Dear Digital Crinoline,
My fiance and I are having a very informal wedding. I keep seeing escort cards and place cards as I’m shopping for invitations- can you tell me what’s the real difference? Do I even have to bother with either? We’re on a strict budget!
– Over the Paper
Here’s the deal. You do not have to assign tables or seats at a wedding- there’s no law saying you do. If your event is very informal… a barbecue picnic for example… there’s no reason to have assigned seating. But if you are having an informal reception at a venue with a sit down meal, then you do need escort cards- even if only so the servers know who needs what food! If you’re worried about cost, though, this is a great place to DIY. There are hundreds of ideas online for easy and interesting escort cards- you certainly don’t have to buy something expensive to meet your needs.
First, escort cards and place cards serve two different purposes. Escort cards let your guests know which table they are assigned to for the reception. Place cards tell them which is their seat at a table. If you’re having a cocktail hour before dinner, or are coming from a church to the reception location, escort cards are often physically placed outside the room on a table. Otherwise, they can be near the door but inside the room. There’s plenty of room for creativity with escort cards- although they should clearly mark the name of each guest, which table they are assigned to, and a meal choice sticker or other designation (if necessary)… the rest is up to you. Usually guests pick up their escort card and put it at the seat they choose at the table, and your job is done.
image: O Nosso Casamento
For more formal weddings, or weddings where you are worried about personality clashes (it happens!) assigned seating can help reduce the stress and make everyone comfortable. It is definitely not necessary, but it’s an option. If you choose to assign seats and not just open tables, you would usually have a list available to let guests know which table to look for, and then they can find their specified seat. The list could be in the form of escort cards, a pretty map on posterboard, or really anything so long as it helps guests know what to do. The wedding is about you, but the reception is in large part about providing comfort for the people there to support you- and that includes making them not have to work too hard to figure out where to sit!
image: Tracy Hunter
image: Phil Yorke
Do you have a question, but don’t have the time to find the answer- or don’t even know where to start looking? Send your wedding research and planning questions to Digital Crinoline and let me do the legwork for you!