One of the common questions I hear a lot as a modern calligrapher is what is the difference between a place card and an escort card? For most brides, this is another one of those crazy wedding lingo mumbo jumbos that suddenly get thrown at you that make you think what in the world are you saying to me you crazy woman.
I’ll never forget the first time I went shopping for a wedding dress, and the attendant asked me if I was looking for white, ivory, warm ivory or champagne. I’m sorry, what?! I just want a dress that makes me feel like a princess and that I look awesome in. In the end it was all important, but it is certainly overwhelming to learn all of these ins and outs as a bride to be!
A place card and an escort card both typically list the first and last name (and sometimes the title, if it is a more formal wedding) of your guest. The difference between a place card and an escort card comes into play when determining where your guest sits.
An escort card will list the table number for your guest, often below or next to the guests name i.e. Mr. Robert Smith – Table 14 or Dr. Michael Jones – 14. These cards are typically displayed alphabetically at a table at the entry to the reception, and each guest will find their card, and head to their corresponding table. Once at the table, they are free to sit wherever they please.
A place card will list only the guest’s name, and will be placed at their seat, on top of their plate or above their place setting. When place cards are used, a large seating chart list is typically displayed at the entry to the reception. Guests are listed alphabetically, and they can will find their table via the seating chart, walk to their table, and then find their place card to know which seat is theirs.
Place cards are typically used at more formal weddings, where escort cards are used more frequently at less formal weddings where the bride and groom don’t want to select a particular seat for their guests, but would still like to group like-minded guests at specific tables.
If you are hosting a formal, plated dinner with different entree choices, you’ll want to be sure to have place cards. These cards can be color coded or adorned with symbols to show the entree choice your guest has selected, or any dietary restrictions they might have. This makes the servers’ job a little bit easier, and gets everyone their food faster, meaning you have more time for toasts and dancing!
Escort cards can be color coded for entree options as well, but create a little bit more hassle as your guests would need to remember to place their card on the table for the server to see, instead of potentially tucking it away for safekeeping! For this reason, escort cards are usually only used when you are serving the same entree to everyone, or there is a buffet style dinner.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion for you about the difference between a place card and an escort card!