Day-of Stationery: Escort Cards vs. Place Cards

Planning Tips


What’s the Difference Between Escort Cards + Place Cards?

When new clients fill out my form, they often check off both wedding escort cards and place cards, or only place cards. This leads me to ask the question, “do you know the difference?” Most couples say, “I have no idea!”. This happens equally with my LA wedding invitation clients, and my Connecticut wedding couples. Sometimes even planners aren’t sure!

Unfortunately the two are sometimes used interchangeably, which can be confusing, so here’s the definitive answer for you! Escort Cards are the cards at the reception entrance that direct you to your table. Place Cards are the cards that at the table that tell you at which seat to sit.

Now that we’ve got the basic definitions down, let’s go into more detail, tips + creative options, shall we?

Orange County Retro Pink Wedding

Traditional Escort Card + Place Card Combo

Let’s start with the traditional use of wedding escort cards and place cards. This used to be the standard for formal weddings and galas, and allow the hosts to control who sits next to whom at each table. For a corporate event, this may prove valuable when making business connections, but at weddings most people are from a group or know other people at the wedding, whether it be family, college friends, colleagues, etc. (The dreaded “singles table” is fortunately not a common occurrence these days, though a seating chart can end with a group of people that just don’t fall into a category.)

Just like the inner + outer envelope (more on that in a future blog post!), I rarely do this combo, and when I do it’s for a traditional, black tie wedding. It can be a bit cumbersome to have multiple tented cards at each place setting, depending on how much space is on the table. But there are plenty of other ways to control seating!

New Orleans  Wedding Escort Cards with Wax Seals

Escort Cards Only

The majority of my weddings do escort cards only. In other words, the hosts control who’s at each table but not where at the table they sit. With the traditional 6-person round table, having conversations across the table are manageable (barring any oversized floral centerpieces!), and as people get up to get a drink or dance, it’s totally acceptable to grab someone else’s seat for a quick chat.

Inn at Longshore Wedding Watercolor Escort Cards

Seating Charts + Place Cards

Some people really love having a place card, because it’s an opportunity for another piece of decor at each place setting. If placed above the plate, it doesn’t need to be moved and thus will be a lovely focal point when a guest sits down. You can use different materials like leaves or shells, and can be calligraphed or printed by your stationer. One of my favorites I ever did was a calligraphed capiz shell tied with a silk ribbon to the menu!

And couples are replacing the escort cards with the seating chart. It’s a super-popular item, because it’s an opportunity for a wow moment at the reception entrance! (It also eliminated all those different cards at your place setting.) Just like the place card, it can be done on different materials, and adorned with beautiful florals! (Tip: Be sure to let your florist know ahead of time about this, so she brings enough florals.)

Connecticut Wedding Seating Chart and Leaf Place Cards

Can I have just place cards at my wedding?

You may ask, can’t I just direct people to their seat without telling them their table first? In a word, no. The chaos that will ensue as everyone is waking around looking for their name will be stressful, and will definitely not set a celebratory tone! The one exception is if you’re having a microwedding (less than 30 people), and everyone is at one long table. There’s no need to tell people which table since there’s only one!

Palm Springs Black Wedding Place Cards

L’Escale Greenwich Seating Chart and Place Cards

How can I save money with escort cards?

Sometimes you get to the stage in your planning when it’s time to start your day-of stationery, and your budget is tighter than you expected. It happens! But this doesn’t mean you need to do away with important paper details on your wedding day. One way to save money on escort cards is to do flat cards instead of tented cards. Will the savings be enough to get that cathedral-length veil? Sadly no, but every little bit counts! Another option is if you have a friend who does calligraphy or has beautiful handwriting, and will do this for you as your wedding gift. All you need to do is buy blank cardstock. Tip: Be sure to buy at least 20% extra for any mess-ups or last-minute added guests. But remember, for escort cards it’s 1 per couple, not person (unless they’re single).

Inn at Longshore Wedding Place Cards with Leaves

What are some creative escort card ideas?

There are so many ways to be creative with your escort cards for that will give guests that wow moment when they enter the space. Using premium items like wax seals or florals are very impactful. (Since the first time I did these bud vase escort card stickers, I’ve gotten lots of other inquiries from other couples!) You can also make your escort card serve as a favor, like having the card as a tag attached to a keychain or wrapped food item.

But creativity doesn’t just come from what the item is, but how it is designed. Below you see an escort card display from my Connecticut wedding grooms who were both pilots. Each table was named after an airport, and we used the airport code instead of table numbers. It was inexpensive, but had meaning and connection to the couple’s love story, and that is something guests won’t soon forget!

Longshore Floral Bud Vase Escort Card Display

CT Airport Wedding Escort Cards

I’ve made a vow in 2021 to push the boundaries of my creativity, and a lot of that is through escort cards + seating chart displays. Whether you go for the classic escort card + place card setup, or do something completely out of the box, how you seat yourself guests at the reception is essential. And just like the save the dates are the first peek guests have into the wedding, the escort cards set the tone for the reception. So think about how you want your guests to feel at the wedding, and use your escort cards to communicate that.

Looking for more posts from our day-of stationery guide? Check out our wedding menu post and our ceremony program post! And be sure to follow Roseville on Instagram for our latest posts of pretty weddings and insider tips.

Photo Credit: Peterson Design Photo, Gabby Chapin Photography, Shaina Lee Photography, Ashleigh Mitchell Photography, Kelsey Combe Photo, Athena Blude Photography


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