty as favors. (See Photo #5) You can use a seating chart or provide the guest list to a few ushers or greeters and they can tell the guests their table numbers. No matter the method, the basic information of names and tables numbers should be provided in a legible font.
Photo #5 : My client is a pharmacist and she used pill bottles filled with M&Ms as her escort ‘cards’ and favors. Photo Credit: Kristi Odom
If you are using escort cards only (and not place cards) and are offering entree choices:
- Have one escort card per guest instead of one per couple or family. For example, you would have one escort card for Mr. John Smith and one for Mrs. Susan Smith, instead of one escort card for both Mr. & Mrs. John Smith. This way, you can use the escort card also as the place card to indicate to the server the guest’s selected entree.
- Please make sure that the method you use to distinguish between entree choices can be easily differentiated by the server. This means it needs to be legible in dim light and from a distance. (See Photo #6)
- If you are using escort cards to designate entree selections, please have your DJ or band leader make an announcement as guests are seated to have them place their respective escort cards on the table in front of them for the servers to see.
Photo #6: The escort cards were stamped with an icon of the selected entree. In this case, these guests were having steak! Photo by Garrett Hubbard